The Chop House Dilemma

Do you often spend money on things you really can’t afford or are you more frugal than not? What would you do if you sat down in a restaurant and suddenly noticed all the items on the menu were way out of your normal price range for dining out? Would you stay anyway, put the bill on a credit card, and worry about paying it off later, or would you get up and leave, and opt to eat somewhere far more reasonable?

I ask these questions solely because I faced this very dilemma recently when my partner and I, and another couple, opted to dine at a newly opened restaurant here in Toledo, Ohio just over a week ago now. The place was called The Chop House, which I for one was rather excited to dine at the establishment given how much I like trying new things in life. Unfortunately, that feeling parted pretty quickly as soon as I began taking a look at the menu once there.

The cost of a cup of French Onion soup…$8.95.

The cost of a small Caesar salad…$11.95.

The cost of the cheapest main course, a piece of Salmon with no accompaniments…$32.95

The cost of a Baked Potato to go with that piece of Salmon…$8.95.

 Total Cost for me without drinks or taxes or tip…$62.80.

 No friggin’ way!!!

 I began squirming in my seat over the costs of food there, but decided I didn’t really want to be high maintenance, so I was just going to order a salad that I saw on the Happy Hour part of the menu, choosing to eat some leftovers at home later. Except when the waitress told me that she’d have to charge me a higher price for that salad if I got it as my main course, I was immediately ready to leave.

In the past, when I had my own business, plenty of income, and a well of savings, I was known to spend upwards of $100 for meals at times just for myself. In fact, I used to look for extravagant places to dine at, solely to appease my ego’s ability of having plenty of money in life to blow on ridiculously pricey meals, and then would brag about it to others later.

But that’s definitely not where my Spirit is at these days, especially in light of not having a paying job at present, which is precisely why I spoke up at the table and asked if everyone else was thinking what I was thinking, and ironically, they were. None of us felt comfortable with the cost of food there, so 20 minutes after sitting down, we were all leaving and heading to a far more affordable restaurant.

In the end, while I did feel rather embarrassed leaving the restaurant without ordering and explaining to the waitress why, I was still thankful we left and that I had listened to my Spirit’s inner nudging’s for once. Because each of us enjoyed a very satisfying and more cost-conscious meal, but even more importantly, I could see how money and my ego were no longer the ones calling the shots in life and that alone made me feel a whole lot better about the decision I made during The Chop House Dilemma.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Wonder”, Quite Possibly One Of The Best Movies Ever That’s Sure to Eventually Become A Classic

Having seen thousands of movies in my life thus far, it’s a rare thing indeed to come across one that I’d go so far to say it was actually one of the best movies ever. But that is indeed something I feel safe to say for the 2017 release of a little gem called “Wonder”.

Based on the New York Times bestseller book, “Wonder” is the story of a boy named August Pullman (Jacob Trembley) who just wants to be accepted and loved for who he is inside, instead of being avoided for what he looks like on the outside. You see, August (nicknamed Auggie) was born with extremely pronounced facial deformities and has lived the entire first part of his life in almost total isolation because of it, having being home schooled by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts). That all’s about to change though, as Isabel has decided it’s finally time to send August off to school for the fifth grade, in spite of her husband Nate’s (Owen Wilson) reservations. In a world where life is often not fair and appearance seems to be everything, it becomes immediately apparent that Auggie isn’t going to fit in in, as soon as he steps foot onto his new elementary school grounds. Which is sad because all he really wants in life is to have what everyone else in school seems to have, that being the ability to fit in with some friends who really like being around him. Yet, even as Auggie starts to believe he might remain alone and ostracized for his entire grammar school years, the Universe shows it might just have a different plan in store for him, one that could be exactly what Auggie’s heart has always desired the most.

What makes “Wonder” such a beautifully enriching film is not just because of this very moving plot revolving around Auggie’s journey to being loved and accepted, it’s much in part due to each of the subplots going on within the movie as well. There’s the story of Via and her constant feelings of invisibility in her family and in life in general. There’s the story of her best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) who suddenly pulls totally away from their friendship for no known reason. There’s the story of Isabel who has placed her entire life and promising career aside solely to take care of Auggie’s unique circumstances. And there’s the individual stories of several of Auggie’s new classmates tool like Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and Julian (Bryce Gheisar), amongst others, who each add a complexity to a film that becomes simplified through a number of things we’ve probably all faced at some point in life. Things like bullying and being picked on, meeting our first love, giving up our dreams to support another, feeling like we don’t matter in this world, and so much more.

But what moved me the most in “Wonder” though, beyond all these plots and subplots, was the great reminder it gave me of how difficult it was during my own grammar school years. Years that I often try to forget. Years where I too was bullied, picked on, ostracized and overlooked. While I may not have had any facial deformities back then like Auggie did in the movie, I clearly didn’t have an image during that period of my life that made for any type of popularity. But just like the Universe showed Auggie, there clearly was someone or something out there who was always watching over me, guiding me to the very thing my Spirit needed the most in life, that being to feel loved and accepted, even in light of being that odd man out. This is precisely why I consider this film to be one of the best movies ever, and why I feel confident it will eventually become a classic and a must-have for my own home movie collection…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Same Kind Of Different As Me”, A True Story Of Unconditional Love And Healing

“Same Kind of Different as Me” is a heart-felt 2017 film based upon the true story of the lives of a wealthy international art dealer named Ron Hall (played by Greg Kinnear) and his wife Deborah (played by Renee Zellweger) and how an angry homeless man named Denver Moore (played by Dijimon Hounsou) becomes the catalyst to not only saving their marriage, but also their spiritual lives as well.

When the film begins, the viewer is introduced to Ron and Deborah where it becomes quickly apparent how rocky their marriage has become after many years of being together. Ron has been caught cheating and is forced to admit the truth to his wife. Deborah is totally devastated when she is told, but isn’t ready to give up hope just yet in their relationship. In an attempt to save it, Deborah asks Ron to help her one day at the local food kitchen where she’s been volunteering for some time, Begrudgingly, Ron agrees to help just this once, although he makes it abundantly clear he doesn’t really want to be there. He, in fact, is one of those guys who have become so consumed with money and status that serving food to homeless people feels completely beneath him. But as they begin to serve meals that day, when a sudden violent outburst from a homeless man (Denver) startles Ron to the point of wanting to immediately leave a situation he never wanted to be in the first place, Deborah becomes more curious than afraid, because Denver is the very man she had a vision of in her dreams a few nights prior. Convinced that she and Ron are meant to help him somehow, Deborah sets out to befriend a man who makes it overly obvious from the onset he’s quite content in remaining friendless. Thus, begins Ron and Deborah’s spiritual journey of offering unconditional love not only towards a man who doesn’t know how to be loved, but also of rediscovering it with each other.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” really is one of those films that will make you laugh, cry, and get a lot of those feel-good tingly sensations while you watch it. To some, I’m sure it may feel like it’s too stocked with Christian symbolism, but to me, beneath the surface was an incredible movie that provided a great reminder of who I used to be and who I’m working on becoming.

I once was a lot like Ron Hall, consumed with the abundance of money that had been left to me by my parents. At the same time, I was always unwilling to do much of anything when it came to reaching out and lending a helping hand to anyone, unless it benefitted me somehow. In fact, pretty much everything that involved helping others usually felt beneath me, which in turn, made me become an extremely selfish and self-centered person. Other than donating money anonymously, I rarely got my hands “dirty” anywhere that might have befitted the less fortunate. But through a series of humbling health issues and financial failure in life, I began to reassess myself and asked God to transform me into a much more unconditionally loving human being.

Over the years ever since, my desire to help others has definitely changed. Now I am more than willing to reach out and help others, not just in my recovery from addiction-based life, but also outside those rooms as well. Case in point, I had a homeless man approach me outside one of my 12 Step meetings recently. There, he asked for something to eat, of which I promptly took him to a store nearby and bought him a meal.

There are so many people in the world like this homeless man and like Denver Moore who are worthy and deserving of God’s unconditional love, yet they so often get overlooked in life because of the way they look, or because of being homeless, or because they don’t fit into some safe box that many create around themselves. But because of people like Ron and Deborah Hall, who stepped outside that box by helping an angry homeless man named Denver Moore, God was able to save both a marriage and a lonely soul that was ultimately broken.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” truly is a spiritually uplifting film that portrays a great message of unconditional love and healing, one that is a great reminder of something I think we all should be offering a lot more of in life these days…especially to those less fortunate…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Would You Take The Red Pill Or The Blue Pill?

Would you take the red pill or the blue pill? That’s the question that Neo faced in the 1999 hit film “The Matrix” and something I’ve pondered quite a bit ever since, but in a slightly different way than what those pills represented in the movie.

In “The Matrix”, the red pill represented knowledge, freedom and the truth of reality, while taking the blue pill represented falsehood, security, and the ignorance of illusion. By taking the red pill, one would leave the cushy fake world of the Matrix and experience true reality, while taking the blue pill meant remaining in the Matrix and living out life in an illusory existence. Neo ends up taking the red pill of course and eventually goes on to see all the delusions he lived in for so long.

Now imagine, purely hypothetically, if in real life taking the red pill meant immediately leaving this world and entering whatever is beyond this life, while the blue pill meant remaining here and living out the natural course of our life until our flame extinguished on its own. Which one would you take?

For the majority of my life up until just over five years ago, I know I would have taken the blue pill because I loved the illusion I lived in. Money, sex, power, position, status, each were the things I chased after and each had almost full control over me. But then a change happened in my life, one where I began to see how fake all of that was and how unimportant each really was in the grand scheme of things. And as that change began, a whole lot of physical, mental, and emotional pain emerged in my life and has been with me on some level ever since.

Living in this world now and being able to see through the many illusions of it, yet not feeling much joy because of the serious level of pain I constantly deal with is what leads me to often say that I would instantly take the red pill in a heartbeat.

If you are someone like me, who lives with chronic pain, then you probably understand why I’m saying this because going through life with a pain filter makes it very hard to experience joy in just about everything. And believe me, I do my best to cultivate joy anywhere I can, but with my life always being tainted by this high level of pain, it makes it extremely difficult to ever feel any type of joy whatsoever. Hence the reason why I would like to take one of those red pills, even in this very moment.

When I explained this to my therapist recently, she asked me what I’d do if all my pain went away. I immediately answered with the truth, in that I wouldn’t want to take that red pill anymore. But ironically, I wouldn’t want to take the blue pill either at that point. Instead, I’d just want to exist in the state I was in, not running from the illusions this world creates but not living in them either. Because ultimately, I believe that joy can be felt without having to ever seek some person, place, or thing. Contrary, I believe in any given moment, joy can be felt in the simplest of things like stepping outside into the pouring rain and feeling every droplet splash off one’s body. But unfortunately, it’s quite easy to fall prey to all the illusions of this world that one rarely gets to experience something like that.

I don’t believe there is any person, place, or thing in this world that can ever take my pain away and create the joy I seek. Nor do I believe I’m meant to check out in this world as quick as possible, to escape all my pain, like my father did. As hard as my life feels on most days, deep down on my soul level, I know I don’t want to take any pill or anything really that might alter my present state, as I’m inclined to believe that where I’m at right now, even as I type these very words, is exactly where God wants me to be.

Sometimes that’s a really hard concept to embrace, especially on those days where I literally am either screaming in agony or profusely crying over my level of pain, as it’s on those days that I really just want to take that red pill and end my existence here, hoping my next might be far better.

But alas, I don’t think that’s God’s will for me and so I trudge on, doing my best to make it through day after day, with faith, hope, and a belief that I will one day again feel joy in a way that doesn’t come from any of those illusions this world creates, and instead is able to generate itself from a place that I’m still working on accessing within…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson