I spend a lot of time waiting outside of Starbucks on the way to a meeting. Most of the meetings I go to, I go with Carole. Most, but not all, and I’m glad I had such a long sober history before I met her. It’s easy for me to depend on other people to be the friendly half of whatever couple I’m part of.
One night this week I did go to a meeting without her. It was a discussion meeting, and the topic was “how do you maintain your spiritual condition?” That was three days ago and my head is still spinning a bit. There were the usual answers, but there was one guy changed the tone of the meeting and I’m just glad I’m not a newcomer hearing that stuff.
He let us know that he’s been sober a very long time. Then he outlined what he does on a daily basis and it is quite a list. I know this guy, and I know that he has a job. I think it might actually be a rather involved job, which makes what he said more noteworthy to me. I don’t know his relationship status.
Every day after he gets up he prays on his knees. He then reads about 40 pages in the Big Book, two sections of about 20 pages each. He then reads something religious. Then he goes to work, and from work he makes either a 10 am or 12 noon meeting, then goes back to work. At night he makes another meeting for a total of two meetings a day. Before bed he does a Tenth Step inventory, then prays on his knees again.
Someone commented after he had talked, “You must have been really sick to need to do all that.” And of course he was really sick. I understand. I was really, really sick and I don’t think I would have lived much longer if I had continued to drink. Deathly, terminally sick I was.
And if someone needs to do all that, I wouldn’t really call it a terrible life. I mean, I love AA, and I don’t mind going to meetings and reading the books over and over. If I was going to drink unless I did all that, I would do all that, and still call it a good life. Many people will say that when they began AA, they needed to do all that, or they would drink.
But I wonder about the example it sets for new people who may be overwhelmed by thinking all that will be required twenty years down the road of happy destiny. There is so much I want to do every day, and much of it has nothing to do with AA, except that AA has enabled me to do it, and do it happily, and do it well (or better than I would have without AA). My list of things to do includes writing here, cleaning the house, reading non-AA books (reading Gone Girl right now, which I’m sure has no redeeming value), exercise and walking the dog. I have work from work that I need to do at home (because I want to), I’m still working on my NaNoWriMo book all year long. I’m still struggling to learn to knit and crochet and play the guitar. There are people I want to spend time with. Today it’s my wife and my daughter and my daughter’s friend – two chemistry scientists who are visiting us because of a concert they traveled here to see. A really nice life made possible by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Another guy talked at that meeting about doing a similar amount of AA stuff every day, but he is retired. I picture that I will spend more time on AA-related activities if I’m fortunate enough to retire one day. I’ll do it because I like it, and I owe it, and I want it to flourish, and I’m grateful, and it’s a joy. I don’t begrudge all that activity to anyone who needs it, or wants it. I hesitate to even put this out there, because I would not want to stop anyone from doing anything AA-related, ever. Just in relaying my experience, though, I will say that for me and me only, AA is the most important piece of a very full life.