My partner Chris and I got into an argument recently about the amount of time and effort I’ve been placing into maintaining a neighbor’s yard. I’ve been cutting, edging, weeding, and keeping up their yard care for well over a year and a half now simply because I care about what they’ve been going through and the struggles they’ve been facing in life. While many might question my motivation, thinking I have some hidden agenda, let me be clear in saying my only motive is to help another out of the kindness of my heart.
I frequently tell Chris that I do a lot for others these days because it makes me feel better in knowing I’m giving back now to a world that I once took so much from. Frankly, I’m trying to reverse my past where the addict I once was did far more in taking what it could out of people, places, and things, then in contributing something from my heart.
Sadly, active addicts are generally like that. They just take and take and take and take until the person they’re taking from becomes fully depleted and has nothing more to give, and that’s when the addict moves on to the next victim. I once was that addict, one who took so much from so many people. I don’t want to be that addict anymore, so I give back now and do things like taking care of a neighbor’s yard who’s struggling in life in many ways. My true motivation is merely to let them know someone cares about what they’re going through, and this is just one of those ways I show that.
I always tell Chris and others that I believe our Higher Power, whom I choose to refer to as God, sees the selfless things we do and occasionally gives us a little wink that says, “Hey, good job, I’m so proud of you.” I got one of those reminders the other day when I awoke late one morning and headed out to my mailbox to get the day’s mail. Within it was a card from this neighbor sincerely thanking me for all the yard work I’ve done for them and how appreciative they’ve been. When I saw they had also placed a $50 bill within it, I was immediately moved to tears because it’s something I didn’t ask for nor expect and felt it was one of those winks from God.
Nevertheless, I see the 12th Step of recovery as one that’s all about giving back. While its intention is more geared for helping another suffering addict once recovery is gained, I take it a step further by giving back to the world in as many ways as I can, including actions like me taking care of a neighbor’s yard. That’s a stark contrast from my old addict self who wouldn’t take care of anything for anyone else, unless I was going to regularly get something back. While I felt blessed to have received this gift from my neighbor, the fact remains I will continue doing the yard work for them, not for any future kickbacks, but simply because it’s in my spiritual makeup now to be there more for another than myself.
I hope to spend the rest of my life doing the best I can to keep helping others in this world know they do matter by continuing to do things just like this, by dedicating my time, my energy, and my love in a way that in the end will hopefully reverse the long stream of negative karma and selfish acts I lived in for so long when I was stuck in addiction. To wake up today and ask the God of my understanding how I may be of service to Him today, rather than wake up and ask myself who’s going to please me today, is the best gift that recovery from addiction has given me, one that continues placing myself more second than first in a world that was once quite the opposite…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson