“Suspend your judgment, and every being has something to teach you.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
One of the greatest mistakes that can be made is to reject something out of hand, without any consideration. More often than not we pass judgement on others before we have gotten to know them, we decide on an issue before we have all the facts. As a result we deny ourselves an opportunity to learn something new. We close our minds.
“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.” – Desiderata
Another mistake is to not try new things. To blindly follow one way and ignore all others deprives us of the chance to further grow in our recovery.
I am a strong believer in the precept “take what you need and leave the rest”. To place labels on myself is to make a statement “this is who I am”. Who I am actually changes constantly. There is no definitive “I am”. We are not who we were yesterday and we will not be the same tomorrow. Our lives are bombarded constantly with information. With every experience our perception of the world changes and sometimes our view point can change dramatically. The way I viewed my own life, spirituality, God and recovery five years ago is very very different to the way I view it now. I have no doubt it will continue to evolve.
As I change, so do my needs.
Sometimes the main challenge is to sift through the information and decide what to take on board and what to reject. The beauty of a practical philosophy for life is that we embrace the chance to learn and try new things. We adopt what works and drop what does not in the now. Dogma and doctrine does not bind the Jedi.
Everyone has heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. It is true that with age we become wiser and more set in our ways. We are more judging and skeptical. Fortunately most of us also accept that we don’t know everything, the problem is we are often reluctant to change. However change we must.
Listen and Learn
The fellowship of the 12 steps program is a thing of beauty. I can sit in a room and listen to complete strangers tell their story and share their hope and dreams for a sober life. Every story is unique and carries a message. Every person who speaks adds to the collective experience in the room and contributes to the recovery of others. We all listen with open ears and open hearts. We may not agree with everything that is said, but we listen, consider and decide what to take from the share. Every share is an opportunity to learn.
The truth is we never stop learning and very often the most valuable lessons come from the most unlikely places. My children for example have taught me more about empathy, compassion and tolerance than I thought possible. They also taught me to be a kid again. Friends, companions and co-workers teach us in ways we often overlook. The fellow alcoholic in the 12 step meeting teaches me a lot, especially to never forget. Sometimes I also wish I could be the person my Dog thinks I am. Pets are a gift. They teach us to be gentle, kind, loyal and attentive, to love unconditionally.
Share to Keep
It has taken a long time for me to realize that I don’t know everything and that we never stop learning. Old dogs can learn new tricks. I have also come to learn that everyone I encounter in my life leaves an imprint on me in someway.
We should never ignore “even the dull and the ignorant”. I also often wonder if everyone who has enters and leaves our life was meant to. That some sort of serendipitous fate exists that brings souls together for their mutual benefit and growth. When that soul benefit is gained they move apart.
I learned so much about myself during my years of active alcoholism and I learned more during recovery. Every experience has made me the person I am today. My role now is to continue to learn from every angle but also to share what I’ve learned along the way.
So I will share what I think I know and if someone suspends their judgement, hears me out and benefits from that then it’s all been worth it.