Thursday, April 07, 2016

Running Yellow Lights

Last week I heard this great line: “Running yellow lights is not accepting life on life’s terms.” It’s so funny—and perfectly true.

It got me thinking about all the ways that Twelve-step recovery is trying, trying, trying to teach us how to live life as it is—and on its terms –both to limit our own pain, and the pain
we inflict on others.

Think about our sayings and slogans: One Day at a Time, Be Here Now and 
“Look down at your feet and stay where they are”.

I think about all the kinds of discomfort that I struggle with, and how much it’s almost always because I want to be somewhere other than right here where I am. Yesterday I had to walk several blocks from my office to another business location and I realized that the whole time I was walking that I wanted to be a block ahead of where I was. Even though it was a beautiful day I wanted to be there rather than here.

And, of course as soon as I got there, I wanted the next there not the here. I heard my mind doing this—and I realized it’s a constant state of mind. 

And its not just when I am walking. It’s also when I’m driving: When I stop at an intersection I want to be on the other side of it, not on this side. When I read a book I want to know what going to happen instead of enjoying what the writer is showing me now. When I am listening to a CD I want to be on the next track or the next disc—not this one. No matter the form or place or idea, I want to be there. But when I get there I’m not really there at all; I’m still longing for the next there. 

I do this with things too. I can long for a pair of new boots or handbag or coat, but shockingly soon after I get it, I’m thinking about some other thing that I imagine I’ll like a lot. That thing will be the next right thing. It’s just another way of trying to get there instead of fully experiencing being here.

As active addicts we were all about grasping and craving and clinging, and now in recovery we have softened our behavior and changed our medium. But still. When I drive through an intersection and think, “Here I go,” or when I want to be over there and not here, or when I want a different dress or purse or necklace--I’m not living life on life’s terms.

Maybe, just maybe, I could let that next yellow light be my clear signal.

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