As we slide into a late summer in So. California, I am reminded of the days as a child spending most afternoons “in water” - either a pool or in the ocean bodysurfing. The curious nature of our first years as children are filled with trial and error, joy and shame, thrills, and extreme disappointments, often misunderstood yet branded into our psyches like mysterious cave drawings in ancient ruins. As we wade through the often-murky waters of discovering what the world is and how we fit into it, the senses savor the moments and somehow, invisibly capture a piece, like a lock of hair, and file it away deep down inside us - to be translated and reactivated over our lifetimes - as little bits of glitter still stuck in our clothes from a party long ago.
We are such complex creatures. I liken the slow emergence of individual authenticity as an animation of little dots of Play-doh being pushed into a rather small sculpture, sometimes lightly - others like a meteor landing hard on the surface, leaving a dent. Much of this activity comes and goes in a matter of seconds-yet the amalgam sets and becomes a work of art in progress. You and only you.
What many of us need to remember, is that we all start out as a little blob of clay. Still soft, set into the world by circumstance, and in the earliest years, we are helpless and dependent on others to keep us alive. It is during those years where it literally is “all about us”- we need constant care and attention. Like a raw nerve, we are sensitive to everything we experience, though we are unable to understand yet what we are feeling. Many early memories are just impressions that left a mark. This is what makes us "unique". There is not one person with the same number of scars as us, splashes of color, amounts of color nor how hard the moments are pressed into the work of art that is us.
i have been fascinated, as a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous, by the fact that the 12steps of AA and the Big Book have been able to take a hopeless addict and - as long as they are willing to be willing - give them the recipe for a personal transformation. This is the magic that happens working the steps.
Once we are relieved of the physical and mental addiction, we are left with this mountain of cobbled together Playdoh - think of the rubber band ball accumulating bands constantly over time as it grows larger and more complex. The alcoholic must decide to walk into an AA meeting of his own free will, defeated and ready to listen to a new way of thinking. With a sick brain and a combination of over-inflated ego alongside an empty soul where his self-esteem should be, this dual personality is a tough one to convince that he needs to sit down and listen and trust he is safe. Step 1, We were powerless, and our lives had become unmanageable. That moment of turning is particularly important for us. We are a stubborn lot. But if we can get the gift of desperation - the path to a new life is there for the taking! That is when we are blessed with the process of excavation, self-examination, forgiveness, and chiseling down the barnacles that have accumulated in a metaphysical sense over time - that we experienced by chance but it felt personal. Most likely that had nothing to do with who we are as a person. There is often a need for a deep soul surgery - which we do with a sponsor or step guide. This process is the most difficult to make palatable - think of having a heart procedure with no anesthetic. It's NOT as bad as that! But, if done thoroughly, it is often gut-wrenching. You may find yourself sobbing deeply upon the discovery of the cancer growing inside - but at the same time grateful to have found it. Lucky for us we have a God of our understanding to walk us through to the other side where freedom resides. Herb K likes to say, "You will be catapulted into the 4th dimension - to places you never knew existed before!"
So, if you find yourself experiencing the "summertime blues" - it may be time to start from the beginning and go through the 12 steps of AA again. This process can be and often is used again and again to fine-tune our humility and our emotional well-being where others are concerned. It’s a gift that keeps giving. There is always more healing to be found there. So, how free do you want to be?