In today’s post, I will share with you everything I know about prayer and meditation. Here goes: I don’t know how it works, I don’t know if I’m doing it right but I know when I don’t do it my days sort of suck. The end. That’s it.
I could blather on about the ideal prayer conditions and my recommended reading list to help someone develop a practice but it would be bullshit. The only ideal condition for prayer and mediation I’ve found is that it helps if your awake and alive, although I haven’t tried it asleep or from beyond the grave so I can’t even be sure about that either. And if we’re being honest here I never finish books about spirituality so my reading list would be based on a lie or what I read about in an inflight magazine. Yes, I’ll tell you I’ve read Eckhart Tolle or a Course in Miracles and its true that I do own them but I get a few chapters in, get distracted and go watch a television show where people make stuff and compete against each other. What I know for certain is that I feel crappy when I don’t do it and I increase my chances of being a nicer person when I do. And even then I can still act like a douchebag. Take this afternoon for example.
I’ve been feeling all “enlightened and shit” since I’ve increased my prayer and meditation in the morning. For a half an hour every day for the last week or so, I’m waiting to tweet or check my email and I’m taking time to check in with G.O.D. Hopefully this period of time will remind me to think of others and have the divine direction to act like the spiritual giant that I was born to be. Thus far, my increased practice has put my days on a better path and allowed me to be on an auto-pilot where I’m guided by a higher purpose and not by my crazy, cockamamie ideas. Today, I left my humble abode after a morning of writing and felt spiritually armed to face whatever came my way. I was going to my favorite noon meeting which I was thrilled to go do. Yet as I sat in the room listening to shares I found myself getting irritated, bitchy even. “Oh my God! That reading again!?!” and “Didn’t that guy just share” were a few of the snarky thoughts running through my mind. I wanted to hear some solution and what I got was the ramblings of crazy people! How dare they. Well, even as I was thinking this I knew I was being ridiculous.
For one thing, clearly I was supposed to hear what people were saying, insane or not. Maybe it was all a test to see how tolerant and spiritual I’ve really become. Maybe I need to just listen and hear all kinds of sobriety, even the batshit variety. And I happen to one of those crazy people I was having an inner bitch session about and lord knows my ramblings are probably annoying to someone else. At the end of the meeting, I shared with some friends how I felt. We had a good laugh about my intolerant, bitchy ass and just like that I was back in love with program that saved my life. All of this stuff I do to make myself feel better, to keep me sane and sober is a practice. I can pray on top of mountain with a guru but chances are something at the foot of the mountain will annoy me. That’s life. What I can do is keep practicing every day, keep trying to be more helpful to the people around me, keep forgiving myself when I fail and keep remembering I’m not in charge. And that’s about as enlightened as I need to be.
“I’m so happy you’re here. Now, STAY!”the lady with a billion years of sobriety told me on January 2nd. Stay. Of all the heartfelt things people said to me after the meeting the recent afternoon wherein I picked up a chip celebrating 4 years of sobriety, “stay” was the most profound. Just typing that makes my eyes well up and my chest feel heavy. We tell our furry friends like that handsome devil pictured above to stay because we don’t want them to run off and because we want them to stick around and not get hurt. There was time I would have thought getting such a command would have been insulting. Now being told to “stay” sounds like something honorable indeed.
Simple to say or write down, to “stay” sober or in recovery is far from easy. I want to stay at the bar or stay miserable but stay and get better? That sounds really tough. Yet somehow that is exactly what happened. I’m not sure why I’ve stayed in recovery. Probably because I was finally in enough pain to stick around and see if I could get help. By nature, I am vanishing act which is to say I have always sought and found ways to disappear. Whether it was hiding under the stairs in a secret room in my grandparent’s house, concealing notes from creditor’s in junk drawers or cramming ecstasy down my throat, I am a master of not being here and not dealing. Staying and being present in the sober world, frankly, sucks sometimes. Not having the option to check out means I have to really experience life’s most horrible, most boring and most uncomfortable moments; straight up and with no chaser.
The kicker is that by staying and being able to walk amongst the living not stinking like a tequila processing plant is that I also get the good stuff too. I recently sat in auditions for the new show I have opening this spring trying to jump out of my skin with excitement. Here were these ridiculously talented performers saying my stupid words and making the whole thing sound just amazing and sitting next to me was my brilliant husband. How did this happen to the former waiter who was trying to drink and snort himself off the planet a mere 4 years ago? I guess the not surprising and maybe not incredibly deep answer is: I stayed. I kept trying. I kept making mistakes. From couch surfing and chicken sitting to HIV clinics and detox meetings, I stayed. Most incredibly, no matter what shitty news came my way, I stayed sober and never picked up. Again, I’m not sure how a lifelong hider transformed into a stayer, but I’m glad I did.
Speaking of staying, this blog is staying put too. I took sometime off to wear my increasingly large and all-encompassing playwright hat but I’m back and it feels good. I have lots of fun stuff happening in 2013 including a new ebook, an essay collection, multiple theater offerings and lots more blogging. In closing, I’m terrible at advice and never follow it in my own life until its too late but I will say this: If you’re going through something difficult and want to run the opposite direction, trying staying right where you are first. Because as it was said to me and I mean this “I’m glad you are here. Now STAY!”
New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day. New Year’s Resolutions. Barf and double barf to the whole lot. Especially New Years Resolutions. What sick, self-hating soul came up with New Year’s Resolutions? What kind of sadistic freak would set themselves up for an entire year of guilt for not following through on the unrealistic, pie in the sky promises they made to themselves? Surely it had to be someone Catholic.
Now, I make no bones about my general distaste for New Years. In fact, if this was one of those claymation specials from the 1960s, I would definitely be the evil character who twirls his mustache and bursts into a catchy tune which would outline my diabolical plan to cancel New Years– forever! Cue the evil laughter, sobbing children and sad animals.
It’s a drunk persons holiday and maybe I’m just a bitter ex-drunk person so that’s why I’m anti-New years . Maybe it’s because the holiday falls right on the joyous time of year wherein I hit rock bottom and it brings up awful memories Maybe I’m simply a cranky old queen who needs something to dislike and since I now understand the appeal of both Carly Rae Jepsen and American Horror Story, New Years is my new favorite thing to hate. Whatever the case may be, I’m not a fan. As a failed “This time for sure!” relapser who promised himself that 1990-fill in the blank and 2000-whatever would be the year(s) that he finally stopped smoking, doing drugs, drinking and lying and generally being a delusional dipshit, resolutions really churn my stomach.
For years, I thought I needed to go hiking more or do more yoga or journal more to fix myself. Yeah. The only problem with those plans is that hiking, yoga and journaling are really hard to do when you wake up 7 days a week with a hangover hand-delivered from Satan himself. I learned over and over again that having the resolve or the good intention or even seeing the right “Live Your Best Life” segment on Oprah were not enough. It was going to take something major if I wanted my life to really change and get better. So on January 2nd, 2009 I made a promise to myself. But a different one. I promised I’d actually try and do whatever it took to stay sober. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I thought I wouldn’t make it. Never drinking after work? Never drinking at lunch? Never drinking period? These were hard promises to keep especially for a guy who couldn’t even finish the Alchemist or never watched all of The Secret. Against the not-so-great odds, I kept this promise. Not because I’m remarkable or some kind of will power ninja. All I did was ask for help and change everything.
Incredibly, this is my fourth New Year’s without a hangover. I sit here on my couch after an early morning shift volunteering helping other drunken disasters. My cat and I watched the sun come up. I’ve even changed my mind about New Year’s Eve a little too. I spent mine with my husband watching a Face Off marathon and eating German Chocolate cake as the fireworks from downtown exploded outside our window. I even make tiny one-day at a time type of resolutions too. But they’re not about depriving myself or beating myself up. I like to resolve to do more of what I already love. Like more reading. More long walks. More learning. More trying of things I’ve always been afraid to try. More love and less fear. More recovery. More writing. More change. More art and theatre. More happiness. More of you guys and your brilliant thoughts.
So in that spirit, what good stuff do want to cultivate more of in 2013? Inspire me in the comments section below. And I mean this when I say it, Happy New Year!