We live in a world where we put everything in a box. Since each one of is different what I put in my box may not fit in your box. We compare our lives with the experiences of those around us. However, if something didn’t fit in my box just exactly right I turned to the drink. I stand on the eve of my forty-ninth birthday – just contemplating life. Perhaps I’m having a spiritual moment I would like to share with the rest of the world?
Since I was born, almost a half a century ago, most of my life I was taught you do this and that happens. If you don’t do this you can expect his to happen. But sobriety has changed me. Today, instead of drink in hand wallowing in self-pity of wasting so much of my life chained to the drink, I can take a breath saying to myself, “What are we going to do today?” And actually do it without any fear of right or wrong.
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 62
This passage resonates with me in so many ways. To me, it’s all about control. Putting everything in my life in that perfect box so it fits just right. When I drank, I lost any ability to control anything in my life. In reality, even though I thought I controlled everything and everyone around me, I was doing quite the opposite, I was creating my own problems. Today, I’m living quite a different life.
We do need structure in our lives. I have responsibilities to take care of each day. On a daily basis I wake up at a certain time, take care of myself, go to my job, listen to my boss, and finally clock out for the day. But my day doesn’t end until I put my head on the pillow at night and fall asleep. This is the only thing I need to put in a box – a 24 hour period.
Once something happens it is written in stone – it can’t be changed. We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow – it hasn’t happened yet. But if I live in the present moment it’s much easier to manage – not control.
For me, the difference between “manage” and “control” is how I handle myself. When I control something I put it in a box. Yet, when I manage something I become adaptable to my environment. At any given time if something changes, I change with it instead of trying to put it in my perfect box.
Here is an analogy I use quite often. It may or may not make sense to some but it, for some reason, makes sense to me.
Imagine yourself standing on a rock in the middle of a river. You need to get to one side or the other, right? If you block the flow of water, what eventually happens? The river is going to find another way around you. If you don’t fight the river and go with it eventually you’ll find yourself on one edge of the river or other.
I’ll end with a quote from the author of Dune by Frank Herbert:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I will end with this: Isn’t it fear which keeps us from our potential in life? Gnaw on that for a bit.