Keep Choosing the Pain Over the Relief
I’ve written a surprising amount of blog posts in airports or on planes. I think it’s because I’m usually early - like I was on Tuesday when I flew home from Chicago. I cannot recall a time where there wasn’t a line to get through security at the United terminal of O’Hare but Tuesday was it. Security seemed so bored that they actually perked up at someone coming through. I had purchased a few prints at an art gallery in Galena, Illinois. I had doubts about getting these prints on the plane - doubts I had kept to myself. The secret to trying to get away with something is to act like you’re not getting away with anything. I’d changed my seat on the plane earlier today only to realize that my newly chosen seat didn’t have anywhere to stow the print because it was the first seat on the plane. Fail. The sympathetic flight attendant had said, “If no one shows up, you can move to the seat behind you.”
Blessedly, no one showed and I slid back, stowing my oversized brown bag beneath the seat in front of me. This arrangement worked out for an oversized, tall man who needed more room. He and his wife scurried to the front. The flight attendant complimented her on her necklace which made me wish I’d bought the one from the gallery. Dammit. (I’m trying to support artists, people!). The woman had just received her necklace the day prior for their anniversary and they had a lively discussion with the flight attendant who knew a lot about stones - which made no sense to me later when I caught sight of the thick, all silver necklace. The couple knew a lot about anniversaries and they chatted about other vacations they’d taken to commemorate various anniversaries. I couldn’t hear how long they’ve been married over the roar of the small plane which lifted above Chicago’s skyline and lakefront. Clouds muted the scene and small sun puddles appeared on the landscape below. Chicago fell behind us and squares of brown farmland dotted the landscape below. Last week was the last at my current job and, for the most part, the week was never ending waves of questions and problems. Like when you’re at the beach and a wave knocks you down and just as you’re reorienting yourself, wham! You eventually stumble away dazed and exhausted. Relieved to have escaped the undertow. For 2021, I made a conscious decision to adopt a “manifesting mindset”. Initially, I was manifesting new clients to coach (success) and on March 3rd I wrote the following and taped it above my workspace.
I read it daily - sometimes aloud and sometimes to myself. A lot of people ask me what manifesting is and I can answer that by telling you what it isn’t - it isn’t some hocus pocus bullshit. Manifesting is about setting your clear and specific intention and releasing that intention out into the universe. It’s about trusting the timing of the universe (not my strong suit). It’s about knowing what you want so that you can be clear about what you don’t want. It’s a lot like the law of attraction, which I also believe in. Like - if you’re being anxious and your mind is preoccupied with all of the horrible shit that can go wrong, that’s what will start showing up for you. I personally try to spend time out of my head because it’s a dangerous neighborhood and no good can come from me spending a lot of time in that neighborhood by myself. Years ago, Andrea wanted us to get a puppy. Somehow, the notion of a “puppy” evolved into a very specific golden retriever puppy and one day I said, “The right dog will appear when the time is right.” And then, the very day I said that shit, I stumbled upon a listing for golden retriever puppies right down the road from us so of course we came home with Wrigley. You have to be careful about what you say because the universe is always listening and, overall, will conspire to support you. What’s more is that you don’t even have to say what you’re manifesting aloud. It’s like how when you think about how you need a new mattress and all of a sudden, all your social media posts are mattress advertisements. And you’re like, “What the fuck? I didn’t even tell ANYONE I needed a mattress?!” That’s kind of how manifesting works - but without any creepy Mark Zuckerberg voodoo intervention. This week, the universe served the Smith family another curve ball that’s helped us refocus and write out our intention on another piece of paper we will each hang up and read aloud - both together and separate. I have a feeling that 2021 will be a big, manifesting year.
I somehow manifested 18-years of sobriety one day at a time. Some years, the days that manifest another year of sobriety are easier than others. I remember thinking that 17-years were hard won due to the move from Massachusetts to Virginia and the beginning of the pandemic as a finale. I was wrong - the past year was where the rub had come in. Sobriety earned during a socially isolating pandemic. In her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” This year, I’m getting answers while accepting that some questions don’t have an answer. And believe me, that shit isn’t easy for me because I want everything to neatly fit in it’s place. Tidy and sensible. A puzzle piece falling into place. Only life is seldom tidy. Sometimes you have to accept that something doesn’t make sense and move forward - clinging to sobriety like it’s a life raft as you’re jostled through rough waters. “I wanted a drink. There were a hundred reasons why a man will want a drink, but I wanted one now for the most elementary reason of all. I didn't want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn't bear it without it. But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It'll hurt, it'll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going.” Lawrence Block, Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder, #7)