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  • He's lived as long as he possibly can
    Given the circumstance
    'Cause he's protected himself from the world
    He never gave it a chance

    And he says, "Here in my security
    I've put a limit on my self-potential and my possibility"

    She's seen these walls and they never change
    Everything's in its place
    Her relationships are neatly arranged
    Down to religion and race

    And she says, "Here in my security
    I don't make a move unless my friends approve
    I do what's expected of me"

    And as I grow older
    And there's so much that I do not know
    I'm drawn to those who are bolder
    And go where no one dare to go

    And I sleep and I dream of the person I might have been
    And I'll be free again
    And I'll speak like someone who's been to the highest peaks
    And back again

    And I swear that my grass is greener than anyone's
    'Til I believe again
    Then I wake and the dream fades away and I face the day
    And then realize that there's got to be some hero in me

    There's got to be some hero in me

    They've been suppressing their every desire
    They do nothing on a whim
    She's lost her sparkle and he's lost the fire
    Their future looks very dim

    And I say, "Here in my security
    I've simply let myself go, I've developed a co-dependency"

    And as I grow older
    So many places that I've never been
    Well, time's tappin' my shoulder
    I hope it's never too late to begin, yeah

    And I sleep and I dream of the person I might have been
    And I'll be free again
    And I'll speak like someone who's been to the highest peaks
    And back again

    And I swear that my grass is greener than anyone's
    'Til I believe again
    Then I wake and the dream fades away and I face my day
    And then realize that there's got to be some hero in me

    There's hero in you and in me
    That sometimes it's so hard to see, yeah
    There's got to be some hero in we

    - Jeffrey Gaines, “The Hero In Me”

    Growing up, it is said that everyone wanted to be my “buddy”. I was the sixth kid born in 7 ½ years in the family, so I had lots of buddies from my earliest memories. In addition to 6 siblings (little sister Mary came along 5 ½ years later – she became, and still is, one of my favorite buddies. I suppose I had every reason to not like her, and to resent the fact that she took my place as the baby of the family and got all that attention I used to get as the baby, but she was just too cool a little kid to not like. She still is!)

    I eventually had 42 first cousins. Most of them lived in or around Pittsburgh while I was growing up. It’s like that in big families. So, I’ve always been used to being surrounded by lots of people, and I’ve usually had lots of friends in my life. I tended to be a “floater” – I got to know a lot of different people, in a lot of different crowds. I never fit handily into any one crowd or the other. That didn’t mean I was never lonely, or felt alone. I was, and I did – very often, most of the time, actually. While I could easily blend into a crowd, I never felt like I actually belonged anywhere. I was not part of the group – I was just passing through. A constant stranger.
  • By the time I was 12, I decided it was time to try to fit into a crowd, and I worked far too hard at fitting in with a crowd that I thought would be cool to be a part of – I was into sports, and though I truly sucked at most sports, I wanted to learn to be good, so I set out to be a part of the sports crowd, and spent the next few years as their favorite scapegoat, while I tried to fit in, and tried to turn myself into an athlete. I was determined. There was no amount of humiliation too great for me, but I would just keep on taking it, as I wanted so desperately to fit in, and to learn how to be an athlete. I eventually gave up on that pursuit, when I’d finally had enough of their abuse, and simultaneously discovered the wonders of drinking and getting high. I found that it made me feel comfortable anywhere, in any situation, and I no longer felt alone or lonely, “cut off” at all. It was magical like that, for me. It made me feel like I was a part of something, like I was “in”.

    That feeling, of course, only lasted for a couple of years, and then it all fell apart. I became suicidal, feeling so lonely and cut off from life, I couldn’t see the sense of living, and just wanted to die for awhile. Addiction can be like that. Then, when I found my desire to live again, I resigned myself to a life of dependency. Dependency on substances to make me feel better, and unhealthy dependencies on other people. I tended to find people who I felt were stronger than me, and I would hang out with them, and use their strength to hide behind, to shield myself from the harshnesses of the world, while also trying to learn how to be strong, myself, like they were, or appeared to be.

    I put a lot of people up on pedastals, and nearly every one of them eventually let me down. That is what happens when you put anyone on a pedestal – no one really belongs up there, nor feels comfortable on a pedestal. Each of us lives our lives, dealing with what is in front of us, grappling with our own issues, and we help each other out, help each other get through the confusion and uncertainties of life. No one really wants to be on someone else’s pedestal. You know that, sooner or later, you’re going to fall down off of it. No one can be that “hero” to someone else, all the time. It’s a tough bill to live up to. You have to be your own hero, really. You have to learn to take care of yourself. No one else will, or can, really. But, you don’t have to do it alone, in a vacuum. The universe is always ready to help you out, once you decide what you want to do.
  • What I learned, going through the 12 Step recovery process, and then through other healing processes that I availed myself to, like the Course in Miracles, and some Zen studies, was the importance of not placing unrealistic expectations on other people. I learned that doing this always sets them up to let you down. I learned to just accept people for who and what they are. Instead of looking for answers from them, I learned to look for answers from within, and to allow that sometimes, people might happen to provide some, too, but not to count on them for that. It’s more like, I count on the universe, and accept whatever form or fashion in which the answers come to me. When they do come, I thank the universe – and the bearer of the answer. But, I try not to put that person up on a pedestal. They just answered my call to the universe.

    This outlook and approach has helped me, tremendously, in not being overly dependent on others for filling my own needs, but still being able to appreciate what they bring to my life. Even more importantly, I also learned to look for ways that I can truly support others and possibly bring positivity to their lives. How to be a force for good in the world. This keeps me connected, on many different levels, to many different people. However, the one thing I try to avoid at all costs is trying to “fix” anyone. That never works. Who am I to say what is best for someone else? I have no idea. I can only say what worked for me in a certain situation, and if that helps someone else, great. If not, cool. We each have our own paths to tread. No two are identical. I don’t especially like it when someone tries to “fix” me, so I don’t do that to anyone else.

    By doing my best to live how I’ve learned is the right way for me to live – making sure I take care of myself, getting the sleep I need to function effectively, taking the time in the morning for quiet time, meditation, getting some form of exercise in, keeping myself as physically and mentally fit as I can, I become my own hero – my own buddy. I put myself in a position to give and receive the best I possibly can, this day. After that, it’s all gravy. Whatever the world has in store for me this day, I’m ready for it.

    First Photo – I’m the little guy with red hair and a light blue top in the middle, surrounded by older siblings and cousins.
    Second Photo – Up on a perch on our front porch, probably 8 years old
    Third Photo – airbound, catching one for the camera
    Fourth Photo – up on a perch again, slightly older, with a long way down!
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