Friday Favorites 11/23/2012

If you’ve ever found yourself in a 12-Step Program, you know that slogans are very popular.   One Day at a TimeEasy Does It.   Let Go and let God.   In my first few years attending meetings, I hated the slogans.   It didn’t seem possible to me that any real wisdom could be expressed in so few words.  I called them bumper stickers, probably because I’d seen them on the rear bumper of autos around town, along with such gems as I’d Kill for a Nobel Peace Prize and Metaphors Be With You.  So imagine how thrilled I was to walk into a meeting and find that the topic was, What is your favorite slogan?  Too insecure to say None of the Above, I’d choose something innocuous like, How Important Is It? (which is nowhere near as innocuous as it sounds).   Once or twice I asked, Let go and let God do what?  Keep Coming Back, people said.   Shit.  I began to hear pragmatic suggestions like, Keep Your Mouth Shut and Mind Your Own Business.  Someone told me that if I heard something that didn’t work for me, I should Take What I Like and Leave the Rest.  What a concept.

Over the years, a funny thing happened.  What I Liked came to embrace more and more of what I was hearing in meetings.  One Day at a Time is a reminder to be mindful, while How Important is It? suggests keeping perspective.  When I was tempted to attack a situation without thinking it through, I learned, Don’t Just Do Something … Sit There and when a situation seemed unbearable, I remembered that This Too Shall Pass.  I discovered that I could build a practical, easy to remember philosophy for life out of bumper stickers.  Imagine that.   Still, I sometimes had to put my own spin on things.  I rarely say let Go and Let God … I prefer Trust God But Tie Your Camel to a Tree as a reminder that we must do our part in any situation.   And to Keep and Open Mind I like to add But Not So Open Your Brains Fall Out because I can take things to extremes.

These days, if asked for a favorite slogan, I’ll consider Give It the Light Touch because life’s too short to be deadly serious about matters.  But I’ll choose this:  If you understand, things are just as they are.  If you don’t understand, things are just as they are.  If you think this sounds very Zen, you are quite perceptive … it is an ancient Zen proverb that reminds us to accept life as it is, regardless of whether we understand or not.  My resistance to spirituality in the first sixty years of my life was rooted in a need to understand how God worked in the world.  I can search for metaphors that make me more comfortable with God, but in the end, God is beyond me.  I choose to believe anyway.

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