Setting Priorities

Earlier this evening, I had a difficult conversation with my partner on Skype. I was trying to set up a future flight in late April to come see him and it raised major concerns within him about finances and budgeting. We have an agreement that whether I drive or fly to see him, that we share the cost by each paying half. When I expressed to him how much the flight cost was, his voice tone and demeanor went from pleasurable to stern. Over the next few hours we spent time working through some uncomfortable moments that dealt with finances. We went over his budget, and saw what amount of money was truly available to him after all his monthly bills were paid. In the end, there was a small amount available that could cover his portion of the flight so long as he was able to maintain his current work schedule and budget.

I spent some time meditating after the conversation as I had gotten angry during much of the conversation and was trying to figure out exactly why. At first I looked at all the people I’ve dated where things like this came up and realized that more than not, most of my former partners had done the same thing as what happened tonight. But I realized that there was something more in this, and it was about me. I’ve talked a lot in many of my postings about how things outside of myself that irritate me are simply mirrors for myself. In this case, another one appeared.

There have been many times in my life that people have asked me to do something that would entail me spending money. Whether it was gifts for family members such as my nephews, trips away with friends, retreats, classes, or a holistic practitioner to see, I’ve made excuses how I couldn’t afford to do any of them. There were times in friendships where I said I couldn’t afford something such as going out to dinner with them, and then I went ahead and went out to dinner with someone else that I liked better. Or maybe a friend gave me a gift for a special holiday and I would say I couldn’t afford a return gift and yet I would give another friend a gift that I felt closer to. There were times as well where I might be asked to do something and I would express my concern about not having enough money and then I was out buying myself new clothes that I didn’t need, new DVDs that I’ve already seen in the theater, or taking myself on a trip somewhere to pamper myself.

I know many people probably do this. All of us set priorities in our minds on what’s important to spend the money on that we earn. But sometimes, priorities get mixed up on what truly is the most important.

In my life now, the number one priority is serving God’s will. After that it’s taking care of my health and healing including staying clean from all addictions. And in doing both those, my partner is the most important thing outside of that. Since meeting him I’ve made a lot of changes to how I’ve lived day to day. I buy a lot less things that I don’t need in my life. I don’t go on trips anymore unless they are to see him or are with him. I don’t go out to dinner every night of the week. And I look for other corners I can cut in my life to save money so that I can spend it with my partner.

It never was like that before. I was selfish and my money was allocated as I saw fit. If I wanted something, I got it and everyone else was secondary to it. I believe that’s why I got so angry tonight because I projected my former financial selfishness, onto my partner. Thankfully, I’m not that way anymore. It is important to set priorities on finances and how money is spent. But I also know it’s not healthy or spiritual to tell someone I can’t afford to do something when I’m doing it with someone else. To combat that, I have become more open and honest with my priorities to those in my life. And I have learned as well that beyond my family and my relationship, I need to treat everyone equally on what I can or can’t do. If I’m setting priorities in my life with different friends, then maybe I’m not really wanting to be around some of those people in the first place.

I know my partner cares about me. And I know he wants me to come see him. I realized after meditation that he wasn’t doing to me what so many others including myself have done. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the mirror when I’m in the midst of any argument. But I know through meditation and prayer, I generally see that it always leads back to me and my own behaviors.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Fighting Myself

It was very cold today. Extremely cold. With a wind chill near -7 and another 4 to 8 inches of snow dropping on top of the few feet still on the ground, it made a good case to not leave the house at all. The cold weather is extremely difficult for me. As most people probably know, cold contracts and heat expands. That holds true with muscles as well. And for someone like me who deals with muscle and nerve pain quite a bit, cold weather is unbearable. Tonight, the group I call “home” for the center of my recovery here in Massachusetts had an engagement that I was tied to and would in turn have to leave my house for a few hours in the frigidity.

In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous in Massachusetts, one of the things I find most fascinating is what this engagement was about. It was a commitment. In this state, most groups have a calendar that is maintained by a “bookie” who organizes dates where the members of their group will go to different places to speak about their experience, strength, and hope. It could be other meetings, hospitals, detox centers, halfway houses, or prisons. It’s considered part of a person’s 12th step work where they go out and give back. And each of those engagements on the calendar are called a “commitment”. Tonight, my home group had one out on a place nicknamed “Long Island”. Originally, over a century ago, the island was home to the outcasts of society such as lepers and mental patients. Today it is a center of alcohol and drug addiction recovery with various programs to help people that are dealing with getting clean and sober. The program I was to go to tonight to speak with my group was named Transitions.

About two hours before it was time to be at the building on Long Island for the commitment, I received a phone call from one of my group members who was the only other person able to attend tonight in this crazy weather. He informed me that he would not be able to go and apologized profusely. The circumstances were based around a friend of his that had overdosed and needed help and I completely understood. But it left me with a predicament. Each of these commitments are usually an hour long where the group members trade off speaking for a few minutes at a time. At a worse case scenario with two people, I would speak for 25 to 30 minutes and the other would be the same. With the cancellation, it left me to be the only speaker in front of about 35 to 40 people. I don’t have any problems speaking in front of people today but add in the below freezing temperatures, the snow that had come in earlier, wind gusts still up to 40mph, serious pains in my left leg, and feeling down in the doldrums, my brain was telling me to just stay home.

I’ve learned there are two me’s presently in my life. There is the “brain” me. And there is the “soul” me. My “brain” me is what wants quick fixes. It’s what wants at times to go back out there and live in addictions. It’s what tells me that drugs will make my pain go away. It’s what tells me that I’m never going to get better. And it’s what told me to stay home tonight. The “soul” me, well, that one tells me to keep going. It tells me that I’m going to heal and soon. It tells me that all of this pain is temporary. And it told me to go tonight and be the only speaker as that is what God would want of me. Remember those old cartoons where the angel “poofed” in on one shoulder and the devil “poofed” in on the other and both tried to make the person of whose shoulders they were on do something. That’s a lot like what went on tonight with me. After having no success getting any other group members to join me, the decision rested upon whether I was going to make the track out there alone or not in the freezing cold.

I’m happy to say that I made the decision to go. It’s a testament to where God is at in my life now. A year ago, I  probably would not have gone. I would have used any number of excuses. On my way to the meeting, I prayed to God to give me strength to deal with my pain and to speak from my heart with love and light and that I may be a vessel to inspire those there trying to get help from their addictions. I spoke for about 45 minutes with my story of recovery from the beginning to the end. At the end of the commitment, several came up to me and shook my hand and said it was very inspirational. In the past, I’d soak up all the glory into my ego. Today, I give it all to God. After all, I believe it’s God who motivated me to get in my car and go in these subzero temperatures. I believe it’s God who gave me the strength to speak with passion and love. And I believe it’s God who wanted me there in the first place alone so that I would be able to speak my whole story. It’s my hope that at least one person at Transitions tonight connected to my story enough to find a greater purpose in seeking a path to recovery and God.

I am not all seeing and all knowing, and I don’t really know how my presence tonight at this program out on Long Island made a difference. But what I do know is that my brain fights against my soul way too often. I’m grateful that I went with my soul’s choice as I believe I did God’s will in taking that path. I look forward to the day where my brain and my soul call a truce and work together to bring greater love to God and this planet and peace within me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Not So Beautiful Creatures

Normally I wouldn’t make a blog entry this late into the evening as it’s currently 1:00am here on the east coast, except I just came from a movie that I was extremely excited about seeing and instead left very disappointed. The movie I went and saw was Beautiful Creatures which is based on the book series by authors Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia.

A few months ago I saw a preview and read that this movie was similar to the whole Twilight series but instead of vampires and humans as the focus, it was witches and mortals. I thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight series on screen and while I didn’t read the books, I decided to do that with Beautiful Creatures. And I loved it immedately. While the books do draw some similarities to the way the Twilight series was set up with good versus evil concepts, they really are two completely different works of fiction. Within a matter of a few weeks I had already gone through the first book and the second book. By the time the movie arrived in the theaters a few days ago, I was buried deep into the middle of the third book with high hopes for the first movie to be as engrossing as the book series had been.

As the lights dimmed in the theater and the previews rolled out, I anxiously awaited the opening scene for the movie and then it finally arrived…in a different version, quite different from how the first book began. I shrugged it off and said oh well to myself and continued to watch with anticipation for many of the sequences that I was looking forward to seeing how they would translate onto the screen. Most of them never came. Scene after scene, storyline after storyline, change after change, the movie seemed like a completely different piece of work. While the foundation of the story was kept intact about a witch, referred as a Castor, and a mortal, with no special abilities, meeting and falling in love and finding their love to be taboo because of a curse, the things that made the book unique were missing. As I watched the credits start to roll after the last scene to this Romeo and Juliet tale, I noticed that there had been very few people there watching it. Was that because of all these changes that were made? I don’t know. What I do know is that on opening weekend of a Twilight movie or a Harry Potter movie, a person would be hard pressed to find an open seat.

All of this got me to thinking about my own life. When I was a young boy, I was quite original and unique in my own way. Sadly, when I got into high school, I began to change those parts of me, altering myself to ways I thought people would like better. By the time I left high school and college behind, most traces of that boy inside that was unique and different were gone. From the outside image of me, to the talents that I pursued, what the world saw in me now was a mere fragment of what I had originally been scripted as.

Luckily, I’ve woken up to the chameleon effect that I created and about a year ago, I began to strip away all the layers that were pasted on top of the original me. Ironically, now at the age of 40, I’m back to doing most, if not all, of those same things I did as a kid. The difference today is that I don’t want to change them, alter them, cover them up, or make them any different. I want to be me. And I believe that the new/old me that is emerging will be liked by many more people as compared to the life I had lived up until last year that was filled with sadness and loneliness.

Like Beautiful Creatures, I lived my life from high school to last year continuously adapting to meet what I thought others might like. And consistently, I lost the interest of those I met most likely because I wasn’t original and unique anymore. I had made myself a carbon copy of what I thought people might like. Except I’m not the way anymore and I’m thankful for that. My license plate is now “BURSLF” which means “BE YOURSELF”. And today I am. I’m back to being that boy again, living his life as original as I can be, beating to my own drum and I believe that people are going to love this original recipe much better as time goes forward.

I wish Beautiful Creatures had done the same and stuck to what was in print. I’m convinced that this was the reason why the theater had only a handful of people in it on opening weekend and why the box office numbers were showing it in a dismal sixth place in earnings. At least I can go back to the original me but this movie is already produced and forever on a reel in this version. But who knows, it’s Hollywood and remakes happen all the time. Beautiful Creatures, just be yourself, it’s the best way to be.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson