• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

    • August 2, 2017 in Columnists

    Trudging the road of happy destiny

    We can’t make this journey alone. We have to get outside ourselves and find salvation and peace somewhere.

    For many people, that is found in the traditional God. Many recovering Christians and Muslims have successfully used this form of “higher power” to stay straight or sober, and have fruitful lives.

    Others, not so much, traditional religions being anathema to them. Having “god” used extensively in the literature of the various 12-step programs has caused no shortage of consternation for far too many.

    In my case, my intellect and PTSD interfered with my journey early on.

    Literally, I had Roman Catholicism beaten into me as a child. The stick over the carrot every time, and the shame- and guilt-trips were overwhelming.

    My intellect first kicked in in third grade, when they told us that innocent, unbaptized infants did not get to go to heaven, but were destined to reside in limbo forever. My hand shot up like a rocket. WTF?

    Intellectually, I also know that Mithra is a cross-culture God that existed long before Christ. He was a product of a virgin birth and died to save his followers. Sound familiar?


    The books clarify the need for a “god” by adding “as we understood him,” opening the door wide for interpretation. In effect, each of us can have our own god, our own higher power, to do with as we will.

    Even that was not good enough for me. Who can understand God? If you talk to God, you’re sane, but if you hear Him or Her talking back to you, not so much, right?

    Once in a while you will read, or hear, “Spirit of the Universe.” That’s where I am.

    What does it look like for me? Mostly the Red Road, the Native American way, with some Buddhism and Quakerism thrown in. It works for me and I don’t falter over it anymore.

    There’s something at work here, but I can’t define it, can’t put a snug little label on it.

    I can’t believe in the hereafter — I think that’s simply a product of man’s ego, that we are somehow better than the rest of the living creatures on the planet.

    That being said, there is something scientifically appealing about the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, where our personal carbon will assume some other form after we are done with it.

    Maybe. I mean, there is only so much carbon in the world, right?

    Sometimes things happen in life that defy explanation — luck, Karma, something.

    I was a fire investigator for too long to believe in coincidences, having assumed the prerequisite suspicious nature necessary to be good at what I did.

    I did once have a week that gave me much pause.

    I was living near Sacramento, destined to go into rehab the following Monday. My oldest son and I were shopping at the local stab-n-grab, getting enough alcohol to hold me over until my admission. When we came out the door, standing there was an old friend. He was a counselor and was destined to be my personal counselor the next week — yet we “ran” into him, miles away from both his home and the facility where I was was going, and where he worked.

    The next week, I was admitted and went to my first meeting. I already had in mind somebody to sponsor me, but I was amazed when we pulled up in front of the local Alano Club and he was sitting in a chair out front. He had never been at that meeting before and rarely went to that Alano Club at all, but there he was sitting there — just when I desperately needed his help.

    Two days later, I was feeling pretty damn low, but we headed out to the same Alano Club for an evening meeting. Afterwards, a good-looking guy approached me, and asked “Tom?” I said yes. Do you remember me? Barely.

    How you doing? Not very good, I am feeling pretty hopeless, like a complete failure.

    Hmmm. Let me show you something. He reached into his pocket, and pulled out his key ring. Attached, there was a chip fob, where addicts and alcoholics can keep their milestone tokens.

    He pulled out a 30-day chip and said “This is the 30-day chip you gave me seven years ago in Davis.” AYFKM?

    He had been visiting his mother and decided to hit a meeting, never having been to a meeting there before, and our paths crossed. Hmmm.

    Three “things” in quick succession? No coincidences.

    When I was recently at my lowest ebb ever, I became a pacemaker recipient under what can only be described as dire circumstances, and now I am having bouts of tachycardia. Each night, I close my eyes wondering, calmly and cheerfully, if I will wake up again. I am surprised at how I am handling it.

    The impact has been twofold. I am the most spiritually-focused that I have ever been and serene most of the time. The bad part is that I suffer fools fine, until I don’t, and then it’s epic. Only once (actually, now twice) post-pacemaker, so far, but I took no prisoners. Oh well…

    As Clint Eastwood sang, I talk to the trees. I have stopped and watched the geese fly over every single time since I watched “Those Calloways” as a lad. An eagle landed in the tree off my balcony yesterday just to say hi. The bubbling brooks and rivers talk to me, and the breeze whispers — or roars — at me.

    Am I where I want to be spirituality? Hardly, but I am satisfied with my travels so far and it’s a good place to be.

    I was told for years that I had Native American blood, but my Ancestry DNA test says otherwise, and I am sure that my 23 AND Me test will say the same thing. I do have a heavy concentration of Scottish heritage, of which I am very proud.

    Somebody said to me today that perhaps it’s what’s inside you, rather than what’s in your bloodline, that makes the real difference. I agree.

    Recently, I read a series of mystery books that were laden with the traditions, legends and history of the Tohono O’odham tribe of Arizona & Mexico. The Gadsden Purchase cut their tribal lands in half, placing them in two separate countries.

    I feel an affinity to these people that I have never experienced before. A peace-loving people, who believe in killing only to protect themselves and their own. Farmers, artisans, family-oriented, and historically spending summer in the cooler mountains, and winters in the desert lowlands.

    Like most tribes, they are an independent nation and are reaping the quality of life associated with casino income.

    If I thought there was any chance they would adopt a milgahn, I would apply, and live out my life in the desert of Arizona. You know the connection I feel must be significant if I am willing to forego oceanside living to experience it. It’s amazing. I am doing the research, learning more and more.

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