Playing It By Year

The elusive hermit Dick Clark rings us in from the past.  He truly does age backwards.
The elusive hermit Dick Clark rings us in from the other side. He truly does age backwards.

I never intended to write a New Year’s Eve Post.  Just happens that as I write this, we are on the cusp of January.  Our collective dance card is moving along to the next two-stepping pardner (“Scat you old coot – new cowpoke is up next and they’re coming in a bit ornery, like a possum after licking a Palo Pinto porcupine.”)  Now I will admit, for the first time, I am coming into this writing here with no blueprint. No preconceived notion or battle plan to affix my stake to.  Just a wing and a Hail Mary.  I have no clue what the next words are going to be. Velociraptor. Cyborg. Flagrant. Semaphore. Megaphone. Onomatopoeic. See?  A sort of typographical Tourette’s going on here.  Fandangle. (I will stop now, the horse is down and I can stop stomping away).

I am not one for resolutions.  Never made one in my whole life, other than a quiet, unassuming and usually self-sabotaging one to stop drinking….maybe.  At some point.  It was a colossal lie of omission, as since I never verbalized it, I didn’t really break it, yes?  Can I get a Tony Soprano “Capice?” I wasn’t one for brazen and brass declarations. I never promised myself, let alone anyone else, a petunia garden. Now, if I had promised a silo of manure, then I would have strapped myself to a large, about-to-sink-soon ship and declared myself King of the World™.  That I could deliver, with speed and efficiency that would befuddle FedEx™.

A work in progress, let’s just say.

So without any sort of moral, physical (go to the gym? Ya right) and emotional compasses to deal with, I was going in the exact direction I was supposed to go to.  That of “lost”.  And lost I was, because deep down, in all those years of feigning having a sense of self and an external life that could possibly make it on the cover of “Decently Average Dude Monthly”, inside I was like Jeffy on Family Circus trying to make it from Point A to Point B in an M.C Escher-type dotted path.  Like following bread crumb trail on acid.  During a hail storm.  I didn’t have a map of any kind to kindly tell me that I should make a dainty left when really I wanted to plunge into a nice hot lava bath below.

Not that having a New Year’s resolution would have turned the trick anyway.  For me, a New Year’s resolution back then was like trying to put matching curtains on a tank that was engulfed in flames and plummeting over a cliff.  Nice try and an “A” for effort, but pointless.  Because to have a resolution and to follow through with it meant having some criteria attached to it.  Such as:

  • Willingness to improve one’s lot in life
  • Self-esteem or even a sense of self to attach to
  • Giving a rat’s ass

And since I was bereft of the first two, I had to rely on the last one, and at the time, my rats-ass-ium score was a juicy fat Nil.  Not that I didn’t care at all, as I knew that deep down in me, where the Keebler Elves make delicious cookies, there was a willingness to change.  It was a molecule of willingness, but it was there. I just couldn’t feel it.  In fact, I probably didn’t even know it existed.  But there was a miniscule orb of something that the rest of me wasn’t.  There was always that warm, gentle, breathy voice that, on the odd time things were still in my soul, and away from the tempest tossed of my life, I could hear.  I could feel it.  And I know it was apart from my out-of-mind mind because that voice usually told me what the right thing to do was.  And then the noise from a thousand jazz-handing ferrrets in my mind would gear up again and the circus would continue it’s show in me. Soft Voice stunted.  Shut down so quickly Norma Rae’s head would have spun.

If that voice tells you to eat more broccoli, then go for it.  You might need roughage.
If that voice tells you to eat more broccoli, then go for it. You might need more roughage…or you just have an odd, vegan-based voice.

Resolutions to me were already empty promises before leaving my lips or pen, so to give them credence by uttering or scrawling them seemed a waste of time.  And besides, their true manifestation (i.e. utter and complete failure) would bring me into a state of depression, shame, guilt, and remorse.  And we all know that drinking really helps with that.  At least it sounded like a good idea then.  A full fisted goblet of Châteaux Whatever-Is-Around (it was always a good year, or month) turned that frown of mine upside down for a heartbeat then back to frownier than frown.  Because clearly I fail at everything, so I might as well pre-fail something and maybe I won’t feel like such a loser.  Oops, I did it again.

Of course, things are a little brighter ’round these parts since that whole recovery thing happened.  It’s still happening.  It’s like the Big Bang – started a while ago, but the light and residue from it are still illuminating the way for me.  It’s not just one event, but it’s a continual thing.  Improving my lot in life isn’t so much about feisty and zippy pledges on January 1st.  It’s about listening to the Creator, listening to my inner most self, listening to that once quashed voice.  When I sit and actually listen, I hear something.  The echo from that Big Bang, the echo from my authentic self starts to resonate just a little bit more…and that’s where I get the nudges, as I call it.  The Nudges – where I am supposed to go, to be, to do, to serve.  I do my best to get me out of the way, so I can follow these tiny vibrations that bring me to where I need to be.  I have a map now.

Took me a while to find this map.
Google can’t find this one, baby.

So what does this have to do with the price of egg(nog)? Hell if I know.  But I do know that a couple of weeks ago I read a post on Mished-Up’s blog and she talked about coming up with a word for the year.  I thought that is was funkengruven good idea.  I shelved it, like most good ideas (ha!) and moseyed on my merry way through the holidays.  But something was nudging me.  This thought of a word – a single verbal designation of sorts – to define a year yet to unfold seemed…alluring.  Dangerous perhaps?  Not sure.  And then I read Christy’s latest post yesterday, and she too mentioned it.  So I went back to Mished-Up’s original post and several others weighed in with their ideas and it really gained momentum in me.  Moved my spirit a bit. So I too will allow the process to come organically.  I am not going to force it, even though the new year is less than a day away.  I have some ideas, but I will sit with them.  Let them battle it out in the Octagon.  See whose face is pummelled less when they crawl out.  Crown a golden gelding.

So this thing about resolutions – do they need to be so hard-capped?  I think what I have taken away from this past year is that when I am guided by these nudges, I always find myself in a place of growth.  Doesn’t mean that I might be having fun, but I am there because I am needed right then and there.  It’s like standing in the ocean and feeling the gentle pushes and pulls of the currents underneath. And so why not throw a marker out there?  Put something out into the sea and see if I get there without drowning.  Toss it far enough that it’s not staring at me in the face, but close enough that I know it’s around.  Roving in my general view.  A reflection from the sunlight on the surface that catches my eye now and then.  That’s the kind of thing that I can get on (wake)board with.

Even the B-Man is down with it.  I will stop trying to be ironically hip now.
Even the B-Man is down with it. (I will stop trying to be ironically hip now).

This may all sound airy-fairy, but for me there is always some concrete actions behind them.  I am slow on the uptake, but I manage to get there at some point (see hare and rabbit).  I do my best to follow through on these gentle draws to my spirit.  For example, I have had for the last six months now this tiny but perceptible pull towards opening things up in a different direction out here. My reaction a while ago was to perhaps shut things down here at The Bottle.  In fact, what my spirit was really asking was to expand where I needed to, not shutting down where I was at.  Funny how I took that cue in a totally different direction.  My problem was that I jumped at something in a different way – I let my head take control rather than my heart.  Ego at work. I needed to sit with things more.  I was trying to make a snowball out of a single snow flake.  I needed to let the precipitation get to shovelling level before seeing the path in front of me.

So I have a new blog that I have been toiling on as of late.  Not sure when I will officially start it…but it’s been something I have been toying with and would be different than what it going on here.  I don’t in fact even have much more to go on than that. Like my word for the year.  Or like the vision board I want to put up with my family.  These are just sign posts that will eventually point to something.  And hopefully they will line up with the will of the Creator. These things we do sometimes, these resolutions, can be more than just wishes and petitions.  They can be spiritual and psychic touchstones to a newer plane in life.  Maybe red herrings.  But that’s okay – I like herrings.  With sour cream…and lots of it.  So there is never a waste.

I shall mark this in my new calendar.  Some guidelines, some markers for the new year.  See what happens.  They say that visualizing things, putting things into the Universe starts to move mechanisms behind the scenes a la Wizard of Oz to bring things to that end.  I can honestly say that things like that have happened to me, so this is no pie in the sky thinking (unless you visualize pie in the sky for yourself).  I don’t know the exact mixture of voodoo and elbow grease involved, but I will get those little clues as needed.  That wee voice will nudge me towards that goal. The Creator will work through others to get me where I need to go.  I will have a cosmic kick in the butt now and then.  More will be revealed, as they say.

I’ll play it by year.

Even these hep cats can't wait to see what happens.  As long as it's not liver and onions.  They hate liver and onions.  I don't.
Even these hep cats can’t wait to see what happens. As long as it’s not liver and onions. They hate liver and onions. I don’t. (I must be hungry, I realize I have used food a lot here on this post)

For those of you who are struggling: stay near.  This is a time of year where some of us return to the bottle, where that deep down desire to be enough, to be felt, to be at a place of ease and comfort, to be caressed by the illusion of sanctuary, to feel alive even for a brief moment, comes to play.  This is a time of year where temptation may be yielded to, even against our own wills.  Or where it seems the fight is no longer there, or the surrender hasn’t happened yet – guns still cocked, but with no ammo.  This is a time of year where pressure from others, fancied or real, may start to quell the voice of sobriety.  Regardless of the mechanism, please stay near.

Stay near to us.  Stay near to your spiritual guide, if you have one.  Stay near to the part of you that so desperately knows that drinking will bring even more pain and suffering.  Stay near to your meetings. Stay near to your support system.  Stay near your phone in case you need it.  Stay near to the wee voice that tells you where to steer that car.  Stay near to the things that have served you.  Stay near home and avoid going anywhere that threatens your sobriety right now.  Stay near.  We need you.  We love you. We want you here.  You are such a beautiful spirit and the spirits in the bottle will rip at you until there is little left.  But where there is breath, there is hope. Where there is breath, there is hope. Where there is breath, there is hope.
always hope

Happy New Year to everyone who has crossed my path and brought me joy, camaraderie, friendship, a new lesson, hope.  Happy New Year to the struggling alcoholic / addict who I pray finds the support and actions needed to get over that wall.  Happy New Year to all of those who helped me with their letters of support.  Happy New Year to you, my teachers and friends, showing me through actions and words how to deal with life and others with grace, integrity and dignity.  Happy New Year to you, whoever is reading this.

Love and Blessings,


42 Comments Add yours

  1. finallyat50 says:

    Happy New Year to you too Paul. I’m here reading, and learning. Sober. Thank you.

    1. Happy New Year to you, my friend. Glad you’re on the sober train. Glad you’re here 🙂


  2. Hi Paul, I would like to offer up a word for your consideration, and that word is logophile. For the record, if you were to focus on one word for an entire year, those of us who use your blog like a “word of the day” calendar would really suffer (hee hee).

    I am beyond excited to hear you are starting a new venture, I plan to be your first follower. I am so intrigued as to which direction you will be expanding, I cannot wait to hear more!

    Happy, happy new year to you, Paul, I am truly excited to see how you evolve in 2014!

    1. Love the new pic, Josie! Logophile? New one to me. See – I am learning something here. Good to jot in my new day timer. The word thing would just be a general aura for my own being. Not necessarily fodder for this space, but it could be 🙂

      Thanks on the new venture stuff. I am not rushing it. Just letting it come to me as needed. I love the new look of your own space – lots of renovations going on everywhere 🙂

      So glad you’re here…you’re a blessing in my life.

      Happy New Year!


  3. mishedup says:

    word of the year…..’I LOVE this practice!
    And you are right, sit with it and allow it to organically happen. My first word of the year didn’t happen until a few weeks into January, so there is nor rush.

    excited about your new venture! I am hoping to blog more this year…write more actually.
    And stay sober…because without that, well, you know.

    Happy New Year Paul, thanks for your service!

    1. mishedup says:

      oh, and BTW….I looked at the post you referenced, and you’ll never guess what my word is!

      1. mishedup says:


        (but hey, it’s the word, have you heard!)

    2. Love your word this year – FREE. Ah…saying it just feels good.

      I too hope you write more – I really enjoy what you have to say and the groovy way you say it.

      I will write about my word soon. Just gotta find the time! And for the new venture – yeah, that’s also going slowly, but organically. Don’t want to rush it, and frankly, it’s not a big deal. Just another blog 🙂

      Happy New Year to you, my dear friend.


  4. OH, what a great post. This:
    by the illusion of sanctuary, to feel alive even for a brief moment
    and this:
    Stay near to the wee voice that tells you where to steer that car. Stay near to the things that have served you.

    So much here. I am staying near, as you say, to that…knowing, that order, that something that is growing–against my will, literally–inside me and that continues to propel me toward YES. I think my “phrase” of 2014 is going to turn out to be: Just Say YES. 🙂

    Happy New Year to you, dear Paul! xx

    1. DDG! Love you when you stop by, and I am ever more chuffed that you’re back in my Reader. Double win for me.

      Loved your post on Just Say Yes. Wonderful stuff and it resonated with me a lot.

      Glad you’re staying near 🙂


  5. Happy New Year!
    Looking forward to the new blog, new words of wisdom and thank you for all you do for us here in the blogging world.

    1. Thank YOU Carrie for all you do. We’re in this together 🙂

      I wish you a wonderful New and Sober Year!

      Love and light,

  6. Just copy and paste what Carrie said and put it here. Really enjoy the blog and will be sure to follow a new one. Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you Sharon for being a beacon of light! It’s always a joy seeing that smiling face here 🙂

      Have a blessed new year.


  7. jrj1701 says:

    I have a new year’s resolution, nice and simple: Don’t Panic!!!;p
    Happy New Year from this silly hillbilly, I am very glad that I came across your blog and I am eagerly awaiting your next post, especially excited about your new project, so don’t make this a prolonged lesson in patience, plueese!!! May your year be full of God’s blessings+++

    1. JR! What happiness to see ya here. Don’t Panic indeed! The answer is 42, remember.

      I look forward to your writings – don’t hide them or squirrel them away. We need your insights and light 🙂


  8. big mike says:


    So far, for the year 2014, I have read two things. The first one is copied and pasted below and the second is your blog.

    I feel like I’m off to a good start.

    January 1……………………

    Thought for the Day

    When I came into A.A., was I a desperate person? Did I have a soul-sickness? Was I so sick of myself and my way of living that I couldn’t stand looking at myself in a mirror? Was I ready for A.A.? Was I ready to try anything that would help me to get sober and to get over my soul-sickness? Should I ever forget the condition I was in?

    Meditation for the Day

    In the new year, I will live one day at a time. I will make each day one of preparation for better things ahead. I will not dwell on the past or the future, only on the present. I will bury every fear of the future, all thoughts of unkindness and bitterness, all my dislikes, my resentments, my sense of failure, my disappointments in others and in myself, my gloom and my despondency. I will leave all these things buried and go forward, in this new year, into a new life.

    Prayer for the Day

    I pray that God will guide me one day at a time in the new year. I pray that for each day, God will supply the wisdom and the strength that I need.

    From Twenty-Four Hours a Day © 1975 by Hazelden Foundation.

    1. Love the 24 hrs book. Rarely miss a day reading it. Started reading it from Day 1 and I have yet to read the same thing twice, which I know you know what I mean…just like the BB…someone seems to rewrite it when I am not looking…lol.

      Thank you for posting this – I hope others got out of it what I did, what you did…

      You’re a champ for recovery, Mike. I haven’t had much interaction with you, but I feel it spilling out of your words. Big heart.

      Thank you for being here – and have a wonderful, HP-guided New Year.


      1. big mike says:

        Thanks Bro,

        Check this out: it might be interesting to you‎

  9. Ginger says:

    I love the “Stay Near” part of this post. It is too easy for me to feel that natural letdown after the holidays and let it fester into a pity party that leads back to the bottle. I know that. I fear that. I will stay near. Thanks and Happy New Year.

    1. Stay near, my friend. Self pity is a monster for me (I write about it often here – believe me)…and that thing always kept that bottle in my hand. Don’t let it pave the way for you. Gratitude, helping others…a quick call to someone who might need to hear a friendly voice…these things help me all the time. Stay near. 🙂

      Happy New Year!


  10. lucy2610 says:

    We all seem to think so alike – it’s spoooky. You have that little voice too and I’m so glad that it isn’t just me and a symptom of needing the men in white coats 😉 Like Ginger, I also loved the ‘stay here’ part of the post, particularly ‘the spirits in the bottle will rip at you until there is little left’. So true Paul so true. Happy 2014 to you and I’ll be reading whatever or wherever you blog it xx

    1. It’s crazy how we think we are so unique and all, and then we read each other’s work or talk to one another and see that hey…we’re not all that different, are we? Circumstances might be different, but the stuff inside…so eerily similar.

      I am so glad you’re here, Lucy. I am always grateful to connect with like folks, and it’s an honour to have anyone reading and being a part of this thing we all do.

      Thanks for the support – looking forward to more of your stellar stuff over in your corner of the world!


  11. Wow. Everything feels so different now that it’s 2014. Everything is so promisey and hopefullish. In fact, the world seems to have taken on a distinct oyster-like quality, and I’m absolutely aspirating on ambition.
    I give it 45 more minutes. It too will pass.
    And while I’m waiting, might as well check in with my sober compadre north of the Niagara.
    Happy New Year, Pauly! I didn’t know Canadians celebrated New Year’s on the same day as us. Figured it was different, like Thanksgiving or St. Jean-Baptiste Day. Always trying to be different, you guys. Different money. Different government. Different way of spelling “theater” and “labor.” Sometimes it feels like you folks are trying to go Peter Brady on us.
    Like you’re trying too hard.
    Anyway, it’s not for me to judge. If you want to be a different country, that’s on you.
    At least sobriety is the same. Right? You don’t have like a three-beer limit or anything. It’s still zero tolerance up there, too.
    So we’re all in the same boat (life raft) when it comes to that. We can start the dialogue there.

    I can’t come up with a word. For the new year, I mean. I wish I was that laconic. I keep hyphenating two, sometimes three, words together. Keep trying to cram more into, rather than distill down to. I don’t know. How about “oysterish?”
    I give up. It’s too hard. Stupid exercises in conciseness. Always forcing me to focus on the essential. I prefer the superfluous. Wait. That’s my word!
    Anyway, Pauly, I’m really glad you decided to open up instead of shut down. Here at The Bottle and, I imagine, in general. It’s a new option for me too these days.-Letting things in, instead of killing off. It’s just so radical to allow stuff the space to grow, instead of shooting it execution-style. But it really does work better. Who’d a thunk?
    And that deserves a toast. Everybody please raise your glass of Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice. To works in progress! May we not murder them in their sleep!
    Hoping our friendship continues to grow old and gnarled, and our epiphanies multiply like Tribbles.
    Your grizzled dog-faced trenchmate,
    PS That guy in the photo of the French hipsters is Pierre Fresnay, no? He was in some 1931 movie set around a Marseille bar. Part of the Fanny trilogy directed by Alexander Korda. But what was the name of his character? I remember it was something weird. It’ll come to me.

    1. I often need a bracing shot of Mrs. McKenny’s Milk Thistle and Fungal Essence Distillate before attempting to respond to your Fantasia-esque flights of fancy. Something to allow the vapours to dissolve and to open the mind like a squirrel cracking an acorn on those goofy chompers of theirs. Remember taking milk thistle, Senor Gustaitis? By the wheelbarrow full? Thinking that it would magically reverse the hari kari that we repeatedly thrust onto our livers. I mean, stopping drinking would have probably done the trick. Maybe visiting a licenced physician who knows the guts of people too. Perhaps get that thing called a “check up”. But we are of another kind. We enjoy thermal flushes and belladonna treatments, self-help guru seminars and swooning music of the spheres to help our scarred and ravaged insides.

      I had to laugh at your New Year’s Eve thing. Clearly we in Canada have the same day, but we alter it by spelling it “Gnu Yheerz Dé”. We then roll around in polar bear lice infused maple syrup and sing the national anthem backwards in Polish. To keep tradition alive, really. Polish people have a place in our society. Ask them. Other than that, yeah, we keep our zero-tolerance at zero. Metric zero, which is on par with your archaic imperial currency. (quick question – why is it that only dealers use metric down there?)

      “Oysterish” might be a quackery of genius. Does that make sense? I don’t think it does, but that’s ok. We’re amongst friends. But I don’t think you need that magic word, Mar Man. You have the magic built in you, in that Sputnik-sized heart of yours. Adjusting for tail wind and space dust. You always have the right words for me, and for the others who are blessed to have you in their lives. The cut of your jib is perfect. Like glass on ice. Seamless. So you need not apply. Just stick with the troops you stormed the castle with and you’ll continue to find those ways in. You always do, regardless of what the Mayans think.

      As for the pic – it’s an old Bollywood film – Sagai (1951). But they wear the hipster thing well. I will have to rent it one day, and send you my fave quotes. Maybe we’ll write the sequel. What a blast that would be.

      Flying by the seat of his pants,

  12. iamsobernow says:

    I love the “stay near” part of this post as well. In fact, I’ve copied and pasted it to my bathroom mirror. I need all the stay near encouragement possible just as we all do. Lovely, lovely post!

    1. Glad to have you near as well. Congrats on 27 days…and if it makes you feel any better, I too go back to work today after a few weeks off. Ugh. But I am ready for a break from my break 🙂



  13. warmginger says:

    A superb stonker of a post for starting the new year. You had me in stiches and then also welling up, and that is a damn difficult achievement, trust me. Takes a word magician to get me past my habitual wry smile and you managed it many times in 2013. So, I’m really looking forward to the new blog and seeing where it takes you…us…the wider world.

    I too poo-poo New Year Resolutions, as they just fire up my inner rebel and in the absence of an external authority figure, they just make me sabotage myself. So I’ve tended to go down the old inspirational quote route. Sometimes one I make up myself, sometimes someone else’s (like 2014’s from Rafael Wugalter).

    But the one word idea I love too. One of my very wonderful blogging buddies, Laurie Buchanan, wrote on this the other day and I would recommend her blog: Her posts every Tuesday – and the comments they inspire – have always, always given me something. Hell, I occasionally even come over all spiritual when I’m ‘with’ her! 😉

    1. “Stonker” – another new word for me here today! I imagine this is more of a Brit linguistic thing? Love it. Sign me up for a Brit word a day, and I’ll be pulling a reverse Eliza Doolittle by year end. 🙂

      Thank you for the link – took a quick peek and really like what she does there. May have to sign on a new loyal fan…like I am of yours. A friend of yours is a friend of mine.

      And as for the inner rebel – I read your last post and then realized I may to duck now and then from the crossfire 🙂

      Thanks for being here and all that you do.

      Blessings and Happy New Year!


  14. I love your thoughts on the New Year. It’s good to have some plans but it’s also important to take each day as it comes. Makes life a lot more manageable that way.
    Really enjoyed your message to stay near. Thank you for being amongst those who accept me for who I am and encourage me in my sobriety journey.
    Wishing you much happiness and success in 2014 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Carolyn!

      Accepting each other is the cornerstone for reaching out and being reachable…you are so right on that. You are an important part of my recovery family. Have a wonderful new year as well 🙂


  15. bornsirius says:

    Ah HA I see where the idea of nudges came from now. Love it and that thought, Paul. I’ve noticed lately that listening to the little pokes inside is a lot more helpful than listening to the sway of my changing emotions. I love this idea… will be carrying it with me.I have had some nudges around my graduate school decision… soft intuitional pulls kind of like the moon on tide… we’ll see what comes. Like you I’m slowly moving in a direction.
    Great as always Paul… and Happy New Year!!

    1. Hi Laurie – yes, that seems to be one of my *things* these days I guess. I love the moon and tide reference there. Awesome. I am sure that you will go where you are needed. And hey, if we do stumble, that’s ok too – maybe we were meant to stumble…hmmmm….

      Thanks for being here, as usual.


  16. Erika says:

    Paul! I just love your posts sooo much! I can’t even describe how good it feels to read you. I don’t know why but many times your writing moves me to the point of tears. I think I have used that exact phrase way too much. But it has always been true. You are one amazing human being and i am grateful for your writing and your (cyber) friendship in my life.
    I needed to read this, especially today. THANK YOU.
    Lots of self-love for this 2014, agreed?

    1. Erika! Nice to see that beaming face these days…here and at your corner of the world. I am so glad that something resonates with you here. Sometimes I wonder if I am just mad and blathering on and on.

      Agreed on the self-love, my friend. If we can’t do it, who can? 🙂

      Love and light,

  17. Chaz says:

    Ok…. lots to reply to…. will limit it to two points:

    1. Onomatopoeic. Strangely, I know this word. It was on a vocabulary study when I was in Grade 7 circa 1979. Meaning a word that’s pronounciation mimics the sound of the word itself! Wow, I dont think I will ever forget.

    2. Willingness. To me, this is the great catalyst of change and recovery. Until we ad some measure, even minute as you spoke about, to whatever process of change we are engaged in, the process will probably yield nothing.

    In my experience, willingness is the act of us actively (even if its cautiously) participating in our process. It is of our on volition. We are contributing something. We are now invested. We are no longer under full outside control. Now are connected to our process from within and it is now becoming our own.

    For me, this was a turning point. A huge one. I had finally bought in. Even if it was closer to a borrow than a buy-in… or so I thought. But I do remember the day when I was finally so beaten by my addiction, that I said I was WILLING to give the suggestions of others a try. I thought I was TRYING, but in fact I was DOING. And the doing yielded a positive result. Small, but positive.

    So this gave me enough belief to contribute a little more willingness, which yielded an even greater return. And the process continues.

    I am big on willingness. Probably because i tried to get clean/sober without it for so long.



    1. Hi Chaz – so glad you stopped by!

      I agree on the willingness. I don’t think I could get anywhere without it. Sometimes I have to ask for the willingness to be willing. It’s that borrow / buy-in thing you speak of so well. Perhaps I have to borrow something for a bit to check it out before going all out and jumping in. That’s today. But at first, man, I was willing to do anything to stop my drinking – and the mental obsession that drove it. I took any suggestion and ran with it. But it’s amazing how the ego rebuilds, and when things start to look a little brighter, that willingness sometimes fades. I see that in guys I work with. They have that desperation and then things look good and then that willingness is shelved…put on the back burner. And the work recedes.

      Today I often need to ask for that willingness, to get back to the things that have served me and my journey of recovery. When I am balking at something – ego is blocking that willingness. Taking the easy way out, perhaps…but really, I am not taking the easy way out because stuff comes back over and over again. It’s always a lesson for this alcoholic.

      Thank you for your rich and insightful comments, Chaz. I am a better person for it. 🙂


      1. Chaz says:

        Hey Paul…. great dialogue.

        Funny, I never did actually do the “I will do anything to get/stay sober” thing like you describe. Emphasis on “DO”. I did indeed say, “I will do anything to…”, but in those early days, I was so sick, I did not know how to follow through with the actual “do”. And I was still too self-reliant to take the suggestions, even from a sponsor I really tried to trust. Man, was I in a deep, fortressed stronghold of self-sufficiency. And it was killing me.

        I think that is why “borrow” was as much as I could handle when the time finally came for me.

        But your cycle sounded slightly different where you actually did accept the torch and run with it. Perhaps eventually dropping it due to ego as you mention. But we all do that in one way or another, don’t we?

        For me, I think we underestimate the power and cleverness of ego. It has a far greater variety of tactics than we often give it credit for. It will try to find its way in at virtually any stage of recovery.

        I was chatting with another blogger just recently re the sneaky inroad of ego when one is a mid-timer/old-timer with a few years under our belts and we get used to being held in esteem in meetings or at the recovery club. People know us, they listen to us, and they put us on a pedestal (usually unknowingly but lets be honest…. part of us enjoys it).

        Then we say, often with false humility, “I am just another alcoholic sober a day at a time”, but really we under the surface things we are something special and that we have some form of seniority or authority in this program and we begin to bend the rules to suit ourselves.

        What a tangled web we can weave! Eh?

        For this reason, and having experienced the above myself, I do my best to question my attitude at any and every moment. And even ask my sponsor frequently to assess if I am drifting into ego at all. I hope never to be one of the untouchable men at the top who live by a different set of rules than the rest of us in the trenches. I hope never to leave the trenches because where the bullets are flying and the stakes are high, there is less room to get puffed up in ego.



        1. Chaz – I just couldn’t leave these comments as it, because they crack into me so much. What you say about ego being underestimated is true. I know it intellectually, but sometimes when I do catch it (and I don’t always do – how could I?), I am always amazed at how it got at me. Always. I like what you ask of your sponsor there. I think I need to do the same. Mind you, my sponsor and I don’t talk every day or anything like that, but I have had this underlying, sneaking suspicion that I need some sort of accountability. People being kind and nice and sweet is great (you see, you’re right -we do like it to a point…ha ha) but me being all those things people might say of me isn’t the thing i need to be examining. It’s my ego, my char defects, the stuff that pops up daily that can push me further into self, rather than away from.

          I guess that is 10,11,12 stuff. Staying in service, being of service, prayer, meditation, spot check inventory…and just as importantly, checking my motives. that’s been a mantra for me, and sometimes I let ego choose even when I know it’s ego talking. Damn you ego!

          I am not at that mid-time age yet (far from!) but I do know what you mean about the pedestal thing. I have been guilty of putting people there and of allowing myself to be put there. Neither is healthy for me, so staying right sized is the best I can do. Not always easy (i tend to undermine myself) but I try my best.

          Thanks again for the insightful words you bring. I think I would be picking your brain a lot if we were hanging out 🙂


  18. Happy New Year, Paul. This was beautiful, as usual. I’m happy that you have found a new venture and chapter to embrace 2014 with. It’s strange how we seem to struggle to want to find something to resolve or renew as a new year embarks upon us but it sounds like there has been something brewing deep within you all along. I’m glad that I can be a part of your greatness and will be excited to see where your writing takes you.
    And thank you for sharing your words of encouragement for those of us who still battle the demons; especially around the holidays. I know so many people who fight to get sober but sadly, they just can’t seem to get there. I’m hoping this new year will provide some sort of comfort and solace to their souls, and I can only wish to be the best example I can possibly be for them.
    This year, I am so grateful for mentors and friends like you! Gina

    1. You are certainly apart of things for me, Gina. A wonderful part of my recovery. I hope that now things are settled, those who struggled can now find a foothold onto something that will propel them into a new way of living, and not have to worry about any kind of holiday again. it’s a tough call for many, but there are enough of us out here on the sobersphere to show that it can be done.

      Thank you for your generous and warm comments…


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