June 23, 2013; It has been a full year since the passing of my friend, mentor and sponsor, Jack Jackson. I met Jack in Boquete Panama, when he would share at a mutual support meeting, I would sit on the edge of my seat. The more I heard the more I wanted to hear from him. He was focused on the opposite of what I heard others share. For instance, when people would share on the Sixth Step and the Seven Deadly Sins, he would share on what the ideals we want to implement in our lives were. He said we were at our best when we focused on what we wanted to be and less on what we did not want to be. We would overcome sloth by focusing on production towards our worthy goals. We would overcome greed by focusing on gratitude and helping others…
I instantly knew that Jack was the man I needed in my life. Prior to meeting Jack, I felt like an outcast at times when I would share in meetings these same thoughts. Once in a while someone would agree but more often than not I was met with resistance. But Jack had a way to bring the message of hope without offending anyone.
I learned so many lessons from Jack, of course his mantra was simple, “life is meant to be enjoyed and not to be endured” ringed so true for me. From the time I was a boy the only thing I ever wanted was happiness. After a series of failed attempts at getting sober I finally succumbed to the inevitable. I finally looked at myself as a young broken man. Everything I heard at the Twelve Step support meetings pointed to my brokenness as a source of my desire to drink to oblivion. The answer to joy and freedom from alcohol and drugs lied within this brokenness.
Whether that is true or not is not the issue. However, the road to true joy seemed to be directly through changing from the inside out. Living a life of guilt and remorse, living selfishly, hurting others with our actions, taking advantage of others, lying to our loved ones, being dishonest to ourselves and others and any other negative aspect in our lives seemed to create a great back drop for staying drunk. Jack’s perspective on how we change came from a perspective of proactive steps rather then introspective remorse. He saw the same principles to overcome these challenges just a different perspective on how to implement that change.
Today I continue to teach these principles from that perspective. Jack encouraged me to do that. He was the consummate teacher for me. I would love to say I grasped it all and continuously sought his guidance, but that would not be true. When I left Panama, I left my mentor but not his teachings. Every time I was able to speak to Jack via phone was a gift. I could feel the joy through the phone. Today when I reflect on these lessons I smile, because life is good!
Go, Go, Go…