A Quiet Place in Bright Sunshine
December 15, 2019
Image: The Garden of Promise by Thomas Kinkade
“I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.” Bill W.
Bill W., the founder of AA, was referring to the peace of mind and sense of wellbeing that he discovered through the spiritual practice of the 12 steps and the insights he gained from them.
The key , he reported, was freeing himself from “dependency on other people and circumstances to supply [him] with security, prestige and the like”.
The result for Bill was an end to the crippling depression that had chased him throughout his life despite years of sobriety from alcohol.
For me, a quiet place in bright sunshine denotes freedom from the self-inflicted pressures to be, do and have – pressures which, in my case, resulted in endless striving, dissatisfaction with “what is” and sometimes a sense of hopelessness. Like Bill, I also once believed that my happiness depended on other people, places and things. And so, I began to take steps to rectify that dependency.
Of course, getting to that quiet place is quite a journey – a journey that, for me personally, began with a decision, a decision to change something. Even a small something, that was within my power to change.
Firstly, I made a decision to adjust my expectations, those unrealistic expectations, that I had of other people. I decided to let go of my need for others to behave, believe and be as I wished. And most especially, I decided to let go of my need for others to fix me, reassure me and make things okay for me.
While those decisions did not create an immediate change for me, they opened the door for real change to make an entrance. It established a momentum toward transformation.
Later, during times of quiet contemplation, I asked Inspiration to do its job, specifically to provide insight as to which actions I might take. And so, Inspiration began to give me some clues.
Firstly, I was moved to identify and then to let go of my resentments toward other people and circumstances which had marked my life with anguish. You see, I was expecting perfection from others and life in general. Unrealistically, I wanted only gentle handling.
After that, came the insight that I needed to release my self-focussed perfectionism. Yes, I expected huge amounts of flawlessness from myself. I could not accept my failings, my blemished humanity. My standards toward myself were so impossibly high that they were creating immeasurable distress for me.
As a consequence, with those decisions and actions, however inadequately implemented, things began to shift inside of me. I began to feel more at ease within myself.
Then came another insight. While I could take the actions, I could not guarantee the outcome of those actions. I had to leave that to fate. All I could do was my small part. Of course as a control freak, I hated letting go of the outcome. But over time I became better at it.
Today, while I haven’t totally succeeded, I can tell you that I’m making progress. Life is better. Much better.
And here is the sweetest part.
I can now almost see that quiet place in the bright sunshine waiting just for me. In my mind’s eye, I can imagine the gates to that lovely space opening. And I can see me walking through them.