Friday, July 01, 2005

A week of "trudging"

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

I've always loved this last paragraph of the "recovery instructions" part of the AA text - particularly the idea of "trudging the road of Happy Destiny." I have to admit that the first time I read it, "the Road of Happy Destiny" sounded too corny - like a movie with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. But over the years, it has become the image for doing the "left-foot, right-foot" thing: just moving forward, and trying to do the next right thing, trusting that God will guide me when my own wisdom seems mostly inoperative.

Within 90 minutes of the end of my visit with my former wife on Sunday, I started to come down with all the signs of a classic summer cold - constantly running nose, sneezing my damn head off, and a complete energy crash. The fact is, I just don't have time for this - but that doesn't seem to matter, somehow. It's just what is...

I'm also envying several of my AA friends who are headed to Toronto for the 70th anniversary AA International Conference. I had the opportunity to be at the 60th, in San Diego in was amazing beyond description, but I just couldn't justify it financially this year - too many other balls in the air. (If you want a view of how Toronto sees the onslaught of 50,000 recovering alkies (not to mention families!), you can see this article at the Toronto Star website. Pretty cool.)

The last week has provided several opportunities-for-growth at my place of employment, all pointing to the fact that I need to be somewhere else...period. The fact that I don't want to change horses mid-stream just doesn't seem to matter, right now; it's just time to get really serious about heading somewhere else. No sense in whining (though I do anyway); it's Nike-time (just do it!). :::sigh:::

I've had this image of a great place to live, and I've had to come to terms with the fact that it's just wrong. I've been trying to tell myself that my sense of discomfort about it was simply that I just don't want to leave the quasi-comfort of the known situation I'm in. But I've done the drive down south to the location a couple times - and though it's about 9 "surface" miles away, it's really about half-a-world away, for me. (For my Kansas City friends, it's like the difference between being at Zarda BBQ in Lenexa and Rosedale BBQ on Southwest Blvd. - about the same distance and driving time.)

Moving to this location has many advantages - one of which is that I wouldn't have to "simplify" or pare down my life; I could just move it all there. There'd be space - to entertain, to have overnight guests, you name it. The problem is, it just seems wrong. It seems like I'm headed in the wrong direction. And there is this sense that I need to just get rid of the baggage that I've been carrying, and get even more "simple" than I did when I got here two years ago.

And then I think, "Well, you thought you were doing the right thing when you moved here, bubba. Look how well that turned out..." (Even though I know there have been many blessings about coming's just weird.)

So I turn and twist. I need to commit to one place or another, soon. God, grant me the serenity...and the wisdom...and the courage. Especially the courage.

The one thing I know is this; either way will not be fatal. And if it turns out I've made a hideous decision, well, I can make another decision. And maybe it will be less painful than this one seems to be.

There's one thing that feels right: anything which makes me more mobile, and less anchored to "stuff," seems to be a good thing. My friend Damien moved into a studio apartment when he first left his order - and he highly recommended it...but it was a bit easier, I think, because he started out with nothing. Separating from "stuff" seems more of an uncomfortable spiritual exercise, somehow. And maybe that's what this whole adventure is supposed to be teaching me...I don't know. I feel like I'm in a game of Jeopardy - "Could I have 'Tablets of Stone' for $300, please?"

Meanwhile, this Saturday I'm scheduled to get a new roommate at the seminary housing. A student coming from Turkey; he was supposed to be here Monday, but plans changed at the last minute. Maybe he'll be here Saturday...maybe not. Anyway, I have much laundry and housecleaning to do this weekend in anticipation of losing my "solo bachelor" status.

High points for the weekend seems to be a run down to "Taste of Chicago," and watching the big fireworks with some friends from Fourth Church on Sunday. One of the folks has access to a rooftop access, which should be cool.

For now, the sniffling and sneezing seems to have slowed down enough to get some desperately needed shut-eye, so I'm off to bed.

1 comment:

Michael Dodd said...

Steve, it was easier starting in a studio since I had nothing. (What amazed me, actually, was how much stuff nothing turned out to be once it was boxed and we were hauling it over there!) However, as you move (wherever), this is a good opportunity to simplify anyway if you wish.

In the monastery, we often took some time before Thanksgiving to go through our clothes and other things to see what was usable but donate-able, that is, something we could do without and someone else could do with. We boxed it up and passed it along to St. Vincent de Paul or some other such group.

I always took the time to go through my books and put things I had not consulted in over a year (except for obvious reference things and a few favorites) into the community library. I got rid of the little religious knick-knacks that multiply in the corners and on the horizontal surfaces of church types. I went through my files and threw out my theology notes from thirty years ago. (I had kept them in case I ever taught, but I realized I would not want to teach that anymore anyway.) When I moved in with my Partner in April, a year after I had moved into the studio, we went through his stuff as well as mine, got rid of duplicates(some, at least -- Does anyone really need four steam irons? Not even gay men, really) and extra clothing again (what happens, does it breed in the closets?) and donated several loads to a community thrift store.

Remember: stuff tends to expand to fill all avilable space and then has to be tended, moved around, stepped over, etc. You can move into the two-bedroom place and not have it filled to the brim. Give yourself some visual breathing room.

Having said all of that, I must admit that I have never seen your present living quarters, and you may have the neatest and most orderly space in the world. So this advice may be useless. Also, my Partner reminds me that after thirty years in monasteries, I have an exaggerated view of what level of clutter is acceptable in guy-space. We are still adjusting to our expectations there.

Anyway, have a great weekend, find a wonderful place to live and a great job to pay the bills and make you feel good at the end of the workday.