A Hero Steps Up During The Government Shutdown

I love when I hear a story about an individual in this world who steps up during a time of crisis to help out in any way they can and where they have no expectation of receiving anything in return. Chris Cox is an example of such a person who has been spending his days and evenings picking up trash, cutting grass, and blowing leaves to keep walkways clean that the government currently is not doing because of the shutdown.

A native of Mount Pleasant, S.C. and living just outside Washington D.C. in Alexandria, VA, Cox visited one of the representatives of his native state, Rep. Mark Sandford, to voice his displeasure with the shutdown. While Sandford assumed the visit from Cox would be the end of it, he was greatly surprised to find Cox flying his state’s flag and maintaining the grounds around the Lincoln, Vietnam, and World War II memorials shortly after his visit.

When Cox was asked by a radio station why he was doing the grounds maintenance, he simply responded, “These are our memorials. Do you think that we’re just going to let them go to hell?” He also told the station that he’s not motivated by politics but wanted to keep the memorials looking tidy for the veterans who were going to be arriving for a planned Million Vet march on Washington. Sadly, he was approached by a US Park Service Officer who told him he needed to cease and desist his grounds maintenance even though the park service wouldn’t be maintaining those areas for now.

I want to first congratulate Mr. Cox for stepping up and volunteering his time to cover a job that has been affected by this U.S. Government shutdown. This is a terrible time that has many people out of work and wondering when they will be able to return to their jobs. Obviously of those currently on furlough, are the people who would normally be doing that grounds maintenance which Cox was covering. So I just find it so completely ironic that while the government can’t come to agreement on the fiscal Federal budget, it still has the audacity to direct a U.S. Government employee to end an upstanding citizen’s quest to helping out the government free of charge.

Imagine for a moment if everyone stepped up and starting doing similar things like Cox did to help out in areas that have been affected by this government shutdown. Would the government then tell each of those people to stop what they’re doing also? It really is sad that a man couldn’t do this one action from his heart in this country without being prevented by the government from doing so. While I’m sure it most likely has something to do with liability, the truth is that Mr. Cox was doing a thankless job and a favor for the government.

Nevertheless, for the brief period of time that Chris Cox did volunteer his time and maintain those memorial grounds, I consider him an example of a hero in our country. To me, heroes are those people who step up and offer some part of themselves to achieve a greater good without asking for anything in return. Mr. Cox did just that. I certainly hope for our government’s sake that they will pass this fiscal Federal budget soon so that things like those memorials and their grounds will begin to be maintained once again. It’s then that people will be able to continue truly appreciating all of their beauty and the symbolism they represent which was to honor our country’s hero’s who had hearts just like Chris Cox.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Don Jon”, Sexual Addiction, And Sexual Conduct

It’s funny how the Universe has a way of aligning things for me to reflect on these days. I had a few hours to kill the other day before meeting up with a friend at a local AA meeting and decided to catch a movie during that time period. Little did I know that the movie I was about to see, Don Jon, was going to focus on the main actor’s struggle with sexual addiction, which ironically has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to face in my own life. But even more unbeknownst to me than that was the fact that the meeting I attended afterwards would focus in on a related subject with a discussion on the topic of sexual conduct.

Any deep conversations about sex are normally considered taboo and not a topic that many like to talk about unless it’s discussed with the closest of friends and loved ones, or possibly with a medical professional, therapist, or priest. So I was rather shocked when I spent almost two hours in a movie theater watching Don Jon, and then another hour and fifteen minutes later that evening in a meeting, where all the conversations in both had people talking about this subject as if it was an everyday thing to do.

In Don Jon, the lead character is of course named Jon who is played by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Jon is strikingly handsome with a good personality who is able to get any woman he wants, but he also loves to watch pornographic material every day on his computer that even takes precedence over any of the women he meets and takes home to have sex with. That holds true as well when he meets his “10”of a woman, who represents his ideal of someone with a perfect physique. Her name is Barbara, who is played by actress Scarlett Johansson, and even though she represents his “10”, his love of porn still wins out. In short, the rest of the movie plays comedically with Jon coming to terms that his love of porn may actually be a sexual addiction that’s not very healthy for him.

I honestly didn’t want to like the movie as I watched it, probably because it reminded me too much of the years I did his same exact behaviors. Porn was one of my greatest indulgences for years because I found it to be easier to live in the fantasy that comes from it rather than the reality of the people I actually dated. By the end of the movie though as I headed to that AA meeting, I was deep in thought about all of this and realized how much I ended up liking his portrayal of sexual addiction because it was an exceptionally good one. What was uncanny though was sitting in that AA meeting not too long after this and listening to the chairperson read a few chapters out of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that focused solely on looking at one’s sexual conduct. Unless I’m attending a Sex and Love Addicts based recovery meeting, I don’t normally expect to hear deep discussions about one’s personal sexual behaviors and experiences. That wasn’t the case though with this closed men’s meeting, as there I heard about all about that and how many were just like Don Jon and me.

I agree with those on one level who will say that God gave us the desire to be sexual with each other, except I’ve often thought that too many misconstrue this statement into what they feel is best for themselves. I did that for years when I looked at porn regularly and told myself it was ok because God gave me a penis and no one was getting hurt with me watching the stuff. But eventually I wanted more and that turned into me having phone sex with many people I met online who I would never meet in person. And eventually that became not enough either as it turned into me getting into one relationship after another where I told myself I wasn’t cheating when I continued looking at porn, having phone sex, or fantasizing about others. At some point that too wasn’t enough and it turned into me chasing after married or partnered people to have sex with, where I told myself it was ok because I was the single one and we were two consenting adults. The result in all of this was my sexual conduct grew so out of control that it became a sexual addiction that controlled my life.

My rule of thumb today with my sexual conduct is quite simple actually. I ask myself whether the sexual things I’m doing are bringing me any closer to God or farther away from God. And no, I’m not talking about the moments where I might go “Oh God! Oh God!” at the end of a sexual act. What I’m referring to instead is how I look to see if more love and light will be added to my heart and soul, as well as to this world, by my sexual behaviors.

I can promise you this. The more you look at any type of porn, have phone or cyber sex with strangers, hire escorts and hookers, fantasize about someone other than your partner, are promiscuous with random people, or lure a person out of their monogamous relationship to have sex with them, the more you’re going to move farther away from being filled with unconditional love and light. And the more you move farther away from being filled with unconditional love and light, the more you’re going to start developing a serious spiritual sickness. And the more you start developing a serious spiritual sickness, the more addiction prone you’re going to become like Don Jon, myself, and some of those who shared in that meeting the other night did. And the more addiction prone you become, the more you’re only going to end up destroying your own soul. So if by some chance this is the path you’re on already, ask yourself if this is how you want to end up. For your sake, I pray that’s not so…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Gratitude In EVERY Moment

It’s pretty easy to have gratitude when everything seems to be going right in your life isn’t it? But what about having gratitude in all those moments when everything seems to be going wrong? Then it becomes not so easy right?

In my many attendances to recovery meetings, I hear people share quite a bit about how grateful they are, but I’ve also noticed that usually happens when they’re having a great day. When I’ve seen those same people dealing with a really bad day in their life, they either don’t share at all at the meetings, or if they do, it’s all about how their life sucks and how they’re thinking about going back to their addictions again.

I like to talk a lot about this subject both in my writing and in my speaking because I have found it’s one of the keys that has kept me going through thick and thin in my own life. For the past several years, having endured high levels of physical pain has made it extremely difficult to feel like any day is ever going my way. Because of this, I’ve had to practice gratitude during even my worst of days just to keep going.

Let me be the first one to tell you, if you don’t know this already, that the secret to migrating through all of life’s ups and downs is in finding gratitude during all of it. To be frank, that’s not the easiest task at all, especially for someone like me who deals with massive health issues on a daily basis. There have been many days that I have awoken to where my body was hurting so bad that the only way I’ve made it through that day was to find even the smallest of things to be grateful for. When I haven’t, it has led me into behaving just like those who I’ve heard share negatively at those meetings when life has thrown them too many curve balls. The way I’ve found to handle those curve ball based days is to look for gratitude in just about everything.

Maybe it comes from someone that calls me out of the blue just to say hello who I haven’t heard from in awhile.

Maybe it comes from a compliment I get from someone who liked what I had to say when I attended and shared at a recovery meeting.

Maybe it comes from a rainbow I saw somewhere in the sky.

Maybe it comes from someone who told me they loved me.

Maybe it comes from a hug I received.

Maybe it comes from someone who found a way to make me laugh for a moment.

Maybe it comes from relating to someone else’s struggles where my heart was moved into understanding them a lot better.

Or maybe it even comes from an animal that visited me and brought me comfort.

The list goes on and on of all the things that not too long ago, I would have overlooked when I felt like I was having a crappy day. To ensure I stay in a state of being grateful, I have placed all of these things in a gratitude journal at the end of my day for quite a number of years now. So regardless of how bad my ego might feel my day was, I look back upon it and find at least nine things I can be grateful for and write them down each and every night.

I have to admit that there’s one thing I’ve noticed that’s changed for the better because of trying to keep this attitude of gratitude in even my worst of days. I’ve been able to endure quite a bit of life’s challenges while maintaining a level of positivity and hope. That being said, I can just imagine the level of gratitude I’m going to feel towards God when my days are no longer filled with so much of this chronic pain. But until that day arrives, I just want you to know that regardless of how much I’m struggling to make it through my days, I’m going to keep on practicing gratitude in EVERY moment, no matter what!

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson