Looking Back

looking-back“Don’t Look Back, You’re Not Going That Way” the sign said.

Technically, it’s true. If you want to forward, you need to look that way, so you watch your step and what’s further in front of you.

It wasn’t the sign on a road though. It was not on the runway either. The sign printed on paper was taped to the wall at a mental hospital unit.

It got me thinking, obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Now, what was it about that sign, or rather its message, that got me thinking? As an Overthinker (which I certainly am, I wish that was an official medical term, because maybe there would be meds that slow and calm you down without causing any unwanted retardation), I went into the Think Forest. The path I walked was something different than whoever wrote put that sign up, or whoever put together all those similar posts on the Net which I found looking for a suitable image for this post to be published with.

What I thought of was the concept of history.

How do we move forward without knowing what caused us to get here in the first place? How do we make right without learning what was wrong? How do we avoid making mistakes if we haven’t learnt from the ones we made in the past? The only way to learn of those is to study them. Not under a microscope, of course; that will keep us in the rut for too long. Yet still, if we don’t try to understand what has caused us the ill, how will we ever be healthy again – tomorrow or next year?

As an Overthinker, I do sometimes wonder if I’m giving it too much thought, all this musing and wondering, which is why I get to be an Overthinker, as acknowledged by the others with whom I’d share these thoughts with. Yet, as soon as I think of that, I also realize something that doing so is in fact practising something useful. I think it’s called “reflection.” That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Another word for it is “hindsight.” And it seems to me that hindsight is something that much of our world lacks lately. Maybe even longer than “lately.”

We tend to repeat our mistakes over and over. We put millions of whatever currency into improving and perfecting means of communication on a global and neighborly level, but we fail to connect with people next to us. We keep making guns and get sad of how many people die. We then keep voting for people who keep smiling and hug children and that is never a good sign. We keep working jobs we can’t stand hoping it would get better. We keep using substances to keep us ok, but they never do, and we keep lying to ourselves that will change, we just need time to figure things out; that maybe somebody will come and help us with this, but then, we are still failing to connect with others, right?

Looking back is highly important. If I didn’t do so, I’d be drinking still, or drinking again. It’s no use to look back all the time, – either your neck will get sore, or you won’t see a car coming your way. But I think practicing reflecting is what still somehow keeping us alive. Is it worth to just keep alive, though? Maybe we could live better?

“The farther backwards you will look, the farther forward you will see.” W. Churchill


the image was copied from https://www.autismsociety-nc.org/a-look-back-at-a-remarkable-year/ thanks.

friendly?

0-I am asked that a lot in the spring/summer time: “Is your dog friendly?” Oftentimes, they are with their own dog and oftentimes their dog is not friendly, while mine is. So, the question is pointless, isn’t it?

But the reason I bring it up is we ask that of people’s dogs. We don’t interact unless dogs are indeed friendly and then we humans start talking. That question is like a foot in the door for people to learn of dogs they meet and possibly of other humans. How come we don’t ask people without dogs (or other pets) if they are friendly? OK, what I’m really trying to say is: why don’t we talk to people we don’t know?

I am not saying I talk to strangers and you don’t, nope, I do not talk to strangers often. So, this is not you vs me. It’s all of us. I know, the rule “don’t talk to strangers” is still being burnt into us since childhood, and it’s probably saved plenty of people’s lives, but at the same time…

At the same time, I go down the streets and I go to the shows, and I tell you what, there are hundreds of people I don’t know. It is kind of intimidating.

There are people, I assume, who throw themselves at others and start making friends. When I drank, that was easier for me to do. Now, although I am very grateful I don’t drink anymore, meeting people became less easy. Somehow it just doesn’t work well. I’d often talk to someone and realize we don’t have connections beyond two or three question/answers. Sometimes I feel like I am trying to pick a person up as if I wanted to date them. That feels weird. And the fact that I don’t hold a beer in my hand surprises people too.

It’s easier at work. Especially if teamed up: common goals, learning tricks, etc. But outside… I must say that most of my friends are from AA. Normal people (whatever the F that is) are just not that fun to talk to. People who I relate to through music are drinkers that I have a hard time standing next to. Fellow writers I know are younger than me and I can’t relate. What am I to do, I wonder?

You’re probably saying at this point, OK, stop whining already and go to a book store or music shop and start talking to people. But the fear… You know, when in the past I was looking for a relationship, I couldn’t pick up women in social settings. I either found them online or I met them face to face by the strange turn of events. Talking to people for the sake of mere communication and spending time is still hard all these years later. I think it is a fear of rejection from the dating times that were not successful. So, although I am not looking for any of that, just trying to find a common ground with people, fear of rejection is still vital. At least that is my experience.


the image was copied from https://www.theactivetimes.com/adventure/most-family-friendly-dog-breeds-own thank you

Listening

listen-imageThat evening I was contemplating if I should be going to the regular Monday night AA meeting or stay home with my partner and watch Mom. With Mom being a TV series about recovering alcoholics, it and the meeting kind of would be similar experiences: both social, conversational, and recovery aspects are present.

At the beginning I wouldn’t want to hear about it. TV show about addicts in recovery? Give me a break! How much more about recovery can you put out?! I was taking recovery and sobriety very seriously, so making an entertainment out of it didn’t sit right with me. But then my partner kept watching it and as I kept walking in and out of the room, I listened and watched. And the only thing that was getting me annoyed was the wall of constant background laughter. So that’s not so bad, I figured. One day I sat down and watched several episodes in the row. With some good laugh, I took something else out of it. There were good lessons. As one member at my AA meeting said, whoever wrote that show had a very good idea and a very good feel for recovery. I kept watching and liking it.

I always had a hard time with listening. I had so much on my mind, so many things unspoken, ideas, rants, that I felt like I needed to keep running my mouth. As the result, I missed out on a lot of things others have said. You’d guess I wasn’t a big fan of hearing “I’ve told you so” because I heard it too many times! I was told many things thousands of times when I was a kid, and although my parents meant well, I wanted to keep my ears covered for half a day. Thus, I missed on some wisdom through out the years.

It was recovery that taught me to listen. Among other things, it talks about prayer and meditation, and I was well familiar with the first one, so that was not an issue. Yet the second one… My recovery teacher told me in our first meeting together not to talk, but listen, to pay attention to what people say, what’s going on in the room, and then after several meetings share what I had. That was a good a lesson, because I learned some patience, some tact, some care for what to say and what to keep out of respect for others.

I went on listening farther through the days, and I realized there was more to life than constant talking, thinking, moving, and buying. In fact, I already knew it, but I was not giving it enough chance and enough time to become essential in my life. To watch without judging. To listen without interrupting, no matter how wise my input may be. It took me years to learn that sometimes listening is the best form of having a conversation.


the image was copied from https://adimpact.marketing/the-art-of-active-listening/ thanks.

Can’t Hear a Thing

cartoon7151Among things we as humans do, such as move, produce, preserve, and copulate, there is one more thing that we can do really well, and yet often fail at. It’s communicating.

Funny enough, in the world of today where communicating is recognized as vital, and with many different ways of communicating are invented, starting with education of languages and lectures on body language, and ending with phones, faxes, and whatever else they’ve invented lately that I’ve missed, we fail to communicate so much.

And that’s amazing, considering that we communicate all the time. When I write this, you read it, so I’ve communicated to you what I think and feel, and whether you agreed or disagreed with it, you can’t help but receive the information that I’ve shared. When you stand in front of me and talk, I hear you, but I also read your face expressing how you feel about what you’re saying, and I can also pay attention to your hands and the rest of your body reacting to what is being said or what you really thought. We share that information and most of us are inherently good at it.

And yet, so often we communicate and not pay attention to what was communicated to us. So often we listen, but we don’t hear. And so often we don’t even try to listen, just pass by, thinking something else is important. I am guilty of that. I can be so lost in thoughts that I am lost for words when they need to be said. Whether it is to say that I agree, or to say I’m sorry, or to provide an insight, often I just seem to think there are more important things to pay attention to right at that moment, and I ignore others. Or sometimes I am so lost in my thoughts that I miss or misinterpret what’s being said and make wrong judgements of it and come to negative and upsetting conclusions.

I read a story by Chuck Palaniuk, the author of Fight Club, where he wrote that you only get people’s attention when you disclose that you are diagnosed with or dying from some incurable disease. That’s when people start really paying attention to what you’re saying and how you are feeling.

It is at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that we really listen to others. We hear their stories, we think about how it relates to us, we express empathy with our nods and smiles, and after the meeting we talk, we discuss, and often go somewhere to talk about it some more. It is a system that works well for decades. It is not unique though, because people do that on a regular basis. People talk, people solve problems by discussing it. Only in AA meeting we discuss something that, if left unspoken, may literally destroy person’s life. That’s why we make sure we give a word to a newcomer, even if they don’t feel like talking in front of strangers.

The fact that this fellowship exists is a great thing. Over a decade ago it saved my life, just like for the last 80 years it was saving lives of thousands. But I can’t help but wonder if there could be less reasons for AA’s existence if we, the humans in general, could originally communicate better.

What if we could talk without being hurtful so that we wouldn’t cause people to look for a potentially dangerous outlet, such as drugs and alcohol? What if we didn’t produce so much alcohol that we needed to advertise it so rampantly? Remember, advertising is communication too, just as a movie you watched, or a book you read, only TV or Internet ads provide short ideas faster and with a shock value that successfully affects your mental faculties, promising you desires to be fulfilled. A powerful language to present ideas, and dangerous at that.

Could we advertise more ideas of hope and kindness than what to buy, where, for how much, and where it is less expensive and move convenient? Would we improve our lives with more products… or with more hope and understanding that we should care for others? So often I realize that it is not what we say to others, but how we say it that has more lasting effect, negative and positive.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if these questions can be answered. Thus, I focus on what’s at hand and stay sober and go to my AA home group meetings. Communication is power, and AA is based on communication. Without, it AA won’t work. We speak, we listen, we share, we read recovery books, and when we pray, it is communication to, isn’t it?

So now that we are afflicted, since the failures of communication already happened to plague us, let’s try to connect better. Maybe let’s do a better effort to listen to those that need to speak, with our loved ones (especially with them, because we may think we had a perfect connection, but we’re so often take it for granted), with our friends, with strangers, on a bus, on a street, in a group, even if we have no time, or desire to do so. Somebody’s life and sanity may depend on it.

I guess, I have to start with myself. Writing this is only the first step of dealing with it.


image copied from https://www.andertoons.com/speaking/cartoon/7151/know-youre-new-but-its-hear-ye-hear-ye-not-listen-up-people thanks.