IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS? NOT REALLY!
My Father was an alcoholic. Like me. The big difference being I knew I was a drunk and he denied it to the end. ”I never missed a day of work in my life because of booze.” was his war cry of denial. And he didn’t. Not while he was alive. His drinking eventually killed him.
Booze turned my father all sentimental and he’d get me up in the middle of the night to sing. His drinking partner was a coworker named Ike. He’d get me up at midnight to sing ‘Danny Boy’ for Ike. I think Ike hated me. The last thing he wanted was to hear me sing. Or anyone else. It was right there in his eyes and it still surprises me that my Dad never saw it.
One very early morning I was awakened and told to get dressed. It was still dark out and my Father, very drunk, informed me we were going to see a ”professional baseball game”! As we drove through a blinding rainstorm he’d turn to me in the back seat again and again to repeat that sentence. As he and Ike passed a bottle back and forth the word ‘professional’ became increasingly difficult to pronounce.
It was over 60 years ago but I can remember wanting my Dad to keep his eyes on the road and not look back at me. In fact, I can close my eyes today and see the light from the headlights illuminating the rain as the car swerved from one side of the highway to the other. I remember thinking it was my concentration that kept the car on the road. Perhaps the birthplace of grandiosity is terror. Rather than accept the fact that my responsible adult was drunk I imbued myself with super human powers. It’s what little boys do I suppose when the truth is to frightening to accept.
“We’re going to see a professional baseball game my son. You’re going to see the Cleveland Indians play baseball!” He then proceeded to drive to Cincinnati.
He drove to the wrong city. Sitting in an empty parking lot at the wrong stadium he slowly realized the mistake he’d made. Returning from the box office where he’d read the schedule he slumped into the car, exchanged an embarrassed look with his buddy Ike and then announced that there would be no ball game. But that it didn’t matter.
“It’s the Thought that counts!” he proclaimed.
And I believe on some level I grabbed that logic and made it my own ‘go to excuse’ for years. I was one of the thoughty-est little creatures you ever met. As my drinking progressed through the years I thought about voting, getting jobs done on time, being a good husband and father. But, I failed at most of those positions.
Eventually my drinking and drugging took me to rehab and the new life I have today. Amongst my fellow addicts I was offered some advice about my thinking. It wasn’t the thought that counted. Or even my feelings. In fact, when I said, “I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get in touch with my feelings my sober guide suggested, “If I stayed sober long enough my feelings would get in touch with me!”
Most importantly, I was told that it was my ‘actions’ that counted. That it was the way I lived my life, treated my fellow man and how closely my actions followed my given word and promise that mattered most. That thinking would improve but it would never be the measure of a man. That we are the sum of our efforts for good, for love and service and that by concentrating on how we treated the world … not how the world treated us … we’d be on our way to a richer life lived in gratitude and trust.