I sobered up 21 years ago. 18 years ago I met the woman of my dreams, who would become my wife. Shortly thereafter I met a fella at a meeting. He was an odd fellow, kind of stand-offish and if you ask him, just this side of nuts. By nuts, I mean he used to talk about biting trees when he was angry, which was often. He was nuts.
So one day, we’re talking about staying sober and he says to me something like, I’m working all of the steps but I’m not getting better. Being the helpful fellow that I am, I jumped right in and replied, “have you ever considered that you might not be working them right”?
I didn’t even remember the exchange three months later. It is a matter of fact thing… If you work the steps and you don’t get better at living well, it’s one of two things: you’re constitutionally incapable of being honest with yourself or you’re not doing it right. Thank God it’s not rocket science because I’d have been screwed.
So here we are 18 years later and this same guy comes up to me and says, hey, do you remember when you told me that I might not be working the steps right? I replied that I didn’t remember the exchange but it sounded like something I’d say, so okay…
Then he laid it out.
That exchange gnawed at him for years… He stayed sober through it all and while working with a shrink, had a breakthrough. He came to find out that he indeed had been working the steps wrong almost the whole time (he needed a completely different approach, something that no mere mortal would intuitively suggest) – and then he thanked me for having the temerity to stand up and tell it like it was. That little exchange changed his life but to me, I was just trying to help a brother out.
The point is this: I have no idea how what I say will affect someone else down the road. In this case, while I was, let’s call it abrupt, I stuck to what I know to be true and simple…
And I made a difference simply by being me.
I have no room for my old lifestyle anymore because when I’m out in the madness I can’t even deliver pizzas well, let alone make a positive difference in someone else’s life. That’s not the end of this either, it gets better. Almost two decades after that little conversation, that guy made a difference in my life too – one that will last me for decades. This is how the how and why of How It Works. He told me that I made a difference, without saying it.
Folks, you can’t beat knowing that you made a difference, for good, with a stick.
I say it like it is, too. In my chosen career, this has taken me down some pretty unpleasant paths (the fight is nastier because the stakes are so small), but I am who I am.
But like you, I hope that I am more positive than the alternative 🙂 I think you influence a LOT of people that you will never know.
Of course, you know about me. Thanks. A ton.
You’re welcome and thank you at the same time.
The “biting trees” bit had me in stitches! Who bites trees? I would love to meet this guy.
I know! He’s a great guy, he really is. Definitely fun to spin yarns with over a cup of coffee. I’ll have to see if I can’t get him into cycling – the after ride espressos would be a gas!