One of the tools I took with me to work through why I drank too much was Carolyn Myss's phenomenal book "Sacred Contracts". It seems now that I couldn't let go of the drinking until I'd rebuilt the foundations of who I am. Or perhaps I couldn't get a grasp on who I am without letting go of the death grip I had on drinking. Books have always been my elders, my mentors. A quote from "Matilda" by Roald Dahl (movie version) sums this up perfectly:
"So Matilda's strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships onto theBooks tell distinct, limited, coherent stories. Their presence in my life has enabled me to utilize what Carolyn Myss calls "symbolic sight", allowing me to pick out the structural plot, protagonist, and antagonist in the stories all around me. I've noticed especially in the last few years that my first reaction to the drama inherent to family and work is a fascination with the story elements more than an engagement with the drama itself. On every page of my own story are a hundred choices in what to say, how to act - ways to respond that absolutely affect the choices available to me on the next page of my story.
sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone."
If I am only making choices based on who I am not, I can get stuck in a cycle of deconstruction. Generationally, you often see children rebelling against their parents' tightly held beliefs whether religious, political, social, or personal. Now though, that pendulum swing seems all amped up. We are a nation who voted in one president to bring dignity back to the oval office, then eight years later elected our next President because he promised Change and now just a year later, the majority party is losing elections to candidates offering an alternative to those 'unacceptable' changes.
Paradoxically, making choices based on who I want to be can be just such a destructive trap as well. In my last post, I shared what happened when I chose wrong action because I was willing to chase success at any cost. Pursuing a goal is not a bad thing. Dogmatic adherence to a predefined proof of that goal however negates the precious learning along the way. Whether you begin with what you want to be or what you want to be not, the end result of your efforts is unlikely to be what you had imagined at the beginning of your journey.
Maybe this is what all those self-help books refer to as Living in the Now. Making choices based on a good evaluation of what is offered on today's page of your story. It makes no sense to me to spend money as if you are wealthy when you have 42 cents to your name. On that day, money is not your wealth. But maybe strength of arm is a current asset and you can barter that wealth for food, return services, even more enhanced health, or fulfillment that comes from just helping someone who needs a strong hand.
This perspective on wealth and available choices though can only be had once you know who you are as well as who you are not. Don't tell me who you want to be. Tell me who you are today. Tell me a story of who you were yesterday so that I may catch a glimpse of your life's threads weaving together to create the choices you have before you today. If a thread is only a desire, take action today that will build your choices for tomorrow. John Michael Greer has posted a novel blog at starsreach.blogspot.com that I am completely enchanted by. His very first paragraph will show you why, and illustrate beautifully the art of weaving choices:
One wet day as we walked north toward Sisnaddi, old Plummer told me that
all stories are scraps of one story, one great and nameless tale that winds from
world’s beginning to world’s end and catches up everything worth telling on the
way. Everybody touches that tale one way or another, or so he said, if only by
watching smoke from a distant battle or lending an ear to some rumor in the
night. Other folk stray into the one story and then right back out of it again,
after carrying a message or a load of firewood on which the fate of kings and
dreams will presently depend. Now and then, though, someone no different from
these others stumbles into the deep places of the story, and gets swept up and
spun around like a leaf in a flood until finally the waters drown him or toss
him up gasping and alive on the bank.