Thursday, July 2, 2020

I believe














"Statue of Belief"

I believe

What a seriously powerful statement.

Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

I was given many beliefs when I was born. They were not my own beliefs,
they were thrust upon me by my family, my community, my religion, my time in history.
Thats the way things were and I accepted them like a good boy.
Some of those beliefs have stood the test of time, many have not.
My conditioning (and yours as well) becomes a form of mental illness.
I did not experience much of life early on and apply the results of that experience
to decide what I believed. I believed what I was told and taught and applied my belief
to my experiences before they took place. We all have done this....it's human nature.

In fact, I was certain up to the age of 33 that I had little choice in my belief or thought process
at all. Thoughts appeared from fear and conditioning and I reacted before anything happened.
Some of us were lucky enough to have woke up years before, or maybe had very caring parents
or siblings that told them not to believe everything they were told.....but a lot of us did not.

I was under the impression that God was not of my understanding but of someone else's.
Someone that came before me and they told me what to believe and how to believe and
what not to believe. None of that belief was based on my own personal experience at all.

I use God as the ultimate example. If I went along with a belief in the total and finite God
of all things based on nothing more than people told me thats what I was supposed to believe....
then I probably went along for a lot less as well.

When I began sobriety and recovery in 2003, I was told I would need to change one thing.....
everything.

That process has led me down a path of personal experience and personal belief that has changed
my life forever in the most profound way a man can live. I have made my own mind over the past 16 years, something I had never done before. I have made my mind and found that I was wrong, so I changed my mind. As I have walked this narrow path, I have refined my belief over and over.
I think I know something and I realize I was wrong....or I might be wrong, so I then reassess and make new changes.  I came to the belief long ago that I do not know anything.
The less I believe I "know" the more open my mind is and I am willing to change my mind.
These days I don't know much and I could not be more happy.

I do know one thing for certain: 99% of all human beings living on this planet want the exact
same thing in life. They want peace, love and the pursuit of happiness.
So, anytime I see someone spouting off about something I readily disagree with, I stop and remind myself that this is just a human being like myself. They have the right to these conditions as well.
Maybe they're wrong in how they are going about it, maybe I am wrong in how I am perceiving
what they say or do.....but one thing is certain - they want
PEACE, LOVE AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

The faster I can see anyone I disagree with as an ally and a human being like myself,
the easier it is for me to have empathy and be open minded.
My mind being open is what is important, not others minds.
I am selfish. I wish happiness and freedom to experience life for all, but I mostly want it for myself.
So I do the work to keep my mind open for me, not for you.

My beliefs today are not much different than yesterday but a lot different from 16 years ago.
My sincere belief today is that I do not know much.
I don't gather my beliefs from the news, social media, or hearsay.
I gather my beliefs from personal experience and my experience changes everyday.
I cannot make choices today based on yesterdays belief.

This does NOT mean I don't believe what I am told. I trust people and for the most part I trust the world around me.  I am a decent member of society.
I know right from wrong and take living in a community very serious.


Today, I will try to be open minded and realize that we are human and somewhat mentally ill
from conditioning. If I stay in the belief that I do not know much, I will learn something new everyday.

Peace, Love, Zito


Monday, June 1, 2020

A painful process

I have been a witness to change first hand.
The type of change that is enduring and lasts a lifetime.
It's not easy and it hurts along the way, but it is possible and most certainly
necessary when you're dealing with life or death circumstances.
When I got clean and sober I was told I needed to change one thing......everything.
I thought they were being funny, but it turns out they were not.
Changing everything means assuming the possibility that everything you have believed
in up until this very moment is a lie, it is not true. Because everything you believed in before
this moment has lead you to this moment, and this moment is in dire need of change.

It came down to asking myself this kind of questioning:

Is the sky blue? or is "blue" just the name another man gave for that color and we all agreed
to call that shade of color "blue"....this is the truth. In fact, most people do not see the same color,
but we have all been "taught" that this is the color we shall call this shade so we can communicate with each other.
That means that everything I know was decided by another man long ago and has been readily accepted as the only way and is taught to every boy and girl from thence forward.
It's called "conditioning".
If this was true of one color, it must be true of everything I have ever known.
Applying this logic to God, Love, Wealth, Freedom, Marriage, Parenthood, Racism, Sexism,
drugs, alcohol....would mean that in order for one thing to begin to change, I would need to be willing to change everything.
Sounds daunting and overwhelming, but the next thing they told me was this only had to happen
one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time.
Rome was not built in one day. All that was necessary for change was the willingness to do so,
that in itself was change. I didn't need to create new words for the color spectrum, the ones in place were fine and thats a worthless cause. But I absolutely could not put alcohol or drugs into my body again and I had to change people, places and things that were related to my drinking and using immediately.
I needed to try and change my mind. When my mind thought of something, I had a reaction.
It was the same reaction for 33 years of life. I had never developed an alternate reaction.
The idea was the next time I thought about using drugs or drinking alcohol, instead of reacting and immediately doing so, I should stop and say the serenity prayer. If I said the prayer long enough and enough times in a row the thought to use or drink would most likely go away....for the time being.
The thought to use or drink would come back again and again and each time I would need to try this new practice over and over and over and over. It would be wonderful to think that God was creating a miracle to end my using and drinking by prayer.....but in actuality, I was changing my mind.
I was creating a new behavior. Eventually after months of putting this new practice to work, the desire to use or drink began to slow down and eventually it was removed from my mind.
I had no idea this was ever possible.
I was of the belief that what entered my mind was out of my control and I was also not responsible
for my reaction. I always thought I was broken, doomed.
But with this new powerful tool, I could most certainly conquer anything that came into my mind
that I wanted rid of, and so it began.

Not all things changed so easily, some continue to linger on after 16 plus years of sobriety.
What I have found over the years is that some of the behavior I wanted to change was so deep
rooted to a thought process I was not able to detect. I have character defects and flaws that are
connected almost to birth. I have childhood traumas, sexual abuse, religious nightmares, and mental illness that causes anxiety, obsession and compulsion and sometimes depression.

All of this conditioning was handed down generation by generation.
Until it got to me. I was the faded copy of a copy that was hardly recognizable anymore.
All of these experiences that created this way of thinking was not mine, but given to me by
my parents who got it from their parents and so on and so on......
I did not personally have any of these experiences at all, I just had the by product information
that was passed onto me.
I was so faded, I either had to change and have my own experiences or fade away.

I began my own experience in life 16 years ago and I continue today.
My beliefs are my beliefs and they change constantly based on my own personal experience.
The truth is what I seek, but it is hidden many times by years and lifetimes of untruth.
Just when I think I know it all, I am reminded I do not know anything.
I must always be ready to change everything. Tradition is overrated and not based in reality.
It is not what it used to be, it is what it is today, and the world changes around me constantly.

I learned that my bad behavior that continued to show up over the years was tied to a cycle that
I was repeating over and over and expecting a different result.
Once painful enough, I began the steps over again and worked on the behavior to change yet again.

Everything in this life is a cycle.
We do not move forward until a cycle is broken.
Most often we are not aware that the cycle is of our own doing, we blame others.
But the only fault I am responsible for is my own, I always play a role and my role
will need to change if change is the desired outcome.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Change is painful and heartbreaking, but necessary.
We can do it the hard way or the easier, softer way.

Let's pray for change today.
Why do we continue to repeat these painful cycles in our own lives and in the life
of our communities and our world around us?
What role do I play and what can I do to change.
When I accept my role, I begin to give myself a break......
when I give myself a break, I give everyone a break.

The only reason something continues to happen over and over again
is because something has not changed.

Peace, Love, Zito



Saturday, April 11, 2020

Happy Easter Pandemic

Well......I have had a lot of requests for writing my blog,
and you would think with everything going on I would have a LOT to write about.
But, I have just kind been doing what everyone has been doing....quietly freaking out :)
Seriously, I usually find something to base my entry on here: a spiritual principle, an ethical Idea,
etc.....but I have just been trying to get through each day and not go crazy.

Of course there is always an upside. I left for Europe on March 4th to do 30 dates
with my band. Today would have been our last show of the tour in Sheffield, UK.
It's hard to even imagine now that I would have been gone from my home and family for all
of that time, but I do it a lot and I am used to the routine. The routine of living on the road
most of the time and get short reprieves at home with my loved ones.
The upside is that I have spent the past 4 weeks at my house with my family.
We have not had this much time together.....ever.
I came home on Sunday March 15th - approximately 4 weeks ago tomorrow.
I spent the first two weeks in self quarantine in my backyard studio apartment. I was never sick
but we were in Germany and around enough people that coming home the CDC told us we needed to do the quarantine. We made the most of the isolation by writing 10 new songs and recording them with my band members who were also each in quarantine at their homes. This was a challenge.
Each musician recorded their parts separately and sent them to me via Dropbox where I put them all together and mixed the music. In the end we made a free download recording and in return
our Gofundme Campaign helped pay the band and myself for losing 3 months work.
WOW - we are still humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.

So - I have been sincerely fortunate with this time and I do not take it lightly.
We pray everyday for those that are sick and suffering as this virus is very real and the threat
is as well. I try not to argue much on social media, but I get tired of the conspiracy bullshit.
I'll try harder today.....progress, not perfection :)

Another very strong upside to this downtime has been my recovery.
Meetings have all taken to Zoom and I have been enjoying meetings almost everyday
the past 4 weeks. When I am on the road I rarely get to enjoy a meeting as we are always on the go.
If I am home for 10 days between tours, I might get to go to one or two.
But with all of this time on our hands, we are meeting everyday and it's been really wonderful.
I am hopeful that most of us will have time to reflect and be grateful for this amazing life we have been given.
We have meals on the patio outside. We watch the birds in the yard every morning.
Playing games with the girls, walking the dogs and exercising has become daily events now.
I have to be honest....I could get use to this.
It will be hard to climb into the van again and leave for weeks on end when this is all over.
I will do it because that is what I do. I miss playing loud guitar and sweating with everyone
at the club. I miss the band and all of the "van talk" on the road.
But....I think I will not take for granted the things I cherish so much.

I am a little all over the place here...but thats where I am at......all over the place.
I hope I see you soon and we enjoy some time and music together.
For now I will continue to share online and enjoy my family.
PLEASE hang in there and stay home. I know it seems crazy and it's tough financially
but we will all get through this time and come out stronger than before.

God bless and Happy Easter!

Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The grass is always greener.....

Interesting topic last night at my group of friends.
One I could certainly relate to, as I am certain most folks can.
The idea of never being satisfied.
This notion of never having the best or enough of the best isn't merely an alcoholic or addict's
problem, it is a human condition. We live day in, day out, not knowing when we will leave this
existence and we get pleasure from enjoying the material world. We know it's not the solution,
and we try and put it away, but truth be told, the material world does ease the pain of suffering
to a certain extent. It does not solve the problem though....and it's easy to get caught up in the
idea that more will make me feel better. The difference between the obvious issues being a human
is that my mind (the addict/alcoholic mind) is I suffer from Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder.
I've spent a lot of time in my mind dreaming of something new, better, the best.
"When I get the new one, everything will be better!"
So, if it's just a new guitar, thats not the end of the world. If it's a new wife, partner, woman -
that can be troublesome. If I need one more hit or one more drink, I am really in the deep end of the pool. The idea that I need one more is a farce. I do not. I WANT one more.....absolutely.
The "wanting" is part of my suffering. It is my condition and most folks can relate.
I have learned, through extensive study, that getting what I want does not make life any better.

I've dealt with the "wanting" almost all of my life. As a child I had a deep desire for more.
When I became an adolescent I turned to theft as a means of getting what I wanted.
That thievery carried into my young adult life and became a very common practice when I
became a full time junky. The ultimate obsession for me is "wanting" one more hit....one more drink.
Thinking that would solve all of my problems. But it never did, it just lead to a stronger desire for more...now...again...more.

What I have learned over my 16 plus years of sobriety is that "this too shall pass".
When I want something, I just wait and it will go away. Take my time. Give myself a break.
It's ok to want or desire material things, although knowing they will not make me completely happy,
but the wanting is just part of this life. The more I can control the wanting and use it to my
advantage, the better I feel about myself.
It is ok to "want" things, to dream and to enjoy the thoughtful process, but not all the time.
I have work to do and a life to live and responsibilities.

I try and make myself a gratitude list, almost daily in my head, but sometimes on a sheet of paper.
That will usually put things into perspective.

My best understanding is to want what I already have, and for me life is complete.
Gratitude Is an action work and it takes daily effort to be grateful.
When I am feeling very envious, it is time to get out of myself and do for others through service work. It is almost impossible to be feel selfish and self centered when I am helping others.

Today I am grateful. The grass is never greener than it is right in front of me.
I have everything I need today and then some.

Peace, Love, Zito.