Thursday, August 31, 2006

There are those moments in life where we can be Rocketed Into The Fourth Dimension of Existence. When I personally acheive this state, my connection to God is clear, I have a loving response to those I encounter and care about, my mind is quiet and centered, and most importantly I understand TRUTH.

My goal is to extend these "moments" to a way of life. I want to change my perspective. I want "a new pair of glasses". There is this guy Mike L. in New Jersy who keeps a recovery website. He writes in his blog about the 4th column of your 4th step inventory. He says it is the fuel that will rocket you into the Fourth Dimension. Since I am working on a 4th step, I'm buying an e-ticket. The wisdom of Mike L follows:

"Fourth Dimension of Existence"

Even though this is not mentioned specifically in the Big Book, by completing a searching, fearless, honest, and thorough inventory we are examining the 4 dimensions of our life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. (BUT only the fourth dimension, "spiritual", is rooted in Truth. But set that aside for a moment and read on...)

Column 1 of resentment inventory deals with the physical - Who or what we're mad at.

Column 2 deals with the mental - What we think they did to us.

Column 3 deals with the emotional - What we felt when they supposedly wronged us. (Clarence S. used to say that alkies don't think, "THEY EMOTE!" which means we feel our way through life.)

And finally, Column 4 rockets us into the spiritual dimension, revealing the "exact nature of our wrongs" - the truth about what really happened. It usually reveals to me how my faulty thinking caused me to take actions which got the "ball rolling" in the first place. With 99% percent of the resentments I see (both in myself and in those I work with) the first 3 columns can be turned into a lie when the truth of the fourth column is revealed.

Consider this: Is it possible that the 4th column of inventory, which reveals to us the "truth", is the "fuel" that enables us to be rocketed into the "Fourth Dimension of Existence" that the Big Book describes on pages 8 & 25? This "Fourth Dimension" is later described on page 84 as the "World of the Spirit" as we begin to commence daily spiritual living with Steps 10 & 11.

The "World of the Spirit" is a constant because Truth, which we first discover in the fourth column of Step 4, is a constant. Truth is always present at the core of our Being even when covered up (or blocked) by a lie.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I 'm the controller for a manufacturing company in Lawndale, Ca. The business is owned and managed by two brothers, Erik and Brian. Although we work in a very impoverished area, the company’s building, with its flowering vines and yellow awnings is a bright spot in the neighborhood.

I think we are all animal lovers. Erik brings his two dogs Fritz and Heidi to work each day and we have two cats, Jerky and Jet, who live there. From time to time I have taken my dogs to work with me. We have a dozen or so employees. It often feels like family (especially when we’re fighting).

A few weeks ago a little dog got hit by a car right in front of our building. His little owner had walked him up to the corner gas station to hose him down during the heat wave (the kids in this neighborhood have no yards or garden hose). The boy was frozen on the curb watching his dog struggle in the street.

His name was Pepper. He had slipped out of his leash, soaking wet, run out into traffic and been hit by a car. Brian ran to the street and scooped up Pepper and carried him to the curb, but there was nothing to be done. Erik knelt on the curb and stroked him and told him what a good dog he was while he passed from this life to the next. I held his little owner and told him he was a good boy too.

Erik and Brian dug a grave for Pepper. All of the neighborhood kids still come and put things on the site. They bring candles, lighters, school pictures, little statues, and even pictures of their dogs. The kids are all very shy, and a little nervous around us. They don’t speak English very well. I just smile. When they leave I blow kisses and tell them to be very careful crossing the street.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he Trust in God and clean house." - Page 98, Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

I’m working on a 4th step. If you are in a recovery program you know what this means. If not, then you don’t know the secret handshake and you should skip this post.

The Big Book instructs us to inventory three "common manifestations" of self-will: resentments, fears, and harms done to others. Then we share this inventory with our sponsor and it becomes the basis of a spiritual renewal. Kind of like a Chinese New Year.

A lot of people in the program hate working on their 4th step. I’m NOT one of them. My sponsor has been talking to me about love and compassion for those I have resentments at; and his latest blog is about forgiveness for both myself and others. This is going to be a good thing.

So with all of this in mind I pick up my pen, and ……………nothing, just tears.

hold on
hold on to yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell
hold on
hold on to yourself
you know that only time can tell

Hold On Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My husband left home today to hike to the top of another mountain. He does this about once a month. When he feels the need to clear his mind and shake off the urban decay, I find him in the back of the house organizing his gear. I don’t mind. The truth is he always returns home somehow better than when he left. Hiking is a spiritual experience for Patrick. He connects with his Higher Power when he is alone on the trail. Some friends have suggested that we should hike together, so I’ve gone with him a few times. I’m happy to report that my God is alive and well at sea level.

My help is in the mountain
Where I take myself to heal
The earthly wounds
That people give to me.
I find a rock with sun on it
And a stream where the water runs gentle
And the trees which one by one give me company.
So must I stay for a long time
Until I have grown from the rock
And the stream is running through me
And I cannot tell myself from one tall tree.
Then I know that nothing touches me
Nor makes me run away.
My help is in the mountain
That I take away with me.
Nancy Wood

Monday, August 21, 2006

I’ve just finished reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a novel by Dai Sijie . It’s the story of 2 students who were sent to do hard labor during China’s Cultural Revolution. Chairman Mao Zedong was sort of an “egalitarian on crack” who altered Chinese history in the 1960s and '70s, forcibly sending hundreds of thousands of young Chinese intellectuals to peasant villages for "re-education." These students were taken from their families and robbed of any opportunity for education. The Cultural Revolution in China, and the ensuing death and destruction at the hand of Mao Zedong and his Red Guard happened in our lifetime. This is not ancient history.

It’s a great book, although as a priviledged American, I always get uncomfortable reading about any kind of suffering that I am not willing or able to help alleviate.

And then, of course, there’s the political issue. I get just plain pissed off. But if I examine my heart do I totally disagree with the theory of what he was trying to accomplish? I pulled into a 7-11 parking lot the other day. It was full of kids that just didn’t seem to have anything better to do than block my car. They were hanging out, smoking and talking on their cell phones, listening to their ipods, and looking incredibly spoiled and bored with life. I live in an affluent community. These kids didn’t seem to have a care in the world, not for each other, not for themselves, not for anyone less fortunate or humanity as a whole. Maybe a few months working in a homeless shelter, a hospice or in the fields with the migrant workers isn’t such a bad idea after all. What did Mao call it? Re-education?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Leap of Faith

I spent part of my Sunday reading The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry. It is a children’s story written in 1943, full of poetic metaphors and spiritual lessons. I am a member of a 12 step program, a recovering drug addict with 13 years of sobriety. In order to maintain sobriety it is important that we [people in recovery] “continue to grow along spiritual lines”. Lately I’ve been stalled in my recovery program; restless and irritable; lonely and depressed. My sponsor thought it was time for me to read The Little Prince. He says I’m like the fox. I know what he really means is he wants me to learn the lesson of the fox.

When the little prince meets the fox he wants to play and be his friend. But the fox is unwilling because first he needs to be tamed. The little prince does not understand this. So the fox explains that they will “establish ties”, they will start slow and come to trust and understand one another, and finally they will become unique to one another in all the world. “One only understands the things one tames”, “if you want a friend, tame me….” said the fox.

So MANY of us need to be tamed. We have lost faith. Many have been betrayed by our friends, lovers, churches, communities, governments, heroes, mentors. For those of us with addictions we have even been betrayed by our own bodies and minds. We have lost the ability to feel safe with one another. And particularly for people with wreckage in their past, rebuilding trust is a slow process.

So yes, sometimes I am like the fox. But the good news is that I don’t have to be an untamed fox. I have choices today. I can make a leap of faith. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me to trust in an infinite God, rather than my finite self. So I will open my heart to those in the fellowship who will mentor me, and start the process of being tamed.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

All of my life I have been learning valuable lessons from dogs. I grew up in a large family, lots of kids and dogs. I think my parents had dogs to help them with the kids. Parenting a herd of kids is no easy task. We ran like a pack. The dog kept us out of the street, clear of the neighbor’s pool and snarled away many a stranger. They licked our wounds and tears, ran and played until we were exhausted, and then demonstrated how to go to bed without an argument. I learned about loyalty, fearlessness, not to pull tails, and where babies come from. I also learned about grief and letting go as our family pets aged and eventually died. These were all good life lessons. I’m grateful to the dogs of my childhood.

I still have dogs. My husband and I currently have three that we have rescued from shelters. Bob, Charlie, and Lucy. We say we have rescued them, but many days they rescue us. They know the sound of our cars coming down the street. When I open my front door after a long day I am greeted with love and enthusiastic affection by three amazing spirits. They leap in the air and shout for joy. They race in circles and bring me a toy to share. Then they settle down, look into my eyes and check on my spirit and the condition of my soul. Whatever it is I may need, they are here to serve. They know me better than I know myself . They know how to care for me without being asked. We laugh and play. We cuddle. Sometimes we cry. We walk and run, sometimes we sleep the day away.

Each of us who consider ourselves spiritual beings have at one time or another spent time contemplating our own definition of a Higher Power. At the beginning of my spiritual path this process did not come easily. A friend suggested that I may want to think about the GOD - DOG connection. I considered all of the unconditional love that I have been blessed with by these amazing little messengers from above. I was then able to understand my God. He is loving and fearless, gentle and forgiving. He wants only joy and delight for my spirit and cares only that the condition of my soul is peaceful.

So I have learned another lesson from my dogs. Now it is my turn. Whatever it is HE may need I am here to serve.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A word about the title of my blog. I love music. All kinds of music. My whole world and every scenario in it have a soundtrack, either real or imagined. But even more than the music itself, are the lyrics. I’m a lyrics freak. After years of listening to rock and roll, country, punk, indie, and now alternative music I’ve come to believe that there isn’t an emotion, a nuance, a fear, a hope or dream that hasn’t been perfectly expressed by a song lyric. And yeah I know this is not great literature. But is there really any poetry better than Bob Dylan’s description of Desolation Row?

How about Patty Scialfa’ perfect lyric about a young girl’s demoralization (yet again) in the song Young in the City.

I ferried my dreams across the water
Underneath a faceless moon
I woke to find myself uncovered
In this dark and dusty room

And then there’s Train “Calling All Angels” (I’ve done that more than a few times) and on and on and on.

A ride in the car with me means LOUD music, sorry no conversation. I sacrificed my hearing to the speaker gods years ago, standing in front of a bank of speakers in some auditorium while ELO played.

The point is….if you know me, you know I put on the headphones and live in my own world when I can. I don’t always know what to say to you when my heart is overflowing or my head is on spin cycle. But I know a song that probably expresses it perfectly. Just ask me. I’ll sit you down under my Ipod.
First post. Okay, okay, this feels like a lot of pressure. Make sense. Be articulate. Try to be interesting. Then I remembered what my friend David (who actually inspired me to move my blog from my mind to the screen) wrote in his early postings. He ventured a guess that he only had a few readers; and of those, only one cared, and that was his Mom. So…. I’m floating on a tidal wave (Chris Martin, Coldplay X&Y) I’ve been told that if I would just relax and keep my head back, looking skyward, everything’s gonna be just fine. But I’ve been known to bob around in the water, just to see what’s coming up behind me.