Maybe A/A Was Right . . .

Having been a member of A/A I heard many quotes, sayings and some of the ‘rules for living good lives’. One of the sayings that stuck with me, and I try to remember this in all I do each day,  was “live with an attitude of gratitude.”  Well I tried it out and it was so difficult at first.

A/A spawns many different and successful stories of those who have overcome their demons–those who have managed to navigate the many potholes that lay in wait on their particular recovery journeys. I worked hard at it and I listened to those with greater wisdom. Something was working for those who were successful and I kept coming back to this saying-live with an attitude of gratitude.

So I started to look at life a bit differently and I began to live life a bit differently as a consequence. I began to see all the things in my life that I could be grateful for instead of looking for the things that I could complain about or that I could blame other people for. There was a time when I could see noting but the down side of things and I was angry and I felt entitled to things just because I had had such a horrible run of ‘bad luck’. It was MY TIME to get something good out of this hell hole called life. I deserved that much. Alas, it didn’t come to me that way. The more anger I felt the worse things got and the angrier I got the worse my life got. That’s how alcohol and drugs can get hold of you and they can suck every ounce of life out of you until there is nothing left.

The point here is that only when I began to acknowledge all of the wonderful things that I had to be grateful for did I begin to live my life with more peace, excitement and confidence.  Things like reasonably good health, a mind that still had the capability to work, opportunity to re-define myself as a human being, a chance to go to school, the love of my children, to feel connected to life again, the pleasure of a warm breeze in my face, the amazing beauty around me to enjoy-for free, decent food to eat and a warm a safe place to live in, the support of good people who didn’t want anything from me other than to see me succeed at what I wanted to do and to be a part of the community I lived in. I was wealthy beyond my dreams and for all those years I didn’t see it or know it. I lived with little gratitude in my life.

Fast forward many years and I have been given a chance to be a part of other peoples change process–to do some good for others as a mentor and a counsellor. Most importantly for me is that I came to witness and appreciate the amazing contributions that seniors play in the course of family life as well as the life of the communities that we live in. It is a role that is not always seen or thought about by folks, especially family members, as being special. Often times there is little feeling of gratitude for their presence and contribution to society. Often times they are seen as a burden or a liability rather than the treasures they are.

Unfortunately my grandparents were basically strangers to me so I missed their intelligence and their world vision. They knew how to survive in hard times. I think about the great depression of ’29. They, somehow found ways to survive and went on to live productive  lives and raise their families. Seniors figured out how to live simply yet fully. They learned how to share their gifts and their talents without expecting something in return. Some of those lessons were passed along to their children and in turn were passed along to my generation. When I pulled my head out of my backside I used some of those lessons to build my life back up from scratch. I’m grateful for that knowledge that somehow filtered down to me.

Many grandparents, today, have become 21st century parents. Their own kids have missed the opportunity to learn from their folks and have gone right to the entitlement stage of life and it is showing up with dreadful outcomes. Grandparents are now raising their children’s children. This should be their time to shine in the sun and instead they have taken on the responsibility of raising another family because they understand that in today’s world it takes a village to raise a family. I’m grateful to them for making that sacrifice but I wonder about the generation of parents that are ‘missing in action’–what are they thinking about and do they appreciate–really appreciate the opportunities that they have been presented. Do they live their lives and do they show that ‘attitude of gratitude’ that is certainly owed to their parents for bailing them out. I hope so. It is a much more enjoyable and less angry world to live in when we focus on all the things that we have to be grateful for than it is being angry and vengeful and calculating just to get ahead in a world that no longer measures people for who they are but rather for what they have.

Most only have one set of grandparents so be sure to treat them with the respect and the gratitude they so richly deserve.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim

Please pass this along to you friends and family members or any others you think might be interested.

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It’s Free To Our Children But Priceless Concerning The Giver: What Is It?

Grandparents With Family

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”–Albert Einstein

I doubt most folks have any idea of what ‘it’is. It is not a new gadget or piece of technology. Actually it is only found in people who are about 60 years old and older. It is not generated by a computer and computers can’t make it. It isn’t taught in schools but kids could benefit immensely from this and it is free to them. It is, arguably, one of the most important things that many kids of this day lack. The giver, however, spent a lifetime gathering this and in so many instances it has been found to go beyond any stated or quantified value. It is truly priceless.

‘It’ is knowledge, information and experience.

It is true that computers have done much to add to science, space travel, medicine, education, architecture and design and so on. The list is very long and very impressive. What I suggest is this: While computers have changed our lives dramatically they have also, inadvertently, created less need for what we used to call human interaction. Life has sped up considerably and many are having a hard time keeping up. Along with this diminished need for human interaction we don’t have time for the age old practice of sharing wisdom and insight through conversation. This sharing was often referred to as the ultimate education.

Grandparents, who are our true teachers, used to be treated with reverence and respect for what they had experienced and for what they had survived. Many of our 20th century cultures revered their elders and respected their wisdom. Our elders knew and understood how to live in harmony with others. They understood the unwritten guidelines that kept us functioning as a large community. Today we seem to lack that same clarity and our vision has changed. Interestingly enough that has been coincidental with the lack of respect paid older folks and the messages they bring from another time. Where their words meant much they mean little today. Families don’t seem to have the time to spend with their elders anymore. More than many are in a rush to put good old dad or mom or both in nice comfortable homes for their own good. They tell us that it is in our best interests and that we can be with others of like circumstances. We are not seen or known for our learned wisdoms and our experiences are no longer sought or valued.

The seniors of this day understand the intricacies and the nuances of human life and what it is like to love, to hurt, to witness joy. They get the inner value of rolling up your sleeves and hard work. They learned how to adapt to an ever changing world filled with hardship because they had to or perish. They know about the lessons connected to being successful or not being successful and how to deal with disappointment. They didn’t run to the doctor’s office looking for a script. They learned how to deal with this stuff. They internalized the idea that you had to work and sacrifice for all you wanted and needed but the rewards were great and built character. They didn’t trade their future for their want in the present. They are the living proof that human beings can survive almost anything including loss and tragedy which are part of life. Todays’ computer cannot help us with these events because it cannot feel.

As important as seniors are we are allowing them to slip away from us in the trade off that is called progress. Parents used to live with their families in their retirement. They could share their wisdom with grand kids around the dinner table and on the porch. Now families don’t invite mom and dad or grandma and grandpa to come live with them-at least not often. Not many have time for us now. Not only have we become irrelevant but so has our message and so we are placed with other ‘old’ people in assisted living communities. The tragedy to that is all our knowledge,information and insights we have gained are never shared with those who need them the most. Those would be our grandchildren. They have become or are in the process of becoming Einstein’s greatest fear and concern–‘a generation of idiots’. Granted many of our grandchildren have become extremely good at utilizing their technological skills but that’s a one-trick pony. Outside of that realm they seem to demonstrate little in terms of ‘living in community and harmony’ with others. I believe that is what Einstein meant when he spoke about ‘idiots’. They are not stupid but rather ill-informed and ill-prepared to live amongst their peers in harmony and a sense of community.

Computers and technology have enriched our lives. We have built amazing things and discovered many more. But in doing so they have created a society that requires or encourages less human interaction. At a time when so many of our kids are struggling with hopelessness, fear, depression, suicidal ideation and a lack of direction regarding their futures I would think that this information and potential leadership would be sorely needed and sought after. I am concerned that this oversight will cost us much if we don’t tap into the treasure chest that is filled with our seniors experience. Our children need to re-evaluate the importance of learning what we seniors know about life and living. This is the stuff that can’t be taught in schools. It is up to our children to help our grand children understand that not everything of value comes out of a box that has no soul. These are the important messages and lessons concerning life and what it is all about. The circle of life isn’t about stages we go through. It is about the decisions we make to pass on the knowledge we have gained so that the next generation can benefit and do the same for their kids. This is the circle of life as I understand it and it is or can be infinite.

Anyways,that’s how I see it–Jim

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