Friday, March 31, 2017

The Minutiae

"Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate." ~ Chuang Tzu
Spring brings with it the smallest of nuances, the most gradual changes and spectacularly slow transitions. It can be the most subtle of seasons. Spring teaches us to pay attention and if we don't, we'll miss it altogether and suddenly summer will be upon us.

We have many parks and trails where I live and on a most recent run I turned off the main pathway to a nature loop through a wooded area. When in its fullest majesty this detour can only be described as the U.S. Midwest's answer to a European medieval greenwood. The last time I had entered the loop I remember wondering to myself when the rebirth would begin. This time I was greeted to an explosion of emerald, hunter, sea, moss, shamrock and a million other sub-shades of green.

I am grateful to have been struck by the wonder of the renewal, that I was not so concerned with pace or how each of my muscles, tendons and ligaments were feeling that I totally missed the show. The next act will be the return of blooms of blue-purple across the expanse of green creeping foliage.

It will be a sight to see. I will make it a point to take in the eruptions of colors and sounds of life renewing.

I will make it a point to take in the minutiae of these moments. We can all share these with those on similar journeys, especially with our children who are trying their best to find any way out of the vortex of The Addiction.

This post was actually prompted by three helium balloons in a coffee shop - really! I am certain I had walked past this display dozens of times without noticing. We have become overcome and numbed by such marketing calls to action. This time I was struck by the oddly bizarre simplicity of this attention grab, three sealed vessels of acetate painted with retro blue, pink and yellow flowers and held aloft by lighter-than-air helium. This attempt to portray coffee as a harbinger of Spring provided an early morning chuckle, something we all need from time to time. I assume the designers of the display didn't have this result in mind but I am grateful for their efforts.

Sometimes our heads can be spinning with so many thoughts and worries and hurries, fears and forebodings we forget to look around to take in this crazy beautiful world manifested for us by the Great Creator. Our attention can be so wrapped up in the immediate, or what we believe to be of greatest concern we ignore the small gifts and oddities surrounding us.

Seeing the minutiae of the world, taking the time to dissect the cacophony of the sights and sounds all around allows us to see our world in entirely new ways. We learn then to wait with anticipation for the next surprise, miracle or gift to come our way. We learn to pay attention, to SEEK and SEE, to listen rather than speaking, to accept the immediacies the Universe is ready to bestow on us to take us to our next level, that new plateau, the progression we are meant to take to becoming more REAL than we ever thought we could be.

Here's to seeing what we see every day in multiple contexts, observing beyond the obvious and accepting the gifts in plain site and masterfully concealed as signposts along our way.

Those little blue flowers are just one rainfall, a bit of sunshine and a turn to some warmer weather away.

I can't wait. Can you?

. . . keep coming back
"Pay attention, don't let life go by you. Fall in love with the back of your cereal box." ~ Jerry Seinfeld

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Feeling The Sadnesses

"Sadness is but a wall between two gardens." ~ Khalil Gibran
We've just about had it about the sadnesses, haven't we? We've had enough of pain, suffering, the recollections of the might have beens, the if onlys. We've experienced in our lives as parents of addicts more pain and suffering than one person should in a lifetime, yet we have persevered and broken through the barriers, of our own creation, to happiness. Even so, we often look upon our children in the thrall of The Addiction or even our children in recovery and feel their pain, our pain, once again.
Etymological side note: Thrall is derived from the Old English thrœl, meaning "Slave."
It's our first inclination to push these sadnesses to the side, not in ignorance of them but to feel, briefly, the pain and immediately fahgetaboutit. Their pain is not our pain we have learned. We have learned to replace the pain and catatonic state The Addiction would have us wallow in with an undying love for our children and a constant motivation to keep moving, living our lives to our fullest potential.

The sadness never happened.

The pain won't get us anymore.

This, like our instinctive reaction to The Addiction's siren calls can become our go-to response to any of life's challenges or even minor, troubling interruptions in our normal routines.

This is NOT good. We're not Vulcans. One of our many wonderful characteristics that make us so marvelously human is our ability to feel emotion, truly absorb the effects and then ... learn, and move on. We know we have truly grown and taken those many steps to becoming REAL when we can experience pain, sadness, take it in, recognize its origin and in a way smile at our self realization and our priceless vulnerabilities.

Sometimes the sadnesses don't bring us to our knees or buckle us in our tracks as did the first realizations brought by The Addiction, but are simply felt as loving, emotional responses deep within our core being.

I experienced one of these sadnesses recently just prior to one of my marathon training, Saturday morning long-slow-distance runs (with 250 or so of my closest friends). My wife would be running a half marathon trail race the next day so she would not be joining me in this particular Saturday workout. As I pulled into the parking space I felt an emptiness. I missed my wifey being there. For some strange reason I was immediately grateful for this sadness and even more grateful I was able to feel it. The sadness was soon replaced by a joy born from all we had been through and how our love had prevailed - through it all. This sadness brought me to a higher plane, to a plateau from which I could view my life from a perspective of contentment.

I rocked the training run!

The sadnesses will come and go - give yourself the permission to feel them. You may find yourself confronted with sadnesses seemingly unrelated to your children who have succumbed to The Addiction. Or are they unrelated? It doesn't really matter.

Don't fear these sadnesses as they arrive - feel them without overthinking, embrace them, take them in. There are reasons the sadnesses find you.

You might be surprised where these little awarenesses will take you.

Enjoy the view!

. . . keep coming back

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."  ~ Thornton Wilder

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Do You Believe In Miracles?

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ~ Albert Einstein
A friend of mine recently FaceBook-shared the video of the last two minutes of the US Olympic hockey team victory over the Russian squad at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. This brief historical playback continues to send chills up and down my spine 37 years later. For those of us around the world who witnessed it, Al Michaels' "Do you believe in miracles?" call with three seconds left is an enduring part of our collective, global memory. The United States was firmly embedded in a crisis situation and needed a boost, something to lift our spirits and mend our collective soul.

The boost came from an unexpected source. The boost came from a bunch of college kids with attitude and an average age of 21, the youngest team in U.S. Olympic history and the youngest team in the Olympic tournament.

It was truly a Miracle on Ice.

No one saw this miracle coming. And that's just it about miracles. If we're not careful, if we're not aware, believing in them and SEEKING miracles, they can come and go without us ever noticing. Not every miracle has a world stage on which to play and a world-class announcer to interpret what we're witnessing, what we are living in a moment, as a miracle.

Parents of addicts don't often interpret what they are experiencing as the universal phenomenons meant to move us, miraculously, along our own recovery pathways. We are often embedded in crisis situations from which we desperately need a boost. We need our spirits lifted, our souls mended. We can become blinded to the miracle.

The discovery and acceptance by a parent of an addict's plunge into addiction is a miracle as much as the addict's sincere admission of "I just can't live like this anymore." Every stage along our pathway isn't always concomitant with joy and happiness, the daisies and butterflies or momentous moments we often associate with the miraculous. Miracles can be BIG instants in time or small and seemingly insignificant, or even totally unrelated to our journey - or so it may seem.

I remember after having missed so many miracles along my pathway a friend suggested I consider buying a book on writing. The miracle wasn't the friend's suggestion or the book. The miracle was that I, a life-long procrastinator and self diminisher would for some unknown reason immediately SEEK out this book and dive into a 12-week creativity course, changing my life forever.

So let's get back to the 1980 Winter Olympics and those crazy upstart Americans and their oppressively solemn coach Herb Brooks. It was certainly a miracle that Brooks was chosen as coach, that the players were able to endure his relentlessly endless practices - that gave them an insanely high third period scoring differential - without imploding. It was a miracle they beat a talented Russian team. These miracles were important, certainly, but had the journey ended the day that impossible victory was achieved those miracles would not have been so memorable.

The true miracle is they had to do it all over again the next day - and they did.

Miracles build on themselves. Miracles are not to be taken lightly or when experienced, to be considered a final reward for our attentiveness. Miracles are often accompanied by angels pointing us along our way and reminding us there are miracles beyond our limited realities, to look beyond the immediate. Miracles are a speedway to the next adventure, the next path along the journey. Miracles are that slingshot effect around whatever obstacle we may have been experiencing, whatever roadblock that had previously impeded our progress.

Miracles are are not a final destination but a gateway to our most exciting and beautiful NEXTS!

As Herb Brooks said, "Great moments are born from great opportunities."

We and our children all have great moments to create, great opportunities to embrace and miracles to fully experience, appreciate and utilize as The Universe wishes us to. It's our gold medal for the taking.

Take it. Then keep moving!

. . . keep coming back

"Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see." ~ C.S. Lewis