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An Important Clarification from the Daily Reflection – February 20, 2021: We Are Not A Glum Lot… Laugh, Baby.

Daily Recovery Readings February 20, 2021 Daily Reflection THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs. — TWELVE STEPS AND …

DR – February 20, 2021

I love that a friend posts the Daily Reflection. I would normally miss most days if not for his recreating the reading daily. The 20th was a special one that dealt with something that can unsettle newcomers in their first few meetings when they walk in to find a bunch of old-timers yucking it up over things that will typically generate tears in new members.

If I had a dollar for every belly-laugh I’ve had over the sad state of my affairs when I walked in the door, I’d be writing this post from my winter home in Tasmania after a ride with my friend, the Tempocyclist.

The key thing to remember, while others are laughing about their trip out of hell, is that they’ve emerged charred but alive and recovered years and decades ago. What they’re doing is celebrating their recovery from that sad state… and most important, they’re showing you what’s in store for you if you keep coming back. And that is not to be missed.

Don’t be sad or angry that they’re laughing. First, like the linked post says, learn to refrain from taking yourself so seriously. Second, know that if you keep coming back and work the steps, your time to laugh is on the horizon and it is glorious. If you work for it, it’s a promise to you. It will happen.

A brighter note for a Monday.

The Case for Continuous Sobriety; From an Old Friend, Mentor and Part of Our “Rat Pack”.

Due to anonymity issues, I have to be very careful with this post.  For that reason, this will appear a little vague.  If you’ve read one post of mine, I like to be descriptive to a fault, because being clear helps newcomers.  Sadly, I simply can’t be perfectly clear about the “who and where”.  I’ll be all over the “what and why”, though, as is par for the course.

I stumbled into a very special group of old-timers when I moved north of my native Brighton – Howell zip code as a young lad.  They were Flint’s “rat pack” in sobriety, the same as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop in Hollywood.  My sponsor, for a short but influential time before his death, was “Frank Sinatra”.  He was such a good sponsor and man, he’s still talked about fondly and regularly a decade after his death.  If you ever talk about a legacy, especially for a person in recovery, that’s as good as it can possibly get for just a normal, everyday person.  My sponsor could make anyone feel instantly better about being themselves just by greeting them.  It was an amazing talent and use of an enormous heart.  He loved every lost soul who ever walked into an AA meeting and he was going to do his level best to make sure they felt welcome and knew that he was there for them if they decided to stick around.

We had “Dean Martin” over to the house, Friday night.  I’d say he was Sammy (my favorite), but Peter is unquestionably Sammy.  Dean was a close second favorite for me because I drank like him and related to his sense of humor.  That quality my sponsor had, rubbed off on Ian.  Ian, almost by chance and luck, had a huge influence on my wife and was a big part of her life growing up.  My current sponsor, Greg, is “Joey Bishop”.  Roger is “Peter Lawford”.

And so here we were, having a small dinner party (very small, so it could be held outdoors, socially distanced, because Ian and his wife are of that age that Covid-19 ravages).  Ian’s been sober 44 years.  I was five when he put a plug in the jug for good, 17 years before my sobriety date.

And so we group of sober friends and family ate together, vegetarians and balanced eaters alike, and it was wonderful.  We all laughed.  Ian, my wife and Ian’s wife cried.  And in the course, Ian brought up how well he thought we were doing, and how happy we appeared.  He related that back to his life and success, and we both related that back to our working a program of recovery.

And that brings us ’round to the main point of this post.

Within recovery, I am a decent example of a good human being.  I’m not great, yet, I think I might need that 17 more years to touch that, but I’ll keep trying to get there.  I have a chance to get there because I know one very important point down to my baby toes; sobriety and recovery aren’t an on-again, off-again experience.  I don’t get to the good benefits by straddling the fence, one foot in recovery, the other in addiction and on a banana peel.  And there exists a simple explanation for this truth…

In recovery, there is a progression to health that is very clear and if one hopes for the full benefits afforded by recovery, none of that progression can be skipped.  It’s cumulative.  First, we work the steps to become free of the grips of addiction.  Once free, and with a basic knowledge of “how it works”, we go on to practice those steps and principles in all our affairs.  As life continues, we lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows – helping others becomes a part of our life.  Helping others naturally helps us grow in the steps and principles and life improves.  It doesn’t get easier, of course.  There are trials and tribulations, but we handle them better than we ever could, because the steps and principles we’ve been working for years have become second nature.  We intuitively handle situations that once left us baffled, cursing the universe for having shit on us one more time.  Now we roll over those issues as if they’re minor speed bumps.  We have to slow the momentum a minute so we don’t bottom out the car, but we absolutely keep rolling.  And life continues to get better.

Before you know it, you don’t need meetings anymore – if you’re so blessed, you keep going simply to see how good life can get and to help others get to the same place you’ve been for years.  And this gets to my sponsor’s legacy.  This will be Ian’s legacy, and Peter’s… and Greg’s and Roger’s.

And if I keep it up, possibly mine.

With on-again, off-again sobriety I can never fully release myself from the grips of alcoholism and addiction.  I can’t recover.  If I can’t get out of that fly-paper, I can’t move on to the next part of the progression so I never really get to the sunshine of recovery.  I’m held back.  Retarded from the growth necessary to help friends and fellows – because you’ve gotta have something to give away to be able to freely give it.  If I can’t get there, I’m blocked off from the really good stuff.

I keep coming back because I want to see just how good “good” can get.  Without recovery, all I’m capable of is “meh”.  That’s just not good enough – it hasn’t been for a long time.  Good times and noodle salad isn’t arrived at by chance.  We have to work for it.

A Buddy’s Triumphant Return to Cycling After a Knee Replacement

About four months ago, one of my best riding buddies had his knee replaced. He’s suffered through some complications and his recovery has been slowed to the point of a crawl. It’s sucked because he’s had some high hopes for this year. We’ve all had high hopes for him this year, actually.

He had a layoff because of yet another issue that had him laid up for a few days which took the swelling in his knee way down. He went back to PT immediately after and all of a sudden, he felt comfortable enough to try his comeback. He’s been riding for a week, now. Slow, of course, but he’s got a good start.

Yesterday was his welcome back ride. 20 miles on dirt roads (because it was really cold). We had eight, including Mike, and we did a nice loop at his pace to welcome him back – to give him that feeling you can only get riding with a bunch of your friends.

My friends, it was good times and noodle salad all around.

With Decades of Sobriety and Active Recovery Under One’s Belt, Why Continue to Go to Meetings?

I know I need at least one meeting a week.  I need to be connected to the program, in some meaningful way, in order for me to keep my head on straight.  I accept that as it is, there’s no sense trying to fight or change it.  It’s just not worth the risk.

At a meeting yesterday friend of mine, whose got 18 years now and who my wife and I drove to a meeting once a week for a year-and-a-half until he got his license back, said, “I know I need one meeting a week, but I go to five because I don’t know which one it is.”

I went to three last week, which is rare for me.  Surprisingly, last week was a bit of a tough one for me.  In terms of a “rough life”, it doesn’t even register on the scale, but when you’re used to gentle rollers, you still feel the downhill – it’s just not enough to make you queasy.  Without those meetings, my drive to work this morning would have been a whole lot less grateful.  I’m thinking I might do three more again this week, just to see if I did it right last week.

So why do I still need meetings after 9,930 days without a drink or drug?

The way I see it today, my life of recovery is best lived in contact with other people in recovery.  When I’m helping others to stay on the path, when I’m an active part of the recovery fellowship, a friendly association, good things happen.  My gratitude for being on the right side of the grass increases.  My enthusiasm to be a better me increases.  I’m able to take life’s little problems in stride.  I’m able to forgive freely.

And most important, the more active I am in the community the easier it is to see the path in front of me so I don’t go crashing off into the woods.

One of the meetings I went to last week, I hadn’t been to in more than 17 years.  To see many of the same people, older and happier, and a lot of new faces as well, and to be welcomed back as an old friend… it’s good times and noodle salad, folks.  It’s as good as it gets.

There’s a line in the Big Book that states, “We are not a glum lot”.  Too often, newcomers think they’re giving something up by going to meetings and living a life of recovery.  For those who stick around long enough for the miracle, they quickly find that we indeed are anything but glum.  We continue to go to meetings because it’s the best fun there is (with clothes on) once we put the plug in the jug.

A roomful of old-timers laughing and yukking it up about their old exploits and troubles can be a little disconcerting to a newcomer to the group.  It can be hard to handle people laughing about emotions and nerves that are still raw or exposed.  Fear not.  Keep coming back and before you know it you’ll be relieved of the pain of your past, if you work for it, and you’ll be laughing too… and showing others how you did it – and more important, why.

And then you too will understand why we keep going to meetings.