Directionless and defeated, bankrupt in every department, and ashamed of all my many failures, I drank myself into oblivion every day and night, wondering if things were ever going to change and where it was all going to end.
How I got to that state of decline was a mystery. After all, weren’t my plans always noble? What went wrong?
I had painted myself into a corner of life, and the booze had come to the end of whatever comfort it had afforded me in the past. It was over for me and my flawed perception of life. Maybe I should try AA. After all, what have I got to lose? What went right is the question I should have been asking myself.
Amazed at what I heard in the meetings, I was taking mental notes about how simple life was, and how my false vision of it had been my undoing. In the past, I usually did just the opposite of the things they were suggesting in AA.
Listening to the metaphors, similes and clichés was extremely helpful. It kept reminding me that I had to change my way of looking at things. Maybe I should take a step back and not be in such a hurry to express my opinions, and to tell others how I do things?
It became a mission for me to try to catch myself doing something I knew to be wrong, and correct it on the spot.
One day, about forty years ago, while trying to find a parking space in a crowded lot at the market, I found one. And, as I pulled into it, I found that someone had pushed a shopping cart into the flower bed, which impaired my access. I was a little perturbed at this. Then, it occurred to me that this is what I would have done in the past myself.
Next, I removed the cart, parked my car, returned the cart to the rack and went about my business. I have been doing this little discipline ever since. And now, when I get out of my car, I almost always find a stray cart and return it to the rack. This is just one of the efforts I make today that symbolizes the unselfish mental attitude I should have had all along.
I make my bed daily. I allow drivers in front of me to merge on the highway. And, I open doors for people when the opportunity presents itself. These actions cost me nothing. Today, my conscience is clear, and I no longer loath myself. This is what is important to me these days.
My old, selfish way of thinking would have me take every advantage to get ahead in a material way. But, if I did, I would suffer in a spiritual sense. I need to stay vigilant at that level or I may let my ego return to the driver’s seat.
Taking these disciplines into all my ventures in life has been a wonderful asset. I hope I never get complacent about these things.
Recently, I read an article from a sports newsletter written to instill character in the participants of school sports programs. The writer commented that: “There are two kinds of people in the world, those that put the cart back in the rack, and those that make excuses for why they shouldn’t have to do it.” I agree.
By Rick R.