Just a little backdrop... Recently, I have experienced what some might define as significant losses: My last surviving parent died in October; I ended a long-term primary relationship in November; My darling dog of 10 years was put to sleep in February. I am an empty nester, living in a new home in rural America. Despite these losses, daily life was fulfilling and meaningful. I had a job I adored, good friends, a busy social and volunteer life, and, most importantly, a wonderful AA community that grew and deepened every day!
One of the difficulties I have with staying sober is that I like to drink. I also like my drugs: Valium, Percodan, and other opiates, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. For me, drinking and drugging is forever natural. Being clean and sober is forever unnatural. Even though my sobriety date is July 4, 1989, and I have been sober for 11,173 days, a day at a time, sobriety has never become natural for me. I rely on the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous and I do what it says to do.
In the early 1970’s I drove a taxi in New York City. The fare meters were mechanical, not electronic. They were driven by two moving cables. One cable measured time, and the other measured distance. Whichever cable moved faster drove the fare. If the cab was stuck in traffic, the fare still went up, driven by the “waiting time”. If the cab was moving briskly, the meter went up, pushed along by the distance driven. That image comes to mind when I think of gratitude and resentment.
It’s Friday, November 1st, and I took the day off. I flew with my wife, Priscilla to Los Angeles. This fall I joined “The Magic Castle” in Hollywood. It is a private club in a castle, located in the Hollywood Hills. I sponsor a 94 year old psychologist who lives in California, and he both introduced me to the Magic Castle, and sponsored me for membership.
“A Recovery Community Organization (RCO) is devoted to providing services to and tearing down barriers for those suffering from a substance use disorder. It is a
grassroots community-based organization staffed by people in recovery."
“Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”
It’s Tuesday afternoon at The Retreat, and it’s cold. Right now it is 6 degrees below zero. The forecast for tonight is 26 below. Tomorrow’s forecast is 15 below in the daytime and 29 below at night. The all-time low was 32 below, set on the evening of February 3, 1996.
I have heard this wishful thinking many times over the past three years, since I came to work at The Retreat full time in May 2014. Many people who are sober in AA have a sense that their program isn’t all that it could be. They want more, but aren’t sure how to get it. Our Big Book says that it is easy to be vague about the matter of prayer and meditation, and then it goes on to make some “definite and valuable suggestions.” (page 86). The Retreat is all about those “definite and valuable suggestions” that we find in the Big Book.