I Am Those Birds



There are times I wonder about this whole thing we do.  This recovery thing.  Why I am here and some other person just like me is out there still suffering in silence?  Or about to end their life.  Or about to take someone else’s in an accident.  Or about to be incarcerated for a long time.  Or dying slowly with or without tubes sticking out of them.  Face jaundiced and stomach bloated. I wonder why I am here and not there.  On a gurney, a slab or in an orange jumpsuit.

I heard a man speak today at a meeting.  He picked up a desire chip today – a man coming back to the rooms.  He spoke eloquently about the birds on his front lawn that he feeds every morning.  They show up at 7 am daily, waiting for him to bring out crusty pieces of bread.  They don’t do anything for him to deserve that bread – they don’t paint his house or cut his lawn, and yet they are there to receive.  Unearned keep.  They open themselves to getting their daily bread. And that is like us, with our grace, with our space of time given to us by Creator to just receive.  A gift.  And it’s up to us what we do with that time.

I wonder why it is some of us get that grace.  But it’s not for me to ask.  I will never know, but I am grateful for it.  Some people say that we are “chosen” – those of us who are lucky to make it to sobriety.  I am not sure if we are chosen.  I don’t know why, but I don’t.  I think we are all given our grace in our time, and we either act on it or we don’t.  Some don’t see it as grace and just continue lacerating themselves with alcohol and/or drugs.  Grace is not divinely meted out to those more “deserving”.  It just is, like the rainfall.

I wonder about why I am here and what I am meant to do.  I wonder what it is I am ordained to do here on this planet.  I wonder what it is Creator is asking me to do.  I should have been dead, or killed someone or been incarcerated.  But I am not chosen.  I am here right now, with a purpose.  His plan, not mine.  I don’t get the schematics or the blueprints for this. I am just given tiny little directions. Just enough to get me through the day.  Like crusty bread on the daily.  Open and receptive to His will.

I wonder about my ego and what manifestations it will take on to blind me and block me from the sunlight of the spirit.  I wonder if even doing this blog is ego.  What about when I change the colours here or the font – is that ego?  When I share my thoughts – is that ego?  When I use fancy words here or in the face-to-face world – is that ego?  When I make my opinion known – is that ego?  When I am asked to share at a meeting – is that ego?  I guess they could be, and not be.  Checking motives is my answer.  Checking in with others.  Checking in with Creator.

I wonder how it is that the right people and right things cross my path at precisely the time I need to have them.  I know it is the Universe at play, and it serves to show me a Higher Purpose working behind the scenes, but I wonder how it is I am so blessed to experience this.  Why those blinded by their illness can’t.  Like how I never could when I was active in my drinking.  I was only tuned into my own madness and obsession for complete oblivion.  My dark path to numbing out, my suicide-by-installment plan, my long waking slumber.

The longer I wonder about these things, the less I understand.  The longer I question, the more questions that I have.  The more I seem to know, the fewer answers I have.  This is the paradox of recovery and the power of the Universal Mind.  I don’t have the answers, nor am I meant to have them.  The answers I came up with while I was active were to the wrong questions. And I suffered for it. Today I just hope to have the right questions to begin with.

I am those birds. I just have to show up and receive.  Don’t question, don’t feel guilty about it, don’t play small.  Take in and do what a bird does.  Fly. Ride the currents given to us.  Rest when needed.  A bird doesn’t wonder why it’s a bird.  It just is.  And that’s what I need to do.  Stick with the flock when it flies south.  Stick with the flock when it flies back north.

I spoke to a woman who was visiting from Dubai today after the meeting and she sounded very much like me – whipping herself and chastising herself for not being “better” at this.  I told her to put the whip down.  I told her that I felt the same and am learning to just be.  That we are allowed to do that.  We are allowed to make mistakes.  We are allowed to be human.  I smiled and said it again – we are allowed to be human.  She started to tear up, and so did I.  There was silence and we then turned towards the sun breaking out of the clouds and watched a bird land nearby.

Wonder.  Wonderment of His world.  I wonder…and then I don’t.

Be still and more will be revealed.

Fly on, my friends.  Fly on.


56 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris says:

    That was amazing and beautiful. Truly.

    I’d also like to say that unless I am not reading you correctly at all, I don’t believe you are in danger of falling prey to your ego. An early blog of mine had the tagline, “Intent, Context, and Perception.” My perception of how you engage as a person in the context of recovery is that your intentions are pure and benevolent.

    1. Thank you Chris for the kind words.

      I know I have to check my motives and see where I am coming from, in an authentic way. I know I was good at cloaking a bad intention with a good one. Hence I have to peek under the covers and make sure that I am not doing likewise in sobriety as I did when active. But I do fall prey to my ego. Often. Luckily I know that there is a way out of it. Humility lends itself to leading me down another path. Overall, I know that I am down the right path. I just have to check the markers now and then 🙂

      Rock on (listening to the best of Rush right now as I type this). Concert Hall!!

  2. jrj1701 says:

    Why me is a question that those who have ego problems don’t ask when good things happening in their lives, they reserve that question for when bad things happen. So keep a good watch on that ego. That is good you are becoming a human being instead of a human doing and you know the answer, the question just seems elusive at times. six times seven, nope can’t be that easy or maybe it is???

    1. Ha ha…love how you think there, JR. I usually follow up the “why me?” with the “why NOT me?”. didn’t here for some reason. But I am certainly keeping an eye on the ego. I am seeing just how nefarious it can be. I can see how it was manifesting in ways. Hence me doing the work again…want to gain a new experience and insight.

      As for that answer…it HAS to be more than 42…I mean, doesn’t it? lol

      have a great weekend, my friend.

  3. thirstystill says:

    I really like what you say about grace–that it’s like rainfall. That’s beautiful, and I think it’s true. Thanks for sharing it. xo

    1. thanks TS – I couldn’t really find another example, but glad it worked for you. The less I question it and just go with it, the more serenity I tend to have. Thank you for being here.

  4. mike says:

    Survivor guilt?

    One day at a time. As tomorrow I might be the one with the tubes sticking out.

    The analogy of the guy feeding the birds is more than that of a giver and taker. In my mind it is a two way street. Both get something good out of it. Those birds know where to go eh? Just show up and get fed for the day.

    1. I like what you said about it being a two way street between the two. Never saw it that way. Very cool observation!

      As for survivor’s guilt…I think I had that in spades early on. Not so much now, but I do ponder it now and then. in the end, it’s my HP at work, and I have no need to question it directly. I just am grateful and do the best in the day, Mikey. The meeting after the meeting yesterday (and talking to my sponsor) seemed to bring me to this place. I felt absolutely grateful to have these people in my life. As I am you, kind sir.

  5. primrose says:

    do you know the legend of St Augustine of Hippo and the boy at the beach? Augustine had spent many years writing a treatise on the Nature of the Trinity (lord a’mercy, imagine if he’d had a blog…) and come no closer to finding a satisfactory explanation. walking along a beach one day he found a small boy trying to fill a hole in the sand with water, using a seashell. but as fast as the boy poured it in, the seawater sank away. “What are you doing, my boy?” asked Augustine. “Trying to fit the ocean into my hole in the sand,” replied the boy.

    the conclusion being that there are mysteries too immense for us to fully comprehend. and the ocean of grace is there for all of us, whether or not we choose to take from it, infinite in size and beauty. continually refilled by the rain.

    I’m showing up today. trying to work out with my bird-brain when to fly, and when to rest. thanks for a beautiful post.

    1. I hadn’t heard of that legend…loved it. Thank you for sharing it! I also like this idea of it being there, regardless if we take from it or not. A beautiful analogy of what we do in this grace of ours, eh? Sometimes that early pink cloud that people talk about is grace…or at least us *seeing* grace for the first time. Just a theory of mine 🙂

      I am going to do my best to show up for that bread today too. See ya at the line up 🙂


  6. Carol says:

    Our bondage to self can manifest as inner turmoil. Learned it from a blog, what can I say!

    1. Bondage to self is the issue, isn’t it? Step 3 prayer stuff. Get me out of me! Get me away from me…and onto my HP’s will. Yeah, that ought to do the trick, yes? 🙂

      thanks for this, Carol. Inner turmoil indeed. But it need not be that way.

      Blessings and have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Bea says:

    The grace lies in the connection. Both man and birds are made whole, made more than they are alone, by the connection. The birds show up to receive and the man shows up to give and a connection is made and the whole is greater than its parts and is made beautiful. Today I am like that bird, showing up to be fed by words and your giving of them and my receiving of them is an act of grace for us both. And I am grateful for this.

    1. I hadn’t seen this connection and you are bang on with it. I didn’t see the reciprocal relationship, and I think it’s even a stronger metaphor. Thank you for this…brings it home even more.

      Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  8. Paul says:

    Well said Paul. Right dead smack on.

    1. thank you Paul. I appreciate the comment. hope you are enjoying this weekend, good sir 🙂

  9. jeffstroud says:


    A great way to start my day! Why not me, or you or the next person? Why not be asking these questions, of ourselves and others? I use to ask, “why don’t they get it?” the people who come in the rooms and don’t stay, the people in the rooms that go out and never come back. Why don’t they get it? What is different about me, or you, or the other oldtimer? They/we chose to show up, they choose to be of service, they choose to do “the work”. Just like the birds who fly to a spot where they know for the moment they can be fed.
    Higher Power at work here. Asking is a good sign. Allows us to be grateful, and we sing, or speak or write blogs.

    Thank you so very much Paul!

    1. Thank you Jeff – glad to know that I am not the only one (I know that I am not, but there’s always that sneaking suspicion!). Yeah, I think we question what it is that “we” have and “they” don’t. In the end we have the same problem, and there is a common solution there…I guess willingness? I don’t know. But we’ve all been there in one way or another. Who’s to say that others didn’t ask that about me?

      But you are right – HP as work, as He always is. The grand scheme stuff is out of my control, so why not just focus on the things I *can* control (hello serenity prayer). Getting my daily bread and offering to others seems about right. You’ve given me something here today, Jeff. Thank YOU.

      Blessings and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Dede says:

    I don’t see ego in your writing. Your blog has helped me in more ways that I can count. You make me think. Your words remind me to be grateful, humble. I hope you never stop writing. Thank you for the time and effort you put into these posts.

    1. Hi Dede – thank you. I just question what I do sometimes to make sure I am not getting into self-made sticky mess. Gratitude is where I aim to be. I am glad to be of service in any way. As long as I come from a proper place. Thank you for being here and adding to this space…means a lot to me 🙂


  11. The definition of Ego is self worth, self-consciousness and self-preservation. It is healthy to have an ego and I suspect to get as far as you have, you need a healthy ego. I don’t understand why this word has such negative connotations in society when it is so essential for our psychological wellbeing.
    Personally I prefer not to ask those questions about why I am here, but rather, as you said, what I can do to make my time here worthwhile. It is easy to see that you have already made significant differences in people’s lives, sharing your thoughts and your lives both here and in your recovery groups. You, my friend, have earned those bread crusts many times over!!!

    1. When I talk to my wife, a psychotherapist, ego has a different connotation in Freudian discussions. I guess they would call it the Super Ego. The ego, in her realm of work, is a healthy balance between Super Ego and the Id. It’s the stuff we learn from our parents, unconsciously or consciously, amongst everything.

      The way we use it recovery circles is a bit different than in mainstream thought. Ego is the thing in us that would rather us be dead than wrong. When we were active, we saw things primarily as ME and I. What can I get out of this person, place or situation? What can I do to make this all about ME? How can I cover a bad intention (ME) with a good intention? How can I play victim (ME)? How can I turn everything so that it’s about ME? How can I get what I want, whenever I want it? And how dare you question me…don’t you know who I am? lol. These are conscious and unconscious thoughts that dominate our thoughts. And we don’t have to be drinking per se to have these. We can still get them. Humility is about getting out of self and seeing that we are who we are, no better no lesser than anyone.

      Now there is nothing wrong with being confident. I was reading just the other day about how we can still be humble and yet be in a strong position in society or in our lives. Humility need not mean we get walked over – it’s an outlook, a perspective. We can still be powerful in stature and money, and yet be humble. As long as we don’t derive our sense of being from the externals, then that’s fine. You can be a top-ranked XXX in whatever it is you do, and still not have a strong ego. You can also be living in a cardboard box and have the biggest ego. It’s how we look at things. So for us alkies, we need to be wary of where our motives are coming from. I know when I am at work and being in charge and being confident and doing what I do, it’s not out of ego, but out of sense of duty and just me knowing my shit…lol. I enjoy what I do, and as long as I am not attached to any sort of power fuel, then I am okay.

      In the end, as you say, it’s about what we do with our time here…and that’s important. 🙂

      Thanks for being here, Tiff…and thank you for your wonderful comments 🙂


      1. Wow. So much in the discussion of Ego! I am learning something new here, thank you 🙂

  12. Deep stuff, Paul. You have a gift for taking the intangible and making it easier for us to grasp!

    I love the answer here, and it helps me in a variety of ways… the more I question, the less I understand.

    Really helps me out this rainy Saturday morning. Woke up from bad dreams, as I have a few times this week. Why, I ask? What’s the deeper issue? The more I pondered, the more confused and angst-ridden I became.

    Then I read this, and I breathed a sigh of relief. As I usually do when I finish one of your beautiful posts 🙂

    Enjoy your weekend, my friend!

    1. Thanks Josie – hope your Saturday went well my friend. yeah, the more I *think* know…that’s the issue. Perhaps less mental gymnastics and more Step 11 – asking for the answer intuitively rather than trying to overthink it. I’ll get there, slowly. As everything else I do, I am a turtle 🙂

      Thanks for being here, my friend…you make this place even more special 🙂


  13. I love this, Paul. I can be so introspective that it takes away from just being. Sometimes I need to seek to find deeper meaning but sometimes, seeking becomes a kind of perfectionism, a way to get better at doing life and a way to be able to say, “Look at me. I’m good at this!” When that happens, I need to check my intentions and become an observer instead of a doer, a listener instead of a speaker. It reminds me of the way I used to the official videographer and photographer on every vacation. I was so wrapped up in recording the moments that I didn’t actually live them. The flip side of that is that now I sometimes wish I took more pictures but I have real memories of a life lived. Blessings to you!

    1. I hear you on documenting everything and not being a part of. That’s how I lived my life – recording things in my head, making that grudge list, or just snapping
      away at life rather than participating. I find that I slip out the back door in different ways, and so I try to stay present. I catch myself when I am checking out. It’s not always in a bad way, but just an instinct in many ways.

      Great perspective as usual, Karen. Thanks for being here 🙂

  14. mommyx4boys says:

    What an awesome post, I have wondered these things myself from time to time and the answer I came up with is that God gives every person the opportunity to change their life, in fact several opportunities. Some simply decide not to accept his offer.

    1. I’m with you on the idea that no every decides to take God on His offer…I also think that some of us are so lost in ourselves we don’t even see it when the life preserver comes. Sad either way.

      Thank you for showing me that I am not alone in these thoughts 🙂

      Blessings to you!

  15. Beautiful post. It sounds like you are on a healing path. Keep flying my friend and you will rise above it 😉

    1. thank you so much for your kind words. You keep flying too…meet ya out there on the telephone wires!


  16. Really really beautiful. I have been having the same questions and worries about my ego lately. Checking myself, trying to stay on the right track, just trying to help others by raising awareness and talking more about my condition. It’s reassuring to hear that someone else – doing the same thing as me (blogging about it) has the same thoughts.

    1. Hi Becky!
      So glad to know we’re not alone in this, yes? I do agree that coming from love and sharing is one way to come out of self in this journey. Perhaps that is one reason we blog? The more we can be open and discuss these things that we feel are soooo unique and dangerous to us, the more we realize that we’re in this together.

      Thanks for being here – gonna check out your blog as well. Thanks for being here 🙂


  17. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Fly on. Fly high into the clouds, soar with the eagles, my friend. ❤

    1. I’ll meet ya at the far off distant and high mountain top, my friend 🙂

  18. Kate says:

    Beautiful! God’s grace is truly incomprehensible … I often wonder about that… Why me? Why was I born in America? Healthy? Good family. No answers but I know this: to
    Whom much is given, much is required. Greater accountability to use out fortune for good- like you are. Well said!!

    1. Thanks Katie…well said. I love the “whom much is given, much is required”. Deep 🙂

      Grace is certainly something I am grateful for. Not only have I been given grace in my recovery, but in all aspects of my life. I just hope I see those opportunities 🙂

      Great to see you – hope your summer has been a great one 🙂

      1. Kate says:

        I have to give credit to the quote – Someone much wiser said that, not me! Luke 12:48 🙂 Enjoy the last bits of summer!

  19. As the late Carl Sagan once said — we are here for each other. ❤

    1. Carl Sagan and I share the same birthday – Nov. 9th. So I dig whatever that deep Scorpio says 🙂 And thank you for turning me to that thought. We truly are here for one another. Thanks for always being here for me 🙂

      1. No kidding — same birthday? That is awesome and so are you! 🙂

      2. mike says:

        6 of cups

  20. “I am those birds. I just have to show up and receive. Don’t question, don’t feel guilty about it, don’t play small. Take in and do what a bird does. Fly. Ride the currents given to us. Rest when needed.”
    Simple yet profound words. God’s grace is amazing and I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to receive.

    1. I know from reading your words that you truly are thankful, Susan. You are inspirational in how you receive and how you return love.

      Blessings…thank you for being here 🙂


  21. stacilys says:

    Oh Paul, I really love this. I really love your posts. Once again, the pure sincerity that flows out of them. Please don’t beat yourself up, my friend. I hear what you say about ego and all, but you have a gift, and it is very easy to see that your writing is a way for you to express your deepest feelings and thoughts. Sharing them with others is so therapeutic. And please know, I’m not just trying to flatter you. I truly do appreciate you and your writing. That’s why I keep coming back 🙂
    “The longer I wonder about these things, the less I understand. The longer I question, the more questions that I have. The more I seem to know, the fewer answers I have.”
    –I hear you loud and clear. I know your not a Christian and all, but as a Christian I can totally relate. We all long for understanding and answers. But you hit the nail on the head here. And also after when you wrote about the birds just being birds and not meant to have all the answers and all. Anyhow, there have been times when I would struggle with my faith and question God. I would read other blogs and the ideas and doubts and questions that others had and stuff and it would freak me out. I would go back to God all in a fluster and freaking out, and then all of a sudden, He would fill me with an inexpressible peace that this world can’t offer, but only He can. And when He does that, it’s like He’s saying, “Staci, it’s ok. I know you’re freaking out again. I know you have doubts and questions. Just know that I’m here. And WHOOSH, His love and complete acceptance of me, for me, envelops me. And all the doubts, questions, fears fall away. It’s like the Bible says, “He who comes to me, must come by faith”. And not blind faith. The faith of a child. Just like the birds, young children don’t question, nor doubt the love, care, protection and provision of their parents. They just trust and believe and have total faith that their parents will continuously look out for them.
    Anyhow, I know I’m rambling on, but I was inspired be and could totally relate to this post my friend.
    Hugs and blessings.
    Staci 🙂
    p.s. BTW, I have finished the subtitles to our movie, “Internal Mazes”. If you would like to watch it, just let me know and I’ll send you the link. I truly value your opinion and would be honored if you would watch it and give your feedback, as a friend and Canadian.
    pps But I totally understand if you don’t have time ok, so please don’t feel obligated. 🙂

    1. If that’s rambling my friend, then sign me up for a rambling rodeo, because you wrote some wonderfully eloquent stuff there. Almost a post in itself in terms of content (not length). You fill me with hope, Staci, that all is well and will continue to be well.

      Thank you for the kind words – I know they come from sincerity, as mine are to yours. heart to heart.

      And I would be honoured to view the film 🙂
      Send me the link any time!


      1. stacilys says:

        Big smile. Thanks Paul. You’re words are so kind.
        I’ll send you the link now ok.

  22. Beautiful! When I start to whine about this thing we call a sober life, a recovery friend reminds me I am a human having a human experience.

    1. We certainly are humans having a human experience. I too have to keep that in mind 🙂

  23. This is beautiful. I first read your blog back when I was still drinking, wanting to stop but not wanting it badly enough to do it yet. I had forgotten about it and then stumbled upon it today on someone else’s blog roll. I am four months sober now. Life is good.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am so happy to hear you have four months…are back blogging. I look forward to reading more about your journey. Fantastic work!!


  24. Rod says:

    They say it is not good to feed the birds, except perhaps for extended deep freezes, and even then we are playing God in a way. Jesus tells us that tomorrow has enough problems, so just deal with today, and God will take care of you if you ask Him. He also said that the birds do not need man, that like the lilies of the field, they too will survive and flourish on their own. If the birds are taken care of, imagine what help is in store for us, if we just ask. We can accomplish anything, especially sobriety, and taking care of our neighbour instead of funnelling all that booze down our selfish throats.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Paul, I enjoyed reading that. It’s not too often that I make it to the end of a blog post. In this case, there was a pleasing poetic style. Also, I naturally thought of the political philosopher, John Rawls. He has quite a lot to say concerning the concept of the arbitrary. The idea being, that no one particularly deserves the good or bad circumstances they’re born into. It seems you’re skirting around this point while also suggesting there is an ambiguous Creator who does have everyone’s purpose determined. It is possible, also, of course, that all of it is indeed arbitrary. And, there’s no explanation for why “some of us get that grace”: beyond, some of us get lucky and some don’t.

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