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  • O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An' foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
    An' ev'n devotion!

    Robert Burns, "To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church" (1786)

    PART OF the 12-step addiction recovery process asks the recovering person to conduct a fearless moral inventory, to share that inventory with at least one other person, and to make an exhaustive list of those whom one may have wronged, and
    then to reach out to as many of those wronged persons as possible to make amends.

    Tough order, it seems. As I go through the process, that little Rabbie Burns ditty comes to mind. If only we could muster the insight to look at ourselves through the eyes of others! As the poet suggests, such insight might free us from many a blunder and foolish notion; it would make us mindful of our false posturings and pieties.

    We would become as simple and unassuming as a louse on a lady’s bonnet in church.

    So, I started making that fearless moral inventory. In short order, I had a veritable army of folks I (might have) wronged or offended over the years. Amends? How? Most of these folks have passed on, either in the final sense or through life’s migrations. Pain and regret are by-products.

    Sometimes, I find, people reject or treat with indifference overtures to make amends. Sometimes, they have no idea what I’m talking about, or question my memory. Or my sanity.

    I conclude that a modicum of self-examination – navel-gazing, if you will – may be good for the recovering addict. But when one emerges from the sweat lodge, it’s good to jump into the cold waters of the present, and swim to clarity. And self-forgiveness. Forgive us our trespasses, I suppose, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

    If anything I've written on these pages has hurt or offended any of you, here's my hand in peace...
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