My favorite Far Side cartoon of all time is this one: a dog rides down the street on a bicycle. A second dog is running alongside, barking at him. The dog on the bike looks down and says, “Be cool, man. Be cool.”
Step 12: having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
When I was drinking, I was the dog running and barking. Now, with each added day of sobriety and working the program, I’m still the dog running and barking. But I’m getting closer and closer to riding that bike.
Perfect example: this morning I woke up tired and grumpy from staying up too late. Not doing anything productive, mind you, just watching TV and eating Dorito’s. And yet I expect peace and quiet from our seven-year-old girl who’s gotten 9 hours of sleep? Well, of course she’s going to want to sit on the couch and cuddle in the morning. And by cuddle I mean squirm, climb, flip, giggle and kick. I don’t scold or yell, but I do finally wriggle myself free and start getting ready for the day, even though I had plenty of time to remain seated. I didn’t want to completely commit to that moment: committing to something instantly, and on that level, only comes naturally when it’s all you know. It’ll burn out of the child soon enough.
Where’s the growth? The anger that still materialized instantly with the early morning jolt of kid energy wasn’t thrown back it the direction of the perceived offender. My daughter was doing what she always does in the morning: giving her daddy a hug and a bit of the ol’ roughhouse. Is it my goal to teach her not to be so open and loving with me? Does she need to start approaching me with apprehension, carefully reading the situation and my mood before daring to interact? No, not at all. Today, I didn’t act out my every instinct. Today, I took a minute and asked for serenity.
I’m learning: to let the other person go first.