Starting Over

A mark of growth is the ability to pick oneself up when we’ve had a tumble. Such is true for me on this day.

This morning, we got to our meeting place for the shuttle bus back to San Jose only to find we were in the wrong spot and had to hustle to meet our driver. Then, there was traffic outside of the city necessitating a call to the dentist saying we’d be late. Arriving at the hotel, I inadvertently had a bit of bread in my French Onion Soup and snacked on some dried fruit which had cane sugar on top of it. This meant I was in violation of my “no bread, no pasta, no sugar” commitment. Later, a client scheduled for next week wrote to tell me his source of funding did not come through and we needed to cancel the gig.

And through it all, Beth and I were not at our best as we struggled with logistics, emotions and one another.

Such are the vicissitudes of life, the inevitable shocks to the system that once caused me to feel despair enough to throw in the towel and give up on a day (or two). No more. As my old choral teacher used to say, “We go on!” I feel little shame about these travails, but enough guilt to see where I can improve my game.

One of John Lennon’s last songs, “Starting Over,” was a love song to himself, to Yoko and for all of us who are fallible humans. Every day we get a chance to wake up and try again. It’s a beautiful thing, really, when we accept our imperfection. No one and nothing can hurt us or hold us down for long when we can shake ourselves off and start all over again.

In 12-step work, we acknowledge that we are incapable of managing (controlling) life in our own. Despite years of trying, we come to the conclusion that being perfect is impossible. Instead, we get down on our knees and ask a Higher Power and our friends to help us.

But it ain’t all Gods work. After the first few steps (which may take decades), we do the daily, grinding work necessary to see our patterns and make incremental changes in the company of our fellow travelers.

Eventually, we come to love ourselves as we are. And when that happens, the warmth of the sun on our faces and in our hearts knows no bounds. We can, on some days, deal with life’s ups and downs with equanimity, with Grace and good humor.

So, in this moment I choose to grin at today’s missteps and, instead, focus on what’s good and true.

I am healthy and alive. I have food in my belly, a roof over my head, a wonderful wife and a family and friends that love me. I am blessed to have a meaningful career, talents to share and a little extra money and time to give to those who need it.

With all of that, I quote the sage Alfred E. Neumann and say, “What, me worry?”

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