I remember the first time I heard someone say, "I don't know when it happened, where it happened, or even why. And I really don't care to know. It just is and life just gets better and better every day."
I was attending an AA meeting in Liberal, KS. in the fall of 2008 when I first heard that. At the time, I didn't think much of it. To me, they were just words. The gentleman who uttered these words had been sober for over five years. But then later, as I attended numerous meetings with this same individual present, he continued to repeat it. And then I heard more people echo the same thoughts over the next few months. I thought, this is weird. What's up with this?
Today I know. I can't tell you when, where, or why I began to "awaken" and frankly, I'm in total agreement with these people. I don't WANT to know. Everything continues to unfold just as these people were saying about their own lives. It happens every day and though I said I don't know when, where, or why, I'll tell you what my gut says. It started sometime in June 2009, shortly after I returned to Elkhart, KS. I had been gone exactly one year, back to prove to myself first, God, and those that I once dwelled with, who and what I truly was. I felt different, looked different, ACTED different. Then in July, I started to have these "moments" when I would wake up early in the morning and start typing out Facebook "notes", notes that I later learned were inspiring others. And speaking, as if I was in front of a crowd of people somewhere in the future, motivating their lives to something greater and more productive. Later in September, after returning from Tucson from a family gathering, one of my sisters who was there shared some photographs she had taken of me with her boyfriend. He knew exactly what I looked like in February 2008, when he and two of my sisters showed up one day at my home in Elkhart, shortly before I hit my own bottom. He took one look at my picture and said something I'll never forget: "Gus, its like a resurrection." Since then, there's been many more instances but one recently stands out. I went to Big Bear Lake, California late last week, a short two day trip to spend time alone with my thoughts and gather myself for seeking work after finishing the UCSD Paralegal program. It dawned on me right after I got back. I'm not just "smelling" the flowers now, I'm pulling them and everything else of life around me into my soul; every color, every scent, the sounds, the taste, and the touch of LIFE. It's an incredibly inspiring and nearly indescribable feeling. It's the spiritual awakening that's "happening."
What's clear to me now though, and this is what fascinates me, is the awakening is never over. It's not like you just "wake up" one day and BAM, you got it all figured out. It's very much like being born in fact. You never stop growing. Sure, your physical body stops at some point but it's the mind and your soul that continues to grow and it will never stop until you die. This is the beauty of life and it's very similar to how I've described it on my Facebook page from time to time: "Life isn't a sprint to the finish line, it's more like a never-ending marathon. There's a lot of potholes and we all need a little help along the way."
If everyone would remember that, would remember that growing is never over, that it's impossible to ever figure everything out about life, then it would keep all of us in a place where we need to be; humble, patient, curious, helpful, loving, truthful, all those things that we each value deeply in how we want to be treated, but take for granted in others. Not everyone feels or acts the same. Each one of us is on a different path in this marathon. Some of us have no idea on what it takes to make it, a few have some of the tools, and then there's others who have a treasure trove full of tools. What's important is we're all in this together. We're here on this planet to help one another, that's one of the reasons God created us in my opinion. To serve our fellow man. No one has the right to sit in judgment of another just because we've been more fortunate to have more tools to be successful in the journey, however you wish to describe it; a stable upbringing, education, successful careers, happy families, or material possessions. None of those things mean a thing if all we're doing is using them for ourselves.
What I've just described has been a huge part of my own "awakening." I'm blessed and fortunate enough to have a variety of tools at my disposal; a loving family growing up, a great education, a once highly successful career in banking, and of course what some would perceive as very tragic circumstances that occurred in late 2007 into early 2008. I've CHOSEN to use what could have been what some would feel would be the absolutely WORST thing to ever happen in their life to something that is, without question, hands down, the greatest asset I can have as a human being.
Putting all these components together then leads me to this conclusion. I'm here on this planet for a purpose. At one time I thought it was to raise a family, farm, and be a banker all my life. God didn't have that in mind though. He tossed a major curveball at me and instead of striking out and sulking back to the dugout, I've decided to follow his lead and take another stab at it, and only because he's given me a second chance. My purpose? To serve my fellow man in every way I know how, using all of the tools God has given me; intelligence, experience, education, and wisdom, all borne out of a half-century of incredible stories that I'm ready, anxious, and eager to share. I don't expect everyone to listen and I certainly don't have all the answers. Like I say all the time and like my Dad always told me, I'm going with gut instincts. In other words, my HEART and SOUL. Not fancy or clever words, just what's real, truthful, and sincere.