Let’s start at the beginning…Why are there ’12 steps’ and not five, or 16 or 21? Is 12 the magic number for change, for behavior modification, or for turning things around in one’s life? I know people who have turned their lives around by following “the” 12 specific steps, and I’ve been told that it’s not a step-a-day, that there is no specific time frame that one completes them, that sometimes one single step can take weeks….I think it is clear to all of us, that change, any change, is seldom rapid. From what I have read about the formal twelve steps, it seems that the very first step is to recognize there is a problem, the word that is used in step 1 is ‘unmanageable,’ the recognition that one’s life is out of control. This is a good word, because to me it means that the problem can be fixed, unmanageable is not the same as irreparably broken, it is not the same as hopelessly damaged, it is not the same as impossible to remedy, it is simply, at this time, unmanageable. I think when we assess our lives or our current situations and we discover, or perhaps a better word would be ‘accept,’ that something has become out of balance or unmanageable, it’s important to reevaluate and regroup if we want things to change. So while I intend no disrespect whatsoever to the ‘real’ 12 steps, I have created something of an alternative, 21 steps, to take as needed if one feels one is in need of a reboot. I start today in the order that they’ve come to me, and not in any particular order of importance, but simply to ponder and take or leave as you may need.
I would like to think that step 1 here is pretty clear, BUT it is sometimes very hard to be positive or upbeat or to give off good vibes when you yourself are feeling negative or depressed, but I think it’s important to try to follow step 1, every day if possible. Find something to be happy for, or happy with or happy about every day…even if your life has reached total shite levels, and the ONLY thing that you can think of is, “at least it’s not raining,” that is at least a step in the right direction. For me it is crucial to be positive, as positive as possible, every day…I have had my share of awful in life and I have had my share of wonderful…and no matter what, there is ALWAYS something good to take and run with it…it can be as seemingly meaningless as “today I did not forget to take the shirts out of the dryer and so they are not a wrinkled mess,” or it can be as profoundly significant as “today I missed being sideswiped by a tractor-trailer on the bridge by a few seconds and holy cow I could have been dead if I were going just a little bit faster.” You see, it does not matter WHAT it is, only that you find something positive and then spread that around as best as you can in whatever way that you can. BE the Ebola or the Measles of “good ass-vibes.”
…If you smile at the snarky old lady behind you in the grocery store line (who recently had to bury her daughter who was killed in a mugging and was only 40), or if you smile at the frazzled mother with a cart full of frozen food and a poorly behaved toddler and a crying infant in a carrier seat (who thought for sure she would never get pregnant and now at 45 has two babies and is tired all the time), or if you smile at the old man who is mopping up the V-8 spill in aisle 11 (who worked his whole life as a bank manager but lost all his savings in a bad investment and now has to work full-time at 79 just to pay his property taxes), you might very well BE the ONLY positive thing that happens to them that day, you might be the only kindness or comfort they feel that week…you don’t know! We can’t know other people’s pain or pleasure, we don’t know other people’s trials or triumphs, we only know how we want to be in the universe, and if we want to be positive I assure you, it’s infectious, and the more you spread it the more it will grow, like a science project in a petri dish, it will spread from you to them and they will eventually spread it too. I promise, with practice, you will find it becomes easier, every time you do it and I promise that the more you do it the better you yourself will feel, and I also promise, much like the Wiccan’s spell, “Ever mind the rule of three, What ye send out comes back to thee.”