In 1977, my sixth grade teacher asked us to create a motivational poster using a quotation. To earn extra credit -- and thriving on the praise that comes from doing that -- I made two posters. One was from Shakespeare: "To thine own self be true"; the other was more generic, but one of my teacher's frequent sayings: "The sky is the limit."
This first foray into quotations as insight, inspiration and motivation has stuck with me my whole life. Sure, it's easy to overdose on these wise sayings, but sometimes these bits of wisdom really are guideposts when nothing else seems to work, or like Hallmark, sometimes these express what we're feeling when we can't come up with the words on our own -- or at least not as eloquently.
In Al-anon, there are a handful of sayings like, "Just for today," "Easy does it," and "Let go and let God." Often, these serve as on-the-spot strategies when nothing else is working. I can almost pick one at random and apply it to the situation and it provides a moment of clarity and calm before I proceed.
Our son always prided himself on having a Plan B. The addiction years, however have made Plans B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J and K all but disintegrate. He has no plan, and I hesitate to say, he has no life to speak of. He has no zest for life, no real friends, no real purpose, no job, no motivation.
LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS
In the song, "Beautiful Boy," John Lennon is credited with saying something along the lines of life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I'd say my son has been living this truism. It's not the life he planned. It's not the life he wants -- not really. He is living a life he never imagined but unfortunately he's not busy in the least and so life really isn't happening for him. If anything, it's just existence, survival. I fear he is becoming hopeless even as we remain hopeful for him.
For the past few weeks, we've let him come and go. Mostly, especially with the Fourth of July midweek holiday, he's just hung out at home playing video games, watching TV and using his sister's computer. He's had the respite of air-conditioning, a shower, a clean and comfortable bed and a fridge full of food, plus family gatherings.
Boundaries have disappeared. Enforcement is nonexistent. Accountability is foreign. In fact, I'm certain that we're parenting without a clue right now. It occurred to me this morning that while he has no plan, neither do we.
USELESS OR ESSENTIAL?
That brings me to another quote. "Plans are useless. Planning is essential." Now, that's an appropriate quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It plays out over and over again whether on the battlefield, the boardroom or as the parent of an addict. Until now, like our son, we've also had another plan, another strategy, another idea.
Today, we are out of ideas. We are without a plan. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow may yet be inspired by the good words of wise souls who know this path better than we do. More than likely it will be guided by being true to ourselves (thanks, Shakespeare) and by believing that there are no limits to what's possible (thanks, Mrs. Dorsey). That's as true for us as it is for our son. It is true, without a doubt, the truth is what we believe.
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