A thousand steps

How did he get to this point, lying here turning purple on a sidewalk at the corner of Kelso St and Stone Ave?   His beard was several days scruff, his hair unkempt and he, along with his friends, reeked of alcohol; beer.. cheap bear.

They had propped his head up on a back-pack and every few seconds, with quite a bit of labor, he would breath; a kind of snore.   He was completely unresponsive, his eyes closed, passed out under a gray cloudy sky.

911 was on the way, the sirens piercing from a distance and a police car pulled up but from his state, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t aware of any of it.   Not the sparse rain drops that had begun to fall across the desert, the many bodies surrounding him asking questions and telling tales or even of himself; buried as he was in a heavy alcoholic fog.

So, I have to ask again, as the thought kept occurring to me, how did he get.. here?

Our lives are a culmination of choices.    Some of those choices are active choices; we choose to join the military or go to college.  We choose to stay home and study or go out and socialize with our friends.   We choose little mundane things like whether we will have dessert or just a cup of coffee.. with extra cream and extra sugar!   But embedded in all of these choices are secondary and tertiary choices as well; by choosing to have that cheese-cake, we also choose to stop moderating our sugar intake and simultaneously we choose to endure the consequences of that first action, whatever they may be.

At some point, this man probably questioned whether he should be doing what he was doing.   Perhaps he was bent over a toilet bowl, emptying his stomach for the fifth time in vain and he thought, ‘This is dumb.. I really need to quit doing this.’  or ‘I wonder if this makes me an alcoholic?’.   Afterwards, he chose to rejoin the party for whatever reason.   It probably begins even earlier when these kind of self-defeating patterns are formed.   You want something, you declare it but then, a contradictory choice comes along and you renege on your commitment.. and you do it again and again.   And you hate yourself for doing it and you ask, “Why am I always breaking my promises to myself?” and then “I’m always breaking promises to myself” and then “I’m the type of person that can’t be trusted to stick to my guns and keep my promises to myself.. it’s just the way it is!”.

And you lie to yourself and those lies keep building until eventually you find yourself lying along the proverbial street on a proverbial sidewalk, knock-out drunk, turning purple and dying under a dark and cloudy sky.

But it isn’t true.

Those patterns you built during childhood aren’t going away.   Rags to riches and quick/easy turn-arounds are one-in-a-million and not to be trusted, much less modeled after or learned from.   You don’t need to rely on pure, blind dumb-luck.   There is no magic pill.   There is no golden biscuit of truth that will make you a better person, a thinner person, a more pious/devout fundamentalist, an elite race-car driver or a dentist. There is no single truth that will wipe away years of habitual self-hatred or self-deception in an instant.

  • Forgive yourself
  • Quit blaming/accusing yourself and start defending yourself.   There are plenty of people that are willing to tear you down, don’t be one of them!
  • Break up your audacious goals into huge goals and your huge goals into small goals and your small goals into tiny goals.  Work on those.
  • Have a plan.   An overall plan but just as importantly, a plan for when something comes along that threatens your progress; how will you deal with it when someone offers you some alcohol or whatever?
  • Be as vocal and accountable as you can possibly be.   “There is nothing enlightened in shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you” ~ (“Our Greatest Fear” , Marianne Williamson.)   Up-play your successes and down-play your failures; stay positive.
  • Once you have made progress in small ways, build on it.  “Success breeds success!”
  • Begin.   “Just do it”
  • Forgive yourself when you fail.   You are not served and your goals will not be more achievable if you berate and destroy yourself.   Instead, just be nice to yourself and try again.

I’m definitely having one of those, “Hey, you should take your own advice!” moments right now lol.

Once you begin to believe that you can achieve the preliminary goals you have set for yourself, the larger goals begin to seem at least and at last, possible.   You are not destined to lie drunk in the streets after all.   You are destined for greater things, difficult things and even heretofore impossible things!


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