To get into this program, I needed to have a timeout called on myself. I needed to stop everything, hop in a hot air balloon and rise high enough to recognize my self-destructive patterns.  And while I was above it all, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, floating among the pink clouds, things became recognizable, definable and, most importantly, actionable.

Step 10: continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Of course, at some point I had to land, climb out of my basket and, armed with all the new-found knowledge which I gleaned from 1000 feet, rejoin society.

This is where the rubber meets the road: back on terra firma. All of my newly discovered insights and clarity quickly dissipated or became muddy in my thinking and in my reactions when put into daily practice.  Nothing was cut and dried, because life is messy, or at least complicated, and for years I’d been reading all the signs backwards, and using my own stinking thinking as the guideline for living.

The reason I wasn’t happy was because everyone else was doing everything wrong, yet still managing to end up better off than me. Envy, jealousy, anger, and finally hate: these emotions became more and more available to me the more I interacted with other people, places and things. Instead of remembering my time in the balloon and seeing the world through the honest overview of what really goes on during the day-to-day, I used that same long-distance vantage point to quickly and easily put people into various boxes of disdain.

And there’s the paradox: I’m using the big picture to remind myself that everything isn’t as bad as it seems, while simultaneously using that same big picture to lay judgments and resentments on everyone who’s doing it wrong, whatever “it” is.  That’s the edge of the sword that cuts the deepest: holding people to standards I myself have never been able to keep.

So let go of the world.  If there’s ever been a time to concentrate on myself and stop worrying about people, places and things, this is it.  Pointing out my old behaviors in others only serves to pump up my pride and give me a false sense of growth.  I’m comparing my sobriety and serenity against total strangers.  It’s the cunning, baffling, powerful part of this disease that enjoys keeping me distracted from my humility.

Today:  Stay grateful.  Stay humble.  Stay out of my own way.

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