Timber….!

This morning, I crutched from my bed to the chair where I sit to get dressed. As I got to the chair, I noticed that the shoe was in the way so I kicked it. The shoe was a trail shoe and its tread gripped the carpet. The shoe did not move.

Instead, I began a slow tipping. Me and my crutches made a slow but unstoppable crash into the bureau, wall and chair. God, it was a slow crash. No, I\’m not hurt. Just an example of the hazards of crutches.

5 weeks after surgery. 6 days to next doctor visit. Everything feels great. Surgery was a fantastic decision.

But I finally admit to my conscious mind that recovery is a long slow process. I\’ll probably be weight bearing but still in the boot after next week. And then a slow progression of heel lift adjustments, and exercises until I walk.

I just asked for the refund for the Texas Marathon on 1/1/14. I\’m sure that even walking a half marathon would not be possible that soon. A sad but realistic day for me.

As an endorphin addict, I suppose I am surviving pretty well.

I look at the wall of my bedroom where I have hung up 2 years worth of race medals. It represents a freaking amount of money and time. Some of the races were fun. Some were lots of worry in preparation and then a serious business of racing.

If I run again, I hope for the quiet morning runs in El Lago.

Week 5

I\’ve completed 5 weeks of confinement due to foot surgery. These weekends, I\’ve spent more time in spiritual study instead of doing miles outside. This weekend, I was partly reading \”Glittering Vices\”, going to AA meetings, and studying A Course in Miracles.

Fighting giants. The Israelites didn\’t want to leave the desert and fight the giants in order to enter the promised land (Numbers and Deuteronomy). What giants do I not want to fight, hence staying in a desert. AA meetings have giants at the door. Each and every meeting is an ego battle. I have 28 years of sobriety. Why should I go to meetings? Because AA is a spiritual fellowship and a spiritual program of action for a spiritual malady. That I don\’t want to go to the fellowship is evidence that I still have the malady.

Silence is not enough. For my ego at least.

Trappings. Trappings are for the ego. If I have trappings, I am somebody. But if I refuse to look special or live in a special place or drive a special car, my ego hates it. Monastic life has trappings. Runners have trappings (those belt buckles we get to 100 miles). Buddhist monks. Lately, it seems like my spiritual life is nothing. I\’ve not had any big moments of clarity or enlightenment. This doesn\’t mean God went away. It means the ego got nothing. But it led me to realize, what if I hadn\’t read books about other people\’s enlightenment experiences? Would I realize there is nothing wrong with this particular moment?

\”Lay aside the body and quietly transcend…look you not back….\” (ACIM 21.VI.9). Life in the monastery is over and in the past. Running is over and in the past. Quietly transcend.

Spirit soaring. I lay on the floor with one bad leg doing leg lifts. Not exactly as romantic as running 100 miles or climbing a mountain. But my spirit soared.

Accessibility: This week I was at the Hilton in College Station. Since most of the floors have a padded carpet, it was very difficult to get around on wheels. It was like pushing through sand or mud all day. And while they did have a chair lift to get to one of the meeting rooms, it was slightly broken. I got through the broken part and used it once. But later, when I had to go back to that room, I drove my car around to the back of the hotel and went in that way. Then a buffet lunch was provided. I had to ask a colleague to carry my plate since I couldn\’t hold it in one hand and also push through the carpet. I think I was the only \”handicapped\” person at the conference.

Augustine\’s Two Cities

I was reading Glittering Vices this morning in the chapter on \”vain glory.\” This quote appeared from St Augustine: \”Accordingly two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from [human beings]; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, \’Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head\’ .\”

This quotation explain why I have divorced myself from society. I wouldn\’t say I\’m totally intent of glorifying God, but that I am intent on relinquishing self for the purpose of knowing God or following Spirit. American society mainly reminds me of the first city. I would not say I dwell in the second city either but that I\’d pick a consciousness of love and credit to God as modus operandi. For me it is a continuum I move along, ever going towards the God idea and away from the self idea.

I had a drunk dream last night. Only it wasn\’t me that drank. The context of the dream was an AA group. One of the longer term members had a terrible event and she drank. Then another younger term member drank because the first one drank. I thought that was stupid; but anyway, the dream continued on in that we got both people to meetings. We also got the group together and no one else drank.

Sobriety in AA is about overcoming a spiritual malady. May I always realize that reliance on God is the foundation of my sobriety.

I think about running and racing as I sit here with one foot in a boot, recovering from surgery. How will I shape my fitness in the future. I can\’t with a straight face say that ultra running is a good idea. I\’m not sure I can say that marathoning is a good idea. What is a good idea? I don\’t know. The idea of relinquishing ego and transcending self once again raises to the surface. How do I live the reality. Which reality? I did enjoy an early morning jog in El Lago. Lets hope for that.

Envy

I am in College Station at a professional conference. I unexpectedly found that my future boss and 2 colleagues are here. An example of how little we communicate that I didn\’t know any of them were coming. I have put on dress pants for the first time in over a year. The women\’s 10s from Talbot are way too big. The men\’s 32×32 are also too big but fit better than the womens cuz they don\’t have the wide hips. I don\’t have wide hips. I also don\’t like womens pants as they are nowadays which only come up to the hips. Um no, I am an engineering professional and I don\’t wear pants half way down my butt.

I am reading a book called \”Glittering Vices.\” It is a very interesting look at the seven capital vices. It is spiritually deep as it integrates monastic desert spirituality and Aquinas and modern day influences. I am finding it really hits home in explaining how I feel.

Envy is really a symptom of feeling worthless and needing to be superior to mask that feeling. \”…defining envy as dissatisfaction with our place in God\’s order of creation, manifested in begrudging his gifts to others.\” When an envier does \”win\” she still does not have what she needs: \”… a secure, non-contingent, unconditional sense of her own worth…..the cure for envy requires getting out of the comparative game of engineering self-worth altogether.\”

A Course in Miracles also offers explanations of envy related to the ego; and offers a spiritual correction for the situation. Other metaphysical methodologies would offer meditation and changing your thoughts.

For now, I am glad to be exploring and defining my envy. I am glad to name it and put it out there where I can see it. Now that I am hip to the situation, I don\’t have to react to it. I have taken my power back.

Not This Not That

Just now, I hopped on my leg scooter and rolled out to the mail box. I don\’t go outside much these days so a trip to the mail box is a chance to pause and feel the sunshine. It is a beautiful morning. Houston has finally cooled off. I could hear birds. It was very peaceful. I know that others are out doing their miles. I am happy that this does not bug me. I am happy that I can be at peace.

During my convalescence, I have spent more time on spiritual study. I am continually integrating the concepts of the 3 traditions I am currently studying: A Course in Miracles, Conscious Contact (AA), Paul Brunton.  These three have the same foundational concepts but say it in very different ways; and my mind is integrating them. Monastic practices I learned in the monastery play a part in this integration, but they have to be separated from denominational Catholicism and Benedictine-ism.

I say \”Not this Not that\” because I realized this morning that I don\’t have to label myself in spiritual terms. I don\’t have to call my self a \”desert dweller\” \”hermit\” \”monk\” or anything. I get to just keep relating to Spirit and going where ever It leads. I don\’t have to prove anything to anybody. In fact, my current status as a handicapped person is an impoverishment in most people\’s eyes.

The good news is that we can have conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves and we don\’t need to leave our homes. We just need to devote ourselves to the quest; and we are guaranteed to succeed. What I want more than anything is the conscious contact, the living of the spiritual identity here and now; not in some ashram or convent or under some guru or after I die. Now.

It is always possible now.

This week I found out I am getting a raise at work. Logically, this baffles me because our company is having austerity, and because I am being transferred to another division so the people who applied for and pushed the raise are not the ones I\’ll be working for in a couple of months. But somehow, it was necessary for the Talent Management program to address my salary for the purpose of retention. I have to mix this occurrence with my metaphysics and accept that my thinking must have been changed by spiritual practice or the raise would not have happened. It is not the money but the recognition that reality is made of thoughts and my thoughts must have risen higher.

This week I am going to a Process Safety symposium. I am going as a semi-mobile person. It will be interesting how the accessibility goes and which people take an interest in me or not. I worry about stuff like what size of luggage to take and how to lug it around. How easy will it be to get in and out of the hotel. What will the shower be like? I am bringing plastic bags so I can wear my boot in the shower. It is doubtful that a bench will be available. What about the convention center? Can I access the plenary session? I am going to case the convention center the afternoon before.

By the way, my foot is doing fantastic. Now I just need to be patient and not stupid.

Exercise No Matter What

Hi Spirit fans,

On September 24, I had surgery to fix my foot. On October 1, I got a boot. And I started to work out. At first, I did core and leg lifts. Then, after my arms got work hardened to heaving my body around, I added some weights. A few days ago, I added easy exercise bike. Starting from ground zero, I rebuilding. Here is a chart of how many minutes a day I\’ve been doing:

Three weeks into this, my foot feels fantastic. When I take it out of the boot, I can move it around. In the morning when I get up, the foot is not swollen at all. It does collect fluids during the day since it just sits in a boot. Yesterday, my new Hokas showed up. Wearing a Hoka on the other foot has made it possible to stand and feel good.

I\’m high this evening on my first endorphins in awhile. But also high about the company I work for. They started a program called \”Talent Management\” designed to retain talent. Many of us thought it was fake. But I am getting a raise! My talent has been successfully managed.

Acedia – Sloth

…a spiritual malady.

I was reading an article about sloth by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, a professor at Calvin College. I found it on the Internet because I have been wondering if my spiritual life is slowly dying. I wondered if it was dying because my strenuous efforts to achieve enlightenment have been slowly let go. My running transcendence project has been discontinued. Is my daily spiritual study enough? Is the fellowship of AA enough?

I don\’t really have a way to calibrate. Most spiritual concepts are woefully corrupted by religious dogmas which are not really spiritually based. Many practices are dopamine based.

First note, my reading of the sloth article this morning takes place against a back drop of the \”conscious contact\” spirituality offered by AA, A Course in Miracles, Paul Brunton\’s philosophy, my own Americanism, my life as a process safety expert in a chemical plant. If my left foot was not out of commission, I doubt I\’d be spending the time on this. I\’d be out running and dreaming of racing the next marathon or ultra-marathon.

So, some excerpts. She starts with the desert fathers; those early Christians who left the cities to dwell in desert wilderness and fight demons (evil thoughts). I myself, in my monastic life and in my secular solitary life, fight demons. The demon of acedia (sloth) \”deploys every device in order to have the monk leave his cell and flee the life\” (Evagrius)…it is a vice that threatens one\’s fundamental commitment to one\’s religious identity….one\’s entire commitment of one\’s life to God is at stake…For Pascal….diversions and distractions are what we fill our lives and minds with to avoid facing the truth about who we are and are called to be in relationship with God…

She discusses how in today\’s secular world, work has become a virtue equivalent to worship. How work is our promise of self fulfillment. How humans are wired to seek fulfillment but really, only the divine relationship can provide fulfillment. Acedia is a resistance to divine relationship by either laziness or virtuous industriousness. Rooted in self-love and presumption of dominion over our own lives that neither acknowledges nor depends on God.

Sloth is resistance, inertia.

For me this morning, \”resistance to grace\” sprung to life as I considered the plight of people with long term sobriety who quit going to meetings. We say we don\’t need the meetings. If I believe this, then I have probably missed the point of the meetings. They are not really about fear of drinking (although drinking does usually follow). They are about participation, cooperation, dependence on Grace, freely available at the meetings.

The answer is to go deeper. Alcoholism is a spiritual malady. Recovery is a spiritual project. If meeting makers make it, then meetings must be spiritual. Why do I resist except for ego? My original excuse, being in a convent, may have had a genuine yearning for contemplation as a virtuous motive. God may have devised my monastic experience as a way to add to my spiritual capability. But still, I am left with fighting demons.

Accessibility Again

Today I wanted to go to an event. Truth is, the AA club I go to was having some outside speakers. I wanted to go, but they don\’t have that much parking. I was worried because I can\’t park a quarter of a mile away and get to the meeting.

So, um, yeah, I prayed. I asked for a parking spot. I also went pretty early. When I got there, the lot was full, but someone pulled out right then, so I did get a parking spot.

I went to use the rest room. There were 6 empty stalls and one handicapped stall with a person in it. So I had to wait. Of course, then that person was all embarrassed.

The first speaker was an Alanon with 42 years in that program. The part of her story that impressed me was her discussion of family members who stopped drinking in AA for 20+ years, then started experimenting. It is important for me to reflect on this. I have 28 years of sobriety. I didn\’t go to meetings for about 10 years. A year ago I started going to meetings again. In a room of 50, there will be less than a handful of us with more than 20 years.  I sit there. Part of my brain wants to be too good for meetings. Another part points out that I do better when I go, even if it is only once a week. I don\’t think about drinking, but I do better in happiness.

The second speaker was a young woman with 6 years of sobriety. She was a charismatic speaker with a good story. But as I listened to her and mixed my thoughts about the first speaker into my reflecting, I continue to be amazed at how screwed up some of my thinking is. Especially my post-monastic life. I so totally came out of the convent determined to be a monk in the world so I could be as holy as my sisters in the convent.

And this brings me to the second prayer I said this morning. I said I need to see this gathering of AAs, with its silliness, bad food and gaudiness of middle class America, as holy. At least as I listened to the second speaker, I was able to realize that I have been taught that the world is bad and non-religious people are not as good as the nuns. I have had other looks at this, but I see even more now how I need to get over that. I\’ve been lying to myself.

Since I had my leg on my 4 wheel cart, I didn\’t try to mix into the crowds. I staked out a chair where I wouldn\’t be in the way. I saw a woman just sort of by herself. I invited her to come over and talk to me. We had a nice 20 minutes or so talking before the first speaker. Then between speakers, another lady came over to talk to me. She wanted to thank me for something I said in a meeting. This lady is really pretty and was dressed in a pretty red dress. I was a little dumbfounded that someone that pretty would talk to me since I am not much to look at.

So, my healing from convent life continues.

Coming out of the meeting, I rolled myself to where the ramp went off the sidewalk onto the parking lot. Someone had parked right in front of it, so I couldn\’t get by on my cart. I had to go around to another place and then another lady helped me move my cart over the curb. That is what it is like to be handicapped.

What it is like to be handicapped:

I am going to a conference in 2 weeks. I actually did check the conference web site to find out the following information:

FOR YOUR ACCESSIBILITY NEEDS

The Following Features Are Available:

  • Accessible
  • Accessible Rooms
  • Accessible concierge desk
  • Accessible exercise facility
  • Accessible guest rooms with mobility features with entry or passage doors that provide 32” of clear width
  • Accessible hotel restaurant
  • Accessible parking
  • Accessible parking spaces for cars in the self-parking facility
  • Accessible public entrance
  • Accessible registration desk
  • Accessible route from the accessible public entrance to the accessible guestrooms
  • Accessible route from the accessible public entrance to the registration area
  • Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible entrance to the meeting room/ballroom area
  • Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to at least one restaurant
  • Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the business center
  • Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the exercise facilities
  • Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the spa
  • Accessible route from the hotel’s accessible public entrance to the swimming pool
  • Accessible transportation with advance notice
  • Assistive listening devices for meetings upon request
  • Closed captioning on televisions or closed captioning decoders
  • Public Areas/Facilities accessible for physically challenged
  • Service support animals welcome
  • TTY for guest use
  • Van-accessible parking in the self-parking facility

I need to know if I can get into the meeting area on my cart. 


Loftier Thoughts

Today is day 17 of having one leg out of service. It is day 4 of going back to work. I recognize that the rest of my body is tired of hauling around the one bad leg. But work hardening is occurring and already I notice my hands are not as sore from the crutches and I\’m not a tired when I go home.

This morning, I was noticing a mental component to all this; which gave me an insight for my spiritual journey. The past 4 days I have wanted to use my disability as an excuse to work fewer hours. It is an attempt to feel sorry for myself and slack off; even while there isn\’t really a need for this. At the same time, I notice a governing drive which gets out of bed anyway, gets me into the shower anyway so I am sweet smelling and gets me to work on time anyway, and keeps me here for 8 hours anyway.

As I worked on my spiritual study this morning, I noticed the friction going on between the slacker attitude and the governing drive. I realize that the governing drive always wins even though the slacker chews at the governor\’s edges. It is a friction, a tension. But I realize that while it became apparent in reflecting on my disability, it is actually a life long issue. The same friction is apparent in the struggle to get out of bed everyday or exercise everyday or practice contemplation when I have free time.

Some people might even say that the slacker is sin and the governor is virtue. The slacker is not sin. The slacker is also not my essence. It is just a function of the illusion of this world.

Now that slacker is identified, I can use it as a tool to raise my thinking. Now I have got to the crux of the matter. A monk has a desire to know God. Over the ages, monks have retreated to deserts, hermitages and monasteries as environments that provide space to think spiritual thoughts more than worldly thoughts. As a monk in the world, I can now consider how slacker drags back governor and prevents contemplation (loftier thinking) even when I have time available for it.

When I thought about being out of commission due to leg surgery, I thought it would be an opportunity for contemplation as I would be off work. But that didn\’t turn out.

Now, with the new insight on slacker vs. governor, I want to refocus on contemplation. I want to make it happen even if I have to be a monk in the world. It must grow more each day; no excuses since I don\’t live in a monastery. Even when I did live in a monastery, I noticed all us nuns were often wrapped up in non-contemplative thinking.