Storing Stones

The diner’s menu was thick like a dictionary, laminated pages protecting pictures of entrees. You don’t need the menu to order because they cook anything that any diner has ever cooked before.
It was my last opportunity to sit down with my sponsor before the school year starts, when I become as busy as an accountant during tax season.
I was telling him about the IANA post and this new form of recovery I’ve found. I also told him that I gave the newspaper my 30-day notice to clear some time on my schedule. The paper gave me the space to write a ‘farewell’ editorial.
“I want to mention that I have a website and all that in the editorial.”
He read the doubt on my face. My sponsor knows me. Conversing with him is like playing poker with a best friend. He sees through every bluff.
“Why wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t know. It’s hard imagining every person in the city I live, including my colleagues, knowing all those details about my life.”
The paper is mailed to every resident.
“These people know you for the things you do, not the things you did. Considering the man you’ve become, it could do nothing but help people.”
I was growing distracted by what I assumed was a father and son who passed by us. The man wore his short slicked hair in a ponytail like a greasy balloon knot. The host sat them and slapped two voluminous menus on the table. The father took out his phone. The two didn’t share a word.
My ego approached the bench.
Why can’t he just speak to his son? He doesn’t have to be on his phone like that. His son’s gonna learn all the wrong things. Who knows what he’s looking at. Whatever he’s looking at could be a conversation starter in the least.
I am so quick to take someone else’s inventory, quick to store up the stones of judgement. I used to hurl them regularly. My spiritual development has taught me restraint. But,

hoarding judgement hardens the heart.

I continue to pile up judgement in spite of myself, until my stone collection resembles Stonehengeinexplicably massive.
Although I’ve had ample opportunities to learn to avoid judgement, it comes to mind as naturally as breathing.

When his pre-school was closed later that week, I took my son to IHOP. If pancakes were on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, my son would eat pancakes 21 times a week. Most of his manipulative tactics have been developed in pancake cravings.
He Gasped.
When he schemes he tends to swallow hard, as if gobbling up excited air.
“If if if I sleep all night, we could eat pancakes tomorrow.” His eyes drift to the side of his socket and he grins like a salesman. His hands are in a gesture of diplomacy, expecting my compromise.
“We ate pancakes yesterday bud. Tomorrow we eat something else.”
I hadn’t made pancakes all week. So I took him to IHOP. Our hostess sat us down and slapped huge plastic menus on the table. Without saying a word, I take out my phone. I opened 4 applications before realizing my son is sitting there, staring at the ceiling fan. My mind flashed to the image of the greasy-balloon-knotted-pony-tailed father from earlier that week. His face looked at me in the shadow of my ego, like the enemy waiting to say, “I told you so.”
I’m no different from that man. When I have the choice to either watch my son draw abstract crayon art or hop on my phone’s Internet, my first instinct is to reach for the phone.
I am just like him, which is to say I am human.
It is my humanness that should teach me to never judge others. It’s not my job.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of gray matter, a signpost on my ego reads: “Stones Stored Here.”

It is far easier to hold stones or cast them, then it is to let them go.
Jesus had it figured out. A sinner has no right to cast a single stone. Why should I complain about the speck in the eye of my brother, ignoring the plank that blinds my own? Maybe it being my Jesus year, I’m ready to learn that lesson.

It ain’t all bad.
If I never rushed to judgement earlier in the week, I wouldn’t have reminded myself to put the phone down while eating with my son at IHOP. I would not have heard him request to build a race track out of sugar substitute. I would not have suggested that his crayons be the race cars. I would have missed the meaning of a mundane breakfast: to exist alongside a wild world of imagination.
As a matter of fact, it’s pretty damn good.


23 Responses to “Storing Stones

  • First off, your kid is adorable. I completely understand and relate to passing judgements only to find that I am calling anothr kettle black. I’ve learned repeatedly that when I gather those stones, there is always a seed of truth about myself. And somehow despite my hawk eye for other people’s shit, I can be blind to my own. Good for you for recognizing it and sharing. That is the best kind of growth.

    • I like that seed of truth about myself part. I think that’s exactly how his story panned out. The weird part is would I have been aware if I didn’t judge in the first place? I don’t think I would have.

  • I love the way your sponsor handled that conversation. Isn’t our own judgey-ness so ugly when we recognize it? Awareness is the first step to change though… I am so thankful to be more aware today than I was yesterday. Awesome post Mark….like always. : ) You are after all one of the top recovery bloggers. I knew it was coming!

    • Thank you Annette! The key is awareness yes! Somehow, it’s funny that me judging made me aware, glad you picked up on that.

      I was meaning to mention Annette that I had to take my blog roll off the site because it slowed my site down to a crawl. I tried finding you on WordPress but I couldn’t. Do you have a subscription option?

  • Your son is adorable!
    I now do with hubs…keep the phone in my purse!
    PS – I wish you all the best in your new school year, and yes, I know the busyness of which you speak!

  • I love this piece. We have so much to learn about ourselves by finding empathy for others and acknowledging our shared experiences. This humanity and awareness brings growth and forms connections internally and externally. Thank you for this share.

  • The newspaper/link opportunity is pretty exciting though I get that it would be scary too. I also get the phone thing from both sides, the using and judging. I definitely judge myself when I do it but then feel superior when I put it away. We remember a life before when there were no phones and romanticize it, or maybe it really was that much better. I don’t think being tethered to my phone is healthy, but your awareness about your own habits feels decidedly healthy, a big step in the right direction.

  • Your son is precious! I would like to wish you all the best in everything!

  • Read this when it came out but had no time to comment but just wanted to say how fantastic this piece is – once again you take a small occurrence and attach a great life lesson to it. Thanks for sharing, as always.

  • You know what I realized today? I often don’t comment because there is so much to comment on, so I skip it all together. Pancakes, sponsors, mindfulness, unhealthy tendencies, etc. At least know I realize what’s happening when I come over to tMotM.
    A true follower.

  • I love ihop! Or Waffle House! Anywhere you can get greasey eggs and hard toast 24 hours a day.
    Your children are so blessed to have a “present” dad so early in their lives. When I was tiny, there weren’t even sci-fi cellphones, yet I’m pretty sure dad wasn’t present 98% of the time. You’re the kind of parent I

  • Good grief.
    …wish I were. Carry on, Mr. Mundane ❤

  • That moment where you realized you were acting like the ponytailed man is where the true growth takes place

  • I also struggle with letting others know about my blog. Those who are close to me. It’s my ego wanting to hid my past. Something about the antimony of you all reading but not really knowing me, but even that’s not true because I feel like you all know me the best .

  • I love the perspective you offer that we can learn lessons to improve, but viewing others. Learning what not to do is valuable too. Who is not to say that the same ponytail fellow won’t see us model something next week and apply it to his relationships.
    …and I’m still living as Merry… baby steps.

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