Monday, October 29, 2007

The Secret to Living

I took my morning walk and as usual I had a discussion with God. I talked and he listened, then I tried to listen and he spoke to me in his language. Sometimes I understand, other times I remain as confused as always. My life has always been one of trying to understand and come to terms with the entire process of living. Early on I did not have good coping skills, recovery from alcoholism has given me some good tools but it has not removed the confusion that exists some of the time.

This morning I recalled that it was in February of 1967 that I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. At the time companies were coming on campus in the droves interviewing and recruiting new employees, business had fallen in love with college graduates. I interviewed with every organization that came to campus that fit my general knowledge. I was not an accountant nor trained in a specific profession therefore my opportunity to interview was pretty wide open.

I interviewed with Goodyear Tire and was invited to Dayton, OH to interview at the plant seeking prospective supervisors. During the day I had an opportunity to sit and talk with the plant manager. Forty-one years later I still recall part of our conversation. The PM asked me if I had my choice of one thing in life what would it be? I remember being deeply troubled by the fact that I did not have an answer, seemed to me having weathered the storms of college I should be prepared for such a question. I have since found out that this is a deeply troubling question, simple in the asking, profound in the answering.

After wading through ideas such as health, wealth, success, good marriage and other ideas that come to mind I was stumped. If I said health is all important the Plant Manager simply had to ask, "haven't you ever seen someone with severe health problems who seemed happy?" Obviously I had, one of the high school students I knew came down with polio and was confined to and iron lung yet showed a positive outlook. I know a man with heart problems and he was going about life as though he hadn't a care in the world. Every idea I came up with the Plant Manager could defeat with a simple question, haven't you seen someone with that trouble yet they seemed to overcome the problem? Finally the Plant Manager said, what about Peace of Mind?

It has taken me a lot of years to ponder this statement. I've had to go through severe work stress, a failed marriage, alcoholism, major illness, minor illness and a lot of psychological pain to understand this statement. The understanding has not come all of a sudden. Understanding the importance of Peace of Mind has grown like a plant. I've had good times of warmth, love and nourishment, and I've had times I felt all alone, in pain and afraid. The interesting thing is when I've felt all alone, in pain and afraid were times of emotional or psychological imaginings. The physical pain I've felt I've always felt there would be health after recovery. The emotional pain is much more frightening.

I do not think persons who achieve Peace of Mind are always up, positive, and feeling good about life. Situations arise that trouble us, but I now feel that things will be OK, that this shall pass and somehow life will go on. I realize that someday life will go on but I will not be a part of it, and that is OK too. The fact is acceptance is a major part of Peace of Mind.

Acceptance however does not mean giving up. Acceptance does not mean that we should not try. Usually what breeds nonacceptance is we are not getting our way, what we want. I have learned through my alcoholism that I can only account for and control myself, others and situations involving others are outside of my control. That does not mean I should insulate myself from others to enjoy what I want, but it does mean that I can accept others and love them even though I may not agree with their behavior, values, or actions. Acceptance does not mean I am a victim, being a victim is unacceptable. Acceptance means doing the best you can, giving others space and try to adopt Peace of Mind as the reward for acceptance.

This is way too long already. I'll quit here for now.

Posted by yoopertom at 8:05 AM


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