Recently I was listening to an old recording of a man called Father Martin, who was an alcoholic who entered a treatment facility for clergymen in 1958.
The recording had little tick and gravelly sounds, like it was very old, a nostalgic feel like a moment from history.
I could hear this man using a powerful mind to analyze, comprehend, and understand this process of alcoholism, and his own painful experience.
The day before I listened to the recording, I had been a part of a spontaneous and profound discussion amongst myself and three other wonderful friends (one being my husband) as we left an event at the same time.
It had been one of those beautiful conversations that arises unexpectedly where we were all sharing deep observations, standing there with our bags and backpacks, having thought we were going home but instead lingering for over 90 minutes until after midnight, listening to one another, thinking, observing out loud.
A council of the wise, in an unplanned moment.
One point that had come up with these dear friends…why some people suffer, crash, find peace or make significant life changes, and why some do not?
For example, why do some addicts hit bottom, find themselves in ruin, recognize a deep need to stop the way they view the world, and make a life change….and some do not?
As I listened to Father Martin I thought of that conversation. I thought that actually, everyone does stop.
It’s just that some people do it before they die. Others wait until death.
“When a person says I can’t handle it, I need help….there’s hope.” ~ Father Martin
I thought about this balance between learning and growing within this individual mind and the support and help I’ve received from what appears to be outside this thing called “me”.
Such an odd thing.
Aware of this “me” that is a personality and a body, that was born and will die on its own….and yet noticing that whatever this person here is….it is a part of the molecules and surrounding entities, life, environment, objects, energies, influences, other people, everything.
Truly connected to it all, in the soup with it all. Entirely merged with everything, part of a field.
But enough of the cosmic stuff.
There is something comforting about the possibility of entering a moment of surrender, agony, or disaster that forces an individual to wake up.
Or if not comforting exactly, something magnetic about that story. He or she was like that, for many years….and then one day…something happened.
And it was good. The suffering at such an acute level was over.
It doesn’t have to be about alcohol.
In fact, its not really ever about drinking alcohol, using, smoking, compulsively surfing the internet, not being able to stop cleaning your house, or any other “addictive” process.
All those behaviors are born out of difficult THINKING. Difficult perceptions, believing painful thoughts. Having a relationship to the universe that is fearful, nervous, sad, worried, angry.
“Your whole life has been about finding a way out. You’ve tried therapy,
coaching, meditation, bodywork, creative visualization, positive thinking,
network marketing, blue-green algae, everything you can possibly try to
save you. And suddenly you realize there is no way out. There is a complete stop. You are simply here. There’s no escape.” ~ Joan Tollifson
Dang it! I wanted the Get-Outta-Normal-Life-Free Card!
Not really. Not now.
As I look back on my own life journey, I remember the time in my twenties when I was suicidally depressed. My moods swung from wildly hopeful to horrendously pessimistic.
Life felt very volatile, unpredictable and frightening. I reached out for help. I did NOT want to die young.
What was really volatile, unpredictable and frightening? My stories about the world, my thinking.
I suppose I did hit bottom in that story…facing the fact that my own approach to life was not working, was too stressful, was deadly.
I not only quit binge-eating and starving myself and smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol in drunken quantities….I most importantly began to question what I believed at a very, very deep level.
When you can stop long enough to question your thinking for a moment when difficult things happen, then your bottoms and tops become closer together, less deep, less high.
Maybe there are little bottoms all day long, little reminders that you are not in charge, you are not getting special treatment, and there’s really no way out of this.
Just in case you’re one of those people who may be thinking you have never hit bottom, or had a huge shake-up, or never faced a moment when it was a matter of life or death for you to change….and you long for a Big Change…
…answer right now: is it true that you need to hit bottom? that you need big pain or confusion to alter your life experience? that you need to have some major shift of consciousness like Byron Katie or Eckhart Tolle?
Is it true that you need to wake up out of dream NOW, with a bang? Do you need to have a big discovery inside to henceforth have a better life?
No, doesn’t appear to be true. Some people wake up more gently and slowly, in baby steps.
Some people don’t make much change.
The thing about hitting bottom is that you don’t really know you hit it until long afterwards, and you look back and can see how you turned in a different direction.
Without the belief that I need to shift, change, have a waking up experience, become enlightened, see differently….then I really have just about no future.
I am here now with no expectations.
No way out.
“Stand in your own shoes, and examine closely: What’s happening right here and right now? Is it possible to let go of trying to make anything happen? Even in this moment, there may be some suffering, there may be some unhappiness, but even if there is, is it possible to no longer push against it, to try to get rid of it, to try to get somewhere else?” ~ Adyashanti
P.S. only one space left for YOI group that starts on Thursday 9/12. If connecting with a group to question your beliefs for a year sounds wonderful, then maybe now’s the time! Join us!