“Save me, save me, save me”. Heard from the “Still, small voice” within.
"A still small voice" is a phrase describing a manifestation of God to Elijah from 1 Kings 19:12.
No flour, no sugar, no meat, no dairy, no eggs, everything organic, 100% raw, green living foods three times today.
Previously there was just too much food…and too little exercise.
In 81° heat, in a children’s park in San Francisco where Gummy is playing, all the adults are sitting on benches under the trees to get shaded.
I’m sitting, practicing my guitar, on the bench near a Mexican woman on an adjacent bench.
I really need to move 18 inches to my left so that I can be shaded by the tree behind me, but if I do, I will be too close to this woman, physically.
I sit in the heat for 30 minutes practicing and finally say “I need to sit closer to you to be in the shade”.
I mean how long do I exceed my limits, feeling hot, before I change my boundaries to be comfortable?
I guess when my neck started getting red.
I guess that’s where that term comes from: people that exceed their limits until the heat makes their necks red.
Typically, that term is used to note clod-like stupidity which is pretty much what I was doing.
Fortunately, this lady liked my guitar playing…
The State of California has a rent relief program for people whose lives and businesses were affected by COVID-19.
They are a very confused and disorganized organization.
One of my 22 recoveries is no debting, something that I learned about from Debtors Anonymous.
I’ve been sober over 30 years in that program.
But, sometimes you just have to have the courage to ask for what you need, when you need it.
Part of humility is accepting my limits.
My wife is so much better than me at mechanical and electronic things.
In the last four years I have learned to come to her with anything that requires adeptness in physics.
She set up my new digital/analog converter and my new digital audio workstation tonight (part of my need for creativity, expanded).
I felt so appreciative of her help.
I used to do that stuff for a living for 50 years…but she is so much better than me.
She is a Cracker Jack…
Gummy thinks so, too.
Step Nine (Living Amends)
Dear Brother David,
I know your plans are to be buried in Newnan Georgia, next to our mother.
I am going to be cremated and have my ashes strewn on the most beautiful place on earth, Crissy Field, 500 yards from where we were born in the Presidio of San Francisco.
The weather is beautiful, year round, and the mountains and the sea meet there in a very lovely and gentle way.
I don’t know how firm you are in your plans, but I sure would like you to be buried here next to me.
It would be nice to be able to go and talk to you often.
When my food is green and my cardio is long I sleep deeply and contentedly.
When my food is less green, and thereby more sketchy, I dream of being chased, over hill and dale, by multifarious, evilly motivated, bad guys trying to do me bodily harm.
It is my addiction, anthropomorphised, scaring the child in me half to death.
As Gummy and Alona would say, when arguing in the kitchen….” I don’t like”.
Your vision for me is so much larger, yet so much more humble than I could have envisioned.
My idea of you as a child didn’t include the possibility that you cared about my food.
It didn’t include the notion that you cared about running, yoga, push-ups or any other type of exercise.
It certainly didn’t include your will to be having any type of creative fun.
And, in my childishness, I thought you had no absolutely sense of humor.
I was wrong, wrong, wrong about you.
Eckhart Tolle is considered one of the top ten most spiritual people on earth.
His belief is brilliantly simple…”Be present in the now moment”.
That seems like a pretty good idea for addicts, as we are generally feeling resentful or depressed about the past or anxious or worried about the future, according to Bill W., our 12 step prophet and avatar.
In 2003, I used to teach Barry Zito when he was a Cy Young award winner for the Oakland A’s.
He would get to the stadium early and do push-ups, wind sprints and stretches before the game.
Being in the now moment is like getting to the stadium early and working out…but it’s not the game.
The purpose of being in the moment is that you have the opportunity to meet, head on, your immortal soul.
There is three pound range I am comfortable with.
Above that, I start looking old, beat up and sallow. Much below that and I start heading towards emaciation and looking like a cancer victim.
But, every time I get to the bottom of that range, the very first, unguarded, undisciplined thought is….” Now I can eat”.
It’s funny watching young children play:
They dash about as fast as they can, yet have flawless boundaries and never crash into each other.
But, even more interesting, while they are too young to speak, they have a deep, intrinsic desire to congregate and clump together.
It is their desire for “love and belonging”…the most universally desired of all our needs.
People ask me sometimes about my writing, not the content, but the style.
In 2010 Mark Twain’s three volume Autobiography was published.
It was published 100 years after his death, at his request, so he could say all the nasty things that he was just bursting at the seams to say.
He is my favorite writer (along with the left-wing, Jewish, lesbian, Manhattanite Fran Lebowitz) and he decided that, unlike a typical chronological autobiography, which he considered quite dull, that he would write about any topic that caught his fancy and write about it until he got tired of it.
I write exclusively for addicts so I kind of hop around, like he did, so long as the topic is recovery…or funny Gummy stories…or loving, warm stories about Cake, my wife.
In terms of style, while I know a lot of really big words, I aim for the simple and clear exposition in Earnie Larsen’s most moderate and loving classic “Days of Healing, Days of Joy”.
In terms of content, my favorite writer is the Jewish psalmist King David. The tenderness, ferocity, faith, courage and utter devotion to loving his God transfixes me. And while I am just not that good, it’s a good goal to aim at.
The fourth element is a leavening agent…laughter. “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down”. My favorite comic is Richard Pryor, and while I can’t use his vernacular while I am writing this stuff…you can bet I am thinking it
Finally, the Fifth Element (as Bruce Willis would say) has nothing to do with me, but seems to be the thing that sparks the most interest in my writing….Every now and then, for no explainable reason, God will yank my heart and kinda direct me to say something specific…so I try to shut my big trap…and say what I’m told.
Why do I put myself in workaholism?
So, I can feel bent-over, weary, and sad with all my responsibilities and “making heavy going of life”.
Why would I do that?
Because I wanna be like my Daddy.
He was extremely poor when he was young and his whole life was dedicated to never experiencing that poverty again.
No amount of work or self-discipline was too much. He was going to succeed in freeing himself from the shackles of poverty, and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.
Unfortunately, that approach to life made him feel tired and frustrated a lot, so that alcohol and hookers seemed like a pretty reasonable quick fix.
Alcohol is cheap and legal, and hookers are a lot easier than having to put up with a woman…at least in his mind.
But little boys want to be like their Daddies.
I am no different… even while I am free from alcohol and dangerous sexual behavior.
Lord, help free from the bondage of workaholism, through the first Step.
Anybody who knows me, knows that I’m not so much a material guy.
But there are exceptions: My most precious possession, is my glasses.
I keep them on a high shelf, the only place that Gummy can’t get to.
Somehow he got through there today and mangled them.
I actually burst into tears.
When Gandhi died he only had six possessions…But one of them was his pair of glasses.
In today’s meeting it was mentioned that the two great geniuses of Rock’n’Roll were Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix.
Just as in psychotherapy the two great geniuses were Sigmund Freud and Abraham Maslow.
In both cases, the men could not possibly have been more different.
Elvis was a social phenomenon. Hendrix was instrumental genius.
Sigmund Freud was negative, fearful and a brilliant diagnostician, whereas Abraham Maslow was intuitive and brought hope to the whole human race.
It is interesting to note it was a woman that brought us Elvis and a woman that brought us Jimi Hendrix.
Marion Keisker discovered Elvis, not Sam Phillips.
Linda Keith discovered Hendrix, not Chas Chandler.
They say that behind every great man is a woman…rolling her eyes.
I watched a film tonight that always reminds me of my first love.
I always feel sad at the end because it postulates about…what might’ve happened.
I only remember the first year and a half, at first tender and innocent, then tender and passionate.
But, as a love addict, what I don’t remember is that 3 years later, 16 years later and 40 years later, we would meet again, again have those tender feelings, but then she would use my having those feelings to manipulate whoever she was currently with, to get what she wanted.
Her mother, who died ignominiously, and who she idealized, was that way with her alcoholic father, I suspect.
We were both ACA’s…major ACA’s, and were clueless about how to have healthy relationships.
God have mercy on us all…and help me remember everything and not just have “euphoric recall”.
I talked at length with one of my sponsees about expanding the definition of recovery to include exercise.
Initially reluctant, he began to clearly see this is as fundamental physical need like air, water, food, and sleep.
My hope is that PrayerCall will pick up where the excellent work of OA and FA left off.
I talked to the Administrative Director of All Addictions Anonymous today, while I was running.
We talked about how they financed the book publishing division of their fellowship.
There was an interesting and unique feel to the conversation.
It wasn’t about Steps, or God, or feelings.
It was about the practical reality how you bring God’s word into being, for other people, and how you distribute it.
Real nuts and bolts stuff like, “How large does an order need to be to get particular volume discounts for publishing books and pamphlets.
Sensitive topics like, after 60 years of being in existence, they decided to put a Donate button on the homepage of their website, like FA does.
That’s touchy stuff, because people can get incensed, or began to not trust you, if they sense that you’re doing this for the money.
He told me a story about Tom P. that made us both laugh: Tom spoke to many AA groups in his life and always for free…but he always insisted that they fly him First Class.
I guess everyone sorta wants to be Elvis…
“No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.”
My brain tells me that I need something to eat, when what I really need to do is move my body.
How do I know that?
When I respond to my spurious internal hunger signal with a set of push-ups or yoga…I feel completely satisfied.
I believe that it is because I am misinterpreting information.
It is true that my body is saying I need some attention, but my brain is saying that that attention is food…
I am mentally different from my fellows…but I can reprogram my brain, if I am able to be fully honest with myself.
Spiritual investment report:
Greens are down yesterday, while organic fruits and raw nut butters were up.
Cardio Exercise is through the roof, but strength and flexibility showed no movement yesterday.
Service is at an all time high and is leading the current surge.
Fun, plain damn fun, is right behind service in driving this recent spiritual peak.
Reading books is experiencing a market correction, whereas writing books is showing significant growth.
Even the typically uninteresting bond/meditation market is finding spiritual investment dollars that are laying the foundation for long term growth.
All in all, the outlook is positive for returns in a steadily rising bull market.
When I started drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and having sex…my ears changed.
This is what I heard when people began to pray:
Oh Heavenly Father,
We just want to thank you for our many boring, tepid, insipid prayers where we say absolutely nothing honest to You that makes us look bad.
And we ask you for the opportunity to drone on, in endless meaningless talk, hiding behind platitudinous ramblings, that keep us from opening our hearts to you in any meaningful way.
We do this in in Jesus’s name, hoping that in our spiritual sloth we can hang all the responsibility on becoming moral ourselves, on His shoulders, so that we don’t have to do anything or give up anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or look weird to our friends.
I was asked to write about: “Three pounds of Crazy”
First, in typical FA fashion, I am 67 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and yesterday I weighed 131.6 pounds.
I got my first food plan from my first mother in law, a Catholic mother of 8 children.
“If I gain five pounds…I just start eating less”
That worked really well from about 34 to 57 years old and I stayed stable at 142 pounds.
Then my business required that I shoot lots of videos, nearly 1000, and I asked my sponsor about losing ten pounds, and he agreed.
When I got to 132 as a sober, stable goal weight the 5 pound margin was too loose and I found that 3 pounds worked better.
It’s important to acknowledge that I am trying to ascertain God’s will around food and not trying to manipulate numbers in some ideal business/like-paradigm where I am the master of my destiny due to my intelligence, discipline and hard work like I was in a Tony Robbins version of FA…
I am a food addict and I am powerless…really!
So, here are the physical food boundaries I have observed after three decades of nightly 10th steps: When I am above 132.8 I start looking fat.
I don’t like looking fat because when I am fat I also look old and beat up.
I make jokes about God “restoring me to vanity” to make people laugh and find God more attractive, but the truth is that being fat lowers my self-esteem, which is a very unspiritual thing.
So there’s the boundary 132.8 pounds…a line in the sand, a bottom line.
What I notice is between 129.8 and 132.8 is a good, sane, moderate place for me, over the long haul.
I can even go to 127.8 and start looking like Mick Jagger in his youth, but below that I start looking like I am in stage four radiation treatment.
Now there needs to be some flexibility…and
I have found that my body can adapt rather quickly.
Yesterday I ran 10 miles. It took three hours. I loved it and I got to call many of you on the phone yesterday. That is a blessing for me to be able to serve and take care of myself at the same time.
But, I was dehydrated and I gained four pounds at dinner…but nearly half of that was water.
So, I need to be merciful yet firm with myself.
The most important thing for me to remember is that I am “bodily and mentally different from my fellows” and that, for me, I need God’s direct help, all day, every day, three hours at a time.
You can be content without having peace of mind, but you can’t have peace of mind without being content.
Four things that bring peace of mind fairly consistently:
Running long distances until my mind tuckers out.
Counting my breaths and surrendering my thoughts.
Washing my wife’s dishes and counting my breaths and surrendering my thoughts.
Listening to the notes while playing the guitar…instead of thinking.
There are many more...but these will work just fine to start.
When people object to the idea of God, and they start talking about all the unrequited injustice in the world, or how when they pray nobody talks to them, or how alcoholically rageful, vengeful and capriciously irrational God can appear in some of the old stories about God, I always say the same thing:
Yes, 22,000 children die every day from starvation and disease…and yes, there was a Holocaust.
Yes, there are stories in the Old Testament that command people to kill homosexuals.
And yes, unless you are a psychopath or a saint, you may only hear God speak to you, out loud, once or twice in your entire life…and that is if you are incredibly, incredibly lucky.
But the very best beginning, the Intro to God 101 comes from Gandhi who used to simply and beautifully say: “God is Truth”.
Begin with that. Just start with telling the Truth…
And if you are fearless and searching in your pursuit of Truth…everything else will follow.
We met at the University of Virginia. I left my second year, because, as Mark Twain would say, “I try not to let education get in the way of my learning”.
Since then I’ve learned some beautiful things about teaching, like the classic “Carrot and the stick”.
The last office was the carrot…here’s the stick.
Three of the most useful, practical and responsible things I’ve ever heard about approaching God are :
- “All you’ve got to know about God…is you ain’t him”.
- “Who are you to say there is no God?”
- “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
These three divine thoughts come from the unscholarly, uneducated, unwashed masses of forgotten, disenfranchised and marginalized people…just plain old drunks.
Before we go any farther, sit down and ask yourself how you feel when you hear these three things.
My response to these two questions and one statement speak volumes about myself and it will determine whether or not further inquiry is useful…or if I should just throw up my hands and say “Forget it”.
If I am doing something that I feel afraid I will get caught at, or that I feel ashamed of what I am doing…that’s a pretty good indicator that something rather unspiritual may be transpiring inside of me.
Gandhi says that “Religion and art have the identical aims...moral and spiritual elevation.”
But, if I am practicing creating amateur art, feeling frustrated and angry, and I am spitting invectives out into space, it ain’t art…it’s being an ACA.
I can misuse amateur art the same way I do food or sex.
I don’t want to live without any of those three things: amateur art, sex or food.
Lord, ya might have to help me out with this stuff, too.
I was half way through a half marathon when I passed an old man in front of the VA hospital.
I turned around and went up and talked to him.
He was in a wheel chair, drinking a large Diet Coke and smoking an American cigarette.
I asked him how old he was and he said 82….but I have known two guys that were 100 that looked way better.
I don’t want that to be me 15 years from now sucking on nicotine and caffeine, in a wheelchair, by myself…
God, Please help keep me on an abstinent path.
The need for contentment.
This is not a need that Maslow discovered.
It is not a need that AA acknowledges…at least early on.
The highest need that 12 step propounds is spirituality, exemplified in honest, unselfish daily inventory, prayer and service.
That is some pretty good stuff and shouldn’t that be enough…I mean really?
Still, the most quoted section in the Big Book, outside the revered “First 164 pages” is the story “Acceptance was the Answer” (page 449 in the Third Edition, page 417 in the Fourth Edition).
It says famously: “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”
Acceptance is not a newcomer issue. Neither is Serenity a newcomer product.
Changing and Courage are newcomer issues.
So this lovely, loving quote is not going to do you any meaningful good for the first six years (by the best estimates) of recovery.
But, once you’ve got your physical, safety, love and belonging, esteem of others, and spirituality needs met…then this need becomes useful.
You need to get this piece before you can successfully go any further: “Who I am, what I do, what I have, what I have accomplished in my life…is enough.”
You need to be okay with who you genuinely and humbly are.
This is why this is not a newcomer issue.
Do you really want to accept that you drink too much, take opioids, smoke, use pornography or that you are fat?
So the Needs, like the Steps…”are in order for a reason”.
There are still two more needs to go, but first…contentment.
Is God perfect?
The Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Bahai’s and Rastafarians all see God as a Father.
That is good useful concept because every one has a father, the father is a powerful figure, and for most people, that father is loving.
The big problem with that way of looking at things is that, as you have noted, no one’s father is perfect, so when people start to look for God, generally in about 14 years old , when they begin to differentiate from their parents and begin to develop psychosexually, they run smack into their imperfect real father…with a God mask on.
This is particularly true of adults that grew up with alcoholic parents, or any type of addiction, or mental illness.
For example, as 75% America is now fat, just that problem alone is going to damage three fourths of our children.
That can sound inflammatory, but I’ve worked with fat people for 34 years…And not one of them, in their heart of hearts, wanted to be fat.
A second problem with the perfect father figure approach is that, in practice, it is inextricably associated the idea of the Creator.
But with the Perfect Creator many folks want to complain, moan and badger God for allowing earthquakes, famines, bad crops and the fact that the girl they love…really loves someone else.
What are we going to do?
Let’s start with something ultra simple.
The most radical line in all of 12 step is this “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
What if we just start over…God could probably handle that.
I like Gandhi’s approach “God is truth”. Let’s start there.
…Then the question of perfection is no longer relevant.
When I started sex addiction recovery, I was required to do 60 days of total sexual abstinence.
Anything short of 60 days was not considered a legitimate period of abstinence.
Nowadays, my wife and I will not be paying attention, not have sex for three or four days and suddenly she will have started her menstrual cycle.
We decided four years ago to observe the admonition in the book of Leviticus about refraining from physical intimacy at this time of month…it works for us.
That’s usually 5 maybe 6 days, so now we are roughly 10 days out.
After about five days I start noticing the gifts of chastity:
My mind is clearer…that’s why all but one the Old Testament prophets were single. It’s part of their job description to get that gig.
My intuition is razor sharp…That’s important if you are trying to listen to God, when your sponcees need help. I am not God, but chosen chastity helps you get closer to God when someone needs an answer.
More power in personal relationships…
I am a sex addict, so you have to be pretty ugly, old, fat or crazy for me to not be attracted to you. I am also powerless over intrigue, so if some woman starts coming onto me, I can get like a deer in the headlights. However, with chosen chastity, I am in charge of which way my life goes. I am free to say “No”…a choice and a power I did not have as a child.
My favorite gift of chastity is “social resilience”.
That means you can do or say, anything you want and, like we say in the South, “It’s like water rolling off a duck’s butt”. It just doesn’t bother me.
I want to talk about that one for a minute:
I’ve taken about 60,000 phone calls in the last 33 years and the vast majority of them were guys complaining about their wive's behavior, or some woman who was hurt because a man said, or didn’t say, something to her.
It is hard for them to imagine, at that moment, that the reason they are vulnerable is because they’re not being chaste…but, it’s true.
When I suggest a chastity period, they are stunned and baffled, but when they try it, they find they take their power back. Shazam!
Finally, the fifth gift of Chasity is vision.
Now this can be unnerving and a little weird when it first happens, but you get used to it and can roll with it.
God doesn’t want to scare you to death by talking from a burning bush because his awesomeness is so overwhelming, but…He doesn’t mind sending you a postcard.
And that’s what a vision is. It’s just a little Hallmark note saying “Thinking of you”.
So 10 days out, I am liking chastity and start angling for more.
My wife and I have noticed something at this point: If we talk openly about continuing a chastity period, we almost invariably become so attractive to each other that we each find the other irresistible.
If Chanel or L’Oreal knew this…they’d be bottling chastity faster than lip balms or face masks.
So, the smart money is just shut up and enjoy the ride…the chaste ride.
Here are some things I noticed about practicing a period of finite chastity:
I have more strength to put the fitted sheet on the mattress, when my wife and I are bending the mattress to get the newly cleaned sheets on.
As I get older, the memories I have from my youth seem to be accessed down a long, dark hallway from where I am at the particular moment. But, when I am chaste that corridor seems much shorter, brighter and better lit.
When I reach for extremely difficult guitar techniques, at high speeds, at high volumes…I miss less.
When I feel angry, I feel it immediately. I don’t have to go through my past circuitry of “Oh, I want to be a nice guy“…so I won’t be angry…
I am just immediately, naturally, angry.
I have more courage…
The anosmia that I have seems to diminish ever so slightly, and my sense of smell starts to return.
My vision is slightly sharper. I can see things more focusedly, as though my eyes were refracting light more efficiently.
I have spondylolisthesis and degenerative discs in my L5 and the Sacrum. That causes me not to stand up straight as I would like.
But, when I am chaste, I seem to stand up straighter, walk taller with better carriage, more poise and even just a touch of grace.
The downside of chastity is that the pain I feel: the hurt, sadness, neediness, loneliness is intensified.
It’s not really intensified. I can just feel it more.
Also, I have to be careful not to drive people around me crazy. Because…I’m so much stronger than I normally am, and I just expect people to keep up with me the way they normally do when I’m being actively sexual.
“Vows...I am able to testify that they have also served as my shield. I am of the opinion that they have added a few years to my life and saved me from many an illness.”
Is that really true?
Does a vow of chastity really add a few years to your life?
I don’t know, but what I do know is that when I am chaste I need 1 1/2 to 2 hours less sleep a day.
1.5 hours x 365 days in the year = 547 hours/year
547 hours x 78 year life expectancy = 42,666 hours in an average male lifetime in the US.
42,666 hours/24 hours in a day = 1778 days
1778 days/365 days in the year = 4.87 years
So, yeah you get about 5 extra years over a lifetime
“Buddhist monks choose not to marry and remain celibate while living in the monastic community. This is so that they can focus on achieving enlightenment.”
So, chastity helps you achieve “enlightenment” and marriage helps you achieve “endumbenment”.???
Reminds me of Socrates’ doggerel “As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course…he will be sure to repent.”
“New research shows that monks live much longer, and healthier…The researchers, reporting in the Journal of Religion and Health this week, found that many of the religious groups had far less disease, including heart disease and cancer, than other people”. “Benedictine monks have a mortality rate almost half that of mere civilians.”
Reminds me of the old Johnny Carson joke: “I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food…he was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.”
I had a dream one time that I was in a field of broken cinderblocks with one beautiful, sole orchid pushing up amongst the rended stones.
That’s how I see my wife.
We spend our lives “laughing and joking”, as she says.
The thing that I like second best about my wife, is right out of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”.
…I love her voice. I just love to listen to her talk. It tickles me.
But, the very best thing about my wife is that she loves God as much as I do. I’ve never met anybody like that…and that’s why I married her.
There’s some other things I like, too.
Even when we are chaste, my wife is a very warm, affectionate and tender woman…and I am endlessly charmed by her.
My wife is an absolute genius at fixing things. She should really be teaching physics at some University. And she’s passed those genes on to Gummy, who can now destroy anything he sees…but, then she can fix it.
We fight, as all couples do. I can be a narcissistic ass. She can be a tarantula under a dump truck. But, I am patient and she is forgiving. It’s a good fit.
My wife is not one in a million, she’s one in a billion…
I have the best woman in the world.
I could feel my wife feeling more amorous…but I wasn’t feeling that way.
Then I noticed a part of me that I had nearly forgotten about:
the child part that was overwhelmed by strong sexual advances from adults and, at that age, was not able to, or allowed to, say “No”.
I felt scared, bordering on terrified.
Fortunately, I have developed enough adult in me to be able to rescue the child when he is in trouble…and I did.
It’s tricky socially when I get triggered because I have to manage my internal conflict while not blaming the person I am talking to at the moment.
Before recovery, when I was clueless about what was going on, if I felt triggered I lashed out at whoever I was talking to, believing it was their fault…
Needless to say, that damaged a lot of relationships.
Now I know that “If I’m not the problem…there is no solution”.
Jo from Brazil who, along with my wife, runs the 6:00 am PrayerCall for the last several years this morning described the Peace of Mind offices as: “God’s daily newspaper”.
I kinda feel that way, too.
I promise to be your faithful daily news reporter and, as Hemingway would say “Just write one true sentence”, and present “ the facts and nothing but the facts”…with a touch of humor.
As I was running 10 miles today, across the Golden Gate Bridge, I looked down and I saw a great number of sharks. Something I have never seen before in the 20 years I have lived here. We had a terrific rain yesterday and perhaps that drove them inland. It felt ominous, yet confusing.
After one of our leader’s exclamation this morning, "This is like reading God's daily newspaper", I wanted to share it on the home page, below the two red buttons:
“God’s daily newspaper.“
Jo S. from Brazil
I ran it past David S. and Danielle. They both liked it, but Alona was incensed “You’re claiming yourself a prophet!”
I felt breathtaken. I was doing no such thing.
Just a guy doing his daily step 10th and 11th steps.
My wife was really insistent and she said if you say it “It’s cheap and braggy”.
I felt “cunned and baffled”, but I could tell she was telling the truth.
My thinking it was if there’s something new and good in the world, pass it on to whoever will listen and wants to get better. Who cares who gets credit?
It didn’t take long before I realized this was a flaw in my character….that I am unable to see something in people that I need to see.
The sharks made a little more sense to me then…
Matt D., the Administrative Director of All Addictions Anonymous is about to release a new pamphlet and was interested in my editorial feedback.
In the early 90’s SLAA asked to publish all my work, but I was too much of a punked-out, puffed-up, impossibly tyrannical “Artist” to get along with and I essentially told them to take a flying leap off a cliff when they wanted to “dumb down” my work.
In 2007 Food Addicts Anonymous asked me to rewrite their AWOL, which is a cavernous tome by which they do their step work.
I started with the 4th step and was very rigorous.
But Anne D., the cofounder of FA, said “ Steve, if I applied what you said I couldn’t have sex with my husband because I fantasize about other men when I do.
I was thinking “Lady, you may want to take a look at that”…but I was silent.
I need full rein to write exactly what I hear, which is one of the reasons we have PrayerCall, but Matt is a friend of mine, and I want to be of service to him.
So this time, as it says in in Psalm 39, “I will put a muzzle on my mouth” and confine my feedback to simple technical, syntactical, grammatical errors.
As Frank Zappa, who I knew, used to say…
“Just shut up and play the guitar”.
In response to a question about the relationship between prescription drugs and sex:
My first six years in recovery I used Limbitrol, a cross between Librium and Elivil, double strength, three times a day to manage my anxiety.
I knew perfectly well that it was rendering me partially impotent, but I didn’t mind because I believed it would dampen my sex drive, and reduce my cheating on my wife…which it did.
I feel really sad about that now because I was murdering my sexual feelings with drugs instead of working the program harder.
The Big Book says on page 70 “If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others”.
Sex is such a problem for me, that I’ve had to devote my life to serving others the last 33 years.
But my greatest curse turned out to be my greatest blessing…
Serving others, according to Bill AA and Gandhi, is the greatest thing in life…They are right.
I am glad you announced your limits tonight.
I've known you for 31 years and I always remember the story about you going to the referee camp and the guy saying "This is your year".
That was too much pressure to put on a kid, and I'm sorry that happened to you.
I find myself in that exact position. I am at the absolute peak of my game at 67 years old.
Someone said today that I was the author of "God's daily newspaper ".
That kind of complement could make my head blow up like a zeppelin, if I wasn’t careful, but I'm not in the compliment business and I don’t really care who gets credit. I care about getting the straight spiritual dope to people as fast as I can write it down.
All I've got to do is not act out, and tell the truth…three hours at a time.
Everything else…is God's business.
My 2 year old son learned that he could jump out of his crib and run rampant through the house, so we had to build him a little bedroom.
It’s been a week and while he’s getting used to it, he still wakes up shrieking from time to time.
I went and changed his diaper, got him his formula and massaged his back, head and arms…but I wasn’t really reaching him.
I could feel his agony and I began to slowly, ever so gently, caress his forehead…and he began to relax.
He stopped crying and then, as though very thoughtful about his crying jag, reached up to me, put his little arms around my shoulders and pulled me closer to him.
It was a tender moment and I told him he could cry with me…anytime he wanted.
After running PrayerCall/Monks for 12 years there’s a phenomenon I have noticed we call the “Shooting Star Syndrome”.
I come in really hurt, depressed, broke maybe even having suicidal ideations from time to time, willing to do anything.
I start going to meetings, then reluctantly get a sponsor, then start working the steps, and then start helping other people get well.
Then all the gifts of recovery start to appear: I’m no longer feeling “pitifully and incomprehensibly demoralized“ or depressed. I start to feel high self-esteem. My energy level soars.
I’m practicing chastity, but then I begin to look at my food and lose, or gain (if I am underweight) a lot of weight. I start exercising become athletic, limber, strong, and my body begins to look sexy and attractive again.
I get a better job, I go back to school or start my own business. Money starts rolling in.
I dress better. I start going to concerts, or I start playing a musical instrument. I might even start dating.
But, ever so slowly, I start to “Put the life AA gave me, in front of my AA life”.
I start showing up for fewer PrayerCalls and when I do I don’t read with everybody else anymore, or I do the check-in at the beginning and end, but during the readings I multitask and work on my computer, or surf my iPhone.
I stop calling my sponsor every day and do it maybe once a week.
I stop reading the basic text Hope and Recovery.
I stop making out reach calls to newcomers and I don’t serve others sex addicts. I’ll accept a call, but I don’t make any calls anymore.
Then, like every human being in the world, I reach my limit. I’ve spent all the spiritual capital that I have been saving up in the early months and something happens, usually something very little that triggers me…and I slip.
Then, something pernicious, bordering on evil, happens…The slip is not that bad. I don’t feel as hung over as I did when I first came in to PrayerCall, and that registers in my mind.
I didn’t get fat, lose my girlfriend, lose my job, or fall into a deep depression…but I still want sobriety so I start back using the tools again, but not as hard as I did at the beginning.
This time instead of having three or four months of sobriety, I lose my sobriety at 30 days. Then again, something pernicious happens…I start to doubt the program and I start to fear that I can’t make it back.
The next slip is only seven days out, and then three days out. Then I am lost and hopeless.
I think PrayerCall doesn’t work and I slowly drift away.
But it’s not the program that doesn’t work. It’s that I have forgotten to maintain my program once God blessed me with every conceivable blessing.
Getting sober is courageous, dangerous, sexy and exciting. There’s that ultimate challenge “Can I do this? Can I really change my life?”
But staying sober… Is boring.
I’ve got to be able to handle that feeling and do the maintenance work, whether I like it or not, or the disease will sneak up on me…and rip my throat out.
I have recently been working with a sponsee about his extremity, around exercise.
I know that, for me, after arrogance, selfishness, dishonesty, and obsessiveness…Extremity is my worst character defect.
It’s not all bad. My best character assets are:
But anytime you serve others, God blesses you…
So, I was playing my guitar, as I love to do, and I noticed something: I have always reached for the most difficult musical and technical ideas that I can reach for.
All my life, I have always reached for the most extreme thing and consequently, sometimes, I miss notes. Not often, but sometimes.
Carl Czernzy, Beethoven’s most famous student, one said “In music, nothing is worse than missing notes”.
While this is a Eurocentric musical worldview and is not held, at all, by the Afrocentric musical worldview…his point is still well taken.
If I am more moderate…I sound better.
30 years ago, my third AA sponsor told me “You don’t even know what your worst problem is, do you?”
I figured he was going to tell me, whether I liked it or not so I said “No”.
He said “Arrogance”.
If he had said I was a one-legged, blind, sailor from Singapore, I could not have been more surprised.
I had absolutely no idea…And he was absolutely right.
That’s why you need a sponsor.
You need somebody who can kick your butt… Without hurting your feelings.
It’s a delicate balance…but it keeps you in good humor and mental health.
I have a sponcee who is being totally arrogant.
It’s costing him a great deal, and it’s costing those around him a great deal, but he can’t see it…just like me.
The good thing about sponsoring is you get to work on your own stuff while you’re helping other people.
I know that this person is in their mother issues, fighting for their psychological life, having nothing to do with the issue at hand.
As a consequence, God has blessed me. I can see something, in myself, that I have never been able to see, for the last 50 years.
When I fought my own mother, to become a professional musician, I simply could not hear anything she said that did not support my position.
I had the fight of my life, for my psychological life.
As a consequence, I simply could not hear that I was not talented enough to be extremely successful.
Now, it turns out that there are other reasons to create art, that have absolutely nothing to do with success, and are actually more important than success, like finding your soul…but nobody knew that in 1971.
So the only common sense reason to go into art, then, was to become a professional and make money.
I simply could not hear that. I was arrogant.
Arrogance comes from the Latin word “Arrogare” which means “To claim for oneself”.
There’s nothing wrong with claiming something for oneself…If you can really do it.
And I really thought that with extremely hard work and dedication I could be extremely talented…And I was dead wrong.
But when you’re in your mother issues and fighting for your life…You just can’t hear that.
I have a new forgiveness for my mother that I did not have before today.
It’s nice to let go of old resentments.
It makes my heart feel relaxed and comfortable.
“We have no opinion on outside issues”.
As PrayerCall has evolved the last 11 years, we have pretty much minded our own business, focusing on ourselves, and trying to get healthy in as many areas as we could.
Tonight, I dropped in on an old friend of mine, and in the course of conversation just asked him if he would tell me about his experience with God.
He was kind and generous enough to write this response:
I don’t see much evidence for a personal god, i.e. an intelligent being who created the universe, watches over it, or intervenes in it.
I DO see quite a bit of evidence for a more generalized spirituality- an evolution towards intelligence, mindfulness, cooperation.
My hope is that we are slowly evolving towards a much better world, one with much less suffering and much more understanding…
Thank you so much for your response.
Gosh, I hope you’re right.
I, too, hope we have evolved and are evolving.
The ancient Incas, Israelites, Mayans, Egyptians, Aztecs and Chinese all sacrificed their children in the fire when they needed rain, a good harvest or to slam their enemies into the ground. Somewhere along the line, it occurred to someone that this wasn’t working too well.
So, I think we got a little better as a species that day, as you note.
Reminds me of the old joke: there’s a Rabbi ringside at a prize fight. His friend says “Will you say a prayer for the fighter in the white shorts?
Rabbi: “I will…but, it’ll help if he can fight”.
Later, on the plains of what would later become Europe, when the Goths, Visigoths and Vandals were slaughtering each other, a group of rather peculiar guys, who were trying not to get laid, and to live by themselves, started proposing an idea of perhaps “Might doesn’t make right”. And a subgroup of society, who were not as physically strong, began to flourish and had the privilege to live…and that was women and children.
That seems like a pretty good move, to me. I like women and I have a two-year-old son…so I appreciate that we may have moved up the spiritual ladder a notch or two.
As a bookseller you may know this next story:
When Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th century, books became cheap and plentiful and women learn to read. It didn’t make sense to educate a woman back then because they weren’t allowed to work or own property, so it was a bad business decision to invest in their education.
I believe we evolved as a species when we invested in women’s minds and not just the hotness of their bodies or the prettiness of their faces…although L’Oréal and Chanel may disagree.
So, I agree with you that is there is tangible evidence that we are evolving…however ridiculously slow that progress may be.
The first question is a little more tricky:
“I don’t see much evidence of an intelligent being who created the universe, watches over it, or intervenes in it”.
I’m not sure of that either.
But, I am sure that separating the questions makes it easier to understand.
As a professional teacher, to me, the beauty of the old Jewish story of God creating the universe is unparalleled.
Is it true? I have no idea…
But the really useful question, to me is, “Is there a God that intervenes?”
To understand the truth of this question requires the correct sense.
I don’t listen to a painting. I don’t look at a symphony. That seems idiotically obvious.
The big leap is that I can’t use my understanding when approaching God. It is the wrong organ. It has to be experienced.
There is a group of people in the world who have that opportunity. The ones who are sick, hurt, lonely, lost, disenfranchised, wounded and aggrieved.
Patrick Carnes, PhD , says that two out of three Americans fall into this group. John Bradshaw says that 95% of Americans fall into this group.
To those people, the powerless, reaching out for power that they do not have is sensible…not reasonable.
And many of those people get to experience God…not all, but many.
Like all men and women, I have been in love with my teenaged “first love” all my life.
I am actually, after 50 years, still friends with her. But, no one could possibly be more wrong for me.
Last night, I was invited to talk about God to someone who was not in program.
I talked with my wife for hours about it.
My wife is endlessly excited about God. She is ebullient. She overflows like Niagara Falls with the joy of God…completely separate and having nothing to do with my own joy.
I so respect, admire and enjoy her fierce expositions on God.
We are similar, but quite different in our views and experiences, but she is spirituality enthralling to listen to.
My first love…not so much.
God gave me so much more than I asked for or deserved.
To my sponcee:
There is in expression in ACA:
If you wonder why your family of origin pushes your buttons, it’s because…they installed them.
Be very protective of your boundaries on this trip so that you don’t get triggered into:
"I don’t belong"
"Someone doesn’t respect me"
"I am not as good as someone else or…I am better than someone else."
The need for esteem of others is important, but not as high-order a need as self-esteem, and nothing raises self-esteem more than unselfish services to others.
Protect yourself by taking time in your lovely play and winsome frolicking…to stop occasionally and help other addicts.
Young children, if you pay attention to them, are antidotes to workaholism.
They live in a “second super-real world”, whether it’s running plastic, green trucks along the edge of their crib, rattling fire extinguishers as they walk by, or picking up pretty stones.
While it’s true that they have absolutely no patience and want things immediately (Sound familiar to anyone adult, here?) they are in many ways more sane than adults.
That’s why Gummy and I get along so well. We both like to do things that are “utterly useless”…and yet, “beautiful”.
No one is impervious to lying…that’s the water the addict-fish swims in.
I had to get emergency surgery done on a cavity that fell out of a tooth yesterday.
The student dentist asked me “Does the pain wake you up at night? “
I said that it did… And then realized I was lying.
I did wake up three times that night, and I did feel the pain of the tooth…but it didn’t cause it.
A “spot check inventory” told me that I was angling…to get some opioid based painkillers.
I immediately backtracked and told her the truth.
No matter how far down the road you get…You are still just three feet from the ditch.
For Still Dave:
Just to give you a heads up on my exercise schedule: I usually run after the noon PrayerCall.
13 miles on a great day, 5 miles on an average day, less when Gummy needs immediate attention or I am rehearsing live.
Then, at night, after Gummy has gone to bed I start practicing.
Ideally, I do it in 1.25 hour increments, three of them.
Ideally, every 15 minutes within that 1.25 hours I do a set of push-ups, so I end up with 15 sets in a day.
If I don’t practice 3.75 hours a day I can’t play the music that I like. It’s very difficult music.
But, if I sit still for 1.25 hours at a time my blood starts pooling, my heart stops pumping effectively and I get old and creaky.
I’d like to say that I am so smart that I created this schedule, but it’s exactly what my second favorite guitarist, Andre Segovia, did…Minus the push-ups. He was a pipe smoking, womanizing whale….But a great guitarist.
To my old friend…or rather to my friend of old.
I remember you as smart, warm, talented and cute…50 years later, there was something that was missing.
In the six months we have been talking I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, until today.
When I sent you a video of Gummy playing in his new bed you wrote me back… And you were funny.
More than anything…That’s what I loved about you.
Welcome back my old friend…
My wife is my beloved mate, a gift from God Almighty.
She believes, and I have agreed with her, that the man is an equal…But the leader of the family.
Today, I needed to negotiate a very tender issue with the raising of our son.
So, I started with a truth that every father’s heart knows, but that neither parent will admit: “I know that you love our son more than me…and I know that you love me “very big”.”
It opened the door…
I asked her to pray with me, while we held hands, before I spoke to her, and asked God to help me be tender.
When I spoke, she looked hurt, but in the true spirit of a soldier’s wife, every bit as courageous as Gandhi’s wife, she agreed to my request.
I loved her fiercely at that moment.
I am sensitive to my beloved when she sends subtle signals that she is open to the possibility of physical intimacy. This was one of those mornings.
I feel loved and appreciative in those moments…but, today I declined.
I knew I was going to run 10 miles and I wanted all my energy to push my body hard.
I met Muhammad Ali once in 2001 and he used to abstain from sex for six weeks before he took on a Title fight.
If it’s good enough for him…it’s good enough for a piker like me.
MJ is starting a food business called “Holy Pies”.
It was from him that I learned about raw foods 20 years ago.
Two of my three meals a day are living foods from our garden, but they are blended with distilled water and fresh Meyer lemons.
I love the name “Holy Pies”…but, I think I’m gonna build me a food website and call it “White Trash Shakes”.
Alona says “I don’t like”…so I guess we’re not gonna do that.
The need for recreation (creativity).
After lying in bed for an hour thinking about things that I need to say to various sponcees to be of service to them, and launching our semi-annual Seventh Tradition fundraiser tomorrow, I just stopped and counted 100 breathes.
I need to re-create myself, my mind specifically. So, I got up and played my guitar at midnight.
Every time my mind would wander to some worrisome thought, I would surrender it and just listen to the guitar.
Is the Big Book would say “I was reborn”…in a little, but useful, way.
In response to the “God kills a kitten every time you masturbate” comic video: “Ok that’s just disturbing. Wtf?”
It was you that introduced me to Melody Beatty’s books on codependency. It was also you that first introduced me to the idea of Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings.
But, the world of recovery has changed a great deal since you left it 30 years ago.
3/4 of Americans are now fat. While this is true of both sexes, it is sex correlative…this is the addiction that women generally reach for first when they are angry.
There’s also been a tremendous surge, with the advent of the Internet, in both sexes, in the use of pornography since the early 90’s. This is also sex correlative. 95% of sex addicts are men. This is particularly true in Third World countries.
The last time we saw each other in 1987, 12 step was at her peak. The Baby Boom generation was in their 30s, which is when most people enter treatment and recovery programs.
But, after 1994 with the advent of Ellen Bass “Courage to Heal” paradigm shift….and insurance companies getting smarter and becoming unwilling to pay $40,000 a month for treatment, 12 Step began to contract.
At her peak, 12 step boasted 400 different programs. Now, Wikipedia lists only 33.
The people who have remained faithful to this worldview have fallen into three camps:
Reformationists who believe that therapy ruined 12 step and will not listen to anything outside the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their strength is their purity.
They believe their faith in God will solve the problem.
Then, there are the Consolidators who try to put everything we’ve learned since 1935 in one package. All Addictions Anonymous is an example of that. Their strength is that it’s easy to not drink, but still be cheating on your wife, be fat or be in debt. Comprehensiveness is their forte.
Then, there are the Hybriders. They use a subscription model to finance their work.
Probably the best example of that is Reddit, who have actually trademarked the word “No-Fap” (The social media term for no-masturbation).
They will send their attorneys after you if you do not pay them for use of their intellectual property. Their strength is that they address the poor. After 16 months in Southeast Asia…I can see the wisdom of that.
Me? I try to find God through laughter…hence, the video.
The previous office was received with an explosion of hatred.
When I experience “friendly fire”, my first reaction is that I feel stunned. Then, I feel hurt, followed by sadness, loneliness and neediness. After I process, the anger comes up.
I find someway to express that in a healthy, passionate way.
But then, I have to look at my part…otherwise I also feel victimized.
“What did I do to put myself in a position to be hurt?”
Sometimes, in my excitement, I can be narcissistic, in that, I’m more interested in the information that I am passing, than how it is being received by the listener.
If I talk to people about recovery, who may be in the disease, and I am unwitting about it…I’m gonna get my head handed to me on a platter.
Jesus, in an angry moment, said “Do not give pearls to swine, or what is holy to dogs”.
That’s a little harsh…But I have been warned.
Tonight the new Gandhi offices weren’t ready for the 9:00 pm meeting.
I rather hysterically called for “Cake” (my wife’s preferred name).
My mic was on and I felt ashamed of myself, rightfully so.
I stopped in the middle of the readings and made amends to her.
And she made amends to everyone for her technical error.
Thank God for Step Ten.
People are more important than Offices, Steve.
My Father’s Song:
I play extremely dissonant music.
I believe that those tonal relationships sound exactly as I felt as a child and teenager.
My father liked Tennessee Earnie Ford and Marty Robbins.
I live in the second most densely populated city in America. My family lived on a 112 cattle farm in Virginia.
My family was military…I became a blues/avant-garde guitar player.
My father was an early riser. I go to bed at 1:00 or 2:00am
My father never exercised a day in his life…I run 13 miles in a day sometimes.
My father was a practicing alcoholic. I am a teetotaler.
My father didn’t care a whit about his family. Mine means the world to me.
My father was completely shut down emotionally. I live in my feelings.
Ya think Daddy might of had a touch of influence on me?
Synonyms for abstemiousness are self-control, self-denial, self-restraint, sobriety and moderation.
Thank you God that you have helped me to maintain abstinence from overeating foods today. Two of the three best men I have ever known had their spiritual gifts taken away from them because of how much food they ate.
Thank you God that I am sexually self-restrained now. I didn’t used to be, at all. I had so much taken away from me because of that.
Thank you God that I am sober. My mother and father lost their health, decency and sanity to alcoholism, as is my brother, who is now losing his life.
I may not be rich or powerful but I am forever grateful to be your servant…and I always will be, one day, three hours at a time.
For 20 years I’ve lived above a woman we call “Legs”.
She’s a very attractive, very depressed woman, who, when we pass from the third to the second floor, we can often hear expressing herself sexually, in a vociferous manner.
I was carrying four bags out the front door, couldn’t open it and as she was coming in, opened it for me.
I said “Thank you Kelly.” …She didn’t say a word.
Gummy has learned to run and dance, quite vociferously, on her head…so she’s mad at us.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries….
“I love LA”
In LA, I at Cafe Gratitude, my favorite restaurant, and got violently ill. They now add sugar to virtually all their desserts. Mine didn’t, but they’ve gotten sloppy with their materials.
We went down Sunset Strip and saw scores and scores of movie Billboards.
We saw Marilyn Monroe and Jack Nicholson’s home…or actually their front gates, barbed wire and video security cameras.
Beverly Hills was lovely.
We went to Venice Beach…And there was no one there in the winter.
There are people who I truly love who live here, and I am a city boy, but I guess I’m a Northern California sort of guy.
I am grateful for my tiny little home in San Francisco. It is simple, and I like it that way.
Gonna head to the desert and see if the old Jewish prophets were smart to look for God in the desert.
“An aspirant after celibacy will always be conscious of his shortcomings, will seek out the passions lingering in the innermost recesses of his heart, and will incessantly strive to get rid of them.”
I have no shame around my codependency, because I have worked on that for 3 decades, but I do I have some shame around my narcissism, because there is no program for that….
Codependency is on the left wing and Narcissism is on the right wing of a continuum with a perfect balance between self-care and unselfish service to others right, dead center.
This morning my beloved and I got into conflict:
She is learning to drive in the Joshua Tree desert and the Google fritzed out.
She is infinitely more competent than I am with technology, but was fed bad information.
I felt angry and spoke unlovingly to her.
I can always tell when I am in my narcissism…because I can hear myself saying “I’m not going to apologize”. I always do, but initially…I always say that I won’t.
Narcissism is a character defect of the directly strong. Codependency is a character defect of the passively strong.
My narcissism manifests as using my intelligence and quickness of mind to verbally hammer someone into me “being right”.
I don’t like this about myself. I know where it comes from…and both are true.
God, I am entirely ready to have you remove this defect of my character and I humbly ask you to remove this shortcoming…before my wife beats my butt, back. Amen
It’s important when changing a male child’s diapers to not do it from his back.
Otherwise, you may forget to cover his manly parts, he will pee all over himself…and then you have to start all over.
Counted breaths for 15 minutes….but my heart hurt.
Composed in my head, for 45 minutes and my heart didn’t hurt.
The hurt comes from the demandingness I put on myself. With writing music…there are no demands.
When people ask me “Are you a Christian?”
I use Mark Twain’s reply “Not so as any respectable Christian would know”.
While I believe what Gandhi said that “God has no religion”, I have, on two occasions, felt the presence of the specifically Christian part of God.
My best sponsor felt a presence and left the Army after World War II and spent the next 63 years in monastery.
Wandering around the desert today, I thought about the last time I felt a presence, in Laos, when I was concerned about my spondylitis, which is a curvature of the spine…injury, disease or impending death will do that to a man, or woman.
This time, for the first time, I actually heard words.
I am more than a little suspicious of that type of report because, for five years, I sponsored the only living son of Jim Jones.
But, the words were incredibly simple: “ Why me?”
So, in my head I said: “Well, I’ve been spreading your gospel all my life…in my own neighborhood” (talking about the healing of God in addiction recovery).
The conversation kind of trailed off there as I needed to get back to Gummy and Alona.
It’s not coming down from Mount Sinai with two tablets…but, it has got me musing a bit.
In any case, I stayed abstinent with my food today and, for me, that is what is most important.
I didn’t do any cardio yesterday and I'm feeling pent up and creaky, but today I am going to try and run 5 miles in the desert.
There is of course no internet in this desert so I unfortunately won’t be able to call any of you and I feel a little sad about that because I get so much joy talking to everyone on PrayerCall.
But, I also get strength and courage from you all.
There is something singularly encouraging about being in the company of the willing that is not like anything else.
Groucho Marx used to say “I would never want to be a member of a group…that would have me as a member”.
But, he never was around the folks at PrayerCall.
I want to report some progress.
Whenever Alona, Gummy and I travel we rent a Chrysler Pacifica van, with seats that retract underneath the floor, so we can sleep in the back at night.
We pass many parcels of land that say “ For sale”. I have not once called a real estate agent on this trip to check on prices.
Progress rather than perfection.
Besides…who wants to live in the desert?
On Monday it will be one year that I have committed to writing and playing the avant-garde, like I did in my 20’s.
That alone would qualify my wife for sainthood.
Alona and I had a long discussion last week after the new Gandhi Offices were presented that opened with one of the most beautiful passages about women I have ever read (see C16).
“Still Dave” had contributed that women’s place in spirituality had diminished since the advent of monotheism.
We all agreed, but Alona countered that even though my favorite saint Augustine had pretty much blamed the demise of the entire world on Eve, that Mary, the Mother, had redeemed women with her unspeakable faith and courage.
That inspired me and I began to write “Mary, the Mother”.
I have sent many of you 12 second to 60 second videos the last year…but this topic of the unique potential of the goodness of women deserves a lengthy treatment.
It’ll be a while, but be expecting a link in your text history.
I heard a courageous share today…
Did you ever wonder why you are a sex addict?
The Big Book, 12 step’s most universal text says that they “can’t really tell you why”.
That was true in 1939 when it was published, but a lot of men and women, mostly anonymously, have given their lives to 12 step and we have learned some things in 82 years.
While their was some cursory discussion with Carl Jung AA drew much more heavily on religious resources in the beginning.
But, in the late 70’s, treatment centers became vey impactful to 12 step and three things, right out of basic Freudian thought, began to be examined and considered: feelings, sex and your relationships with your parents.
Among these three, family of origin gained dominance.
It was found, and believed, that if someone blamed, shamed or controlled you…that you had been emotionally abused as a child.
Patrick Carnes, PhD, the founder of Sex Addicts Anonymous says that ”96% of sex addicts were emotionally abused.
It was found that if you were not nurtured with love, expressed through feelings, you were “emotionally neglected”, which leaves you needy.
If you were exposed to obscenity or profanity, while anger was being expressed, that you were verbally abused, severely damaging your self -esteem leaving you always looking for something outside yourself for relief: sex, food, alcohol, drugs, etc.
Most of us in America grew up with food, clothing and shelter, which during the 30’s was considered as “ having your needs met” and, in fairness, the other human needs: love and belonging, esteem of others, creativity simply had not been discovered at that point. But, if those needs are not met it leaves you feeling lonely, isolated, different, out of place.
Then there is physical abuse ranging from hitting, slapping, pushing, being beat with a belt, the list is varied, inclusive and quite long. This leaves you depressed and afraid.
Finally, there is sexual abuse: being sexual with your children, being sexually touched by your neighbors, teachers, priests or friends.
In my own experience and observation in the last 33 years of devoting my life to helping sex addicts I have never known a sex addict who wasn’t sexually abused in some way…not one.
Ellen Bass, the author of The Courage to Heal and Ernie Larsen, the author of Days of Healing, Days of Joy both say the exact thing…”There is always a reason”.
This may sound like a lot, but if it is recognized, you can develop something that AA does not promulgate, self-compassion…and that is a priceless tool.
Ran 7 miles in the Death Valley Desert today in the noonday sun.
It was a “peak experience” for me, as is mentioned in the “Gifts of Chastity“ Office.
I am grateful that PrayerCall has turned her attention to the possibility that taking care of ourselves, physically, is a part of spirituality.
There is a self-possession necessary for maintaining abstinence with food, or chastity.
I must be responsible for my feelings 24 hours a day.
Unmonitored, I default to sadness emotionally.
Unmonitored, I default to self-pity attitudinally.
But hanging around the group every three hours alleviates that.
Anonymous numbers and narcissism: Days of Sobriety 12-7-1-3-16-3-8-12-44-23-65
If you let go of the “Shooting Star Syndrome” which accounts for days 65, 23, and 44 you see a pattern of streaks with peaks of 12 days, followed by 16 days, followed by 12 days.
So, the numbers indicate that the best estimate of your average sobriety time is 12 days.
In between those three peaks there are three short streaks of 8 and 3 days, and a second series of short streaks of 3, 1, and 7 days.
That tells me that you struggle for exactly 11 days in between peak streaks.
At the rate of surrender you are at, the numbers indicate that, if your pattern continues, you will act out again between 3 and 8 days from now.
When confronted with numbers, my character defect of narcissism says “I’ll show you”, so with super-human willpower I can increase my success rate about 33%. This accounts for the 16 day peak streak.
As you have one day of sobriety, and are seeing these numbers today, the narcissism will help you get 7 more days.
Best prediction with these numbers is you will act out again on November 17.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is “God is in the numbers”…and you are getting closer to your bottom.
When you get there you will have the opportunity to surrender completely
(Editors note: Posted with permission)
Child molestation law in Texas:
Texas defines child molestation as “indecency, sexual contact, or sexual abuse…of anyone under the age of 17.”
Texas says these actions fit under the category of sexual abuse:
- Engaging in sexual conduct that harms a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare
- Either compelling or urging a child to engage in sexual conduct
- Exposing genitals or those of a child
For the sexual assault or sexual abuse of a child, there is no statute of limitations. If you commit this crime at any point in your life,
the Texas legal system can punish you.
Texas defines “continual sexual abuse of a child” as two or more instances of sexual contact. This crime gets prosecuted as a 1st degree felony and instead of the 5-99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, you get 25-years to life – without the possibility of parole…
Also, in 2007, under the “Jessica’s law”, Texas reinstated the death penalty for child molesters. So, you can be electrocuted, or legally injected.
The last time Texas did this was 43 days ago…
God is in the numbers…Beware!
There is a very sad and sobering piece of 12 step history…
The First Tradition, which helps the group to function said, in it’s original form; “Our common welfare should come first; personal progress depends upon AA unity."
Later Al-anon, founded and led by Bill’s wife, Lois, modified this Tradition: “Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends on unity.”
Lois recognized something in her womanly modesty, that Bill, in his grandiosity, did not recognize…that we could not help everyone.
A critical part of spending a successful life in unselfish service to others is to know your limits…which is the very definition of humility.
There are some people we cannot help…
Today was spent, eight hours, administrating arrangements for someone in PrayerCall who is on the brink of very serious legal problems.
This has only happened three times in the last six years, but it does happen.
Other than the most rudimentary self-care I was not able to practice “peace of mind“…Until I got into the shower and could feel the hot water running down my back.
Sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do… Is to take a shower.
Thank you Jesus!
“Suffice it to say that with the gradual disappearance of the carnal appetite, my domestic life became more peaceful, sweet and happy. “
Several of us are practicing a “finite period of chastity: MJ, Danielle, Saroshe, and Tony.
Pork Rhyne and Francisco are starting as well.
I have been practicing chastity this week because I wanted to use my energy to run 5, 6.5 and 7 miles in the Joshua Tree Desert and Death Valley.
I got an opportunity to newly introduce this to someone last night. The motive is to improve familial relationships.
Somethings are rather obvious, like, if you don’t spend your energy making love you have more energy to be available to your children. That is stated in Mercy Office #6. What is the little trickier is that is also true with one’s partner.
And what is not at all obvious is that the decision to be chaste is a completely different experience from not having sex with a willing partner… that just leads to a snake pit of resentment.
Romance is simply sublimated sexuality. So, if I choose to restrain myself sexually, that energy must express itself and one of the ways of expressing it, if I am smart, is through the newly arising feelings of romance for my mate.
Political advice: You would think that this would be more challenging for men, since our instinctive drive to be sexual is, generally, but not always, greater than women’s. (If you don’t think that’s true go to any sex addiction meeting in the world and see if you don’t find 90% of it populated by men.)
But…It is, by far, more frequent to find the woman in a relationship that finds chastity to be an objectionable state of affairs. (Why is beyond the scope of this office).
That being the case, it might be wise to just, silently, but consciously, practice chastity, by not initiating… Until you get used to this new tool.
The Addiction of Artistic Preoccupations:
I have a need for safety.
It is right above my need for air, water, food, sleep and exercise.
That safety is expressed as physical safety: Not getting eaten by a roving brontosaurus Rex or being tortured by Ivan the Terrible.
It expresses itself in the need for emotionally safety: not having a controlling mother or shaming and blaming father.
It expresses itself in that most embarrassing of middle class ways…financial safety: Rent/mortgage, food, clothing, medical/dental care and old pristine John Coltrane albums.
As an American male, after fear of death and penal length, my greatest fear is being a loser, a failure, a has-been or a never-was.
As an American woman, my greatest fear is not death, it is being fat…or being caught at a party in the exact same dress as my rival.
The fear of failure is a mother/father issue starting about age 14 when I enter puberty and begin differentiate from my parents. It is a good and healthy fear. Fear of “Failure to launch” is very real.
If I have abuse, or neglect, in my childhood, the higher order need for creativity becomes exacerbated and there develops something that looks like obsession. It is not. It is the need for safety though seeking the “Second super-real world” that children live in when they play with their trucks and dolls.
The two needs are now fused. “If I am not successful at my art…I am not safe”.
This con-fusion of needs is so dissonant within my mind and heart that I can’t stand myself and I become a fawning female, reeking of codependency, or a tyrannical, overbearing, controlling, humorless, narcissistic ass as a male.
Since I hate myself, alcohol, pills, food, sex, bad relationships or shopping at Neiman’s are perfect solutions to eradicating myself.
That was certainly my experience…ask either of my ex-wives.
That will work, for a while, and then if I am very, very lucky, something will happen. I will run into someone I love; a potential partner, or my own child, and I will want to love better. I will want to become better. I will want to become better so that I can love better.
How do I resolve this conflictual confusion?
I can throw away my art. I have done that twice in my life for about 18 months…but that very real need, the need to be childlike, comes seeping back in.
Jesus used to say that you can’t get into heaven, except as a child…and he was a pretty smart guy for a blue-collar worker.
The problem is a matter of boundaries and the solution is simple: I must get both those needs met…but not in the same place.
I must have money: There is a guitar I want or an Hermès scarf.
I must have art: so that I can express my soul.
For me, even though I saw it as a failure at the time, teaching was the financial solution. It paid well, had short hours, I was the boss..and no commuting through LA traffic.
Composing nasty, disagreeable, avant-garde music in impossible situations on ridiculous instruments filled my need to be a tortured, misunderstood, isolated artist fighting the musical sloth, greed and immorality of the selfish-ignorant world at large, right out of an Ayn Rand novel, made me into the hero…that my father never thought I was.
John Lennon, who I was suggested to play with by John Cage, used to say “It’s easy…all you need is love”…and a lot of step work led by “Still Dave” on the weekends.
Step 11 “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, asking only for knowledge of His will for us, and the power to carry that out”. “We ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision…We come to rely on it”
Big Book p86 and 87
This tells me that that God can give me an intuitive thought.
You gotta be careful though cause you can end up like Charles Manson…of course, you can end up like Joan of Arc, too. But, neither ended up very well, so caution through sharing with a sponsor or a group is wise.
I have been thinking of something that HP inspired me to think last week in the Joshua Tree Desert. It was “Why me?”
It took me a week to figure it out (We had a lot of extra paper-pushing administration to do this week at PrayerCall).
When Alona and I were in Laos she was concerned about sex before marriage.
I rather cheerfully offered to be chaste to help assuage her fears and to assure her that I loved her, for her…really loved her.
So, at the time I was to being obedient to the Christian part of God as she understood it.
What I noticed is that my spondylitis noticeably improved.
That’s not really all that surprising because I felt proud of myself…so, I walked taller. No magic here.
I interpreted that experience, and Alona noticed it, too, as my closeness to that part of her God.
But, what I did not attribute it to was the chosen chastity that was giving me high self-esteem and it’s effect on my carriage.
Hence the question “Why me?” makes sense.
Motivated by my love of my wife to be, I chose to be obedient to her God…but it was using the tool of chastity that did it, not the particular avatar of God that I was worshipping.
Today our family took a three hour walk and I carried a tux jacket to get fitted that I bought before I dropped ten pounds, with my sponsor’s permission, ten years ago.
I have not been that close, physically, to another woman in 4 1/2 years.
I could feel the heat of her body. I could smell her. She touched my arm and chest, almost imperceptibly, as she placed the pins in my jacket.
When we were done, as she slid my coat off she said, in the worst Cantonese/English possibly imaginable, “You need to stand up straight” and it hit me…the “intuitive thought”, of what that question meant.
I went home and, all day, gutted the Gandhi Offices to more user friendly topics, which Miss Alona will hyperlink after our Sabbath.
I am really curious about this and want to know more.
One of the things I really like about the stories about Jesus is, whenever he did a miracle, he never said “Wow! Look at me!”
He would say “Your belief has healed you”.
That says to me that the power to heal is inherently within me…and all of us. I just need a kick start.
A finite period of chastity works pretty good for an alcoholic, sexually addicted, food addict like me.
1939, in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, a line was published “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God”.
In 1986 The Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous program published a text with following five lines:
“Apparently God was not interested in relating to us as a parent might to some helpless child who was always getting into scrapes.”
“God seemed to want some kind of partnership.”
“Perhaps we were supposed to develop our full human capacities, instead of passively turning ourselves over to God as a wholesale protector or a punitive, omnipotent dictator.”
“We had progressed beyond an overseeing caretaker or parent-like God to the sense of being in conscious partnership with this Power.”
“This relationship appeared to be structured more along the lines of a conscious adult partnership centered on mutual sharing and cooperation.”
I don’t know, but that doesn’t sound like Charlton Heston coming down from Mount Sinai to me.
It sounds more like good negotiating between partners.
Men, we don’t need this stuff. We just grunt coarsely at each other…and reach for the claw hammer.
But you can’t successfully communicate in a functional relationship that way, when working with someone of the feminine ilk. It’s better to use those five suggestions that SLAA makes.
That feels, just a little bit, like the feminization of God…to me.
I set out on this Sunday afternoon to create amateur art, like the weekend warriors that I had made fun of all my life.
I am having so much fun.
Instead of the dozens of microphones that a professional studio has…I have one beauty.
Instead of the 96 inputs that pros use….I have two.
It is bare-bones simple and so beautiful to my eyes and heart.
Thank you God for my priorities…without forgetting my needs.
One of the remarkable things I have found about finite chastity is that I need less sleep, typically two hours a day less.
It’s because I don’t feel depleted, eat more, and then need two hours more sleep to process the food.
Beds are for “sleep, sex and sickness”.
My son is more honest and open than me.
When he doesn’t get what he wants he throws himself down on the ground, cry’s crocodile tears and shrieks like he is being impaled with a pitchfork.
That’s the way I actually feel when I don’t get what I want…I just don’t want to rumple my clothes.
Kasturba, Gandhi’s wife, and my wife are the the same height.
They also both have to put up with their men spending most of their time serving others, grow their own food and raise the children.
Kasturba ended up in jail four times following Gandhi around with him shooting off his mouth about freedom all the time.
My anonymity keeps my wife out of the clink.
…that and her 5G internet.
I am so grateful that you have helped me be successful at maintaining my same body weight.
I was so-so tired, of going up and down the scale, like a yo-yo.
That sounds like such a dull, commonplace thing for you to help me with. It doesn’t seem grandiose enough for the childhood picture I have of you.
I have “put away my childish things” as I mature…or at least get older.
I have a new friend. An African-American multi-flutes player.
We have been talking/texting for the last 9 months and have done one show together, but I recently bought a new microphone which kind of lured him out of his house.
It’s like two boys, one with a new bike…it’s kind of charming actually.
I watched a movie about an accomplished, but emotionally shutdown, woman who had forgotten her brother.
I called my brother and we have talked the last four days.
I feel kinda sad. I have always wanted to reconnect with my brother since I was 12…and now we are doing it.
It brings tears to my eyes.
Thank you, Lord
Thirty years ago I had started the first Rock’n’Roll school in America…The Atlanta School of Rock.
We taught guitar, vocals, bass, drums, keyboards, trumpet, saxophone and flute in the styles of Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Classic Rock, Heavy Metal and New Music.
Another company across town had started selling Pro Tools, the brand-new digital recording software.
I visited them one day and the founder snubbed me.
I have had a resentment against ProTools ever since…
Now does that sound like a mature man?
As an amends, I bought a monthly subscription to Pro Tools yesterday.
“Resentment is the number one offender”…and I want to stay abstinent, chaste and getting up very early.
To that guy I just want to say…”I am sorry”.
Last Monday I had to be admitted as an emergency dental patient for a root canal consultation. It was 2:59 and I really needed PrayerCall.
I took a cursory glance at my student dentist and surmised she was probably from the Middle East.
So I told a “stretcher”, as Mark Twain would say: “I am a Muslim and I pray for 15 minutes, five times a day”.
She quietly and respectfully withdrew.
I got sane in 15 minutes and she got her job done.
If I took your name in vain Allah, please forgive me…
“Allahu akbar” …”Allah is merciful”
Studying the digital audio program Pro Tools reminds me of three things:
In 8th grade I had a good-looking young science teacher who was gay when that was still felonious behavior in the ultra conservative state of Virginia in the late 1960’s.
He was bursting at the seams attracted to me, but he held it perfectly in check.
But, I had no aptitude for science back then and the hate just roared out of my young, budding alcoholic mouth.
Learning this is nothing but talentless pain.
Secondly, studying Pro Tools reminds me of a woman I dated and loved 12 years ago.
Pro Tools has the coolest, sexiest editing platform imaginable.
My old girlfriend, who was so hot she made me look like Santa Claus, physically, had absolutely no limits on what she was interested in, or would do, sexually…but as an ongoing human concern she was a basket case.
Pro Tools crashes and burns like paper mache in Northern California Forest Fire.
Very alluring…but very painful.
Finally, my own ACA stuff comes up.
As an adult child, when faced with a problem, I often see only two solutions…Mommy’s or Daddy’s.
After practicing Step 11 unceremoniously on my belly for a while, a recovered solution was “nudged” to me:
Why don’t you keep Pro Tools but keep Logic Pro (Pro Tools only real competitor), too? Duh…
I feel a lot of love and high self-esteem this morning.
I wrote 57 Offices this week and instead of presenting “God’s Daily Newspaper” (as Jo likes to call our new daily work) new offices were presented three times a day, at 6:00am, noon and 9:00pm.
I have to give credit where credit is due: My old friend MJ was burning the candle at both ends doing the chastity thing and I felt rather inspired.
It prompted me to do some more chastity, myself.
One day, my mama took me into the woods, near “still waters”, and dropped a pebble in.
She instructed me to watch the ever-widening ripples and said “ When you do good…it spreads…like the water”.
God bless you Mommy…may your soul Rest In Peace.
I could see my narcissism in a new way today.
I felt frustrated and angry twice today.
Once with BB and once with Gummy.
They were holding up my workflow… How dare they!
It didn’t take long, with the 11th step, to remember that these people are more important to me than Beethoven, Hendrix or Coltrane.
I prayed step six and seven I was restored to some semblance of sanity…Thank God.
“We constantly search the inner recesses of our hearts”.
What is it about me that feels desperate and frantic when a file is unlinked or an internal clock goes haywire while using a software program?
In my mind I tell myself it is because I am being thwarted from trying create something beautiful .
But, the desperation tells me that there is a need not getting met. Instead of for “fun or creativity”, I am searching for contentment within myself because I have created something beautiful.
But why would I need that?
Ellen Bass says that it’s because, as survivors, we believe that we are fundamentally bad. We believe that the abuse was really, deep down, our fault and we need to somehow even the score from the deficit place we constantly live in.
I have enough recovery to be just fine without amateur art, or professional art, or any type of art. I am fine either way.
Still don’t like it…when files and clocks go coo-coo.
My brother and I began, gently, tenderly and slowly discussing mental illness, at his initiation.
Being an alcoholic, I first remembered the line in the AA 12x12 page “Some will be willing to term themselves “ problem drinkers” but cannot endure the suggestion that they are in fact mentally ill”. I simply denied this when I first read it…because I “couldn’t endure this”.
Secondly, I remember in 1999 when the US Surgeon General, for the first time, issued a report on mental health and stated that alcoholism was a form of mental illness…I was 13 years sober and clean at the time and felt a little shell-shocked.
Thirdly, I remember a brilliant psychotherapist in 1988, who had been stripped of his license for his sexual behavior with his clients, saying “It is a thought disorder”.
Finally, I recalled from AA that it is how you live your life that causes you to drink, and that if I masturbate 30 minutes a day, and can’t stop, that that is only 2% of your day, and therefore, 98% of the problem is mental, as AA theory suggests.
We both agreed that the CDC, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Mayo Clinic were people who were not “in it to increase their income”, and could be trusted with accurate information.
In their describing the 1999 US Surgeon General findings NIMH says: The report defines the term “mental health” as “the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity”.
If I am drinking, taking pills, smoking cigarettes, masturbating or am seriously overweight…let’s leave caffeine out for now because we don’t want a riot on our hands…and I am using these things to cope, then I am addicted and, accordingly, mentally ill.
A word of humility is necessary here. 12 Step believes that through talk therapy (meetings, sponsorship, outreach calls and step work) that any and all of these behaviors can be arrested. The group All Addictions Anonymous is an example of this, but…
It is important to recognize our limits. That is what humility is.
I have a dearly loved friend who suffers from serious depression. While she has utilized 12 step tools, she finds it helpful and healthful to use doctor prescribed medication for her depression.
At PrayerCall, at a certain point in the progression of the disease of addiction, we recommend that you go to inpatient treatment, because you are beyond what we are able to do.
OA and FA did not learn this lesson with two tragic results. We must maintain the humility of what our limits are.
So, is addiction mental illness?
The NIMH makes a functional distinction:
•Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. and can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment
•Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
But, if you do not have serious mental illness, we have the tools, if you are willing, and work very hard to arrest it…one day, three hours at a time.
A Sloth is the slowest mammal on earth and moves about 100 feet in a day.
It takes a Sloth two weeks to digest a meal, so sloths evolved not by eating more…but doing less.
Now that is a food plan…
Steps Six and Seven are called the “Forgotten Steps" because there is only one paragraph apiece written about them in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I was interested in working on steps six and seven and God sent me an opportunity.
My brother and I spoke this morning and we talked about mental illness.
He stopped the conversation abruptly when the topic veered towards childhood abuse.
I felt hurt…and wondered why.
When I am telling my sexual abuse truth, and someone does not want to hear it, I can get triggered into my Adult Children of Alcoholics defects, remembering my own father’s denial about his sexual abuse of me.
I am entirely ready to have God remove this defects of my character…And I humbly ask him to do so.
Turns out God wanted me to solve this myself, so why does "In brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, mind and soul work?
When I am in conflict with someone my need for safety, love and belonging, and esteem of others, which has being met with friendly conversation, instantly stops.
The other person feels threatened and he’s protecting himself.
If at that moment, I can stop and remember that I am chaste, I can replace the “esteem of others” with “ self-esteem”, and go on in the conversation…without missing a beat.
Be careful what you ask for…what is the dog gonna do when he catches the car?
I heard a brilliant share yesterday in an exposition of “Meeting the need for creativity”.
The most fascinating line that the person shared ,for me, was that their physical exercise directly affected their ability to meet their need for creativity.
That is brilliantly simple.
If I’m going to be creative… I have to do it with my body. The better shape my body is in, the more likely I will be able to express that creativity.
I spent 7.25 hours producing a new avant-garde composition…And not one minute practicing my guitar.
I feel out of balance and cranky.
I can do better than that…
As a workaholic I do not think of myself as having a character defect of slothfulness… But I do.
When my wife got pregnant three years ago, we began to sleep a lot. I was having “sympathy pains“, but after our son was born, we continued.
Three weeks ago I started getting up very, very early, typically 4 AM, which, according to Coltrane and Gandhi is the “hour of meditation”.
I am so much more productive and so, so grateful…Chastity is King.
My wife and I are on day 18 of chastity.
There is something my wife wants very much, and I do, too.
She wants me to stand up straighter.
I have a “hunch” as the Big Book says, that I could cobble together enough techniques from various disciplines to solve this problem…I have solved other more recondite problems than this.
I asked her if she was interested in, openly, doing some chastity, while I worked on this.
She is mulling it over…
There’s a lot of debate over who gets credit for the current American Thanksgiving: The Puritans? Washington, Lincoln or Roosevelt? even John Kennedy is mentioned.
Ironically, the Puritans did not gorge, but rather fasted, on Thanksgiving.
AA has a very simple tool they use to practice giving thanks…The Gratitude List, and since I learned everything I know from AA…Here’s mine…
I am grateful that I don’t drink anymore or have those terrible hangovers all the next day until 5 PM…when I promptly forgot that morning’s suffering.
I am grateful I don’t take pills anymore. I hated having that chemical collar on. It would dampen my sex drive.
I am grateful that I don’t smoke two packs of Dunhill Red every day.
I am grateful that I don’t drink coffee anymore. I would start out with one 16 ounce double shot, and end up with five at the end of the day, two of them being triple shots.
I am especially grateful to not be masturbating or cheating on my wife. That was the real IOS that was operating inside of me, and it drove me crazy and everyone around me.
I’m grateful not to be fat. You might look sexy smoking a cigarette, or chic, drinking a double latte…But, there’s no way to look cool when you’re fat.
I am grateful that I am clear about money: both about debting and under-earning. I haven’t debted in over 30 years and I love that simplicity.
I am grateful for the “soft tissue“ things like ACA, Coda and Al-anon because I was such a cloying, people-pleasing, yet raging, doormat before.
I am grateful for my spiritually gifted wife and my Shiva (The Great Destroyer) son who is the light of our lives.
I am grateful for every single one of you at PrayerCall who is willing to show up day after day and courageously share your feelings and strive to do God’s will. You are breathtaking.
Happy Thanksgiving 2021!
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton recorded many songs together in 30 years.
It was rumored that they were having an affair. It wasn’t true.
He admitted being attracted to her, but never acted on it. He said “But, it keeps the tension."
That’s the way good, healthy chastity is in a marriage.
It’s razor sharp clarity…”But it keeps the tension."
When I first got into ACA recovery I sent out Christmas cards each year.
This year I sent out 11 jokes…
My favorite musical lines into fatuity:
How are Jazz and Socialism similar?They both sound better than they really are.
“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”
“Please write like Wagner, only louder.”
A musician is someone who pays $5000 for an instrument, to drive 500 miles, in a $100 car, to play a $50 gig.
Two jazz guitarists meet in a bar, and one says, “Yeah man, I bought your last album, it was awesome!” to which the other replies, “Oh so that was you!”.
What did the Deadhead say when they ran out of pot at the show…”Man, this band sucks!”
What do coffee and Clapton have in common?…they both suck without Cream.
How are singers like someone new at your door?
They can’t find the key and they don’t know when to come in.
What do clarinetists use for birth control? Their personalities…(I hate clarinets)
What is the height of optimism?…a guitar player with a mortgage.
If the guitar is a narcissistic phallic symbol…then what does that say about a bad guitar player?
In my heart of hearts, if I am honest with myself, I have always wanted PrayerCall to be as big as it could get.
In fairness, after 40 years of being in recovery, I find PrayerCall to be the most effective use of 12 step I have come across, for me, and I have wanted to share that with anyone who is willing.
But there is a smaller, yet very real part of me, that is narcissistic, stemming from the character defect of grandiosity.
Two years ago we were 1750 people strong in 89 countries, and then suddenly, due to Facebooks policies and procedures, we lost everyone of those people.
That baffled me…But, I am slowly beginning to understand.
I have been using an AA model, because that’s where I learned everything I know. They are two million strong.
But, we also use a model that I learned from my most gifted two sponsors, both of whom lived in a monastery.
Folks in monasteries don’t do things like folks in churches. They have no hopes that their approach will be pervasive. If it did, the human race would come to a screeching halt within 70 years, from simply having no children.
I can see clearly, and for good reason, now, that we need to stay small.
Saint Augustine is my favorite saint. Anyone who says “give me chastity…just not today”, is my kind of guy.
He also said “I couldn’t find You…because I was looking outside of me”. So…God is within.
But where exactly?
Plato and Socrates believed that your soul was housed in your solar plexus and vaguely and mysteriously connected to your gut and mind. But those guys didn’t have electron microscopes…
I know absolutely nothing about anatomy, but suppose God is dwelling in your heart, or behind your eyes as Jesus said, or even in the tips of your fingers?
Or maybe God Within is a “moving target” and can be anywhere in my body when He feels the need?
I see God in the beauty of my wife’s long fingers…Gummy’s got ‘em, too.
I hear God in Hendrix, Coltrane and Glenn Gould’s fingers.
I hear God expressed in my son’s laughter…so maybe God is lodged somewhere down Gummy’s incredibly outraged throat?
I do know that addiction stops the ability to perceive God and the more addictions I stop, the more likely I am to be able to sense God.
As Gandhi would say, at least for today…”I know no more of the matter”.
But…I’ll be listening to Gummy’s screaming more carefully today.
I had to have a 100 year old virgin Monk spell it out to me “Genital contact is sex”.
Last night, completely honoring that definition, I made love with my wife for an hour. It was some of the most sweet lovemaking I have ever experienced….
She woke up refreshed, like a newly watered geranium. Me…not so much.
I felt a loss of energy. I felt angry with myself.
After about 20 minutes I forgave myself.
As I was leaving the endodontist office after a root canal I was feeling lonely. That’s really unusual for me and I didn’t understand.
Then I realized I was feeling “split off“.
I had somehow separated my feelings from my body and I didn’t understand why.
Then I remembered…I’ve been sexually abused by four different people in my life. One of them was my orthodontist, when I was 10 years old.
Back then, they used to use full body anesthesia, so that you were out cold. This guy didn’t do it properly and I woke up in the middle.
What I saw, when I awoke, was him being orally sexual with me. He stopped immediately and pretended like nothing had happened. I felt dazed and confused, frightened and unsure.
I talked to my mother about it afterwards. She went into a rage, shouting “How did I dare accuse that man of such a terrible thing?”
Do you think Mom was in her own unresolved stuff?
That’s where the real problem of not working through your own issues shows up…because you can’t be there for your children.
When I was in ninth grade I looked out my high school window into the student parking lot and saw 11th grader, Jerry R., walking towards his perfectly orange, souped up, 1957 Chevrolet.
Jerry had a brand new blonde-neck Fender Telecaster and the most sexually appealing girl in the school as his girlfriend.
He was my rival. I was his. We were both way to cool to acknowledge this.
Jerry had the most ferally, feline walk I would ever see in my life, until, I saw one of the extremely rare film footages of Gandhi walking.
It just oozed sexuality, in the most proud, yet restrained and nearly dignified way.
I made a conscious decision, that day, looking out the window…not to do that.
50 years later, I am paying for that decision.
When you don’t throw your upper thighs forward as you walk the tendency is to lean your head forward…And that’s not good for your spine.
Jerry ended up an alcoholic suicide. So I’m glad I did not live my life the way he did. But, I was foolish not to emulate his walk…
As an amends, my old friend, I will try to walk the way you did.
Matt D. Administrative Director of AAA sent me a text with a CS Lewis quote on masturbation.
I have always loved Lewis’s simple clarity and humor as he tackles the most inscrutable moral problems.
After writing 57 Offices on Gandhi last week, though, I always get to the point where Gandhi comes down on Christianity like a rubber sledge hammer in the movie “Roger Rabbit”.
He slams them for one reason: John 14:6, where Jesus, ever so modestly, claims that “No one gets to my Dad…unless you deal with me first”.
Bill Wilson taught that if we were to be sober we had to be honest…and honestly, the Christians that I know, all believe that.
So, I went and researched CS Lewis and sure enough he had something to say about this touchy little subject: “When we speak of Jesus to others, we must not bow to the pluralistic ethos of our culture and allow him to be reduced to one religious or moral teacher among others.”
That kind of makes the Jews mad…and the Muslims…and the Hindus…and the Buddhists. I live in a major seaport and I gotta live with those folks.
My thinking is that if you can walk on water, turn water into wine, make the blind to see, make the lame to walk and, as though that weren’t enough, make 2000 pigs run off a cliff…you are probably Jeff Bezos.
At dental surgery, I needed to use the men’s room, but it was being cleaned. I asked the custodian if I could use the women’s room. She said “Take your pick”.
There was one labeled “Women”. The next bathroom was labeled “Gay”. Another was labeled Bi-sexual, then Lesbian, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Questioning on down the line. Finally, the eighth bathroom was labeled A for Asexual.
In San Francisco we love everybody…long as you’re just like us.
I’ve been trying every day, for seven days, to talk with my brother.
It worked for about four days and then it started trailing off, him not answering the phone.
Today, he went into a rage when I asked him to speak up.
I’m powerless over my brother, but I must protect myself from abuse.
I have wanted for 55 years to repair our relationship.
I always blamed myself for becoming selfish about girls and beer and abandoning him…but it was a little larger picture than that.
My SLAA sponsor used to say “It takes two people to be in a relationship… And I ain’t both of them”.
I have done my part…Now, I turn him over to God.
Today is day 22 in chastity.
I am making significant progress in walking tall and improving my carriage. I have, gently, asked if my wife might agree to doing a 60 day celibacy, so I can work on this. She graciously agreed…
Welcome to WORY radio station:
“It takes a worried man to sing a worried song. I’m worried now…but, I won’t be worried long.”
When I am tired, I worry about:
My recently dead best friend’s son
It they’re not the problem…then, they’re not the solution.
Jerry had one green eye and one gray eye.
He had a strong torso and a flat, hard belly.
He walked like a lion guarding his Pride of females.
He was pulchritudinous…
That just means he was so pretty he could sheer the paint off a wall just walking by a girl.
I know. I saw the chips flying as he walked away with my girl.
My heart was broke…but my walls looked great.
There are some hurts you can never undo…
When I was 17 I left a girl that I would love all my life. I left because I was a love addict, and we were eating each other alive, emotionally.
I had no boundaries. I had no limits.
Walking in my father’s footsteps, I did not know how to negotiate a relationship, to work on myself, to replenish myself and come back to the relationship…I just left.
Addicts are like that…very black-and-white.
It gets worse. I remember saying to myself, out loud, “That was just too painful. I want to have sex…but, just without any feelings".
You can imagine how that turned out…
So I had sex with all the pretty girls that I could find…some of them were her friends.
Not having any boundaries, we would periodically get together and have sex, which sent a very confusing message to her, because I was still having sex with lots of girls.
A year and a half later, I tried to get back with her, but she was gone with another guy.
A decade later we met again, both married to other people and with our own children
(The storyline is right out of Woody Allen’s “Cafe society”).
I was sober, but it was AA quality sobriety, and no more.
Love addiction hit me like an out of control freight train…and I gave up five years of sobriety that day.
When God’s got a message He sends a man. But, when he’s got a big message…He sends a woman. And that was the turning point of my life…I finally put sobriety before everything else.
We would meet again, 25 years later, but she had “moved on”.
I made amends to her, but there are some hurts you can’t undo.
The story has a happy ending.
There was always a piece missing in our relationship. The God piece.
When I finally met Alona I had met someone who had that piece. And I am finally, after 50 years, not hiding, in the recesses of my heart, the desire to be with my first love.
There is a movie that closed with the dedication, “To my first love… May it finally Rest In Peace.”
Some hurts…you just have to forgive yourself for.
Chastity is helping me achieve a goal.
My second favorite guitar player was André Segovia. He practiced four sessions a day, for one hour and 15 minutes.
I’m doing three: Early morning, late morning and afternoon. I can’t tell you how tickled I am.
Chastity is King…
On day 24 of Chastity I felt a moderately strong urge to be sexual as my wife and I were retiring.
I prayed the “Sister, may no harm come to you from me” towards my wife, remembered all the people who are practicing a finite period of chastity at PrayerCall, read the Chastity Offices and I…“Did a Gummy”.
There is an old recovery joke:
Have you heard about Narcissists Anonymous?
Yeah…they won’t tell you where the meetings are.
In that tome of commercial wisdom, Psychology Today, that we love to hate, there is a definition:
Narcissism does not necessarily represent a surplus of self-esteem or of insecurity; more accurately, it encompasses.
1. a hunger for appreciation or admiration
2. a desire to be the center of attention
3. an expectation of special treatment reflecting perceived higher status.
God, I hate to admit it…but that be me, Lord.
It is easy to see it through the music: I have spent a lifetime trying to get people to see that I am better than Clapton (that’s embarrassing).
I always lead bands, never join them…and we always do my compositions or arrangements.
I expect people to treat me better than others because my many years of self-education clearly demonstrates that people should shut up and listen to me.
My second marriage was falling apart and I assembled the Traditional Prayers for MJ twenty years ago .
We memorized them and would recite them, in seven minutes flat, throughout the day on the phone. We called it the “Mobile Monastery”.
But, after a while something changed and I didn’t want to hear my voice prattle on all the time…and breath prayer got very interesting.
It’s still my favorite form of prayer (after actually being in the presence of God).
The trick with breath prayer is to surrender every pesky little thought that intrudes into my alcoholically worried pea-brain.
…You get the idea
My introduction to jazz was in a local dance band with a 55 year old organist, a 30 year old drummer, a 28 year bass player and a 28 year sax player who had toured with Ronnie Dove.
We did Satin Doll, Ipanema, San Francisco, Summertime, Georgia on My Mind, Misty, Going Out of My Head, Mack The Knife, Caravan, that kinda stuff.
I was 15 and thought I was the Cat’s Pajamas. Now I feel about jazz the way I do about Socialism…it’s not as good as it sounds.
My very best position in relationship to God is “I am powerless…will you help me?”
I’ve got another opportunity now to connect.
It wasn’t but about 18 hours of working on straightening up my spine that I realized I was gonna need some help.
So I admitted I was powerless, I came to believe that God could help me, and I was willing to accept His help…so the first three steps were done.
But, after surrendering in my will, I came face-to-face with step 3 1/2 “I do God’s will”.
This is where all the slogans come in handy. But none of them were directly applicable.
To solve this problem I needed to understand something new about God’s will.
It was in the slogan “Be beautiful”.
In AAA they talk, every meeting, about “The Four Absolutes”.
They also talk about what happens when you don’t practice these four principles.
It turns out the opposite of Absolute Love…is ugliness.
So, for them, beauty is a part of Absolute Love. “Be beautiful” is part of the love of Love.
“You only get as much recovery as you want.”
Most people I know in recovery want to stop drinking and stop using drugs.
A good chunk of those decide that smoking cigarettes is something they want to give up. But, not all of them. My daughter is that way. She just loves to smoke.
That’s the lion share of people in recovery, but in the early 90s, with the advent of the Internet, there was an influx of people addicted to pornography. This is 95% men.
Also, in 1989, 30 years after women had re-entered the marketplace after manning the factories during World War II, they started a stellar program called Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. It is 85% women and is the most disciplined of all 12 step programs.
If you look at the constitution of all Addicts Addicts Anonymous you’ll see these numbers pretty much across the board. They’re probably the best constitutional representation of what’s going on in America in the recovery world today. Mostly alcoholics, staying away from drugs. Some men staying away from sex addiction and some women staying away from food.
What do you do if you’ve got all these pieces? Or, more relevantly, what do you do if you can only get part of these recoveries.
Let’s say you can get the drugs and alcohol but you can’t get the sexual addiction recovery.
You’re being honest, you’re unselfishly serving others, you’re going to meetings, you have a sponsor, you are doing step work.
But there’s that something…something that you’re not willing to let go off, that’s preventing you from getting the sexual addiction recovery piece.
“You’re ready when you’re ready” As AA would say. In the meantime, when I’m stuck…I pray. Not verbal prayers. God knows I’ve heard enough of my own voice.
I surrender my thoughts to God and I count my breaths…to make sure that I don’t go back to worrying about my own silly “pain and problems”.
I typically do ten breaths per minute, so in 10 minutes I can count 100 breaths.
I can spare 10 minutes of my life to see if I can make myself available to “divine influences” as John Cage would say.
I’m not gonna get any better. You only get as much recovery as you want.
But, I can stay in prayer (breath prayer), until I am ready.
ACA Step Six.
I had a recording session planned and my bass flutist had the wrong date in his book.
I wasn’t honest with myself. I felt hurt, sad and I shoved my anger not inside, but aside.
I then spit my anger out…and felt very much better.
“I will be angry all my life as a celibate man”. As Hendrix would say “I can dig it”.
Tuesday November 30, 2021
I’m going to run a half marathon on Thursday, December 16th in Death Valley.
Still Dave lives two hours away from nearby Joshua Tree where Alona and I have found a good vegan restaurant.
He’s going to see if he can drive out Friday the 17th so that we can have the first face-to-face ActWithCourage meeting.
I have invited all three of the LA contingent…but all are PrayerCall folks are welcome.