Day 20: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Hitting the Wall & Finding Love


I started today by reading a selection from Rami Shapiro’s book, Recovery: the Sacred Art. This is one of my favorite books for spiritual practice because it captures a lot of what I’ve found to be true in a very simple way.

I also appreciate the gentle humor Rami uses. Addiction recovery and spiritual ideas can get really intense and serious and the humor in this book makes it easier to enter my day. Sometimes after an intense reading I feel like I’m emerging from a cave making it harder to step into the stream of everyday life.

Today I was reading about how events that feel like rude awakenings have been the most direct paths to getting what I wanted.

Hitting the Wall

Recovery: the Sacred Art is about recovering from addiction and Rami uses the 12-Steps (as in Alcoholics Anonymous) as his framework.

A lot of people have strong, negative responses to AA. The negativity seems to come down to people’s belief that AA is about calling yourself a “helpless addict.” It sounds people go to AA to cry “I give up” and crumple into helpless piles of mush. I know this was my initial reaction.

There’s a subtle but critical distinction though about what it means to “give up.” What I learned was “giving up” really means “I can’t do this by myself.”

This kind of giving up isn’t about giving up on life. It’s actually about giving up the way you’re trying to live life. It’s really about finally understanding that you can’t do it all and that actually not trying to do it all and control it all is a really good thing.

In the 12-Step Program people say you’ve “hit bottom” when you finally get this idea.

I create the wall image because for me a lot of the time it feels more like I’ve been driving at 60 miles and hour and I hit a brick wall full on. When I “hit the wall” like that there’s the feeling that there’s no where else to go. I’ve hit an obstruction so big and definite that I can’t talk my way out of it; my usual excuses and solutions don’t cut it.

As the phrase implies, “hitting the wall” (or hitting bottom) isn’t a pleasant experience but for me, it was necessary because I will stubbornly hold onto my beliefs until they are literally knocked out of me.

What MY Wall Was This Time

I’ve hit the wall several times in my life. And you know what? I’m LUCKY! I never ever thought I’d say this but I really do feel grateful for the times this has happened because only then do things really shift and change.

This time my wall was my belief that if I just attained a type and level of success through my business, it would make me the person I wanted to be! I believed for years that if I had a business that was predictably earning six-figures and I was the one who “made it all happen.” I would finally be “right.” I would be a person who deserved the success and love that I had.

I looked at living consciously as something that was nice to have but optional.

In the last two years I’ve found my tendency to live anywhere but in the present increasingly painful. Maybe it’s because I’m older and more aware that when I live life unconsciously I’m missing out on so much. It’s like eating a bag of chips while watching TV. 30 minutes later the bag is empty; the chips are gone and I don’t remember actually tasting the chips, eating them or even what happened in the show I was watching.

I guess when I became aware of how entire days were going by while i was on the Internet, that for me was my initial wake up call. Then, after I stopped Internet shopping, I began to notice how even though I wasn’t engaged in Internet shopping, I still did lots of things that kept me in an almost fugue state.

This for me has been the awareness that I hit bottom; I hit that brick wall. I ran out of excuses. I ran out of half measures (I can’t shop on the Internet but I can walk around with a running dialog in my head or I can spend 4 hours trying to create an image on Adobe Illustrator or play Mah Jong for 2 hours).

This can sound harsh and overly ascetic; like I have to live in a cave wearing a flour sack eating nothing but bread and water. That’s not what I mean. It just means I can’t bullshit myself anymore. It means I’m committed.

The Love Thing

A phrase I read today that I really like is: “God is in the present.” That’s why I added the open door that leads to love.

Because what happens when I hit the wall is I discover there’s a door in a wall that I forgot was there.

The door is access to God’s love.

Again this can sound pretty intense. It can also sound trite

In my experience, it’s a reminder that when I’m unconscious, I miss so much. What I miss can be as simple as not taking a moment to notice my cat sitting next to me and purring. It can be a great idea or a great way of expressing that idea. Twenty years ago, I met Michael and I don’t believe I would have noticed him much less fallen in love and married him if I’d been off in my little world of judgments and worries.

I don’t know what’s next. It doesn’t matter really. But this time I’m paying attention so I don’t rush past.

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