Sunday Sundries: Guest Post: Uncomfortable Truth

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I have friends who are teachers, students, and fellows in Religion Circles. Religion, for many, is a dying subject. Like some of my friends, my Religious education went nowhere. I spent countless monies and years of my time studying a subject that would not produce a career in my chosen field.

My friend Steve, works in Manhattan, in the publishing field. He also is a student of Religion and studied Old World Languages and Religions of the far East and taught religion for a while, until he fell out of favor with those he worked beneath.

Steve has a blog I read daily. There is always something to learn about life.

Tonight I am posting his entry for Sunday: Uncomfortable Truth

Ugly. That’s not a word I use lightly. The phenomenon of racism is ugly. More than that, it’s insidious. I recently attended a community course on racism sponsored by the Central Jersey Community Coalition. Since our government won’t condemn racism our communities must. This five-hour course was an eye-opener for me. I had known that race was a social construct with no basis in biology or any kind of science. What I hadn’t realized is that race was invented as a means of maintaining “white” power. And it was done so deliberately. The course leaders outlined the history of the modern concept of race and showed how it is primarily an American phenomenon (not exclusively, but it was intentionally orchestrated here). The idea was to keep property in the hands of wealthy whites.

During the discussion many topics came to mind. The primary two, for me, were capitalism and the Bible. These strange bedfellows are far too comfortable with one another. Both can be made to participate in the racism narrative. Capitalism appeals to the basest and most vulgar aspects of being human. Greed and selfishness. Wanting more for me and less for you. As one participant put it, it’s a zero-sum game. Your loss is my gain. We support this system every time we buy into the myth that life is about consuming. Buying more. Contributing to the economy. That which is lost is mere humanity. This is the narrative our government has adopted. The election of one of the uber-wealthy has demonstrated that with a nuclear missile shot heard round the world.

And what of the Bible? As the story of the flood unfolds in the book of Genesis, Noah develops a drinking problem. Naked in his tent, his shame is seen by his son Ham. Hungover the next morning, the only righteous man alive curses his son’s progeny. Then after the tower of Babel story, those cursed races, in biblical geography, end up in Africa. Christian preachers long used this myth as the justification of slavery. Races, after all, were decreed by God at that very tower. The tower shows us for who we truly are. Human hubris led to divine folly. And now we have a nation of liberty built on the basic premise of inequality. Racism is beyond ugly. It’s evil. The Bible may be complicit, but we need to take over the narrative. Race does not exist. Scientifically there is no such thing. Although race doesn’t exist, racism most assuredly does. Like all evils we must bring it to the light to make it disappear.

The Most Grown Up thing She’s ever done

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Tonight, St. Matthias Celebrated 70 years. That’s 70 years of meetings in the same location, beginning in 1947. Montreal Sobriety began back in 1945, with Dave B.

He was a sole alcoholic back in the day. And from one member we moved to a small group that ballooned to twenty members here in Montreal. There were, at that time, only three meetings on the English side.

St. Matthias was born from those three meetings. If you extrapolate over the decades, at a head count of thirty souls sitting in a room, we’ve held over 4,000 meetings, and helped countless men and women over the years. Thousands of people.

At the end of the meeting we held a Sobriety Countdown. All totaled together, we had over 3,145 years of sobriety, and 14 days. With one young man, counting his first day sober.

I know many of our young people. I’ve seen them come in, and not be sure that they are really alcoholic. Because how many young people come in and stay on the first pass ?

Not many.

But those who do make it past their first meeting and stay, the odds are very good that they will stay. It also helps, if, in tonight’s speaker, you have women who stand up and welcome you, and sit with you, and align themselves with you, as our speaker had tonight.

I know this young woman, albeit, from afar. I’ve seen her work. I’ve seen her in service, and I see her in meetings. And every time she speaks, where ever that is, I listen, very intently.

Tonight, my young lady friend became a woman.

Tonight, in listening to her speak, I told her that tonight, was the most grown up thing she has ever done in her life.

The young woman she was when she came in, has been in flux for a while now. I noticed she was in flux, I watched the transformation happen. But I did not know the finer points of the why ? Tonight, I know the why.

I’ve never heard a young woman get up and share the pain I heard tonight. I’ve never heard someone get up and own all of her story like that.

Because when she came in, she hated herself and all she wanted was to die.

It was that still, small, disconnected voice, the day she began this journey that said to her, “You know, you really don’t want to die …!”

She heard the voice, and she took action.

It was the best choice she ever made, because it brought her to tonight.

The best part of her share … “I am so grateful that today, I love myself.”

People talk about loving themselves in a disconnected way. We hear about learning to love ourselves. I believe that only through the furnace of pain and transformation, can we even begin to know what loving ourselves feels like from deep within.

I told her that what I heard from her tonight, was the most grown up thing that she has ever done in her life. That if ONE woman heard the words that were spoken, and if ONE woman walked out of tonight’s meeting and does something for herself, and if ONE woman was touched by what she heard tonight, then our speakers job was complete.

I could not have been any prouder of my young lady friend tonight.

And I told her so.

That might have changed her life. You never know.

People might not want to hear anything I have to say in general, but I am a good judge of character, and I’ve got some time, so take it for what it is.

All it takes is one sentence.

And I choose my sentences wisely, when they matter.

Sunday Sundries: Ottawa Trip

 

It was very moving to see the First People’s of Canada led the parade ahead of our Prime Minster and his guests. The Indigenous community has first place of honor in our Pride Parades this year, both here in Montreal and in Ottawa today.

 

I am home from a Whirl Wind trip to Ottawa to visit my best friend.

I took an early bus out, because I arrived at the station earlier than I had anticipated, so they let me on an early bus.

Pictured above … The Pride Parade in Ottawa this afternoon. The Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fellow Parliamentarians, and The Honorable Kathryn Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, led today’s parade through the streets of the Gay Village in Ottawa.

You can see the Private Security AND the POLICE. And I have to say there was one particularly HUMPY officer on a bike … WOOF !!

As the Prime Minister marched past us, a counter demonstration was coming back at us from the wrong direction, chanting “NO COPS in the PRIDE PARADE …” As many Officers on their bikes were riding with them in the opposite direction.

There were TWO Counter COP protest groups in today’s parade.

If I had the chance, several of them would have had broken limbs, had the cops not been escorting them, against the tide.

Nuff said about those asshole …

Unlike last year, the sun was out and we got quite burned standing on the sidewalk on the sunny side of the street. We took up several positions as the parade came past us.

It was much bigger, and many more groups marched this year. Last year it pissed down rain all afternoon.

All of the Political Parties had groups marching. The Canadian Military Services also marched, and one of their buses was in the parade itself. And we thought this funny that the Military Band that marched in the parade was playing … wait for it …

IT’S RAINING MEN ….

By the Weather Girls. My bestie said to me as they came past that they should have been playing “In the Navy” by the Village People. Both songs would have been appropriate.

We have some seriously good-looking men in uniform.

It was a good day, that ended in a Second Cup over coffee and conversation.

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Friday …

I arrived around 5 o’clock into Ottawa, and we had reservations to see Kontinuum.

Ontario is building a METRO system in Ottawa Proper. due to open next year.

There are two lines, A North – South Branch and an East West Branch running through downtown Ottawa, Several Stations will be servicing Parliament Hill, in the area, almost adjacent to The Hill.

Kontinuum, is a Multi Sensory, Light, Video and Sound show that was built to highlight the Metro System, under ground. The stations are not yet complete. So as we entered the System, we came in on One Side of the station, where we were greeted by a sensory overload light show that began above ground with a movie, sound and light show.

Over the next half hour we moved underground, into that station, as light, sound and video showcased the Metro System. On the Track platform, which hosted both sides of the station, like we have here, an inbound and an outbound track. Sound and light served both sides of the platform.

It was quite dynamic.

I have video of the tunnel, but this blog does not have video functions …

UGH .

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Saturday …

 

Saturday was a full plate kind of day. With my friends Parliament Hill Access, and an invitation from a Member of Parliament, we got in to see Parliament Hill, from the Inside. A beautiful day.

 

Parliament Hill is a beautiful building, with many different rooms. Every part of the building and every sculpture, column, room, carving and marble floor tile, has a specific meaning. Elements from ALL over Canada went into building the site. As Parliament Hill went up, and Canada grew into Confederation, and all the provinces and territories were at some point, all are represented in the building itself.

We saw the House of Commons, which is done in shades of green. Each seat in the room is party specific. The murals on the walls, and the wood carvings around the room as well, all have stories attached to them.

 

The Senate Chamber is Red. And also there as well, there are meanings carved in the wood, the murals in the hall, and as well, in both committee meeting rooms, that are used during the week for consultations and deliberations of House Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Parliament Hill, we Toured the Canadian National War Museum.

The War museum is a HUGE building. And tells the story of the men who served Canada in all of the wars and conflicts, around the world, over time. I do not know, on my grandmothers side of the Canadian branch of family, if anyone in that branch, served in any military campaigns. I need to go look through my family tree. I do have one here at home.

The museum is beautiful and tragic. Sad and Sorrow filled. So many men lost their lives over the century. And the War Museum gives their stories, tells of their service, and honors their sacrifice to a grateful nation that is Canada.

At Parliament Hill, in the Memorial Hall, is listed every soul who lost his life serving our country. We saw the Peace Tower on my last trip.

Myself as well as my best friend, we are both immigrants to Canada.

Both of us Citizens of Canada.

One can get misty eyed while walking those hallowed halls of memory, and think of all those men, who took on the evil of war, many died, but also many came back. And Canada honors their service to our country.

It was an amazing experience. Last Summer when I went to Ottawa, we were both on the hill together, watching a light show on Parliament Hill, and as new citizens, together at the same time, ON the HILL, as they played Oh Canada … I wept.

That was the most important night of my Canadian Life.

I did not get a citizenship meetings, nor a hand shake, nor the anthem, when I got my papers in the mail, just a Welcome to Canada letter, from our Now Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, who was serving as Immigration Minister when I became a citizen.

As we exited the Museum, I said to my friend that, unlike many Canadians, we did not have any blood connection to anyone represented in that museum. But nonetheless, we were moved to tears in the halls, and we honored their memories, by sharing in this tour together.

We Honored all the men and women who served our Country.

Because War is not just a male oriented duty. Because we know that when a man went to war, his wife, girlfriend, family, and community did their fair share of service, IN service of the war and the men fighting over seas.

We all played a part in the success of the men who served, by doing what we could to serve the greater good, when it mattered. And in death, there are MANY memorials scattered all over Ottawa, for us to visit and REMEMBER …

Right across the street from the War Museum a monument to the Holocaust is going up. It will be another beautiful monument to the survivors and all of those who died in the worst genocide the world has ever seen.

The unspoken genocide that took place right here in our Country was the eradication of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. The Government, and we as citizens, are on the road to mending those very valuable relationships, and the people who survived that very hushed genocide of those who were here First. Which is why they are front and center of Pride Parades in Canada this year.

Every time I go to Ottawa, my visits are always educational oriented.

With every step in Ottawa you take, you walk on hallowed ground. Every stone in the ground, every building that is restored or maintained, every monument that goes up, every park you sit in, and every street you walk down, has a connection to the history of the men, women, and indigenous Peoples who inhabited this land, well before the white man came to this area of Ontario.

There are thousands of stories to learn, and to be heard. There are many, MANY lessons to be learned about the history of Canada and her people’s.

Ottawa is a city of Remembrance.

And we are making slow but serious strides to heal the rift that exists between its First People’s and what we took from them, and returning what is rightly theirs to begin with by honoring their stories and their people, from yesterday and today.

And tonight, I am a lot more grateful to the country I call home.

Because of the sacrifice of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this nation and the world at large from the evils and horrors of war.

We also must commend all the men and women and their service to build this wonderful city of Ottawa, and its myriad of museums, so that no story goes untold, nor forgotten.

We Remember …

PRIDE: We’ve Been Forgotten

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This is my life. This is my Pride. This is who I am.

Attending Pride last Summer in our nation’s Capitol, Ottawa, when all was said and done, I wondered why I even bothered to go in the first place.

I mean, Really !!! Black Lives Matter, Militant Black Lesbians, Feminist Preachers, sharing how white men have invaded their lives and made them worse, Trucks carrying Port-o-Potties, because Trans people cannot use their correct bathrooms … Every other marcher handing out condoms to the waiting crowds standing in the rain as they walked by.

NOT ONE MENTION of AIDS. NOT ONE MEMORIAL FLOAT. NOT ONE WORD.

It was like, we did not even register on the map. I did not register on the map either.

I stood there, dumbfounded at the stupidity and shallowness of the presentation rolling by me in the rain.

THIS, AIDS, IS my PRIDE.

A part of me that lives on today, when men like David Kirby and Peta went to their deaths, having no drugs, or even the possibility of survival.

These men are dead.

Hundreds of thousands of men, (and some children) are dead, because of how we were relegated to the edge of society. Ignored by governments, turned away by families and churches, turned away by friends, lovers and family.

If you want to know what I think of PRIDE, this is where we start. Before there were militant black lesbians, or Trans men and women, or bathroom issues to contend with, there was US. You are here, because WE were here, before you.

This is where PRIDE began. To get the world to notice US, dying all around you, because the world did not act in time, with what we really needed. And sent so many people to their deaths because of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and hatred.

I will not march in a Pride parade or even attend again, because, WE have been Forgotten. Times have changed, yes, I concede. It is written that

“Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.”

July – The Month that I revere with solemnity and honor. The month that I learned I was going to die, like all of my friends.

I survived.

And as long as I live, the memory of my brothers will never go unforgotten.

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The Story Behind the Photo that Changed the World’s Perception and AIDS

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David Kirby, near death, lies in bed with his family by his side in Ohio, 1990.

In November 1990, a gaunt, dying man appeared in the pages of LIFE magazine.

That man, David Kirby, had already made a name for himself as an HIV/AIDS activist in the 1980s, and was in the final stages of the disease in March 1990, when journalism student Therese Frare began photographing Kirby’s own battle with the virus.

The following month, Frare captured Kirby on his deathbed surrounded by his family. He died soon after it was taken, and his family’s grief came through the haunting black-and-white still frame.

The photo took on a life of its own after being published, and the story surrounding it is as moving as the image itself.

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David Kirby’s mother holds a picture of him from about ten years before his death, when he was a healthy young man.

David Kirby was born in 1957 and raised in a small town in Ohio. As a gay teenager in the 1970s, he found life in the Midwest difficult.

After finding out about his orientation, Kirby’s family reacted the way most did then: negatively. With his personal relationships strained and no obvious way forward for him, Kirby set off for the West Coast and settled into life in the (still partly underground) gay scene in Los Angeles. He fit in well there and soon became a gay activist.

In the 1970s and ’80s, homosexual behavior was still illegal in most states. Normal adult relationships for gays carried the risk of arrest and prosecution as sex offenders.

In California, in 1978, the so-called Briggs Initiative, for example, had sought to ban openly gay residents from working near children in a public school. Activists had been crucial in the initiative’s narrow defeat, and Kirby began attending rallies and protests to widen gay rights in the state and nationwide.

As activists tend to do, Kirby built up a network of contacts who would later help him raise awareness of the disease that was stalking his community.

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The 1970s were a time of increasing social and political consciousness for the gay community.

Unfortunately for David Kirby, and for millions of others, the Los Angeles gay scene was an epicenter of the burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic. The first scientific description of what we now call AIDS was published as a series of case studies of Los Angeles residents who were treated at the UCLA Medical Center.

Kirby got to town just as the infection was taking off, but before anybody knew what was going on.

It was typical of gay men in “the scene” to have multiple partners in quick succession, and protection was almost never used. Combined with its long incubation period and slow, enigmatic onset, the disease was well-positioned to spread from person to person with impunity.

Nobody knows when Kirby was infected, but by the early 1980s, clusters of unusual cancers and respiratory illnesses were cropping up among gay men in every major city in America.

Kirby was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, at the age of 29. Without effective treatments, or even a clear idea of how the virus was killing its victims, the diagnosis was a death sentence. It was known by then that the infected had from a few months to a couple of years after the onset of symptoms to live.

Kirby decided to spend the time he had left in AIDS activism. He also reached out to his family and asked to come home.

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David Kirby’s mother, Kay, administers medication through her son’s shunt.

AIDS activism was desperately needed at the time.

Around the time that David Kirby was diagnosed, an elementary school student named Ryan White was expelled from his classes and barred from school property after a blood transfusion left him HIV-positive. The general lack of knowledge about AIDS had induced something close to panic in the public, and parents were afraid Ryan might have spread the disease to his fellow students.

There was also a prevailing idea that AIDS was a “bad-person” disease, given that its principal victims by that point had been gay men, drug users, and prostitutes.

Perhaps as a result of this stigma, research funding had been shamefully deficient in the early stages of the epidemic, and activists of the time worked to both dispel the myths and fears around HIV and to encourage more funding for research, as well as to fight absurd “public health” measures such as expelling children from school and, in at least one case (presented in all seriousness in a New York Times editorial by William F. Buckley), tattooing a warning onto the buttocks of known AIDS patients.

At the first hospital where Kirby stayed, one of the nurses wouldn’t even let him hold a menu for fear of contagion. Instead, she called out meal selections from the doorway.

In this atmosphere of fear and borderline superstition, Kirby and other AIDS activists talked, lectured, wrote, and appeared on television to reach as many people as they could to demystify the illness and encourage empathy for the people suffering from it.

By 1989, Kirby’s condition had worsened to the point that his family could no longer care for him at home. He checked into the Pater Noster AIDS Hospice in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the caregivers there was an HIV-positive transsexual man who went by the name Peta. The two became close friends, with Peta often visiting Kirby even on off days.

Kirby’s condition worsened through the winter and spring of 1990. That April, Peta started bringing a friend, a graduate journalism student Therese Frare, to visit. With the permission of Kirby and his family, Frare began documenting Kirby’s ordeal with her camera.

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Peta leans over David Kirby, who wears a diaper in this photo.

From the beginning, David Kirby gave his enthusiastic consent to the photos. As an activist, he correctly believed that an accurate photographic record of his death would humanize the burgeoning AIDS crisis and help people who’d never seen the disease to empathize with patients. His only condition was that Frare not personally profit from the photos.

Over the month or so that she visited the hospice, Frare shot several rolls of film, covering David’s rapid decline, his family’s grief, and the tender care he got from Peta.

On the evening of the photo that would soon become iconic, Frare and Peta were visiting other patients when word reached them that Kirby’s condition was heading downhill fast. His family had gathered to keep watch over him, and the end was expected within hours if not minutes.

Peta rushed into the room, briefly greeted the family, and began speaking to Kirby and holding his hand. According to her own later account, Frare respectfully stayed outside of the room until she was called in, then she took up a discreet spot in the corner and didn’t speak. She snapped a few photos, staying out of everybody’s way, until Kirby stopped breathing.

The last photo captured Kirby staring off into space as his father groans in anguish and his mother and sister cling to each other nearby.

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Frare submitted the photos to LIFE, which ran the story in its November 1990 issue. It also won second place in that year’s World Press Photo competition for General News.

The image spread from national fame to international recognition in every country where AIDS had already taken a toll. In its 20th anniversary retrospective on the photo, TIME estimated that more than 1 billion people have seen David Kirby’s last photo.

The exposure was not all positive, however. Right away, Catholic groups, in a rare foray into functional aesthetics, complained about the composition of the photograph. The way Kirby’s father cradles his head, they argued, is blasphemously close to a very common motif in European Christian art called the Pieta, in which the grieving Virgin Mary cradles her dead son Jesus after his descent from the cross.

Other criticism came from gay and HIV/AIDS activist circles when a colorized version of the picture was used in Benetton’s 1992 “United Colors of Benetton” campaign. As it happened, the family had given the company permission to use the photo as a way of spreading the image to more people than would otherwise have seen it.

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Peta lies in bed in the Pater Noster Hospice, where he had spent countless hours as a volunteer caregiver.

After David Kirby’s death, many of the people involved with the photo stayed in touch. Frare eventually moved to Seattle and found work as a freelance journalist. Peta, the half-Sioux, half-white, transgendered caretaker who had brought Frare into the hospice, continued working with dying AIDS patients until his own condition worsened in 1991.

Frare took several photos of Peta during his decline, and when he could no longer look after himself, the Kirby family took care of Peta — out of gratitude and love for how he had cared for their son. Peta died of AIDS-related illness in 1992.

Friday: Stories …

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We sat a small group tonight, which is very unusual. Not sure where everybody was tonight, they just weren’t at the meeting. The topic was Spiritual Alibi … And touched on several points, firstly, our inventories, self-aggrandizement, approval, power, fame and applause.

A small group, usually leads to serious discussion, because there is more time to talk about ourselves. Sometimes the discussion is simple, sometimes it is deep and tragic, and other times, we just need to hear ourselves talk, just to know we made the right decision by coming to a meeting and showing up.

If we don’t talk, how do we know we are moving forwards ? A good portion of getting sober is action. Part of that action is coming to meetings. I take it one step further, where in every meeting I go to, I want to learn something about my friends, and something about myself.

The bulk of How I Got Here, is based on watching other people do what they have done over the years, and learning from THEIR mistakes. Not that I don’t make mistakes, I do. I am no perfect angel, and I surely don’t have all the answers. But I know what I know, and my bank is full of useful information that maintains my “Base of Operation.”

In reading the passage tonight, the word APPROVAL appears.

And right away, I latched onto the word, because it stirs a very hard lesson, that I learned from Todd, the first time I got sober.

I look back at all my years, and I can tell you that the two best years of my life, were spent in service to my caregiver Todd. He got in the game with me because he thought it was the right thing to do at the time. I had nobody else to turn to. He made a conscious choice to be part of my life, in the way that he did.

Every moment was used in learning how to survive.

The difference between myself, and you a normal human being is that I have faced my own death, I almost lost my life in the process, and I lived. I have the greatest lesson under my belt. The lesson of knowing how to die, and learning what really matters.

Normal humans don’t get this lesson, until they themselves get sick, or face their own deaths, or in the end, they die. We go about our life, doing what we are going to do, for better or worse. We don’t usually concern ourselves with worrying about death, until death Call Our Name…

Some know, for sure, that they Do Not have another Recovery within them. And they live with that conscious fear of going back out, and that keeps them “On the Beam.” Living with that kind of fear can be counter productive, because if we live in fear, we are not living in peace. We are expending energy where it could be better used elsewhere.

I’ve had my slip experience. I know what it feels like to be In and be Out. I know what took me out, and I know how hard I had to fight to get it back again. I know, implicitly, that if I ever picked up again, death is certain. I don’t live in fear that I don’t have another recovery within me.

I know what I have to do, on a daily basis. And when I don’t, I call a friend, I have a conversation and I do service, until I turn blue.

I’m in a state of not really knowing what I am supposed to be doing. Because I know now that God had “cleaned my clock” by showing me emotion in myself. And in that action, I learned just what my friends think of me. And in the same action, every situation where I was expending energy uselessly, those situations, meetings, and people were removed from me.

That is what I know right now.

I also know that many of my friends suffer from a sickness … “TELEPHONE-APHOBIA.”

The fear of using the phone.

That is a litmus test for people who think they want to know me. I give them my phone number and I ask them to call me. For the most part, my phone is quiet. I only hear from those men who I work with right now, or my best friend.

The Lesson of Approval …

Every night, at the bar, had its meaning. Every night, I sat with Todd, before shift.

I cried. I sobbed. I begged.

He would talk, and I would listen.

Then I would get my nightly work inventory. Along those two years, while I was going to meetings, and not really getting anything useful from them, what I WAS getting, was credible, true, sober lessons, from someone who was not IN the program, but his partner was.

In the beginning, while I was waiting to die, I would work my ass off. If only for one thing:

Approval.

For a long time, I would attack my nightly list. And every time I ticked something off that list, I would go back to Todd for a pat on the back. I needed him to say that I had done a good job. Those words were gold to me.

A while later, he figured out that I had a problem. I thought that if I was doing what I was told, and I was surviving the best way I knew how, that I needed to be told so.

At one point, Todd would have my friend Puddles, give me my nightly list. He would purposely avoid me. He would not talk to me, nor allow me to approach him while I was on shift. On any regular night, I could look across a crowded room, and catch his eye, from all the way across the bar. He had the eyes of Jesus. Blue Grey.

I could not seem to catch his eye either.

At the end of shift, I would get paid out and wait for him to speak to me. Which he did not. So I would go home, bent …

Twelve days went by, with him purposely ignoring me. I needed to learn the lesson about approval. I was a mess the night he finally said something to me, and I sobbed in his arms.

He took me by my chin and said the following …

“One day, you might have a job, where you are working for a son of a bitch who will take advantage of you and disrespect you. And you might have a job, where your efforts will go unnoticed. So you need to always do the right thing FIRST, and not DEPEND on anyone to give you something you can give yourself.”

A few weeks later, a coup would take place in the bar, and Todd and his partner were fired, and escorted out of the bar. And in that moment, those words became true.

I would not last very long, under the regime change. I would find a new job, in a new city, and in the end, I would be alone.

Every memory I have with Todd is wrapped in a particular lesson, that I got to learn in the furnace of Death, Faith, and Spirituality. I have certain gifts, that none of you will ever get, until your appointed time arises.

It’s not about my ego. It’s the plain truth. Many of my friends don’t see it that way, and believe me to be arrogant and prideful. Keeping ones self in check is the job of spiritual practice. If I don’t practice spiritual work, on a daily basis, all my character defects will rise and haunt me.

Recently, as it has gone, every time I hear someone SPEAK and tell their story, I come home, and I listen to myself, tell me my story, again and again. But as I listen to myself talk, I work in what I heard that night from whomever spoke and see where, what I heard can be useful to me.

One day, someone is going to ask me to Speak again. And those nights are far and few between. I’m not on the Speaker Circuit. Like many old timers are. Nor do I want to be on any circuit. I just go to meetings as I always do.

At some point, someone is going to hear something I say, and want to know more, and a teaching moment will appear. That hasn’t happened in a while.

The Spirituality of Imperfection is a game changing book. It will turn your sober journey upside down and make you a better human being all the way round.

I may not be always spiritually fit, which I why I have to practice, every day.

We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection…

I’m not yet perfect.

I know that those people I used to know, saw me in my imperfect state, and that sent them running for the hills screaming …

Better off alone and happy, than need to be approved by everyone in a meting.

I can’t get anyone sober. We are imperfect beings, but it is something when imperfect humans accept us, imperfectly, as we are, without judgment.

Sadly, Some people are incapable of this.

Sunday Sundries – How Free Do You Want to Be ?

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Hello peoples, how the hell are you ? It’s been a while. I’ve spent the better part of these many days unpacking and thinking about life in general.

I’ve been sitting in a place of gratitude and respect and pride that I have for where I am, how I got here, and just what it means to really savor, Citizenship. My experience sitting on Parliament Hill with my best friend, listening to Oh Canada being sung, meant a great deal to me personally and spiritually.

I’ve been trying to understand what it meant to attend a Pride Event, after so many years, NOT attending pride at all. Pride twenty five years ago, is not Pride in 2016. Everything changes. The mission of Pride, every year, is a gathering of people, who want to be seen, want to be heard, want to be respected and want to be legitimized.

I expected to see, people like me. Men and Women from my time period, who came, survived, and are still alive to celebrate life. That did not happen. I did not see many men from my specific range of experience. I did not see any mention of People living with HIV, however, we collected package after package of specially wrapped condoms.

What I did see is many young people. Boys, Girls, Gays, Lesbians, Trans, Bisexuals. What struck us odd was the militant lesbians, especially one very outspoken black militant lesbian at the Dyke March Protest.

The trans bathroom issue was front and center. The black-white divide is alive and well. The pushing out of privileged white men, opting of course for the more politically correct minority groups, within the LGBT community.

What I think they lack in realization is that the LGBT community began as a minority group, marching for acceptance, inclusion and respect. And we have passed through those times as the LGBT community grew in number and visibility over the last two decades.

AIDS has come and gone. And is not the hot button issue it was just a mere two decades ago. What do these young people know of AIDS ? Not One Idea. Most of the kids we saw at Pride in Ottawa are young enough to have been born in recent years, never having to see or participate in the real fight for life.

So while in Ottawa, the Big Wide LGBT community is right back where it started for this new age. Pockets and small communities of young people marching for their own causes, which are today’s Hot Button Issues.

The politics and issues of the past, are no more. Our community has evolved, as the binary male/female, gay/straight, simple issues of sexuality has blossomed into what we see today and the FLUIDITY of Sexual orientation. This notion of Fluidity has broadened the spectrum of people and personalities. We’ve moved from a few voices of change, to an entire spectrum of voices fighting to be heard and legitimized.

Very complicated. And I am not the person to illuminate these topics. But a few of my friends, today, are much more well versed on this discussion. I cannot speak for what I don’t understand or fully comprehend the minutiae of the sexes.

Suffice to say, Pride … There is a difference.

How free Do You Want To Be ?

It has been a few weeks, working a new round of steps with my new sponsor. I, along, with one of my lady friends, sit on Sunday evenings before the meeting, and we do step work together.

The last few months have been trans formative. I know now, how free I want to be. Because I understand, with certain hindsight and perspective now, where I want to go because I am willing now to go to any length for spiritual freedom.

When you have new eyes on the book, and The Work, after so many years, reading and reading and re-reading, over and over again, one of my friends, tonight, said that this round of steps is teaching us to be efficient in learning How It Works, to be able to Give it Away to our sponsees.

Within our group of intrepid steppers, we all agree, in one way or another, that we are just tired of ourselves, and the things we cling to, not because we are blind to them, but because we have been made aware of just how insidious alcoholism is, and what it does to us emotionally, mentally, bodily and spiritually.

Today, I am prepared to walk away from the area of my life that has been fruitless for the whole of my life. Rafa and I spent weeks and months talking together about life, family and my book manuscript that is sitting on my dining room table right now.

I get it. We are all human. And the whole journey through my forties has been a journey of wisdom and understanding. I know, where I come from, and what makes people tick. I know the roles we all played in making this life what it became.

I am the only one, who is clean and sober today.

I can’t save anyone.

I am not Jesus Christ.

In a sort of way, I feel an amount of guilt for leaving people in a bad situation, when I decided to leave and not look back. I am guilty of hoping and denying God’s truth from reality. I know, that for the whole of my life, God has been with me, and has given me what I needed, when I needed it, in certain truth order.

But I was holding on to my will, in this one area, denying God’s will and hoping for my own will to manifest. It is time to let it go. Turn my will over to God in ALL areas of life, and not just some.

You cannot be ” Just a little Pregnant …”

So that is a thing.

Our young people are back from their summer vacations and jobs. And in the coming days, we will be sorting out meetings, jobs and money. It’s time to hand over responsibility to someone else for a while.

Fall is on its way. Cooler night temps are coming little by slowly.

THERE ARE ONLY 118 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS …