March 22, 2013 (this day)

IMG_0100I 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.

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6 thoughts on “March 22, 2013 (this day)

  1. Sounds like that old timer is still white knuckling it.
    I remember a guy like that, he was always talking about how much he did for AA, and if we didn’t do all he did, we didn’t value our sobriety as much as he did.
    He never had anything I wanted.
    I’m sure people will see through the white knuckle guy, it may take a meeting or two, but they will.

  2. Thanks for this and all your posts.
    I certainly could not claim anything like that attention to AA, but like you, I have a full life.
    One of the wonderful things for me is that there are many ways to work the programme, and what’s right for me might not be right for you.
    But I can learn from everybody as long as I stay willing

  3. Hi….I heard that kind of thing when I was a newcomer but it didn’t bother me because I didn’t believe it. Who does that? I thought oldtimers were just tooting their own horns and it turned me off. It was as if they were saying “look at me, look how wonderful I am.” Eventually I realized that we each share our own experience, strength and hope and I can’t compare my sobriety and maintenance of my spiritual condition to that of others. AA has given me the tools (12steps, mtgs, literature, ways to be of service, etc) to maintain my spiritual condition on a daily basis and I’m grateful though I am far from perfect. Thank you for your post. It’s made me realize I need to work on my judgmentalness and contempt for those I disbelieve. Yikes! Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly…

    • Thank you for your comment. So yes, I judge . . . this oldtimer seemed self righteous in his constant attention to the program. I don’t know if he needs to or wants to or if his sobriety is better than mine. It very well may be.

  4. I believe he is who he is and good on him for doing that I dont pray much and I need to be closer to God I can take some advise from all of you guys and girls God bless and keep coming back.

  5. Good for him. I wonder when getting “in tune” or “on board” or “at one with” God will become second nature. I’m sure it takes a lot of practice, our book tells us that. I practice, and now I feel kind of less than because I’m not doing it as much as this guy lol. But I do what I know works now. Today. And it isn’t as involved as this example. I know how to be at one with God in all moments, and though I’m not always good at it, I do my very best. And I remember what Bill said in a letter regarding making AA our whole life in relation to balance and carrying the principles with you in non-AA related stuff and it works the same way, and we don’t need to be fully immersed in Alcoholics Anonymous anything to be working a program or to be serene. But I do what I can today, even when i don’t feel like it, even if it’s helping someone pick up something they dropped at the store. However we get there, we are going, and we aren’t looking back. Sometimes it comes down to, right now, this second, I do not have the urge to drink, and that’s wonderful, but I’m not gunna settle for that, I can do better, and I do my best. Most of the time 😉 Anywho, I really dig your blog and reading your experience, thank-you.

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