What made him so damn cheerful?
I still remember how annoyed I was. The guy was so blissful, so composed, so relaxed. He was sharing his confoundedly joyful thoughts in a very calm, soothing voice at my weekly 12-Step meeting — and all his good vibes got me riled up.
I think he may have been a Buddhist. He was wearing loose-fitting comfy pastels that made him seem monk-like. No longer leading a miserable life, he said, he was now dedicated to being happy, humble and free — and all he wanted was to help guide others to a similar life of ease.
This was back in the day when I had recently moved to Los Angeles and had started attending CoDA meetings. I knew that this man’s equanimity somehow had come from his practice of sincerely working the 12 Steps for years. He’d turned his life over to a Higher Power (Step 3), and “through prayer and meditation” he’d improved his “conscious contact with God” (Step 11). And he was carrying the message of his spiritual awakening everywhere he went, and “practicing these principles” in all his affairs (Step 12).
But back then I didn’t understand where he was coming from.
With my glass-half-empty outlook, I viewed life as difficult and perplexing. So it frustrated me to no end, to observe someone who seemed to have it all together.
From irritation to emulation.
But thirty years later, amazingly enough, I’m more or less that guy.
I’m a genuinely happy person. I have troubles and aspirations just like anyone does, but overall I am basically content. Some might say I see the silver lining in everything. Some may describe me as a Pollyanna — a fictional character I try to be like. Yes indeed, I’m unabashedly optimistic — even in this crazy world, which sometimes appears to be careening towards oblivion. Yet — speaking of fictional characters — I’m no Pangloss.
This isn’t a case of spiritual bypass. I hope never to materialize my spiritual practice.
More often than not, with two steps forward and one step back, the spiritual practice I’ve carved out over the past three decades is tested, tried and true — a faith proven many times over to be practical, realistic…