It has been a really great week. Last night I completed the longest read I have invested in, in a very long time. That book is Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.
One day I was shopping for the baby, at our local Indigo Book Sellers downtown. I was going to Cold Call the book shelves. A practice I usually employ, when I want an adventure, or as our speaker said tonight … “A little escapism…”
The Sequel to Shantaram, The Mountain Shadow, made me stop and pick it up off the shelf, because of the Hard Cover Dust Ruffle. When the word, Sequel, appeared in the bio, I was like SHIT ! Now I have to read the first book.
I put the sequel down, and picked up Shantaram.
Knowing I was going to see Mama and the baby, and knowing that I would be seriously disconnected from the world, while I was there, Shantaram was a really good choice.
Over the past year, I have been sitting in South East Asia, Viet Nam, Saigon and India. It started when I read The Sympathizer, written by Viet Thanh Nguyen. That was the best book I had read, to date, after Donna Tarrt’s The Goldfinch.
That one book, took me on a journey to South East Asia, and then led me to India. Over the course of several books, that I began to read, but put down, because I just was not connecting, Shantaram had to pass the,
“I will commit to you, but you better deliver” thought.
Shantaram delivered in spades.
At 934 pages, it took me 27 days and nights to read it cover to cover.
Writers employ many tools to get you to read their books. And to this point, I was reading stories that were very heavy with visual writing. I can only take so much “filler” in my reads. At some point, I get annoyed with a writer who wants to explain the minutiae of a certain city, town or family.
I want a story, not chapter after chapter of filler …
Gregory David Roberts, is a master story teller. Once I started the read, I had to commit to the book until the last word of the book. Robert’s writing does just that.
India is a country that is wealthy in ways that the Westerner would not necessarily see unless he/she spent ample time, living, loving and loosing like the people of India, namely those in the city of Bombay. Or any city in India really …
A westerner would not necessarily insert themselves into a slum. Why would one do that?
Lin, the main character of the story, is an escaped convict from Australia, and he escapes prison in a brazen broad daylight escape. He is aided and a bedded by friends and fellows, until he finds his way to India.
The story that unfolds is Master storytelling.
Lin, goes from escaped convict, to Bombay resident, to Bombay slum resident/doctor/ healer/friend. He gets involved with Khader Khan. That’s all I want to say about him. The Khader Khan is an incredible character. To tell you anything more about him would say too much, that I would rather have you read for yourself.
Shantaram tracks literal history. Beginning in the time when Indira Ghandi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Roberts then mentions the Bhutto family, and progresses into the war between the Afghan Mujaheddin and the Russians, when the Russians invade and occupy Afghanistan. The Afghan war is a prominent section of the story.
I found this interesting because I am well versed in India’s history, and the Afghan wars, politically, religiously and sectarian-Ly. I have, in my library, several books that I had already read, each time a name was mentioned or historical event took place on our modern time line, I was familiar with each historical event or person. Which lent to my reading of Shantaram.
I love reading. Books are life, and a life without books, is no life at all …
The Mountain Shadow comes in at 871 pages.
Shantaram ends with several open threads.
One supposed thread, during the story, as it was written, that certain people and problems were finally “put to bed,” but when I reached the last chapter, the story began to unravel, and certain situations, now remain unresolved and new threads were introduced.
Shantaram is a teaching book.
There are many lessons to be learned from Robert’s story. If you are like me, I love knowledge just as much as the act of reading. Being sober, many of the lessons and themes were pertinent to me and made sense, and gave me certain perspective on life and on people in my life.
This book is not just a story to read, but teaches us about what really matters in India, and to her people.
Most Indian’s don’t have much in the way of wealth, unless you were born into wealth, married into wealth, or earned your way out of abject poverty, and had risen out of a slum, into the wider world at large.
Slum dwellers might not have much in “material wealth,” What they DO have is Love, Respect and they are loyal people. Indians have self respect and they are dignified. Lin arrives in Bombay, and ends up meeting a titular character of the story, Prabaker.
Prabaker turns Lin with his smile, and his love. Reading what Lin learns on this journey is very important. I think this story should be required reading for everyone who seeks love, respect and dignity for all men, women and children.
I loved this book, and you will too. What will be the story of YOUR life ???
The emotional roller coaster is still in motion. And I am working on staying above the water. I just had a conversation with my favorite Elder in the world who gave me wise counsel.
We may work with others, and sometimes that work is grueling and emotional, but we ourselves need to be grounded as well, and have someone in the wings, who is helping manage US. Which goes back to the adage that, if any area of my life is unwell, I can’t really give from that area, if it is lacking in some form or fashion.
My young Elder was that person today.
Last night we read from the book again, with Winner Takes All. A story told by a woman who is visually impaired, but in the end, finds her way into winning, against all the odds against her. She, many commented last night, had fortitude and grace and strength to never quit …
Ok, Never Quit … A sidebar to this post …
A few days ago, Casey Neistat introduced a book from a soldier he met in Afghanistan during mission Bulldog Bite in the mountains of Afghanistan. Jimmy Settle tells his story about becoming an Alaska 212 Pararescueman, a P.J.
I read, all the time. And this book, was not wasted time.
I was engaged from the very beginning of Jimmy’s story. I found myself crying tears of joy at one point of the story, after reading the long and arduous journey Jimmy walked to become that P.J. he always wanted to be.
Then the last few chapters tells the story of his time working on Bulldog Bite in Afghanistan. It was riveting.
The whole idea of working towards a goal, no matter what, fighting tooth and nail, taking ones lumps and gets up and keeps going is familiar territory. I’m not a soldier, by any means, but I can tell you that the last twenty three years has not been a cakewalk for sure, but like the EverReady bunny …
You Just Keep Going .
You Don’t Admit Defeat.
You Don’t Quit.
For a P.J.; quit is not in your vocabulary. You trained long and hard to be a superhuman soldier who can do anything with very little when faced with that situation, when bullets start flying, you jump right in, and do what you came to do.
Anyways, back on the farm…
The first thing that triggered was in her opening statement in the story …
From the very beginning I felt different and unwanted. At a very young age, as children do, I had to make sense of my life, so I came to the conclusion that I was bad and God knew I was bad, so God made me handicapped to punish me. I thought that the undertow of sadness in my family was because of me. (it was not, it was the death of her younger brother)
Later I realized that a part of it might have been due to my handicap, but there was still a lot of grieving going on. My father turned to alcohol and was a very angry man. When we were growing up, he was very critical. I was told things on a daily basis, like I was dumb and lazy…
Right there, my mind stopped on this passage. And that is where I stayed for the entire meeting. It was the others who talked about fortitude, grace and the fact that she did not quit, she kept going, after all the odds against her.
Human beings, say things and react in ways, that are not entirely about us, but more all about them. Their fears, insecurities, problems or issues. A parent should NEVER negate or belittle or verbally abuse a child for any reason, NONE what So ever…
I know that angry alcoholic father. I know the angry critical words spoken. I may not be physically or visually handicapped, but I know disability.
I know how my father used to chase me around the house with a bat, trying to kill me screaming the words … YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN.
To this day, my parents still think this thought and have said it to me not so long ago.
Everybody was moved to say that, what was said and done to our young woman, when she was a child was unconscionable. Those men with children in the room, reacted to this in their own way.
When I got sick, I crossed that invisible line from normal humanity, to defective sinner, who was suffering God’s revenge for my sins. AIDS, is a disability. You cannot imagine what I went through to survive. The things I was forced to do by those who provided for my care, and it was not easy at all.
Our woman goes on an odyssey and in year three of sobriety, leaves a marriage with two children and moved 100 miles away to start a new life. She finds a job, she goes back to school, while working and caring for children. In twelve years of sobriety, coming to the end of her story, she meets all the right people, at the right moments, and she gets it done. She Freaking WINS the story, hands down, against all her odds.
I know what “the fight” looks and feels like. I know what I had to do to make my life something that I could be proud of. A life built by sobriety and God, and by the people who directly guided me in every decision or action I have made thus far.
I, too, met all the right people, at the right moment, for all the right reasons. And I flourished. My life, like our writer, is a life beyond imagination.
I may not have all the right people in my life, but I do have a few. And that has to work for me, until the sober pool of wisdom is replenished in the coming weeks.
The weather, as we speak, is going where it has not gone yet this season. Double digit Minuses which will last for the next 48 hours or so, with another dump of snow coming over the weekend.
But this IS Canada, don’t ya know !
It has been said that Winter has come much earlier than forecasters had told us it would, or that they had expected …
And I have to be out tomorrow afternoon, Christmas shopping.
It snowed the beginning of the week, enough that the plows and dump trucks have been out two nights in a row. And the bane of our existence, are those trucks with the sirens on them, that drive up and down, SOON TO BE PLOWED streets, alerting the owners of cars parked in PLOW zones, that they must be moved immediately or else be towed at the owners expense.
It has been a quiet week. Another quiet week on the front that really needs some noise. I am beginning to believe that, people who don’t want to see you, or won’t make time to see you, are not worth waiting for, any longer. This saga has been going on for two months with no resolution.
I’m just not hedging my bets any longer that I am going to get the answer I seek. And the other day a good friend of mine that I studied with, and he played the organ at our wedding said this to a question posed …
How many sins must one repent and atone for, before God accepts our sacrifices to Him ? And the answer was stern and swift ….
You don’t have to. He has made the sacrifice; offering himself to God and to man. Live your life. As for those who cannot accept you, “leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Their stubborn pride is their shame, not yours.
I also listened to the advice given to me a few days ago about taking care of my self and my spirit. I have been doing that. I’ve spent time with people I enjoy being with, I had coffee with an elder last Friday night, and I’ve devoted much of my Christmas to my friends and people I care about.
It’s funny really, our Christmas Lists are very short. Hubby does not ask for anything for himself, it always has to do with cooking or food. Hence, home.
I don’t really need anything that much, because I have everything that I need. And today was pay day and I had errands to run, and gifts to get into the mail first thing this morning. I did my grocery shopping, I got my hair cut, and finally came home.
I trolled every site that sells stuff that I think I need. And after that run, of so called “Window Shopping,” figured out that I really did not want to buy anything.
My friend Lisa says this about shopping soberly …
- Do I need this ?
- Do I really need this ??
- Really, Do I need this ???
- If you answer No to any one of these, then don’t buy it.
I only have one running list of BOOKS, I would like.
I have found the ease and cheaper pricing of Amazon.Ca. I bought a couple of books from them, but my heart rests firmly at Indigo Book Sellers, right up the Green Line.
Twitter is wonderful for news and shopping aggregation.
The New York Times Best Sellers List, The New York Times, Best Books of 2016, are great, and the popular Indigo Recommendation page is also good. I gave hubby a list of books I wanted to add to my library, and in case he gets me a gift card, I can use it online to buy all the books that are presently collected in my virtual shopping cart.
- The Return by Hisham Matar
- The Dispossessed by Szilard Borbely
- Barbarian Lost – Travels in the New China by Sasha Trudeau (Brother of the PM)
- Israel and Palestine by Alan Dowty – EXPENSIVE at $80.00 cad
- Where Memory Leads by Saul Friedlander
- Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester
All of these come highly recommended, so they are currently, like I said, sitting in my cart. And at night I get that little email saying … “We think you left something in your cart, are you going to buy them?” Hopefully, one way or another …
With Christmas, I either get maudlin and angry and resentful, or I can turn it around and remember that I have the choice to do what is good for myself and my friends.
I chose the l latter of the two.
This afternoon I did some laundry and around 5, I was gonna take a nap, but that did not happen, because my mind was racing. I’ve been re-reading Ben Ehrenreich’s … The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine again.
I wanted a Kaffiyeh, Because Rafa has one that is beautiful. Thank you Amazon. I also ordered a book,
“Palestine, Drowning in the Tears of God,” by Rev. Anthony J. Mucciolo D.D.
There is so much terrible in the world, and innocent civilians, men, women, and children and young men, are dying by the tens of thousands because of war and strife.Not All Men are created in the image of a terrorist. And outright killing everybody, is a WAR CRIME for sure.
The question of Palestine and Israel is a subject I rarely talk about, because it is complex and fraught with complications, that dipping my toe in the water of education, would take decades. But I know enough to know where to stand in this debate.
Firmly in the Middle of the road …
Like my best friend, and probably because of the way HE sees the world, he encourages me to study the hard truths. And So I’ve been slowly doing that, reading good books, by good authors. Ben Ehrenreich was on the ground, in the thick of it, when he wrote his book about the conflict from the Palestinian side of the equation.
So that is a thing …
After that I decided to to some serious heavy lifting here on the blog. My first blog has been sitting dormant for almost a decade that I’ve been paying for upkeep, space and domain. Why pay for two blogs when I only use one.
That First Blog, has been exported off the main frame, and imported into this one. There are close to 4,000 entries now indexed in the back end. And over a thousand images sitting in my image bank now. When I attempted to do this a few years ago, images would not transfer across, now they do. I purchased an image bank upgrade to complete the import, so for those electronically inclined, there is fifteen years of blog in the archives.
Tomorrow, well, in a few hours from now, when temps will be in the MINUS double digits, my intrepid lady friend who lives across town is meeting me for a shopping extravaganza trip so that I can shop for Baby Mama and Baby Lu Lu.
My quest is simple. I need to find the perfect Christmas Present that will knock to socks off of a two year old little girl. Not to mention her mother as well.
Christmas is coming to those I love dearly this year.
It will be merry and bright for sure …
The Holiday’s have begun here at home. After a slow start to the weekend, today comes to an end, with the Christmas Tree up, lit and decorated. A yearly tradition begins with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on tv and decorating the tree.
Sadly, when we started, and we tested the lights we have been using for the last decade or so, some of them did not make it through the last storage period. So we tossed them.
Now we are planning Christmas Shopping strategies. There is a neat retro shop that has all kinds of retro 80’s stuff… There are two of these shops in separate shopping malls downtown that I know of, and I think we are going to go for a Retro Christmas this year for the family. That should be very interesting because all the sisters and brothers in law are in the same age bracket as I am … (read: Pushing fifty)
I have made a dent in my recently purchased books read. There are about six books “in process” on my bedside table. I am slowly still reading Andrew Sullivan’s Far and Away, and a new book by Ben Ehrenreich, and a few others.
My Kathy Reich’s books came a few days ago from Amazon, so they were pushed to the top of the pile. Last night I finished reading “The Bone Collection,” a book of short stories and novella’s that have been compiled into a single volume.
When I began reading the Kathy Reich’s series, the Temperance Brennan series, you just don’t get investigation stories, you also get Tempe’s social, family and love life with them. And I’ve been reading her books for a long time, trying to follow ALL the story lines from book to book.
On her last write Tempe had been condo shopping with her beau, Andrew Ryan. And he had asked her to marry him.
She has not answered yet.
I have been waiting for the next installment to see what she had decided. And was pleasantly surprised when she touched the subject in the short story “Bones on Ice” about an investigation of a climber from Mount Everest who dies and is eventually brought off the mountain for death investigation.
Really, it was one sentence … But it was a healthy sentence.
The Bone Collection does not disappoint. Reading this book, put the other early books in perspective, knowing how she was invited into her first case, and the why, and what happened, that led her from archeology to her present job as criminal forensic anthropologist.
Temperance had a hard journey into the force in the first several books. It took a long time for Tempe to find her way, and to also find respect as a female lead in a male driven work environment. She eventually grew into her own.
The second book I bought was Cross Bones. I bought it because it had a very recent publish date and I thought it was new. But as I sat with it last night, reading the first chapter, i was having a case of Deja Vu… Me thinks I read this before …
I got out of bed and searched my library and sure enough, the book was in my already read library against the bedroom wall.
UGH, what a let down. I was hoping for some fresh current news about Temperance Brennan. Now I will just have to wait for the next installment.
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After the Elder/Sister shake up last week, we learned that several of our LDS Elders and Sisters had been moved to other locations and cities, and I had been told who was coming in to fill those positions. Tonight, I actually got a phone call from my new Elder team, with formal introductions, so we will meet for the first time tomorrow night.
This was the best piece of news to come this weekend.
I was feeling a bit abandoned.
THERE ARE ONLY 28 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS …
American Idol runner-up David Archuleta surprised fans in 2011 when he announced that he was putting his music career on hold to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In David Archuleta: Called to Serve, see the pop star proselyting on the streets of Chile, hear why he decided to serve, and how his faith directs every decision in his life.
David Archuleta: Called to Serve is an inspiring look into how serving others changed forever the life of one of the world’s brightest stars.
“Some things simply matter more than others,” writes Robert L. Millet in his foreword to this landmark book. “Even some doctrines, though interesting and fun to discuss, must take a backseat to more fundamental and foundational doctrines. It is just so with the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement is the central act of human history, the pivotal point in all time, the doctrine of doctrines.”
With The Infinite Atonement, Brother Tad R. Callister offers us what may be the most comprehensive, yet understandable, treatment of the Atonement in our day. He thoughtfully probes the infinite scope of this “great and last sacrifice,” describing its power and breadth and explaining how it redeems us all.
Using the scriptures and the words of the prophets, Brother Callister explores the Savior’s divinity and the depth of his love for mankind. He explains the blessings that flow from the Atonement, providing insight into the resurrection, repentance, and the gifts of peace, motivation, freedom, grace, and exaltation. He explains the relationship of justice and mercy and the importance of ordinances. Through discussing the effects of the fall of Adam and our individual sins, he reminds us in a powerful way of the incalculable debt of gratitude we owe Christ for his unparalleled offering.
“An attempt to master this doctrine requires an immersion of all our senses, all our feelings, and all our intellect,” Brother Callister writes, “Given the opportunity, the Atonement will invade each of the human passions and faculties….The Atonement is not a doctrine that lends itself to some singular approach, like a universal formula. It must be felt, not just ‘figured;; internalized, not just analyzed….The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe will ever know.”
With clarity, testimony, and understanding, The Infinite Atonement teaches us rich and wonderful truths about this “doctrine of doctrines.” and elevates our spirits as we contemplate the perfect love of Him who gave all that we might receive all.
As the latter days grow later and later, opposition, complacency, and uncertainty can cloud our view and bog down our steps. Whether we are new converts or lifelong Church members, sincerely trying to follow Christ in today’s fear-filled world can make us feel acutely aware of how far we have yet to go.
How, then, do we stand steady in such a world while continuing to move with surety toward the “better world” the Lord promises his true followers (see Ether 12:4)?
In this candid book full of personal stories and rich doctrine, Elder Bruce C. Hafen helps us think and feel in fresh, deep ways about faith, reason, and other elements of a well-anchored testimony — one that will stabilize, orient, and energize the disciple’s quest for that “better world” while “abounding in good works” in this one. The book shows how developing such faith is a process, not an event — a process that includes overcoming the snares and stagnations that punctuate our life’s paths.
Elder Hafen here teaches us how we can again feel movement and find joy in the journey, with both anchor and sail so well set that “the furious wind” that blows “upon the face of the waters” actually hastens us “toward the promised land” (Ether 6:5).
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This new order of Books and Movies are on their way to Montreal. I am really excited to read these two books and see David’s film. I am hoping to bring it to Family Night for our little group to see when it gets here.
Thirty five years ago tonight, Lily and James Potter lost their lives to Voldemort. Leaving Harry alone to grow up without parents.
We Remember them today.
Well, you heard it here first folks. The threat of open rebellion, second amendment measures, riots, shootings and racial and religious strife will come down on the population if one certain imbecile is not elected into the presidency.
The basket of deplorables, and that is exactly what they are, are not going to go quietly into that good night, by any stretch of the imagination.
God help us, really !!!
Political correctness be damned. There are some seriously fucked up people out there, willing to believe just about anything, unto rebellion and Armageddon, even when there are solid facts and truth out there for public consumption, there are just those out there, on the fringe, that will forgive anything for the idea of political rebellion against the establishment. The election is rigged, there is a media/Clinton conspiracy going on so that one particular imbecile does not get elected, so forth and so on.
You get the idea …
The utter stupidity and gullibility of the massive hoards of deplorables is seriously frightening. And we should all be afraid, BE VERY AFRAID !!!
Nuff said about that …
This photo taken yesterday evening, was at St. Leon’s, just outside the hall door. The hues of radiant color were amazing, with the shimmering rain that fell during the afternoon. The neighborhood is resplendent in colors, that are much deeper than in past fall seasons. The conditions have to be just right for maximum coloring of the trees.
The issues with my I-Tunes account, my I Tunes on my PC and my I Phone have been resolved after months of them not syncing correctly. Last night I fiddled with the phone and I plugged it into the system and voila … I got the program screen which allowed me to update my sync settings, and all the new music I had purchased and was sitting in my account, quietly synced to my phone and I have new music to listen to, not that I have been listening to ANY music because of my fixation with the Almighty Podcast.
Which segues nicely into the next section.
POD CASTS – The best thing to come along since sliced bread …
Here is my list of what is currently in rotation:
- The Art of Charm
- This American Life – I love this Podcast
- Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – What if we Read Harry Potter as a Sacred Text
- The Orbiting Human Circus of the Sky – Night Vale Presents
- Beautiful Stories from Anonymous- Also Fantastic
- Daily Kos Radio
- Slate’s Whistlestop
- Death, Sex and Money
- Radio Lab
- W.T.F. with Marc Maron – Irreverent fun
- Welcome to Night Vale
- Real Time with Bill Maher
- The Ezra Klein Show
- Ted Talks (Audio)
- The No Sleep Podcast
- Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin
- Sleep with Me, Bedtime Stories
- Slate’s Placemakers
Not all of these podcasts update every day. So your choice of what to listen to varies, based on their publication days. Some are bi-monthly, Some weekly, some daily, it just varies. I’ve more than doubled my listening library, after finding myself wanting, when my original lists did not publish often enough for nightly listening.
The other night I went through my top 150 on the Pod Cast App, and selected a few more for my library.
What am I reading, you might ask …
- Innocent Blood – James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell – Book 1
- The Blood Gospel – James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell – Book 2
- Blood Infernal – James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell – Book 3
- Far and Away – Andrew Solomon – Still working my way through this tome
- Consumed – Aaron Mahnke
- The Hero’s Walk – Anita Rau Badami
- The Book of Mormon – my secret activity
I have all these books. The trilogy from James Rollins, I have read before, a couple of years ago, but the books were not mine to keep, and just recently, I met the man I was trading books with for a long time, at a new meeting I am attending on Monday nights, and I could not remember the author, but he did. So I went to Indigo and bought the trilogy for my library. I had not read book 3 yet, so I started there. Now I am reading book 1 all over again.
Far and Away is a large book, and I am still reading through it. Andrew’s book is really good, I’ve been reading it on and off since I bought it.
The Hero’s Walk, I’ve also been picking it up and putting it down over and over.
Aaron Mahnke’s books are great, and he also has his Podcast, so if I am not reading, I am listening.
Finally, A few weeks ago, I started a conversation, which I have kept to myself. Which led to The Book of Mormon. Interesting seeing I am a Religion Major.
Stay tuned. Things will get progressively worse, you can count on that.
Because we need a happy dog photo right now. It’s my favorite image too …
Every one wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be seen, and to be loved…
How often we see people come in the room, and we notice them, but at the end of the meeting, we watch them walk out, because WE did not step up and say, “I noticed you.”
There are two young people in our community, that I have been watching bounce in and out of the rooms, stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism and drug addiction. I noticed them a long time ago, but back then, as my young man said to me tonight, “he wasn’t in it to win it.” But I watched.
I reminded my young lady friend of a story she shared at a meeting a long time ago, about a specific spiritual experience she had one night on the Metro. Indeed, she had forgotten that story, tonight, I reminded her of it.
I decided that the time was right to step up and do something. I asked one question of him after the meeting … “Who is invested in your sobriety?” He replied, no one specifically.
So I told him the story. We spoke for a while, and he has my number, and I asked him to call me every day, to at least, connect with one alcoholic every day, no matter what.
He is working with a man I know, who is good people, so he has a sponsor now.
My friend said something in the meeting we all thought important to remember:
“IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING YOU FLOWERS, PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN.”
A funny statement that is in tonight’s read:
I HAVE YET TO FIND A PLACE IN THE BIG BOOK THAT SAYS “NOW YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE STEPS; HAVE A NICE LIFE … “
I’ve said it before, sobriety never ends. Once you begin, buckle up, because this is a long ride, through ups and downs, good times and bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part…
See the pun there, did you notice it ?
I’ve been listening to several pod casts lately. I’ve told you about them in earlier posts. One of them is quite good. The writing is stellar, the pod cast is one I look forward to.
A couple weeks ago, I bought a couple of his books. Sold “in house” and not on the “open Market.” Halfway through the first book, I put the book down.
I think I read too much, across the spectrum. So I’m thinking to myself, someone who spends hours upon hour writing scripts, should be well versed in certain research for his books just the same. That is not the case it seems.
Reading a simple story is simple. No expectations, or demands from the read. I read for story. I read for content. I read for details and spins. Don’t waste my time with a book that goes no where, but the simple straight route from point A to point B. End of story.
I am spoiled by Kathy Reichs and Donna Tartt. I am spoiled by several other authors who write stellar books, that I am guilty of holding up expectations for other authors who “should” write like them with attention to detail and story method.
Sadly, not many writers got that memo …
October is getting closer. The holiday season is just weeks away now. I could give you a day count, but that would be a little compulsive, don’t you think ?
If you go to a meeting, notice people around you. And go say hello to at least one person before you leave that meeting. Tell them that “You were paying attention.”
I am paying attention …
You never know when you are going to save a life …
I’ve had my nights filled with books for as long as I can remember. I usually shop for books based on a name, or title, or a genre. I usually know what I am looking for when I hit Indigo, here at home.
I also shop on our Indigo book seller website, and recommendations have proven to be very good. The last bunch of books I’ve read, were REALLY good. Pulitzer Prize Winners are usually that good.
The last time I went book shopping, well, the last two times I was in the shop itself, I went in COLD. Not knowing neither what I wanted to read, nor whom.
I got to the T’s and picked up two books. The first was “Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains,” by Yasuko Thanh. I’m still reading.
The second was “Ostland” by David Thomas.
Ostland is a story about a German detective, Georg Heuser who joins the Murder Squad to find a murderer. And in the process of the story, finds himself working for the Nazis and Hitler’s Final Solution.
It is a story about the Holocaust, in a way. A story about how men were recruited from jobs where they were human and worked to help their fellow man, to be turned into animals with no consciences, who kill their fellow man.
This is one serious story of human DE-evolution.
Meantime, a second story is being weaved around the first. Paula Sierbert “Is the sole woman in a federal unit investigating at large Nazi war criminals. Among the indicted one name stands out: Georg Heuser. Siebert is haunted by one question: could this possibly be the same man as the trailblazing police detective ? The answer lies buried in the desolate wastes of the vast Russian landmass Hitler’s forces occupied during World War II and turned into a massive killing field … the place the Nazis called Ostland.
I have to say that picking up this book was a really good find. It was a terrible story, all stories about the Holocaust, no matter, from what direction that story is approached, is terrible.
I was entranced by the story. I could not put the book down. I traveled to Ottawa by bus a couple of weekends ago, and I used that time wisely to read this book.
READ THIS BOOK.
Last week, I went back to Indigo and picked up a second book, written by David Thomas. That book is called Blood Relative.
This is a story about a couple, living in the UK. Mariana a beautiful bombshell blond from Germany, a Germany that is partitioned by the Berlin Wall. What happens to her parents and unfortunately, Mariana, unwinds within these pages.
What spurs the need to find out just what happened to Mariana, begins back at home, where Peter, her husband, begins his quest to learn the truth about his wife, after she murders his brother, Andy, in a fit of blind rage, after coming face to face with questions about her past, by a man who carries clues to her behavior on him.
Another spell binding book that is Masterfully written.
If you are a book lover like me, then these two books should find themselves on your read list.
I am working on a fourth book, The Hero’s Walk, by Anita Rau Badami.
The best day of the year has arrived.
We are going back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Though many theologians hold that sudden spiritual experiences amount to a special distinction, if not a divine appointment of some sort, I question this view.
Every human being, no matter what his or her attributes for good or evil, is a part of the divine spiritual economy. Therefore, each of us has their place, and I cannot see that God intends to exalt one over the another.
So it is necessary for all of us to accept whatever positive gifts we receive with a deep humility, always bearing in mind that our negative attitudes were first necessary as a means of reducing us to such a state that we would be ready for a gift of the positive ones via the conversion experience.
Your own alcoholism and the immense deflation that finally resulted are indeed the foundation upon which your spiritual experience rests.
Bill W. Letter, 1964
The time has come in our circle of intrepid young men for much needed change. This summer has not been kind to our small fellowship. And retreading the same mundane literature in one fellowship, is not the same as retreading old literature in another.
The main corpus of the Big Book has not changed since the day those words were printed in the 1930’s. But the wisdom of its writers was genius. Reading from the first 164 pages gives a wealth of wisdom. And over the past four years, a growing number of folks in the Montreal A.A. fellowship have been introduced to people from other places, who see ideas and words and the writing of the Big Book, in ways, we, here, do or have not, in the past.
When I met Bob in 2012, He introduced me to The Work. At that same event, over 300 people were introduced to the Same Work. Maybe a handful of folks went home and did as we were shown. I did, at least.
Now this Summer, I met another man from New York, who is working with a primary small group of people, reading the book, and doing The Work, anew.
The Big Book is written in a way that, beginning with The Book, at large, can be drawn down to chapters, and further into pages, then further into paragraphs, and finally into sentences. The book is written in a certain fashion, with certain reason and process.
When you add further “in depth” homework, questions to ask ones self, working along side a sponsor who is IN the primary small group, doing the work themselves, miracles happen.
In our other fellowship, Life With Hope, is just a book, that has the twelve steps and traditions and a number of stories, akin to the Big Book format. There is no retreading Life With Hope. It lacks the wisdom writing and the function of the book, to be gleaned for new wisdom, as the Big Book offers.
Some of our men, have realized that “If nothing changes, Nothing Changes.” And I’m about at the end of my journey, as mentor with the most time banked.
The problem with the fellowship(s) is this … In today’s day and age, addiction crosses many boundaries. The oldsters, who have remained, in A.A., most of them have singular problems, and they came and rooted in the “rooms.”
Over the last fifteen years, I have seen dual addictions come into A.A. and years ago, speaking of dual addiction, or uttering the word DRUGS, in ones share, was met with anger, resentment, and the person who uttered that dirty word, was shown the door.
Usually, they never came back.
Today, in certain meetings, speaking about dual addiction has become more commonplace. Peoples sensibilities have softened. Because, we must meet the times with equal concern and try to be accepting and welcoming.
Some do, but Some DO NOT.
Before other (A) meetings opened, A.A. was the only route to recovery. That is IF you found your way to our rooms. And there are, today, many routes to recovery. The fellowship is not the only way to find freedom from addiction.
Tonight, I talked with some of my friends at the regular Friday Night meeting, because we really need some additional man/woman power, for our floundering M.A.meetings. What I got in return was … addicts, who cross many addiction lines, stick to certain groups, for certain reasons. That is a logical answer, because they have found some solidarity with others in the same boat.
Men and women who were equal opportunity users of many drugs, pick the strongest affinity with the most commonality. That is N.A./ C.A. or M.A. so forth and so on.
Even if they cross several boundaries, they do not cross meeting lines into the lesser of their evils. Many just don’t see the need to add just One More Meeting. Even if I asked them to participate, none of my friends are inclined to do so.
That has been a long standing problem. When the needs of one group cannot be met, by bringing in fresh folks to share experience, strength and hope, the wealth of existing experience only goes so far, before we hit the bottom of the wisdom and experience bank.
You can only tell the same story so many times, without fresh wisdom, and if you do that your story becomes boring and useless, and those around you go looking for something different, because you are retreading the same material and not adding to it.
That is where our little fellowship is right now.
Our barrels are empty. And not all of my guys, hit other meetings, other than the ones we provide three times a week, even if the topic changes along with the type of meeting.
We are tired and burned out. We need to replenish our banks with fresh knowledge, wisdom and sober education. So it goes, I have told my guys that if they want to remain clean and sober, sitting in a stagnant room, is not going to get them anywhere. They need to hit other meetings, IF and ONLY IF, they have commonality with another fellowship.
Most drug users, have crossed several boundaries. Alcohol, other drugs, pills, and other mind and mood altering substances. Some pot heads, drink, still. Some have come to the realization that clean and sober, means, just that: Clean and Sober.
So it goes.
“Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
I’ve given all I’ve got at this point. When our young people, who have been away all Summer return in the next week or so, those of us, on the front lines, will step back and go fill our banks, while they step up and take the reins, so to speak.
Tonight, we talked about Gifts. And God. And Sobriety.
Bill believes that God would not exalt one over another. We are all equal in the eyes of God. And with what God gives us, each in our own ways, should accept, and have some humility in the grand scheme of things.
A friend of mine spoke about a conversation he had with one of his friends the other day. He asked his friend if he had heard from God that day, and the answer came back,
When I am listening for Him.
Life is one Big Spiritual Experience, if you want to see it that way. Some do, Some don’t.
Another friend talked about alcoholics and addicts being The Chosen Ones. That pushes the envelope into arrogance. Once you cross that line into ego and arrogance, you’ve lost your humility and grace.
That kind of shit is the first thing that many people recognize right off the bat.
I can ponder my story, now, with the eyes and experience I have, and see where God had stepped into my life and did for me what I could not do for myself. And that means that in all cases, it was another human being who was at the right place at the right time, to get me through certain periods of time in my life.
I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy, death and suffering to last me ten lifetimes.
I know, for me, that when I got sick and was going to die, that had Todd not stepped up and did what he did for me, I would have died like all my other friends who did.
Out of all those people, Todd chose to help me. And Saved my Life.
I can say, without a doubt, that that was a Certain God divined decision.
For my entire life, well back in my teens, I was searching for God. I went to church, I prayed, I attended Seminary, and failed.
When I put down the drugs and the drink for the last time, when I was beaten and broken, and had no where else to turn, I prayed once again. Because up until that point, I had not uttered a prayer, once.
I knew it was the end for me, if I did not STOP.
I prayed for an alcoholic, and that alcoholic appeared. Another God ordained decision.
Today I serve my God to the best of my ability. I do what I can, every day to help my friends and fellows. Even if I don’t want to, I know, that if I just Do the Next Right Thing, God will provide.
We hear, many times from both men and women, that when they come in, bashed and broken, many feel unworthy of anything like freedom or happiness or life. Then they hear the Promises, and they come back for more, waiting for them to come true for them as well. I heard a particular woman tonight say that early on, she felt as if she deserved nothing and was hurting inside. Those feelings of unworthiness are common among many folk, men and women alike. And I’ve heard the slogan that people have repeated to me countless times since I first got sober…
Stick around until the miracle happens.
When I first got sober, a woman who worked at the associated rehab, where I was getting sober, would tell me that every day. The miracle was coming rather quickly. Todd was on the case, and every day that he gave me a reason to hang on and to choose life over death, the miracle was happening. That miracle is still ongoing, because I am still alive. twenty two years later.
Come, Sit, Stay …
You will find that power greater than yourself.
The obsession will leave you, I promise.
And You Too will see how HP, or God, as I call Him, will work miracles in your life as well.
**** **** ****
God never fails us.
It is we who fail God.
For many years God had been trying to get my attention. And I wasn’t aware that I really needed HIM when I was off the beam. Because when I was in SELF, I did not need God. But God waited, and through trial and error, several times He got my attention when needed. It took me until this time around to really consider, living by God’s will and not my own. I never knew that turning my life over, to the degree I did, TOTALLY, that life would be like this. I never imagined it that way, way back then.
I thought that I would find my way “OUT THERE” in the Other World. That included drugs, alcohol and warped thinking. When I moved here, to Montreal, I said to God that I would do this, if HE would take care of me. I really had no idea what I was going to do, when I got here. When I walked into St. Leon’s Parish hall, I settled in for the long haul and i waited upon God. I was steadfast and obeyed every word that was given to me. And here I am, almost fifteen years later.
God did not disappoint.
The rooms provide. I have not had to go outside the room for ANYTHING in all my years of sobriety. You can take that to the bank.
Be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready for it, it is going to come, and usually in spades.
But on the flip side, if you get up and want a SHIT DAY, you will get your shit day, because that is where you go in your head.
It is our choice, what we choose to connect with on a daily basis.
Because we all know, and the book says,
All we have is a daily reprieve based on the maintenance of our Spiritual Condition.
If I don’t hear from God directly, that just means I need to hit a meeting and go listen to my friends. Because one way or another, the words will come, I just have to be attuned to listen for them.
That is, to this day, a work in progress.
One day at a time.
Earlier I shared with you what I am listening to via Pod Cast. And I highly recommend that if you like good listening, those Pod Casts are the real deal.
This morning I had an early start, having to run many errands, well into the day, I made a cursory trip into the Village, as it is PRIDE right now, traffic is higher than normal, coming from the West end of town, Eastwards into the Village.
I had placed an order in my favorite shop in the Village last week, and had heard nothing, so this morning I went out to see what was up. Nothing …
The Village is a ride from home.
I was told that my order would be completed by 2 p.m. and could I come back then?
I was headed to my favorite book sellers, to see if I could get a copy of “Welcome to Night Vale.”
I rode the Metro Westward and When I got to McGill Metro, a few stops West of the Village, I was half on my way (all the way) home, and in an instant, I stepped off the train and walked through the station to Place Montreal Trust … There are several shopping malls all interconnected underground, at the McGill Stop.
- Le Cours Mont-real (Peel Metro)
- Place Montreal Trust
- The Eaton Centre
- Complex Les Ailes
- Place Cathedral
- The Hudson’s Bay Company
I was headed to my favorite book sellers, to see if I could get a copy of “Welcome to Night Vale.” I logged onto the stores computer kiosk and found several copies on the shelf. That was a very pleasant purchase, saving me cash and delivery on an online purchase.
I had some lunch, and headed home.
I stopped off and did my groceries and pharmacy pick up and finally made it home. I had two hours to kill. I did my laundry and after folding, I got dressed again, and headed back East into the Village once again. And I was totally satisfied with the design I had put together, and the craft work that my artist did for my piece. And he charged me little to nothing for it too !
We chatted about the PRIDE celebrations taking place, and they asked me to definitely participate with the shop this weekend.
I am headed to Ottawa on the 20th to visit Rafa and attend PRIDE in the Nations Capitol Ottawa – Pride Parade that Sunday. Our Esteemed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been marching in every PRIDE Parade across Canada.
He would be the FIRST sitting Prime Minister to do so in our Nation’s History.
So that is a thing.
The other Fantastic Purchase from Overseas, was probably the FIRST printed Jersey for Mario Gotze, Number 10 – newly re-joined his old club Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund, is a direct competitor of his Former club, Bayern Munich.
A little over two years ago, Mario was a star player, along with his sidekick, Marco Reus. Marco stayed with the club, and Mario sought greener pastures at Bayern.
German players have a problem. They play on a first tier team for a while. They make a name for themselves, they play some good football, then it goes to their heads.
We have seen this happen with several players in the League.
Mario left Borussia for Bayern Munich. And for a short while it was a good move. Until that move proved fatal to Mario’s career. He went from Bayern, to the World Cup, he had several titles to his name. He shot that Winning Goal at the World Cup and that cemented him into the pantheon of Top Tier Players.
That did not last very long.
Mario’s fortunes began to fall. He went from serious pitch time, to almost NO pitch time. And in the end, NO pitch time, that certainly killed his career at Bayern. Not to mention assorted injuries that sidelined him at Bayern.
So they exercised a transfer window – Mario Leaves Bayern and returns to his former Club, Borussia Dortmund, and hopefully, Mario will see his star rise once again. Mario and Marco really made a good team together. They will once again.
A good chunk of money passed between teams to get Mario from Bayern and back into Borussia Dortmund.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, was another Bayern Shining Star. He had great numbers, a career next to none, and was a leading player at Bayern. But Bastian suffered the same issue, with wanting greener pastures in another league.
He left Bayern for the English League, Manchester United. Another Hallowed Football team. Bastian, I think, thought he would make bigger money and have a better career in England.
Sadly, not too long ago, Manchester United, showed Bastian the door. He was cut from the first team. Bastian has been plagued with injury after injury stemming from his time at Bayern and those injuries followed him to England.
And those injuries killed his future with Manchester United.
He was shown the door, and an invitation to play with the junior team, instead. But was told he was not welcome at Manchester United any longer.
Bastian has no return clause to even consider going back to Munich. And Bayern has said that they see no future for Bastian with the Bayern Club again.
Bastian lost BIG. With no where to go and no where to play, he will either retire, as a major player or (he was recently married) could probably start a family and live comfortably. But if his eyes are still on the pitch, finding Bastian a new home needs to happen quickly.
And there are not too many choices on the table right now for him, so it looks bleak.
The Football World is eagerly awaiting Mario’s re-introduction at Borussia Dortmund.
Germans are very proud people, and they might not easily forget, or forgive, Mario’s faux pas and his defection to Bayern, that two years later, now, he returns to his former team.
Mario has said he will work hard to gain respect and trust once again. Hopefully, the Borussia fans will welcome him.
Provided he produces results in the end. So I bought the Borussia Jersey with Mario on the back. He is not listed on the roster yet at the British Printing Company I buy from, but you can order your own jersey, and for some coin, get it personalized.
Now I have 2 jerseys that are collectors items.
Mario’s Bayern Jersey and his World Cup Jersey for the German National Team.
A good day was had by all.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ( Lord Voldemort) approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him ( that’s Harry Potter), born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …
Today is July 31st, 2016. Harry would be 36 today. We wish him a very happy birthday.
I share this date in common with Harry. Today I turn 49 years old.
It was Harry, who saved my sanity, when I returned to the rooms in 2001.
Though we of A.A. find ourselves living in a world characterized by destructive fears as never before in history, we see great areas of faith, and tremendous aspirations toward justice and brotherhood.
Yet no prophet can presume to say whether the world outcome will be blazing destruction or the beginning, under God’s intention, of the brightest era yet known to mankind.
This thought was taken from a Grapevine from the year 1962. All of the writing that has been collected in As Bill Sees It, comes from an original source, either in a book, or a letter or an article.
After the last two weeks, we have two visions of the world, the first is one of FEAR and DESTRUCTION and DEVASTATION. The second is of HOPE, FAITH and TOGETHERNESS.
We have a saying in a certain room that:
What we could not do ALONE, We can do TOGETHER.
When the fellowship began in the early 1930’s, and when we look back at history, it is either one thing or another going on in the world.
Wars, Hunger, Homelessness, Poverty, Hardships.
Today, right now, we have a choice to make. We either accept the fear filled vision, or we accept the Hope filled vision. To me there is only one choice.
WE MUST MAKE THAT CHOICE TOGETHER.
Last night, Pastor William Barber spoke so eloquently. He quoted one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Tonight, we read the reading I posted above, and immediately, I imagined Bill, sitting at a desk, having witnessed the past two weeks, and penned that passage, as if he were speaking about the NOW.
And that is exactly where I went when I shared my words. A.A. has no opinion about outside issues, hence the A.A. name not be drawn into public controversy.
But everybody in that room tonight, did the same thing. We listened to words of Hope, amid a world that is sunk in Fear. Many people referenced last night’s events in what they had to say as well.
“I am concerned about those that say so much about what God says so little, while saying so little about what God says so much.”
This quote when I heard the words, spoke to me on many levels. When we sit together in a room, we come for unity, we come for safety, we come for each other, and some, come to hear God, (as he reveals himself in our group conscience).
When all is said and done, I believe that God would want us to abide in Hope, in Faith, in Brotherhood, and Justice.
People who find their way to the rooms, come from places of destruction, from places of sadness, from places of fear, and from places of no return. We know what the bitter end looked like to each of us, each in our own ways. The reading above, goes on to say that
“We do not fear the world outcome, whichever course it may take. This is because we have been enabled to deeply feel and say, “WE SHALL FEAR NO EVIL – THY WILL, NOT OURS BE DONE.”
In my life, there have been many things to fear. And those fears began, in my earliest memories, in a house that I was born into, being beaten and chased around a house listening to him say “You were a mistake and should never have been born, as that man tried to kill me more than once.”
I do not often think of this, any more. Because I lived. And I survived.
Many of my friends who faced fears early in their lives, went to the drugs and sucked on a bottle, early on, spending decades dousing those fears with anything that would take them out of those fears.
I did not have that kind of luck. I did not turn to the bottle in that way. Even though it was there in the house, I never took advantage of it. I bore what I had to bear. And over time, I found ways to get away from him, and my home. I did not use to get away, I physically moved away from fear. Spending inordinate amounts of time, living at friends houses for a number of years, while that lasted.
I would leave for school hours early just to get out of the house. And the teachers knew that, and they provided for me in their own ways.
This life of mine, has not be devoid of Fear, or Pain or Loss. Far from it. I have sat in the midst of the maelstrom of AIDS and watched my friends die, one by one. I know what it is like to face ones greatest fear … Waiting to DIE.
We must let go of FEAR. We must move past it.
And in the words of Hillary Clinton,
We must go out there and do as much good, for as many people, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.
That is what we learn in recovery, to do good, for the many, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.
We Will Never Bow to FEAR.
Not Now Not Ever…