Good morning. It’s another beautiful day. It was not so beautiful when I got up this morning, and I’m really not sure why. My energy felt good and my attitude was in check, but everything just felt mediocre, which to me is unacceptable. Mediocre to me is just a lesser degree of shi*ty. I think a lot of people would kill to feel mediocre on most days, but I want to feel excellent, every day. So, as I was enjoying some quality time on my brand new “Squatty Potty”, I was taking inventory of what was causing my apathy. Just about the time that I reasoned that there was no reason, my phone vibrated. The message was from a friend of mine, named Max. Max was making me aware that today marked the 2nd anniversary of his sobriety from drugs and alcohol. Somewhere in between my feelings of mediocrity and this text message, my day went from decent to friggin incredible. I could not be happier for my Max. 2 years! [Breathes out a huge breath of air] 2 Years is a LONG TIME in addict years. I felt like life had been injected into my veins, and I could not wait to get out the door, if only to get a look at the sunshine. I instantly felt this satisfaction in being able to live life through someone else’s success. It was like my friend had worked so hard to create this positive energy in the world, and then he was nice enough to send it to me, free of charge. I think that is the benefit in being truly happy for other people. I am free to take as much energy and happiness from my friend’s hard work and accomplishments as I choose, and my energy will only increase his.
I was having a conversation with a guy last week about the different things that we do to be happy and successful, and what causes us to be unhappy and unsuccessful. His response was something that I hope to remember for a long time. He said, “I don’t think the things I do, that make me happy and successful, are even as important as it is the things that I DO NOT do, that can make me unhappy and unsuccessful.” This took a while to set in, but when I got my head around it, this really made sense. It is the stagnance, the apathy, the indifference towards trying new and different things that, more times than not, leads me to unhappiness, which in turn makes me feel like a failure. This caused me to reflect on the last two years of my sober friend’s life. When Max came into my life, he was in a rehab facility, and had virtually lost everything. He had no job, no prospects, and a family that had been treated exactly the way that addicts treat their family. Max has been as much a part of my everyday life as anyone outside of my home. We talk every day. When I say every day, I mean, we talk every single day, without fail. I have had the privilege of watching what could easily be an award winning documentary play out in front of my eyes, and have it be part of my reality. I have been able to see all of it, the emotions, the anger, the fear, the bad decisions, the good decision, the manipulation, the honesty, the rawness, the spiritual awakening, the character defects, and the unfolding of a new being. In two years I have seen an entirely different person molt, painfully, willingly, and consistently to taking an entirely different form, while leaving little to no trace of his past existence. It is almost like a two year scene of one of the Alien movies, where the alien hatches from inside the person, only Max’s alien form is a helluva lot nicer, more honest, caring, and less of a smartass than the original Max. When I listen to Max talk about what is different now, than his life in the past, I cannot help but hear that the difference is more in the things that he was NOT doing more than what he was.
Like Max, I feel that most of the problems of my past and present are simply symptoms of things that I am NOT doing moreso than the negative results of actions that I AM taking. For people like myself and Max, the problem is within the inaction, that results in negative outcomes. I love to hear about all of the things in life that Max had once avoided and tried to hide from, because I have hid and tried to avoid all of these things myself. I have been so unwilling to step outside of my comfort zone, that I was permanently trapped in an uncomfortable state, but at least the discomfort was familiar. Can you believe that? I am willing to be miserable and uncomfortable, assuming that the misery and discomfort is familiar, it is less scary than trying something different and facing the unknown. It is not until the pain of staying the same outweighed the risk of doing something different that I am willing to grow. I remember the discomfort that came from being 300lbs and jogging in the neighborhood in 20 yard increments, while wearing a pair of blue jeans. I remember telling myself that if I could jog to the next street lamp without stopping that I would take a cigarette break. I remember when Max took a chance and filled out an application for a job he knew nothing about, and I remember him doing it repeatedly as he has worked himself up a most impressive ladder of positions for which he previously had no experience. He applied for jobs. He was hired for jobs. He worked those jobs everyday, and learned from each of them. Max has had a number of jobs over the past couple of years, each one being a vertical climb with his family’s welfare paramount on his list, and with every job he has left, he has left in good standing with proper notice and etiquette. My point is that you can try new things and have them not be the right fit for you, and still end with good relationships formed. I remember Max going to run the stairs downtown EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. with no training plan, no end goal, just willingness to NOT-not do the same things that had not made him happy in the past. He did not need a plan. He did not need a trainer. He did not need education. What he needed was the knowledge that what he had been doing previously, had not been working for quite sometime. All this led him to doing things differently that he had previously not been doing. One foot in front of the other. Trial and error. Hit and miss. Take what works, and leave the rest. The epitome of throwing it against the wall and seeing what sticks. Now, has everything that Max has tried over the past 2 years worked and been a success? (Right now, Max is cleaning the spit from his computer screen from laughing so hard.) Fu*k NO! But he keeps trying, and learning. We try together and we learn together. I’m proud of Max and I am grateful to have examples like him to show me that if what I am doing is not working, it doesn’t make me a failure, and it doesn’t mean that I am cursed. It simply means that I must try new things and maybe avoid some older things, but to keep growing, keep moving, and keep experiencing. Congratulations Max!
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,