Sunday, January 01, 2012

A new mindset

Shortly after I moved to Odessa, Texas in 2009, the sports editor at the paper recommended a Thai restaurant as a good eating place. As it turns out, it was next door to my apartment complex there.

Well, I never went there. And, my last night in Odessa, as I walked around the complex, I was glad.

And, there's a story behind that.

More than a decade ago, in southeastern New Mexico, my office manager was an interesting, and generally good-at-heart person. Her religious/philosophical/psychological beliefs were a mix of Joyce Meyer's riff on the success gospel and a vaguely Christian/New Age mashup of "things are meant to happen."

She wanted out of the city, and definitely to a better position. And she was smart enough.

That said, she sometimes said words to the effect of, "I probably haven't gotten out of here because I haven't done X."

Well, for various reasons, those words stuck in my mind after I was fired at that newspaper and moved on to a new newspaper job, new city. Those reasons included, among others, some major personal changes that led me to becoming acquainted with a 12-step group, attempting some sort of relationship with this woman and other things, at a time when my mind was in turmoil. I thought, at times, maybe I haven't left here yet because I haven't "done X."

Well, I eventually got moved to metropolitan Dallas, where there are a million X-es to do. After my newspaper in our suburban chain closed, I was trying to get out of my rural East Texas newspaper job after that as soon as possible. But, I didn't have that mindset, nor did I even think about it.

Nor did I after I got back to Dallas. Then, the entire chain closed.

And, I eventually wound up in Bush-ville.

And, as I walked past that Thai restaurant, I didn't think about not having gone there. I did think about how that old "thing must happen for a reason" and related mindset was pretty well purged.

I say this not idly, but as a serious issue. First, the 12-step culture can get a strong grip on the psyches of many a person early in sobriety. I tried giving a New Age/Unity-type Christianity believe system a whirl for about two full years, in large part due to that. I eventually went back to my previous secular self, but, not every tendril of the Step-world had been eradicated.

And now? "Eradicated" isn't the right word. Rather, such thoughts have, like Jesus' seed sown on rocks, eventually run out of nourishment. New and different, but still open-minded, thought has been nourished instead, or so I hope.

And, that's my New Year's resolution for myself and wish for you readers: A new mindset.

Skeptical about "received wisdom" in the best way, skeptical about myself in the best way, and open to new growth in the best way.

Happy New Year.

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