It’s not your fault, but it is your problem.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

– Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr, 1934

These words have woven themselves into popular culture, thanks in large part to their inclusion in the liturgy of Alcoholics Anonymous. The prayer wasn’t written for AA, but it fits so perfectly that it could have been.

A person dealing with addiction lives on the boundary between that which is innate and that which is personal choice. No one chooses to have the impulse, but there are thousands of choices any of us can make that stack the deck to influence whether that impulse is likely to win or lose. Continue reading

The dirty work of figuring yourself out.

“Like a castle in his corner in a medieval game, I foresee terrible trouble and I stay here just the same.” – Steely Dan, “Dirty Work”

Fact 1: Steely Dan is named after a sex toy.

Fact 2: That song is about a guy feeling used, and stuck, in a relationship where he’s the side dude. (Is “side dude” the male equivalent of “side chick?” I am not up with the permutations of today’s lingo, probably because I say shit like “permutations” and “lingo.”)

Fact 3: It’s an apt and poetic way to describe the feeling of knowing you’re doing wrong while standing in to witness the impending doom you’ve participated in creating. Continue reading

Other people.

Today, I woke up in an apartment that was built by other people. The apartment is owned by a person I’ve never met.

I drove a car built by other people on a road built and paid for by other people.

I listened to news researched and presented to me by other people. I switched over to some tunes, which were written and performed and broadcast by other people. Continue reading

Cranberry juice for the soul; or, how to deal with people who annoy you.

I take it for granted that I have a relatively outgoing personality. I don’t really stop and consider that through a fortunate combination of DNA and upbringing, it doesn’t faze me to stand in front of people and talk. My grandparents and parents did a good job of holding me accountable for making eye contact, speaking at a volume that could be heard, enunciating, and giving firm handshakes. Continue reading

No, seriously, help yourself.

You probably tune out when the flight attendants do their choreographed safety dance about exit doors and oxygen masks. I do, too. As I recently heard a man at 7-Eleven say to his lady over the phone, “Listen, you tell him if he gone kill me, come kill me. I ain’t afraid to die. I don’t want to die, but I ain’t afraid to.” You and me both, sir. You and me both. Continue reading

Warning: This prescription may cause side effects.

I try really hard to maintain my positivity at all times. I believe – through years of serious experimentation and reflection on the subject – that we have a significant amount of choice in how we feel. To that end, I have learned that if I choose to remain positive, I find myself feeling happier.

A few days ago, I ran into a situation that made me stop and think about what has become an automatic for me. Continue reading

No more tears, part 2: It’s kinda hot in these rhinos.

At the beginning of February, I announced that I would be challenging myself to refrain from complaining for an entire month.

It’s February 15, so it’s a good time to check in and update you on my progress, what I’ve learned, and what has been challenging me.

So, how am I doing?

Pretty well, actually. What I’m finding is that, in general, my default is not to complain very much. I tend toward looking on the bright side of life. I’ve explained it a few times, like here and here, but I think it’s important to reiterate: this default of mine was not the factory setting. Focusing intently upon staying positive and avoiding complaining this month has served to solidify my confidence that the change has been a lasting one. For that, I’m truly grateful – life is so, so much better this way. Continue reading

I am thankful for pain.

Let me preface this post with a caveat: I’m writing about positivity, loss, pain, redemption, lessons, and the like. It’s important that I tell you that I’ve lived a charmed life. I’ve never gone hungry. I’ve never lost my home or my parents or siblings to war or terrorism. No one I know has ever gotten ebola or river blindness. I have multiple changes of clean, dry clothes, a car that runs, a girlfriend that loves me, and a dog that thinks I am a giant biped dog with whom he gets to live. Continue reading

A little country wisdom for y’all

Two flies were sitting in a corral on a pile of cow manure. They were going to town, eating their fill, just enjoying life. They saw a pitchfork leaning up against the fence. The two flies decided rather than flying up there, they could just leisurely walk right up the handle to the top to bask in the sun for a while.

When they got to the top, they were just about to stretch out and relax, when they saw the farmer walking straight toward them. Continue reading