Only I can change my life ~ no one can do it for me.
Life is about change. Without change, without variety, without some stress in Life, all will stultify and diminish. Without change there can be no growth, and without growth and development all things will wither away and die.
I will not meddle with that which I cannot mend. ~ Thomas Fuller
But, as the Serenity prayer tells us, there are some things that we cannot change, some things that have to be accepted, and the wise learn to know the difference. I can think of a myriad of people, places, and things I cannot change. In reality no one can change another person, unless that other absolutely wants to change. This is why it is mostly pointless trying to talk to most addicts in an effort to make them change their ways. This is why many relationships, and many marriages, end in failure and recriminations. This is why there are wars.
A while ago I resolved to stop trying to change others and instead decided to work on myself to become a better person. That is now my lifetime’s project, and it doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes I make progress, and sometimes I go backwards a couple of steps or more ~ it’s like a man walking into a gale, sometimes he wins and sometimes the storm wins. In the last few days I think the wind won more than I did. In the last few days I went with the wind and my negative emotions, and that meant I really staggered in the wrong direction. In other words I totally fucked-up, again. For me, going with the flow is usually the wrong choice.
Life will do it’s best to deceive you. You may get knocked down, but you must always get up again. The mark of a really great boxer is not that he never gets knocked down. A really great boxer can get knocked down, but he will always get up again. And that’s up to and including Mohammed Ali in his all prime and pomp.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’ ~ Thomas Edison
The English language is filled with wise sayings, allegories, parables, and proverbs. As you would expect a lot are by Churchill; ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often…’ Then from Scotland we have the allegory of Robert the Bruce and the spider, which gave us the saying; ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again…’ But we also have almost the converse of that saying…
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein.
The Goddess knows I have been there often enough ~ every time I took a drink I expected it to be different from the last time, and it never was. But, somehow I usually got away with it.
Back in my illustrious career in banking I once went into a meeting on Madison Avenue with no ideas and nothing but blank pieces of paper in my briefcase. I had got good and drunk in the Plaza the night before, so I both looked and felt far from my very my best. But I stood up in front of the board of the world’s biggest advertising agency and tried just one more time. I told them not what they wanted to hear, but what I wanted to make happen. It worked. The thing is I didn’t give up, and I didn’t try to change anything except myself.
After that almost debacle I resolved to make a big change by giving up banking for good. It was the wrong change ~ I should have given up booze for good. Back then I didn’t have enough serenity within me to even think about being sober for life.
Right now, today, all I try to do is be the best Jack Collier I can be, sober. That is difficult enough for anyone. I realise that life is difficult and painful. I know that the causes of my problems and pain are my own cravings, lusts, and the blaming others for my faults. I now know that I can’t change others and I can’t change what happens to me, but I can change what I do, and how I react to people places, and events.
I know that the warrior’s road to freedom from continual distress, pain, and suffering is through self-discipline in body, mind, spirit… and that’s a hard road to walk in honour, honesty, and truth. I try to always walk that road, and often I fail. But, at least I try, and perhaps not one in ten men even do that.
The world and the sky is ours if we want it enough.
True Serenity is knowing Peace amid the Storm.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
At this time of year it never really gets dark this far North ~ where I live is about 55 degrees North.
The snag is that for an insomniac what does one do at midnight?
Going down to the sea to pray seemed like a good idea.
Goddess, thank you for today.
Thank you for seeing me through the night.
Watch over those I care for.
Help me to keep them safe.
And, thank you for this good Earth.
I am 5,975 miles away
I pray for my love every day
words cannot convey what I need to say
yet she is often very busy
ballet of shared silence, dismal dismay
building love’s long rise from lonely decay
words and pictures by jack collier
Happiness a feeling of pleasure, contentment, or joy.
Who knows what it like is to be really happy? Recently? Really?
Everything that follows is based upon my own direct, personal, painful experiences.
I am not at all happy just now, but there’s a reason for my lack of pleasure, contentment and joy. A couple of weeks ago I suffered some skull trauma, and I’ve had a dull headache and nausea ever since. It is difficult to be truly happy if one is feeling unwell. Ask any guy who has influenza if he’s happy? Any woman will tell you the kind of answer he will give ~ it’s likely to include the word miserable.
Rule #1 for being happy. First be physically fit and well. If you are feeling miserable and depressed, get yourself out for a walk, have something healthy to eat, go to the gym, or if you are really unwell make an appointment with your doctor. Do not indulge in self-diagnosis. Take whatever medication you are prescribed.
Have you ever seen a truly happy alcoholic? Or a joyful heroin addict? Or come to that, a contented compulsive gambler? Addicts may be happy for a while, but sooner rather than later they will hit rock bottom and be caught in a slough of misery and depression. That’s if they’re lucky. If an alcoholic or drug addict is unlucky they’ll just be dead.
Rule #2 for being happy. Quit whatever you’re addicted to. Again, you may want to visit your doctor. Withdrawal from substance abuse, (including alcohol), can be terrible, it can kill you, you may need medical support. Think about attending an appropriate 12-step group, or getting some professional counselling. In any event, you can’t follow rule #1 if you’re continually as drunk as a skunk.
Some people, in my experience men especially, become obsessed with their partner and / or the object of their romantic or sexual fantasy. This is a short route to total misery. Perhaps she will not love you, or return your affections, or when you get to know her she may disappoint you, she may turn out to be a carnal slut, or she may be a real ‘bunny boiler’.
Rule #3 for being happy. Never put your happiness in the hands of another. Other people will not always do as you wish. They may not be nice to you. They may not want to spend time with you, or have sex with you. They may ignore you, or get a restraining order. You may spend your life wishing for things which are never going to happen because the object of your desires does not want what you want.
Some people are plagued by guilt. This may be a rational thing. You may have done something utterly terrible, bad enough to carry the scars on your soul. It may be irrational guilt. Some feel guilty for no good reason whatsoever. At most they should be embarrassed for a while. Yet some people are addicted to guilt, don’t want to be free of it at all. Guilt is a black and corrosive thing.
Rule #4 for being happy. Learn to forgive yourself. Whatever you did is in the past, it’s done and gone. So you weren’t always there for your drug addict child, and they died of an overdose. That was bad but the best you can do is learn from the tragic experience. Nobody is completely in control of events, not even you. Accept yourself, unconditionally. Forgive whatever mistakes you believe you made and move on.
Then there are the angry, aggressive and hostile people. There is a savage pleasure in giving free rein to insane anger for a while ~ trust me I know all about that one. Yet there are some people who are constantly angry, always aggressive, usually immoral, often sinister and vicious. These people should either receive anger management counselling or be taken out and shot. If you are often angry you will also have diabolical depression under the anger. You are not truly happy, sooner or later you will be physically and psychologically ill.
Rule #5 for being happy. Learn how to control and diminish your anger. You make yourself angry. Nobody else can really make you feel anything. If you are angry it’s all down to you. You do not make rules for everyone else to follow. If you are an alcoholic or addict then you are probably often angry, so first quit your addiction. Learn to accept life for what it is and stop trying to make everyone else jump when you bark.
These rules cannot be applied by everyone in every situation. Some of us are genuinely, deeply, obscenely unhappy. Some of us may be suffering from clinical depression. This is not an easy trap to get out of. May I suggest that the first thing to do is to gain some spirituality and genuine acceptance of your situation. There is a well-known prayer;
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Don’t worry, don’t doubt, be happy.
The only thing you can change is yourself.
The Serenity Prayer
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And, the wisdom to know the difference
(Add a Deity or Higher Power of your choice at the beginning of the prayer if you wish.)
After twenty years of struggle I have made a little sense of this simple prayer. I know I cannot change another person, nor do I have the right to try. I cannot change the world. What I need is the courage to change myself. I am the only thing in this cosmos I can truly change. That is immensely difficult to accept, and even more difficult to make meaningful progress in. All a good guy can do is try.
The only thing you can change is you
Everything else you try to change
Is either impossible, meaningless, or strange
The good thing is that when you change you
The world and everything in it changes too
words and picture by jack collier