"Jacob!" a voice demanded through the dine of the bakery. "When will the Messiah come?"
Jacob turned from the dough bench and found the man behind the question.
"You know," said Jacob, "there is an old story that, if we were to treat every person we met as if they were the Messiah, then it wouldn’t make any difference if they weren’t."
—from Jacob the Baker by Noah benShe
Sick - Desperate - Helpless, we called upon AA. Help came. Not later, but that very day. That is how AA works, day by day. With yesterday as “water over the dam” our tomorrow can become a happy, sober one — if we willingly live the AA program today.
The sad failures which plague our lives today are not results of chance. They did not occur overnight. We earned them. They are the payoff for a thousand drunken yesterdays. But — they are not the end. We can rebuild new, happy, sober lives upon their costly ruins. Twenty-four hour drinking has made us ill. Twenty-four hour AA living will make us well. Our drinking time has about run out. Perhaps we should start living the AA program today.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
—The Illuminated Prayer, Coleman Barks and Michael Green
The daily practice of Step 11, especially upon awakening and before retiring at night, is knocking at the door of my Higher Power. When I feel that window open and feel that joy connection, there is nothing else in life like it! I think I’ll keep digging my well, doing my daily practice.
As women, when we’re children we’re taught to enter the world with big hearts. Blooming hearts. Hearts bigger than our damn fists. We are taught to forgive - constantly - as opposed to what young boys are taught: Revenge, to get ‘even.’ Our empathy is constantly made appeals to, often demanded for. If we refuse to show kindness, we are reprimanded. We are not good women if we do not crush our bones to make more space for the world, if we do not spread our entire skin over rocks for others to tread on, if we do not kill ourselves in every meaning of the word in the process of making it cozy for everyone else. It is the heat generated by the burning of our bodies with which the world keeps warm. We are taught to sacrifice so much for so little. This is the general principle all over the world.
By the time we are young women, we are tired. Most of us are drained. Some of us enter a lock of silence because of that lethargy. Some of us lash out. When I think of that big, blooming heart we once had, it looks shriveled and worn out now. When I was teaching, I had a young student named Mariam. She was only 11 years old. Some boy pushed her around in class, called her names, broke her spirit for the day. We were sitting under a chestnut tree on a field trip and she asked me if a boy ever hurt me. I told her many did and I destroyed them one by one. I think that’s the first time she ever heard the word ‘destroyed.’ We rarely teach our girls to fight back for the right reasons.
Take up more space as a woman. Take up more time. Take your time. You are taught to hide, censor, move about without messing up decorum for a man’s comfort. Whether it’s said or not, you’re taught balance. Forget that. Displease. Disappoint. Destroy. Be loud, be righteous, be messy. Mess up and it’s fine – you are learning to unlearn. Do not see yourself like glass. Like you could get dirty and clean. You are flesh. You are not constant. You change. Society teaches women to maintain balance and that robs us of our volatility. Our mercurial hearts. Calm and chaos. Love only when needed; preserve otherwise.
Do not be a moth near the light; be the light itself. Do not let a man’s ocean-big ego swallow you up. Know what you want. Ask yourself first. Decide your own pace. Decide your own path. Be cruel when needed. Be gentle only when needed. Collapse and then re-construct. When someone says you are being obscene, say yes I am. When they say you are being wrong, say yes I am. When they say you are being selfish, say yes I am. Why shouldn’t I be? How do you expect a woman to stand on her two feet if you keep striking her at the ankles.
There are multiple lessons we must teach our young girls so that they render themselves their own pillars instead of keeping male approval as the focal point of their lives. It is so important to state your feelings of inconvenience as a woman. We are instructed to tailor ourselves and our discomfort - constantly told that we are ‘whining’ and ‘nagging’ and ‘complaining too much.’ That kind of silence is horribly violent, that kind of insistence upon uniformly nodding in agreement to your own despair, and smiling emptily so no man is ever uncomfortable around us. Male-entitlement dictates a woman’s silence. If we could see the mimetic model of the erasure of a woman’s voice, it would be an incredibly bloody sight.
On a breezy July night, my mother and I were sleeping under the open sky. Before dozing off, I told her that I think there is a special place in heaven where all wounded women bury their broken hearts and their hearts grow into trees that only give fruit to the good and poison to the bad. She smiled and said Ameen. Then she closed her eyes.
Step Three is just as important to successful recovery from alcoholism as the third leg is to our stool. We need spiritual help to recover. Without it we have little more than unhappy sobriety, often not even that.
—Stools and Bottles
Everything is fucked
and we can’t fix it.
So bring on the drugs
the critically acclaimed television
the 99 cent double cheeseburgers.
Entropy is measured in unclaimed garden weasels.
Last night Billy Mays appeared to me in a dream.
He was in heaven, selling the 70 virgin set
do it yourself “Anal Bleaching Dream Cream.”
Not only does it make everything, including assholes,
incredibly white, but it transforms infidels, karma, and original sin!
Act within 30 minutes, and you’ll never feel guilty again.
Billy Mays wept joyfully as a host of angels
sang the product’s praises,
even as the devil read aloud the fine print
even as my cell phone lost all hope of reception.
Thought for the Day
We have this choice every day of our lives. We can take the path that leads to insanity and death. And remember, our next drunk could be our last one. Or we can take the path that leads to a reasonably happy and useful life. The choice is ours each day of our lives. God grant that we take the right path. Have I made my choice today?
Meditation for the Day
Your real work in life is to grow spiritually. To do this you must follow the path of diligently seeking good. The hidden spiritual wonders are revealed to those who diligently seek this treasure. From one point to the next, you have to follow the way of obedience to God’s will until finally you reach greater and greater spiritual heights. Work on the material plane should be secondary to your real life’s work. The material things which you need most are those which help you to attain the spiritual.
Prayer for the Day: I pray that I may keep growing spiritually, I pray that I may make this my real life’s work.
—Twenty-Four Hours a Day