The Cartwrights of Bonanza were my childhood heroes. Good triumphs every time. Westerns were my escape world where the good guys always win in 60 minutes or less!
I wanted to live on the Bonanza ranch. I’m convinced if they had run a contest for the kid who most wanted to be part of the Cartwright family, I’d have won it. What I wouldn’t have given to have Ben as a father and Hoss, the gentle giant for a brother! Course I’d want to take my own brother along. We’d have so much fun tearing up that ranch! I didn’t want to be on the show but in it. I wanted the Bonanza life.
The show ran from my junior high years through college. In 2007 I got to go there, to the Lake Tahoe ranch. I even got to have a shot of whiskey in the Silver Dollar Saloon. I was the only one at the bar wanting whiskey at 10:30 in the morning. (Typical alcoholic) I convinced some of my fellow tourists to sit at one of the tables and have one with me. I still have the shot glass. Always will, but now it’s a toothpick holder.
What I wanted from the ranch was a secure environment where trouble, when it came, could be handled. Cartwrights never looked for trouble but when it found them, they faced it with courage. They defended the good guys against the bad guys, spoke their minds and stood up for truth. They always won.
You know what the problem is? That’s fiction. I’ve known it for a while now, but I didn’t always know it. I really don’t like to use my own fantasy world to debunk my false thinking but I must. It’s part of my facing reality.
When I started the Steps reality and I were barely on speaking terms. Of course, I didn’t know that. I only knew I wanted to die and I couldn’t get enough of my favorite wines. Amazing how discouraging it becomes to live in a fantasy of your own making. I was concealing my 6 pack cartons in a tall VonMaur bag with handles and taking them to the garage so I could hide them in the trunk; so I could ignore the ugly facts and hide it from the neighbors.
I had to learn in AA how to face trouble with courage, though. I wish watching a Bonanza episode would be all it takes to learn that, but it isn’t. I’ve had to learn to face my biggest trouble—fear.
For me, most of that happened in writing my inventory (4th Step) and talking about all the things that I had tried to ignore (5th Step). It covered half a century! I had to stop seeing myself as the ‘good guy’ and just see myself as the major player—one with flaws. I had nightmares the weekend I worked on writing my 4th Step. If I had turned around and run from the project, I would never have known the truth about myself and about my life. The truth was what eventually removed my self-loathing and my anxious fears.
Speaking my mind about the things that were buried deeply brought a freedom and clarity of perspective that I would recommend to anyone I love. I recommend the Steps. Bring on the truth!
Seeking truth is like saddling up and riding off to find it. Seek truth. Make yourself take the Steps.
I have to say it. Ride off into the sunset… but take the trail that others have prepared.