Hi all!! The photos are from Fort McPherson national cemetery. The top one is George, who was a much loved figure in AA and the bottom one is my dad's.
This isn't a post about the Buddhist concept of Not Self in a traditional way. I don't have enough experience or knowledge of the concept to really explain it. I focus on the concept on occasion but it isn't ingrained in my mindfulness quite yet.
When I think about the people in my life, I think about their influence. Their influence is a part of me. By them being a part of me, then there is no true or original me. Scott is a mixture of other people, some are ancestors I never met, others are the authors, artist and world figures who's lives and words have had an effect on me and then there are those I have had direct contact with, like George and my dad.
George was a character. He was an older bachelor, not the most hygienic person which was part who he was. Most people remember George for his grunting, he would grunt while talking. He was also a chain smoker, back when you could still smoke at meetings George usually had a cigarette lit. George was a chronic alcoholic, he was on of those guys in town who was hired for oddball jobs because during his active alcoholism he couldn't be counted on for long periods of time, unfortunately this stigma followed him in recovery, he didn't mind but others thought he got ripped off on occasion by locals hiring him to help roof a house or other things. George was old enough when he got sober, I seriously doubt he cared much about having a steady job, he enjoyed being able to go have coffee in the afternoons. George always took the time to greet people at meetings, especially new comers, always a friendly smile and a warm hand shake. He love the ladies and liked to tease them, he wasn't a perv, he was sweet and nice in his affection without being overbearing or dangerous. When I moved back to Nebraska in 1992, I use to go and have coffee with George and one armed Bill in the afternoons. George and Bill where a team, Bill use to get upset with George but loved him like a brother. These old boys would sit and tell stories of their lives, it was fascinating to listen to, my drinking career was nothing compared to theirs. Neither really talked the Big Book, although Bill was fairly intelligent, George not so much but they lived the Big Book. They know what it was like to hit rock hard bottom and find a new freedom and life. They really cared about others and showed it in the most basic way, by just talking and listening. George never talked bad about others even when the rest of us might be doing so, George would add comments about hopefulness towards the person. George left an imprint on my life and a lot of others, we talk about him lovingly now and then. I was back out when George died and along with my friend Burl, these are the 2 guys funerals I regret missing because I was drinking again. I know they would be happy for me now and understand I needed to go through what I did to get to where I am today. George's stone is a short distance from my dad's, so every time I visit dad's grave I visit George's, pour some coffee on it and leave a cigarette.
I have written a lot about my dad. Yesterday I visited the grave because I was in the area. I stopped poured some coffee, left some flowers and did a mediation of thanks and remembrance. My dad wasn't the best father, he was physically and emotionally abusive towards us growing up. When we got older I feel he was better equipped to deal with and relate to his kids. It was in these years I grew to know and love my dad. His imprint on me is in how I treat others and carry myself in public. My dad was a bit of a bigot and prejudice against those who where different but if those who were different showed him courtesy he would do the same in return. If a long haired biker or person of dark skin held the door open for him, he would thank them, same goes if they served him. He insisted we have good manners in public. He was born and raised for lack of a better word Hillbilly but he learned to rise above his hillbilly roots. He wanted to be on equal ground with everyone else and by showing good manners, people never know his background. Dad taught me about hard work, both in words and action. My job maybe very hard on my body some nights but I know I can deal with it and would never quit without a job lined up, this I owe to him. The same goes for doing work around my house or helping mom, he instilled in me my duty to keep my house and things I own in good repair if at all possible and to do it as soon as possible. He hated laziness and unfortunately my intolerance for laziness comes out too, one of those defects of character I have to always work on. My dad gave me my love of gardening and also I inherited a portion of his mechanical aptitude.
There are others who make up me also. My mom of course, hers is my gentleness and unfortunately a genetic trait for anxiety, her family has a long history of anxiety problems. Thankfully I have learned to use spirituality to keep anxiety in check and to move past it in as short as time as possible. Mom is also like dad when it comes to manners, respect and working hard. As for my siblings, if nothing else we have a history together and experience no one else would understand because they didn't live in our house with our parents.
This morning at my home group the matriarch of the group Connie, celebrated 35 years sobriety. She has played a big part in my recovery since my return. She sponsors a lot of women in the area, solid women sponsors are limited in this part of the state. She also indirectly sponsors others like me. She is one of my "go to" people, when something is going on in my life I talk to her after the meeting just to get her thoughts. Connie understands and accepts my approach to spirituality. She is one of the few old timers in the area who allow the non-Christian AA's to follow their our own path without interjecting the God of Their understanding. There has been many a time when I have been frustrated with the Christian undertones of old members at meetings, when I have felt alone and isolated from my fellow members. Connie has given me the assuring love I have needed to keep going back, reminding me of traditions and my responsibly to the newcomer. Connie shares about living the steps, not just working them. She shares about the mistakes she still makes after all these years sober. We had a couple of newer members at the meeting this morning, the general consistence shared by all and by Connie was, you get 35 years of sobriety by living sober one day at a time. She made the point of telling the guy with only a few weeks that the one thing we all had in common was we were sober "today". There is no me because Connie is in my life.
There have been many George, Burl and Connie's in my 13 years in AA, 9 years first time around and over 4 this time. All of these people are a part of me. I have also known people in recovery whose way of staying sober I didn't or don't want any part of, they are a part of me also. I have seen people die from active alcoholism and addiction, they are in me. I have seen people die sober and at peace with the world, these are some of my heroes.
My heroes are a part of me. John Lennon, more for the honest way he lived his life and owned his mistakes more so than the great music he gave us. Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. King, Mandela and numerous other voices who stood up for social injustice. Dylan because he taught me about words, word play and poetry. Jackson Browne's music has touched every part of my soul, Jackson is my musical go to person. Music is a big part of me, I don't need an iPod, I have thousands of songs by hundreds of artist in my head. There is no Scott.
The Buddha and Jesus are a huge part of me. Their teachings have become the foundation of my spirituality. There are parts of Native American spirituality, Taoism and Paganism within also but the foundation is cemented in the teachings of Buddha and Jesus. I may not be a Christian but my Christian upbring and knowledge of the teachings of Jesus both biblical and gnostic effect how I treat others and how I live my life. The Buddha has shown me a spiritual path to live by. Through the words of the Buddhist Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama, 2 other heroes, I have been given a guideline to living a peaceful life, a way to understand suffering and how to see it for what it is. A way to readjust my briefs when they get all in a knot.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob are a big part of me. Bill was a great writer and able to put down in words all which AA is for the most part. Dr. Bob was the simple realist right up to his death. Bill and Dr. Bob where the Yin and Yang of AA and divine intervention put them together for us. All the good old timers, I am grateful they paved the way so I can reap the benefits of recovery today.
So if my ego gets caught up in the big ME trap all I have to do is think about all the people who have shape what I am. What ever God there is has a big part in this too, just realized I forgot to mention the concept. There is no me, no self. I am made up of others. I also share the earth with all living beings, it isn't here just for me, we share it together and we need to steward it together. We are interdependent beings, we all depend on each other to make the world we live in a beautiful place to live. I may not be able to stop violence and pollution outside of the area of the world in which I live in but I can do my part right here right now, I can make this a beautiful and safe place for you to visit if you ever come my way.
One last thought in reflection. Just as all these people have touched my life, I have also touched peoples lives. I feel I am spiritually responsible to touch peoples lives in a positive way. If I can't always show compassion at least I should do no harm.
Well I need to get busy in the shed. I brought back more stuff from mom's old house yesterday and just throw it in the shed, now I need to put it on shelves and organize it. I also brought back all my firewood, so I have it to stack up.
I hope everyone is doing well!!!
Peace Love and Light
Scott, who ever he is or isn't ;-)