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  • “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 to happy destiny.”

    - From the end of “A Vision For You”, the last chapter of the AA Big Book
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    “We are often amazed at how things work out for us. Recovering in the here and now, the future becomes an exciting journey. If we had written our list of expectations when we came to the program, we would have been cheating ourselves. Hopeless living problems became joyously changed…we have found a way out, and we see it work for others. Each day more will be revealed”.

    - From the end of “More Will Be Revealed”, the last chapter of the N.A. Basic Text for Recovery.

    Something that has happened to me in the past year and a half is, I find myself living more consciously than I previously was. I have questioned, and continue to question, every single thing in my life. I’ve tried not to take any thing for granted. Why do I do the things that I do? Yes, I know they made sense back whenever I started doing them. I know they “sound good” when I explain why I still do them, and the reasons I started doing them were good, at the time. But – is it really how I should be choosing to spend my time, now? Is it still “me”? As I have questioned them, I have stopped (or, tried to stop) doing those things that no longer make any sense to my life’s purpose, and begun to do those things where my heart has led me.

    And, what about my memories? Is that what really happened? Or, is that the story that I have come to be comfortable telling myself, and others, about what happened? Is that the “convenient” memory to take away from that experience, way back when? Is that the memory that fits the story I have come to accept as my life story? I have delved into those memories, each as they percolate up into my consciousness, and asked myself to take a little bit of time to walk back down that particular memory lane, with a new pair of glasses on, a pair that has me look, honestly and dispassionately, at what really happened, now that I’m no longer in the heat of the moment of then, and now that I’m willing to let the chips fall where they will, and maybe (or maybe not) learn whatever lesson that experience might have to impart on my today.
  • Cowbird has been a major accomplice in this process of looking honestly at my life. It has provided a format for me to focus my looking at these things, revealing them in the form of storytelling, and then sharing them with others in my life, as appropriate. In this way, on some of the walks down memory lane, I get not only my own perspective, but that of others who were there, as well. This does help to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Some of those “stories I’ve liked to tell myself” have been revealed, when exposed to the light of day, to be a product of my “funny” memory, and have allowed me to re-evaluate the story I’ve told myself. It all helps me to become more real, more authentic, more “Pete”.

    Why bother with all of this? It was time to wake up. I wanted, and want, to be fully engaged in my life. I want to make it count – every minute of every day - there’s not a minute to waste. This does not mean there’s no time to sit around and just “be”. In fact, I am finding there is more time for that, now. I don’t consider that wasted time - not if I am consciously “be-ing”. The wasted time is the time that I find myself doing things and wondering “why”?

    So, instead of sitting around in a boring Board meeting that sounds good when I say I am on this board or that board, and it’s a good cause, but I really don’t believe that any longer – instead, I sing the National Anthem at a major league baseball game. Why? Because, I said Yes to life. I stopped sitting around in Board meetings talking about things that no longer made any sense to me, and started answering life’s call.

    It wasn’t just about the rush of being able to say I did this, and of the experience itself, although that was sublime. It’s that, in that moment, I was alive. I faced my fears, I overcome a lot of self-doubt and attempts to talk myself out of doing this thing, to be in that moment, and I went out there and sang my heart out in front of 30,000 people, and I became a part of something much bigger than me, and connected with 50 other guys with whom I shared the experience, and connected with my beloved father, 17 years gone, who spent many of his moments over a 78 year life doing exactly what I did on Wednesday night – singing in a choir or chorus. It was one of the loves of his life, one I always acknowledged, but never understood – until now. It’s another one of those things that I always denied to myself, for many reasons, that once I got past all of the denials, I find pure joy in doing. Being a part of that experience, that comraderie of men who sing, just for the joy of it, and for the joy it brings to others - for me, today, that is living. That makes sense in my life today.
  • I am meeting with someone for coffee today, the chairman of this Board that I’ve been trying to resign from for 7 months. I used to be the Vice Chair of it. I met with her for Chinese last December, with the intention of resigning, but I caved to her pleas to stay on, and just stepped down from the Vice Chair position, but agreed to remain on the Board. I really haven’t done much of anything since – I’ve probably only attended 2 of the monthly Board meetings since then, I didn’t do my usual heavy lifting to put on the annual executive forum that the Board puts together – didn’t even attend it, I let my wife take my place at it, which was great for her. I had a work conflict. Twice since last December, I’ve submitted my resignation, but the Chair and new Vice Chair keep talking me into staying on. They want my energy on the Board – but the problem is, they no longer get my energy on the Board. They get the ghost of my energy, when I believed in what the Board was about, and believed that I had something to bring to its mission. I no longer do. So, today, I am just going to level with her and say, “Look – I know you like the idea of me still being on this thing, but I don’t. I need to step down – now.” Because, until I do that, it will continue to gnaw at the back of my brain that I should be doing more for that Board, even though I don’t believe in it. Because, I am on the Board, and when I am on something, that is what I do. This being on something in name only, is not me. I need to put a stop to this.

    Many other doors have opened up as I’ve made these types of decisions. I have found my way back to being involved with folks in the 12 Step programs. I’ve just opened myself up to that. For many years, I had many reasons, all good and valid, and all sounded right, to not be there. Been there, done that, got the chip, got the keychaing, read the book, helped write the other, life moved on, I no longer belonged there, for all kinds of reasons. It all sounded good. But, it stopped resonating with me. I found myself feeling pulled back to that world. There was something there, a call to be a part of that, again. I tried figuring it out, and couldn’t. Then, I just let it figure itself out. I opened myself to it, and then just said yes to opportunities that presented themselves to me. I’m back involved with one group on a regular basis. It doesn’t make any logical sense – but it feels like where I belong. So, I am there. I said yes to my brother’s invitation to another 12 Step group’s retreat, even though I am not in that program or group, and when I went, I felt like I was right where I belonged. I’m going back in October. I can’t wait. It was such a life affirming, yea-saying experience – and all I did was say “yes” to it. Getting back together with some of the folks that I shared the experience of helping to write the book on recovery for another 12 Step program, 33 years ago, has been an amazing journey for me, and for them. Tomorrow, I’ll be spending some quality time with my old friend, George, the person who was instrumental in me finding my way to recovery all those years ago, and a dear friend whom I’d fallen out of touch with for 30 years. He’s read a lot of my stories, I’ve read some of his, and we both have some questions for each other. We both recognized that there was no reason for our friendship to end 30 years ago – we just went our separate ways – and now, we are rekindling that friendship.

    This journey, this path that I now find myself on, has many twists and turns, many ups and downs, but each step I trudge along the way is full of life, full of wonder, and each day feels more like “me”. And, one other thing I truly love about it – I never feel like I walk alone on this path I trudge. I have many fellow wayfarers, all walking on their own journeys, their own paths, who walk along with me as well.

    It feels good to truly be alive, and not alone.

    Pictured: A few shots from my vantage point – batting practice after our soundcheck, the chorus director right after we sang our song, waiting in the tunnel to go out to perform, heading back to the tunnel after we were done performing
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