On Love

 This morning, I was reading an essay by a philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in his book of essays \”Why I am not a Christian.\” The particular essay is entitled The Good Life.  \”Love is a word which covers a variety of feelings…Love is an emotion…on one side pure contemplation; on the other, pure benevolence.\” 

Suddenly it struck me, as my mind flashed on Jesus\’ saying \”God is love.\”

God is an emotion. My mind expanded into the universe. 

Abraham always says, \”There is great love here for you.\” Abraham is non-physical energy communicating through one woman. But Abraham is also teaching people about how to connect with higher consciousness. When Abraham says that there is great love for us in non-physical consciousness, what do I take that to mean? Abraham has helped me to deliberately and consciously choose how I want to feel at any given moment. Love is a feeling. God is love. There is great love here for me. Non-physical is here. I am a sentient being. What does love feel like? Love is a variety of feelings. Love is non-physical here in the material world too.

Love is a confusing word. Did my parents love me? Coming from a troubled home, I didn\’t have that experience. I don\’t have a husband or children, so I don\’t know what that type of love means. I love dogs.

In 12 Step groups, people often have difficulty with the idea of God. They really don\’t want anything to do with it, and this thinking is the biggest defeat of Alcoholics Anonymous. In step 3 we are to turn our will and our life over to the care of a power greater than ourselves. Elsewhere, the textbook of AA calls that power \”God as we understood Him.\” Religion fouls people up because they are seeking a personality, an entity, or a voice to turn their will and their life over to. In my thinking this morning, I thought, \”Holy shit! God is an emotion. In this word, there are big implications.\” We get out of obsessing for alcohol or drugs by getting out of ourselves, usually by a benevolent act, like helping another. 

Love is a word. God is love. Love is an emotion or a variety of feelings ranging from pure contemplation to pure benevolence. I am a sentient being. Sentient means I am aware of feelings. I can feel. Love is a feeling. My consciousness is mainly made of the translation of feelings. Thoughts come after feelings. That is, I feel and then I have a thought about how that feeling came to exist. Love is a feeling. God is love. Love exists as a feeling. Love is never a thing or an entity. God is never a thing or an entity. 

I can deliberately think and feel my way into love. Contemplate nature or help someone. Feel the feelings.

Geek out on this for crying out loud. It is amazing to have the door open to love and God and the greatness of everything.

A Love Story

 One of the interesting and most cherished things about my sobriety is the people who I\’ve known for 35 years. My life has moved around the country, but I have now settled in the place where I got sober and these people are still here. We are now all old. This story is about one of them.

As a 26 year old female, I entered the halls. I was single, pretty new to the mid-west, having come from California. Angry. Hateful. Shattered.

In the hall, I found people older than me, but much wiser. Every meeting was a discussion of wisdom I didn\’t have. I was new to it all. I admired these wise elders. By elder, I mean people in their thirties and forties seemed much wiser than me.

One of these people was a man named Milt. Milt had about 3 years in the program ahead of me. He was an engineer. About 50. He had a wonderful wife who was also in the program and very wise. Both of them had meaningful things to say. Their marriage and love was a thing I was jealous of, and dissed myself because I didn\’t have such a thing.

Milt had a habit of handing out hugs. He also always said, \”Has anyone told you they loved you today?\” And he, upon my no answer, would say that he loved me. That used to make me mad. I thought he was just saying it and didn\’t mean it. He had real love with his wife. I had nothing. No love for myself or anyone else.

Decades go by. Sometimes I attend that AA hall. Sometimes I\’m living somewhere else.

When I moved back to town 2 years ago, I started attending a meeting where Milt always goes. Now I am 61 and he is 89. His wife passed away several years ago and he is a cancer survivor. He still drives himself around and lives alone. Since the virus lock down, he hasn\’t been out much. Last night was the first time he has been back to that meeting. It is a small meeting and every body there is old. Everybody has decades of sobriety.

Last night, as I came in and sat down, Milt came over. He had an angel coin that he wanted me to have and he said he loved me. The meeting went on. Milt sat there behind his mask, looking around the room. He shared on the Daily Reflections. We closed the meeting and left.

This morning, I noticed the angel coin sitting on my counter. I thought about Milt and this long history of saying he loved me. And I thought about the fact that Milt won\’t be around much longer, and he knows it. I realized that I believe Milt loves me. That Milt loves everyone and all of life. That love is really Love, it is everywhere and true for everyone.

So stick around AA. Keep improving your emotional sobriety. You too will come to know Love.

Fucked 12 Steps

 I just started reading Russell Brand\’s book \”Recovery.\” I found this rendition of the 12 Steps. I think it would really help someone who doesn\’t want to admit they have a problem, or doesn\’t want the God shit. 

As someone with 35 years sober, I finally feel enlightened.

Here ya go: traditional 12 Steps on the left, Russel Brand\’s on the right.

I love it. 

Fort Worth Marathon….

… and Bill Wilson retreat.

I originally signed up for this race because they give out cool belt buckles for medals. And because I seem unable to not sign up for races. Winter is racing season in Texas; and marthoners come out in all their glory. Many of the same faces are there every week. Yup- as many marathons as physically possible.

Logistically, everything went well. I made it out of and back into Houston despite rain and closed freeways. Traffic is the most important topic in Houston; avoiding it that is. I encountered no traffic in Fort Worth, but traffic is an important topic there too. I expected it to be a bigger race; only about 300 were entered in the marathon.

Logistically, everything associated with the race itself went perfect. Nice aid stations. Easy packet pickup. Plenty of parking at the start.

My hotel was nice too. Nothing broken. The air conditioning was quiet.

So I get into Fort Worth and my hotel. I have with me a new book: \”My Name is Bill.\” A biography of Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA. Very interesting details about Bill; his family background, his life hurdles and finally the AA years. It was interesting to me to see how Bill\’s personal emotional problems fit in to the writing of the 12 steps. then it was interesting to me to see how my own emotional problems fit in with that frame work. I have of course been working the steps for 30 years, but this gave me a fresh perspective on how I feel about it.

And then, since I\’d get tired of laying on the bed and reading, I\’d get up and pace back and forth in the hotel room reading pages 62-63 of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous out loud to myself and refreshing my memorization; which pages are about selfishness and self centeredness and turning your life over to your Creator.

I haven\’t drank for 30 years. I don\’t really remember what alcoholic craving was like. I do remember succumbing to it. I remember buying alcohol day after day. I remember trying to hide the gin from myself on the top shelf of my pantry. I remember that when I felt too drunk, I\’d put my finger down my throat to throw up…. and then drink some more.

It was good to take the time out to think about all this.

Then on Sunday, I was up before the alarm to go to the marathon. I was there early so I continued to read my book in the car. At 30 min before the race, I got in line at the porta-potties. Then got back in the car; it was a tiny bit chilly. Just before the start, I got out of the car, walked about 50 feet to the start and shivered for about 10 min. Then we were off.

The course for this race is almost all on bike path; so traffic was not a worry. I ran 100% for the first 8.5 miles at about 11 min per mile pace. Then I started running 7 min and walking 1 min for the rest of the race. I got to talk to several people along the way and greet a some I hadn\’t seen for awhile.

I spent a good deal of time noticing the difference in how my body feels when I am doing a fast marathon vs a slow ultra marathon. I had the option of pushing myself at the end of the marathon because I had a certain end point. With a 24 hour race, I\’m always conserving because I don\’t know how long I\’ll keep it up. Also, I get less blisters with a running marathon than I do with walking an ultra (an issue I don\’t know how to solve).  I am extremely pleased with my 5:04 time. It averages out to about 11:45 per mile. I\’m happy with that because I train much easier than I race.

The belt buckle looks cool. Unfortunately, it is not properly designed to be used as a belt buckle. Rats! I really wanted a marathon belt buckle to wear. Now I have two that can\’t be worn.

Any results from all my AA pondering? Well, I did real well with a personality issue at work today. That is progress. I\’ll take it. Concentrating on turning my life over to a higher power and remembering that \”of myself I am nothing\” always works to make my relationships better. For that I am grateful; and I did thank whatever higher power there is as I drove home today.

I\’ll post pictures when they come out.

12 Step Endurance Practice

Yesterday I went in an ultra marathon. I know my limitations. I try to prevent the big toe blisters which chronically occur. I tape my knee so the ACL does not get tweaked. I know that if the blisters get too bad, I\’ll quit.

But it is the mental game which is not only the point of a timed endurance event, but the most difficult part. I don\’t mind quitting when my big toes are destroyed. I do need to keep going if my only problem is fatigue. Leg fatigue always happens, but it is not the end of the game.

So, I wanted to avoid premature quitting. I needed a way to keep my mind healthy.

I tried something totally new. I made myself a little book. I wrote down sayings from a 12 Step book, one page for each step. I would study and ponder one step for 4 laps (approximately an hour). This way, my goal is to ponder the steps and not pay too much attention too how I feel. Remember, these steps are taken in the context of an ultra marathon, and my life\’s day to day struggles; not an alcoholic obsession.

Somehow, the endurance run became my spiritual adviser. It spoke to me of character defects I didn\’t really see. So the result is a new understanding of myself and an end to some of the habitual hatefulness.

6:15, I arrive at the park. It is dark still. I unload my chair, little table, cooler, bag of food, bag of extra gear. I pick up my number and chip.

6:45, we have a little meeting where the race director explains every thing. This race has about 50 people. I see a woman who I met at another race. I talk to her. At the Habanero run in August, I had suffered from severe dehydration and had to sit by the side of the trail for a long time until I could stand without getting dizzy. She had stopped her race to watch me. That was very nice. I asked her if she finished. Yes she did; but it took 11 hours to finish that 50k. Oh my. I don\’t think I could have done that regardless of dehydration.

7 am, off we go onto a one mile out and back course. It is a nice park and it turns out that I like seeing all the racers, so I don\’t mind out and back. But clearly, this type of race offers no challenge but the inner challenge.

I step up to the plate with Step 1: \”who cares to admit complete defeat?\”  Wow, how do I start a race with that? But really, such a thought smacks my ego right at the start. I get rid of any expectations of what \”I\” think \”I\” will do. Right from the start, I accept that my ego will be defeated. No grandiosity. No glory. No bragging rights.

\”…unless he has accepted his devastating weakness and all its consequences…\” The toes are my devastating weakness. The eventual pain of toes and legs which will force me to quit are my devastating weakness. I am powerless. It is only a matter of when. My ego hates quitting.

\”… no amount of human will power…\” Well, this caused me to think about the normal approach to ultra marathons which is successful for most people. They decide that they will finish the race no matter what. And they do, come injury or whatever, they finish. I\’ve never done this. And now, my Step 1 has told me that no amount of human will power will do it. Other people can do it, but it doesn\’t work for me. In other words, I can\’t. I agree.

4 laps done in just under an hour. On to Step 2: \”Having reduced us to a state of absolute helplessness, you now declare that none but a higher power ….\” Really? Only a higher power will get me through this race. New thinking for me in the context of a ultra marathon.

\” …all you need is a truly open mind…\”  I looked at my mind. How closed is it? I could see some places where it was closed.

\”…I had only to cease fighting…\” I fight alot in many areas of my life, but regarding this race here and now, what am I fighting? Shoes, food, heat, race management, other people, the rough patches of pavement, porta-potties… This concept turned out useful a bit later when it was very hot and I decided to walk instead of fighting the heat. At the end of step 2, two hours into the race, I thought I might like to eat one of my sandwiches and some fruit, only to realize that those things had been forgotten at home. I\’d have to eat course food. Rats! I\’m not in control.

\”…road blocks of indifference, fancied self-sufficiency, prejudice and defiance…\” All  of these ideas have application in life and in a race. But my theme for the day seemed to be realizing that self reliance would not work for me.

\”…provided we place humility first…we received the gift of faith…\” Now I had to think about my pride and gain humility. My pride causes me to go too fast in the early part of a race because I want to be done at a certain time. Or I look at the other lady who is my age and I want to beat her. Or the fat person. Or the guy talking too much. Or…  God, my head is full of crap.

\”…we had substituted negative for positive thinking…this trait had been an ego feeding proposition…\” Now this really hit me. I suddenly saw my whole pattern of thinking, for the past 11 years since leaving the monastery, as negative and how that fed my ego. Amazing. I\’ve never seen this before. The race is my spiritual adviser.

\”…at no time had we asked what God\’s will was for us.\” Here, I had to realize my race goals and plans were mine, not God\’s. And then throw up the silent prayer of wonderment, \”What are Your goals for me?\” Remember I forgot my food? Well, now, the Race Director and his plans for the aid station became the higher power and God\’s will for me.

Completing 8 laps, I moved on to Step 3: \”…cut away the self will that has blocked the entry of God\” My self will…. hummmm. I had an inner niggle related to self will blocking God, or Higher Self if you please. That enlightenment which many others get always comes at a moment of defeating self will.

\” … instinct and logic always seek to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual development\” Oh yes, another sudden revelation of how \”I\”, logic and instinct, was bolstering egotism. And it is egotism which is causing all my unhappiness and hatefulness in life.

\”…dependence on a higher power is really a way of gaining true independence of spirit.\” I really would like independence of spirit.

\”…some problems refuse to be solved by all the sheer personal determination and courage he can muster\” Well, here I am, My own courage is not going to finish this race.

\”It is when we try to conform our will with God\’s that we begin to use it rightly\” True, but do I do this? Not really.

Now, about 3 hours into the race. A guy from work shows up. I am truly surprised. He had called me one day last week and in the course of the conversation, I had mentioned I was going in this race. I only vaguely mentioned where it was. And I was joking about him coming. But he did come! And he was there for quite awhile. He walked some with me and he went off to practice his Frisbee.

I went on to Step 4, now with this guy from work as part of the mix: \”…total inability to form a true partnership with another human being…we have no once sought to be a worker among workers…of true brotherhood we had small comprehension…\” Here is this guy from work who has driven 40 miles to this race. I would never have done that. But he did. Why has he done it? I really don\’t know. I do know that being \”just one of the engineers\” is very hard for me. He takes my picture.

\”…discover a chink in the walls my ego has built…\”  I imagine myself as behind an ego wall and I can\’t really see any chinks. But as I mentally decide to inspect the wall closely, maybe a small chink can be found. The main thing is that I realize it is a wall. All the metaphysical teaching of A Course in Miracles and Paul Brunton and Eckhart Tolle and Plotinus speak of the separation caused by the ego. Step 5 of the 12 Steps is meant to take down the wall and put you on The Broad Highway.

\”…pride, leading to self-justification, always spurred by conscious or unconscious fears…\” Now, I suddenly realize how much of my thinking is self justification. I am continually silently telling stories to various people about why I have failed them. Now I see it is self-justification. Now I see it was pride and that behind pride is fear. If I can only become conscious of the fear.

\”…all the faulty foundation of my life will have to be torn out and built anew on bedrock…\” The race is doing this, step by step, mile by mile.

\”…why do I lack the ability to accept conditions I cannot change?\” I need to let go of my plans and go along with the conditions of this race. I wish I could accept conditions at work.

Now it is 4 hours into the race and I\’m at Step 5: \”humility…a clear recognition of who and what we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.\” Back to humility as a concept for an ultra marathoner.

\”we began to suspect how much trouble self delusion had been causing us.\” Self delusion is another metaphysical proposition: that the world we see is an ego world and not the Real World. I accept self delusion and feel a slight inner nudge; but can\’t attache any conscious realization.

\”…that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand…\” Yes, I again inspect the ego wall. I see that it is there. I see I have no plans to change it.

\”…the steps all deflate our egos…\”  I knew this. I also know for it now. I am beginning to suffer as the miles pile up. It is getting warmer.

\”…things which really bother and burn us…\”  Again I look inside. I haven\’t lately really tried to define the categories of situations which really bother and burn me. Certain things are my hot buttons. But I haven\’t tried to define the ego aspects and say consciously that this ego button bothers and burns me. And, now in the race, the idea is too slippery.

Now it is five hours and 20 miles into the race. My toes hurt and I am upset because they shouldn\’t. Something is very wrong. I run marathons without toe tape and don\’t have so much problems. Now, I have taped the toes and am in serious difficulty after only 20 miles. The tape is taking up space in the toe box. The tape job is not good. And, it is hot.

Step 6: \”…who doesn\’t like to feel superior…\”  I can again identify a habitual trait within me. I can feel superior to certain other people on the course; or worse, the fat people having bar-b-q and not exercising at all. But then I also know those people I scorn will also stay out there longer than me and go farther because they are willing to slow down and shuffle forward regardless. Or the bar-b-q people are being kind to one another and enjoying family.  I\’ll decide that the pain is enough and quit.

\”Self righteous anger can be enjoyable…\”  I again identify a habitual trait within me. I think about this more in terms of my work relationships. Its bad.

\”we take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority.\” My thoughts go to conversations I typically have with others, especially related to those slow drivers.

\”abandon our limited objectives and move towards God\’s will for us…\” Now, I arrive at the race itself. I have limited objectives. Is it possible that God has a further limit? This part comes true when I get to 26 miles. I can pick up a medal for 26 miles. The next medal is 50 miles. If I go past 26 miles but not to 50, then I have nothing to show for it.

I had planned to walk and jog for 30 miles, then switch shoes and walk only. But my toes are bad. It is hot. ok, I need to change myself and accept where I am at. The steps are making this possible. At 24 miles, I change the shoes and decide to walk. I say to myself, \”I am used to going for 10 miles walks in these shoes. I will forget the previous 24 miles and now start a new 10 mile walk.\”

And on to Step 7: \”the attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of AAs 12 Steps\” No kidding. This was the 7th hour of the race. If, I made it through 4 laps, I\’d be at 28 miles, an ultra marathon. My legs were in pain but not the injury kind of pain. My toes were bad. It was hot. I\’m out long past a normal training run. I\’m approaching a marathon, when normally the race would be over. Yes, the race is kicking my butt; and my ego is insisting that this should not be. But it is. Accept it. I am under performing according to my ego.

\”without humility, they cannot live to much useful purpose or in adversity summon the faith that can meet any emergency\” Well, I see that self will cannot help me in THIS emergency; or any other I realize. Never has.

\”character building and spiritual values had to come first\” The race is causing me to build character; mainly as I face the weakness of my pride and ego. Mainly as I face my personal physical shortcomings. Short  fat toes get blisters no matter what. Shoes just don\’t fit them.

\”we never thought of making honesty, tolerance and true love of man and God the daily basis of living\” Yes, but how do you do that? I don\’t have the ability to not be egotistical. I mainly live by instincts: selfishly protect my self. But yet, there are many instances where I help someone else even though my ego has just told me not to. How do I become the person which is always helpful and not have to fight with self all the time?

\”For just so long as we were convinced that we could live exclusively by our own strength and intelligence, for just that long was a working faith in a higher power impossible\” I am beginning to realize my ability to focus on spirituality is failing. I\’m hot and tired and in pain and higher thinking isn\’t happening.

\”the process of gaining a new perspective was unbelievable painful\” This only told me that I am in pain at that moment. If I was gaining a new perspective, it was certainly through the pain.

During the 7th step, 26 miles came and went. I passed the point of getting another medal since I didn\’t think I\’d make it to 50 miles. Now, for the first time ever, I am doing miles for no gain. that is new. There won\’t be a material reward for what I am doing. I don\’t know the answer to why I do ultra marathons. The answer is somewhere out there in the miles and in the time.

I just passed my 50th lifetime marathon. One of the guys decides he will walk this lap with me. He says that the course is long. That his garmin just went past 27 miles even though we just past 26 miles. This is when I remember this is my 50th. I tell him and lift my hands in the air. We talk for this lap and it goes pretty fast. Then he quits.

7th Step Prayer: \”My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding\”

Step 8, 8th hour: \”…. develop the best possible relations with every human being we know…\” I don\’t try to do this. Now, at this moment of the race, I can\’t even figure this out. I\’m ok with these people here. I\’m not really able to want to fix my work life right at the moment. I am hot. My toes hurt.

\”… Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness…\”  Slippery again. I know I came from a bad family. I know the emotional problems are there. I can\’t do more right at the moment.

\”…what happens when we wallow in depression, self-pity oozing from every pore…\” I do this. My only hope is that when I return to work next week, I will become conscious of when this is happening. Right now in the race, I can\’t realize that I feel sorry for myself. Everyone else here hurts too. I know I am going to quit but they will keep going, no matter how slow, someone will be doing it. If I was unconscious of self-pity, I might quit and hate myself but not know why. Today, I will quit eventually, but not out of unconscious self-pity.

9th hour, 32 miles complete, Step 9: \”…we should try to be absolutely sure that we are not delaying because we are afraid. For the readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well-being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of step nine.\” This isn\’t helping me at all. I can\’t focus on it.

I changed my shoes after 32 miles. Now I am wearing shoes that have the toe box cut out. I decide to see how bad my toes hurt. I consider that if I quit, I won\’t finish the 12 Steps. My toes hurt even without anything touching them.

But here\’s what happened. Near the end of lap 33, I pull into the shade. Suddenly I think, \”If there is a traffic jam on I45, you might as well stay here at the race.\” Suddenly, my race is to be decided by Houston traffic. I can\’t help myself. The iphone comes out and Houston Transtar app is opened. No traffic. 100 feet later, I am asking for the 26 mile medal and handing in my chip. Game over.

Last night, I could barely hobble around the house. I stayed in bed about 10 hours. This morning I feel quite good. Definitely, 33 miles is not as bad as 50 miles. I\’m glad.

The major difference between this race and other similar events? While I did go a few more miles before quitting, and I didn\’t quit in hatefulness. I think that at other times, I have quit in seething hatefulness and self-justification. This time I quit with a peaceful mind and good attitude. So I quit at the proper time, but my ego was not involved. this is called serenity and I am grateful for it. Thank you 12 Steps.

Another part of the 12 Step program is the Serenity Prayer. This prayer did not occur to me yesterday but it does now as I reflect on the race. I got serenity yesterday. Serenity was the outcome.

\”God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.\”

Onward to life\’s next lesson.

Spiritual Experience No 073115

I was seated in a type of room that looks like a small theater or a college lecture hall. Next to me was a cute young black man in a pink shirt. He needed a pen and asked to borrow mine. I gave it to him. Then later, when we went on break he saved my seat. This was a cute relationship. We were somehow connected that quick.

The room was known as jury room 2; as opposed to another similar room filled with similar people, but their room was jury room 1. I\’m pretty sure almost no one in either room wanted to be there. We were there on penalty of punishment if we failed to show up on the day of our summons. It is amazing how obedient most people are when threatened with jail. I even made a joke to a colleague about not wanting to die in jail. My colleagues had coached me to just be calm and remember I am not in control.

I suppose many of the people are like me. I got my summons about a month ago. And ever since, I\’ve been wondering how to drive to downtown Houston for an 8 o\’clock start. I\’ve been frightened as hell because I don\’t ever go to down town Houston. The fear also produced a great deal of anger that I\’m going to have to drive 40 miles to get to jury duty and quite likely not let out until after 5 pm when it would for sure take at least an hour and a half to get home.

Fear would arise over and over during quiet times and in the night, or like when running. I could feel the steam building and building. I could feel almost on the verge of panic. Then, some lesson from A Course in Miracles or a prayer from AA Big Book would come in to my mind. The anxiety bubble would pop and I\’d forget it for awhile.

I was on a jury once and disliked it intensely. I vowed never to do that again. The next time I was called, I did something to make sure no lawyer picked me; but the judge gave me such a dirty look. I don\’t think I would ever try that again.

So I\’m scared to death of being on a jury and driving in Houston; and pissed about how late I\’ll get home. My small ego is having a field day with creating anxiety and hatred. The morning of, I turn my will over to the care of whatever higher power there is, I write down my ACIM lesson and grab The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I\’ve read this book once and I know it will help me with my false anxiety.

I look at the Houston Transtar map and see an accident on the highway I was planning to take. I quickly re-plot a route that is much longer but turns out to be free of traffic. I make it to the parking garage about 6:45 and note other people sitting in their cars; as I do until after 7. Then I walk down to the basement and through a series of tunnels to the jury plaza. I hand my paper in at the window and am told to go sit in room 2.

So I go sit. I watch the power point presentation about security and how to pay for parking and how can I be exempt. I read the juror hand book. Other people come in and sit. Everybody is pretty quiet. I open The Power of Now. First I read about Tolle\’s spiritual experience. I realize that Tolle is the same as Sam Harris, a guy I know named Larry, and numerous other stories I\’ve read. He didn\’t do any spiritual work. He was distraught one day and suddenly the universe opened up to him and he knew God. I am a spiritual seeker, but the emotional mountain top hasn\’t happened to me. And these books by these people seek to teach people like me how to have this experience. However, despite the lack of a mountain top, I realized I firmly stand on spiritual intuition as the basis of my life. I get through each and every day by trusting and relying on God. Divine help is my strength. These lessons from A Course in Miracles and these prayers from AA save my emotional bacon daily.

I pondered that for a little bit. I read one of Tolle\’s techniques. I totally agree with the statements on silence. So I shut my eyes there in jury room 2 and quiet my mind. I realize that I\’m more interested in being of service to the universe than playing games to piss off a judge to get out of jury duty. How may I best serve you? Thy will not mine be done. I realize that I\’ve put my life in the hands of the universe. Whatever my spirit wants to do, I will do. I sit there in the surrendered state for a brief few moments. I had achieved inner peace.

Suddenly the bailiff comes in and stands in the front of the room. He has a funny sort of smile on his face. He says something like,\” I have an announcement which I know will disappoint all of you. We called many extra people to jury duty today because we thought we would be having an extraordinary trial, that is, it would last more than 6 weeks.\” He pauses. The room full of people takes a collective gasp, \”Oh fuck, we all think.\” \”But, \” says the bailiff, \”that case just got settled out of court. So all of you are going to be set free in just a few minutes.\” Now everyone cheers. We high five. We are jubilant. A miracles has occurred. I look across the hall into jury room 1. Those people are not clapping and celebrating. They are lining up to go to various courtrooms.  In deed, in a few moments they let jury room 2 go. I am in my car and headed home, traffic free, by 9 am. And I did make it to my 5 pm AA meeting, a thing I worried I\’d miss.

But I have to tell you, I felt the miracle of creating my own reality at the moment I heard what the bailiff said. My ego didn\’t do anything. It hearkened to the ACIM chapter called \”You need do nothing.\” It was like, when my ego finally let go of it\’s plans and I achieved inner peace, another reality could arise.

When I myself quit projecting bad dreams, the world itself stops being a bad dream.

A New Attitude and Outlook on Life

I have been watching an unusual string of interesting events in my life. Don\’t know what to say about this. I\’d like to fill this blog with spiritual hot air and assure everyone how special I must be to God. All I\’ll say is I do feel somehow in sync with my spiritual self at the moment. And surprisingly, this all seems to add up in my head as: Houston loves me and I should stay here.

A month ago, I applied for a transfer and promotion which would be in Pittsburgh. After a week, I discussed the opportunity with the VP over my current area and got support for helping me. Another week and I was able to discuss the opportunity with my current boss; and he was supportive. I talked to another colleague who is in that area now and got some support. I\’ve sent 3 e-mails to the hiring manager but not been able to get a hold of her. And I\’ve heard nothing. (Except I did get the HR guy to say that the hiring manager had not called anyone for interviews yet).

Meanwhile, I had a wonderful trip to my old convent last weekend along with doing a marathon. Tuesday, I had an extra day off thanks to tropical storm Bill, who left Houston alone.

Wednesday and Thursday I had 2 new positive thinking episodes. I mean, true corrections in the way I think occurred. Sudden reversals from negative hateful thoughts to positive helpful thoughts. This has to be spiritual. On Friday, I had a new way of thinking about AA\’s 12 Promises which just blew me away. Another true thought correction.

Yesterday, I drove over a concrete chunk but nothing bad happened to the car. Today, I sped past a cop sitting in a trap but he didn\’t come after me.

There is a new 24 hour race in Houston in October. An e-mail from the RD was discussing discounts for his various races. I wrote to him and explained my DNS at his race in May and asked for a big discount for the 24 hour race. He wrote back and gave me 30% off.

Yesterday, I was reading one of the many many newsletters my company sends out. They were talking about a new culture team for our new company. Asking for volunteers. The opportunity would require at least 2 trips to Germany. I asked my boss; he approved but had to pass the approval up to the VP because of the travel costs. She approved it within a few minutes; even though she was on vacation. These people didn\’t tell me I couldn\’t go because of my Pittsburgh application. They just approved $20,000 in travel costs without blinking an eye. That is unheard of.

My corrected thinking is producing a new way of looking at the world which seems more than fleeting. I am able to perceive The Universe working with me instead of against me. This new outlook seems truly new to me.

I went for a 3 hour jog walk in the Seabrook trails this morning. The whole time I was thinking about the new 24 hour race, wondering if I would get the discount, wondering if I should stay in Houston. The only problem is: I don\’t know how to \”be\” happy, to \”be\” at perfect peace and ease. I am competitive to the core, ego driven to the max. I don\’t know how to sit back and enjoy. But Houston seems to be saying, \”Stay here. I love you.\”

I guess I have another ultra to train for.

A Morning of Inspiration

When I went to bed last night, I was pondering how I haven\’t had a feeling of spiritual energy in a while. That is, I used to get all excited about some new conviction but as I let go of my ego involvement, I feel conviction less and less. I purposefully restrict ego reward activities and instead sit in silence. So the high points go away. I edge toward Truth which must be a non-ego event.

This morning, I couldn\’t focus on my watch and thought it was late so I leaped out of bed. Getting down stairs I realized it was an hour earlier than I thought. So I had plenty of time for spiritual study and meditation.

\”Begrudgingly\” was the word that came out of my first meditations. What I was feeling was sort of like this: new people come begrudgingly into AA and begrudgingly try to work the steps. What is received, even from a begrudging effort, is so fantastic. A whole new body, mind and spirit comes through this way of life; totally different from the drunks we come in as.

This brought me to my long term sobriety and how did it come about. The words that meditation brought into my mind were \”Spiritual Sobriety.\” See, I have been a seeker after God for decades; but a majority of that time, at least until recently, was chasing after \”Enlightenment.\” Today for the first time I realized that enlightenment, and my efforts to force God to give it, is spiritual drunken-ness. Not spiritual sobriety.

But recently, my efforts at life have been directed toward what the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions calls \”the satisfactions of right living\” and \”true humility.\” I\’ve been actively attempting to stop living my life by self propulsion and running the show myself. I feel much more spiritually sober.

I was pondering the situation which happens with meditation; how we can keep our thoughts quiet only for very brief periods of time. Then two thoughts from the Big Book came into my mind. First the one about how some of us grasp AA as a drowning person grasps a life preserver. Second about the Sunlight of the Spirit. I thought of my life as a drowning person who occasionally has the strength to kick their head above water and grab a lungful of wonderful life giving air; and then sinking back down into the underwater struggle. Above the water is the Sunlight of the Spirit. The water is our resentments and ordinary ego world.

My spiritual life is like this. When I quiet my thoughts for even a few seconds, it is like sticking my head into the sunlight of the spirit. My begrudging part is that I don\’t sit in silence for hours a day. I spend about an hour in the morning and 10 minutes at night. Not much. But for even this paltry effort, I receive so much.

The Search for Happiness

I have been reading Paul Brunton\’s book Advanced Contemplation. I came on this chapter about happiness. Happiness is the American Dream. We think happiness is an inalienable right. And this situation has driven us crazy as well as made us sick and robbed us of integrity.

To preface this chapter on happiness, Brunton says, \” Outwardly we live and have to live in the very midst of cruel struggle and grievous conflict, for we share the planet\’s karma; but inwardly we can live by striking contrast in an intense stillness, a consecrated peace, a sublime security.\”

And in the first few lines he says, \”When people seek excessive entertainment and amusement what are they doing but confessing that few of them enjoy real happiness for long without some complimentary source of unhappiness.\”

And so for myself, things I\’ve been thinking about lately.

I am a person who has solved most of life\’s annoyances either because of a good salary or because I abstain from many social activities and norms. In fact the things that bug me are extremely small. What I know is my daily spiritual activities are my life\’s blood. This is where inner peace is born. The one thing I can do with my life is generate inner peace.

Inner peace is a situation which does not come from this world. It can be brought into the world, to the extent the practitioner is adept and matured.

Alcoholics Anonymous gives us the satisfactions of right living found in step 12 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. \”Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God\’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God\’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God\’s scheme of things–these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.\”  [underlines mine]

And so I venture out onto the trails of Seabrook.