Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to this week’s Grateful Heart Monday entry where gratitude is always expressed for someone or something that has truly touched my life, which for today is for Dick A., a humble, yet very dedicated member of my Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) home group.

There are some people who just have a way about them that exudes peace and serenity, two things that are so often sought after in this world, especially in the rooms of recovery from addiction. Ever since meeting Dick four years ago when I first joined my existing AA home group, I immediately noticed those two traits about him. Kind and considerate, friendly to talk to, and consistently shaking everyone’s hands with a huge smile to warmly welcome them there, Dick became someone I looked forward to seeing.

Not once have I ever seen Dick lose his cool, which says something, because many of us in the rooms of recovery tend to have our moments from time to time where we totally lose it. Not Dick though, he seems to be the great meditator of our group, frequently helping to resolve conflicts amongst ourselves or with attendees to our meeting as well.

I remember one time when this guy who regularly attended our meeting that wasn’t a member, came several weeks in a row with an incredibly negative attitude, putting people down who shared and noticeably hurting others in the process, including some newcomers. Finally, after seeing the growing disturbance from this guy’s behaviors, our group decided someone needed to speak to this attendee and ask them to be kinder and more considerate of those who were sharing there. We assigned Dick to the task who handled the entire situation with grace, never once breaking a sweat or showing any sort of negative tension, even when the guy got angry and stormed out.

Another thing I appreciate about Dick is the generosity the man has. He’s opened up his home to our group each year for an annual cookout where he prepares a feast for us all to enjoy. And from what I’m told, he’s been doing this for far longer than the few years I’ve been a member of the group. Along the same lines, I mustn’t forget the fact that Dick is considered the “fruit guy” at our meeting, as weekly, he shows up with several bags of fresh fruit that he personally cuts up and gives away to the attendees of our meeting.

Dick just celebrated 27 years of sobriety and is someone that I feel stands for much of what I seek in my own program of recovery. One of the first to show up each week to help set up and usually the last to leave, even at his age in his 80’s, Dick continues to demonstrate a program of recovery that is more about being selfless than selfish, giving than receiving, and unconditionally loving than judgmental.

As you can see there’s a lot to be grateful for when I think of Dick A., a beautiful man with a heart of gold whom I’m proud to not only be a member in the same group as him, but also to call him a friend as well.

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

Question Of The Day

Today’s question is…

If you have ever watched Downton Abbey, the PBS TV series or the recent theatrical film, which character have you most related to within the entire cast?

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

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“Downton Abbey”, An Intriguing TV Series And Film That I Related To Far More Than I Ever Thought I Would…

Mere weeks ago, I knew next to nothing about Downton Abbey, other than it was a television show surrounding some English aristocratic family from the early 20th century that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015. Truthfully, I was never very interested in watching it mostly because I wasn’t too keen on seeing a show about wealthy people of great status I couldn’t relate to who were from a time I didn’t live in and a country I wasn’t from. But, after seeing the trailer for a theatrical movie being released for the same show and after hearing all the buzz surrounding it, including the many friends of mine who said how good the show actually was and how much they were looking forward to the film, I finally decided to start watching it on Amazon Prime with my partner to see what the hype was all about. Halfway into season 1, I was hooked and three weeks later I was all caught up, including with the movie itself, which I must say was thoroughly enjoyable for many reasons, but one most in particular.

Beyond the fact that I liked watching the lives of the servants and could relate more to them versus the aristocrats, I was actually drawn most to the journey of Footman/Under Butler/Butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), a closeted gay man living in a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness and perversion at best. To the casual viewer, especially someone who isn’t gay, it’s quite easy to hate Barrow’s character, as he was always conniving some type of scheme to try to make it ahead in life, stepping over the feet of everyone else, and backstabbing without regard of who might get hurt. While my partner regularly expressed displeasure in Barrow’s character, I always saw Barrow in a much different light. What I saw was a spiritually wounded man who truly struggled to relate to anyone else, who just wanted to be someone that was appreciated in a world that rarely appreciated people like him. While most of Barrow’s selfish attempts to make something of himself usually backfired, he occasionally exhibited true moments of humility and selflessness that showed he did have a loving heart and soul. Sadly, they usually got overshadowed by all his self-serving actions though, which tended to keep most everyone at arm’s length.

Man, I can so relate.

Over the years of me trying to find acceptance, I regularly hid my sexuality, which often led to me doing actions that hurt others as well, leaving me with a lot of self-loathing and very few friends. Thankfully, I’m a lot more accepting of myself these days and have become far more open with my sexuality, yet there are still days I find myself wishing I wasn’t gay and have even joked about being a straight man stuck in a gay man’s body, all because our world keeps on struggling to practice the true teachings of Christ, instead using things like the Bible and other spiritual books to judge others as sinners rather than unconditionally loving them and leaving all judgments in God’s hands.

It was even worse in Barrow’s time, when homosexuality was considered a sickness by medical standards. These days, while that’s no longer the case, being gay is still far from being widely accepted on this planet. And even when it is, I’ve regularly seen many still make plenty of stereotypical judgments around gay people including why they tend to be such perfectionists, act so prim and proper, and often have incredibly ornate homes and yards. Truthfully, I think it’s because so many of us try to over compensate for being in a minority that continues to hold such a negative stigma of sorts. In Barrow’s case over compensating translated into wanting to be in a higher position that held more responsibility and stature, as in his mind, then and only then, might he become more accepted in the world and make up for his reality that the world was never going to fully accept him for who he was.

Nonetheless, while I was thoroughly engrossed in a number of the other Downton Abbey character’s backstories and growth throughout the series and movie, it was Thomas Barrow whom I found myself the most drawn to, not in a sexual way, but in one where I silently cried quite often for the pain he and so many others like myself have endured throughout the ages, all for being born with a sexuality that frequently has led to rejection and religious persecution.

All in all, Downton Abbey is a phenomenally written series that I’m more than confident no matter what walk of life one may come from, rich or poor, gay or straight, black or white, man or woman, etc., that anyone will find at least one character to really relate to like I did with Thomas Barrow. I highly recommend watching this series and film if you haven’t already and sincerely hope that a follow-up sequel may be on the horizon in the near future.

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