Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lenten Pooper Scooping: The 4th Step

It was a warm sunny spring day on Monday.  And next to my coffee pot was the "list" left by my wife, Karla, of my "honey do" projects for the day.  A top priority was pooper scooping the back yard.

Spring pooper scooping is a challenging task.  As the snow cover recedes with each warm day, many little treasures left by our cocker spaniel, Koira, are revealed.  And so with a bag in one hand, and the pooper scooper in the other, the ritual began.

I wonder about the methodology of each person's approach to this task.  I'm torn between two approaches.  One approach is the disciplined and orderly manner.  Begin in one corner of the back yard and systematically take a six foot swath across the yard, then the next swath, avoiding the temptation to divert from the orderly journey to pick up that turd lying in the next swath.  I usually start out this way.  And then the other method is the turd to turd method.  Less organized, this simply follows the most prominent and visible 'signs' in an unpredictable wandering around the yard.

As I set to my task on Monday my thought process went something like this.  The first turd, still slightly frozen, went cleanly into the bag.  Then the next, and the next followed neatly behind.  There is a feeling of accomplishment.  I'm thinking that it will be nice not to have to examine my shoes so closely the next time I walk into the house.  As the minutes continued on, I'm thinking "Oh crap, another turd."  "And another."  "Shit, why couldn't a dog learn to deposit all their treasure's in one place in the yard.  And then there is the debate that comes up.  Spotted is a turd that obviously has laid there since the first snow fall.  These turds, as the experienced pooper scooper knows, are already molding themselves into the landscape.  They've been there for five or six months by now, do I really need to pick them up?  And then my thoughts go to Karla.  She's not going to be any happier about six month old shit being tracked into the house, than she is about the fresher variety.  And then in our yard are the occasional pile left, not by Koira, but by the moose that visit our yard all winter. These take a concerted effort.  Scoop after scoop.  "Olive" after olive, into the bag.

As I grew weary of the task, I found myself longing for a fresh cover of 3 or 4 inches of snow.  Yes, Spring is nice, but a freshly fallen snow makes the whole world look pristine and allows us to forget the turds lying underneath.

I'm in the midst of doing my 4th Step.  The 4th Step of the 12 Steps of recovery is to do a thorough moral inventory of our lives.  It is the pooper scooping of life.  Resentments, shame, guilt, anger, hurt, and any number of other residuals of living lie within like stinking turds.  As I do this inventory, I'm torn between the same two methodologies that guided me in the back yard.  The first is the systematic approach.  Let's take an orderly pattern.  First, the family of origin issues, then marital, then children, then work, etc..

And then there is the stream of consciousness path.  One turd to the next, in no particular order.

I've been working on this for weeks.  "Crap, another turd in my life!" is a constant thought.  It just goes on and on.  "That one's been there for a long time, do I really need to disturb it now?"  And yes, I long for yet another "snow fall" to cover up all this shit within my soul, so everything looks pure and clean, even if there is shit within.  Alcohol was my way of covering up this shit.  Somehow, for years, with a couple of Scotches, the whole world looked better, the hurt didn't hurt as bad, or a least I couldn't feel it for awhile.  However, the turds remained.  The same lesson is true, old shit is no better than new shit to step in time after time.  Its all still crap, and healthy living means it can't just be buried or swept to the side.

Lent is a time set aside to pooper scoop.  Have at it.