Thursday, January 8, 2015

Someone posted on one of the widows' pages on Facebook that I belong to that she felt today that her life was a test for which she had not studied. I hit "Like" and then immediately un-Liked it, for I realized that I did not feel that way at all. Which kind of surprised me.

I've been thinking about her all day, but now I can't find the post to respond to it. What I have to say is probably a bit long for a Facebook post anyway, so.

I realized that I've been studying for this since I got sober some 28 years ago, give or take. The purpose of AA is, after all, to fit us to live life on life's terms, is it not? In one of my favorite stories in the Big Book, "Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict" it says that ". . . acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment." And well over 10,000 recitations of the Serenity Prayer will go a long way to teaching you acceptance.

Plus, I've been practicing Zen sitting meditation for years. Studying Buddhism and meditating has helped me develop a degree of non-attachment. Buddhism teaches a Nine-Point Meditation (Buddhists, like widows, seem to like to count things) that says we are all going to die. We likely will not know when or how. And when it happens, our friends and family can't help us, our things and money can't help us, our own bodies can't help us. The only thing that can prepare us is meditation.

Have these things helped? I believe so. I am better than I used to be about not clinging to things, being afraid, wishing things were different (nay, demanding that things be different!), bargaining, lashing out when things do not suit me. I think I added to my own suffering in these ways last summer and fall far less than I might have 30 years ago, or even five years ago.

It is possible to look at life as a test, although that is not a point of view that I recommend. But if it is, then Mr. Simply's death was the mid-term. I'll pass my finals if I can face my own death with the same kind of grace, equanimity, courage and generosity as he did.


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