Saturday, February 20, 2010


Life has been presenting me some challenges/opportunities (are they the same thing?) that have gotten in the way of my writing regular blog articles the past few days.  I can't say that they've even consumed all the time I could have written, but, well, it's just not been possible for this person to get an article out every day the past few days.

I hope/plan to get back to writing regularly in a few days.

Since I was sick before, I just wanted to let  those that care know that is not what this is about - I'm healthy enough but am thoroughly distracted right now.

It's probably no accident that this patch of my life has come up close to my anniversary of starting this blog (last March).  As I remember, the thought I had at the time is that I would try this for a year and, if it (the blog and the efforts to create it) were useful, I would continue.

My inclination is that blogging will remain a part of my life for the foreseeable future (for me, foreseeable might be today or tomorrow but I generally make commitments in annual increments, at least).  As to the form or if I will have the luxury of continuing blogging at least 3-5 times a week, that is all up in the air for now.

Anyway, I miss it (a lot!) when I can't write up anything and I miss it even more when I can't comment on the articles of those of you whom I have come to care much about.  I plan to explain more about what my thoughts are when they are more fully developed in  a few days/weeks/months.

As to the details of the challenges - it's all just bound up in the drama of the disease and my life.  I'm sure there will be material for several articles when we get around to it in a few days.

Until then, I wish us all God's best.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I had my regular breakfast with a delightful 20+ year sober sponsee this morning.  He'd had a particularly frustrating and discouraging weekend and, as we were leaving after his expressing his frustrations for nearly an hour, he asked me "...have you ever just felt like quitting AA?"

I had to take a deep breath because there's a short answer and a long answer to this question.  The truth is that I've been given a life beyond my wildest dreams as a direct consequence of AA.  AA really does work.

The medium-length answer is that, over the years, I've often felt like quitting AA - even knowing that it might be my death sentence to leave.  No, maybe especially because it would probably be my death sentence.  But, that's probably another article.

There are basically a few reasons I've really been ready to throw in the towel on AA over the years:
  1. Early in sobriety and many times since, I would sometimes look around the room and get pretty judgmental and say "these guys and girls are all losers and hypocrites."  I still do occasionally.  Sometimes, frankly, I'm just embarassed to be apart of this family.
  2. I look at what we've made AA to be - the chanting, the opinions espoused, the religiosity, the latest pop psychology - and I just hate it.  It seems foreign to me and what I knew this program to be many years ago.
  3. I've felt that some members have become friends and then hurt or betrayed me.  Their hypocrisy or the way they've used me have caused significant pain.
  4. It all seems like such a huge waste of time.  I spend hours each day practicing the program or attempting to be of service to others involved in this program.  It really seems like this time would be better served with making a living, being useful in my family or, just finding an interesting hobby.
I think there are many other reasons I have for quitting AA but they might also just be variations of the above. I don't think it's worthwhile to come up with an exhaustive list.

So, against that, I have some different ways of looking at these same ideas:
  1. Any family has people who are more successful than others or folks who could be an embarrassment.  Heck, I've even been the one who I've known some people are embarrassed to know so who am I to talk or judge?  At my largest home group meeting, it's not an exaggeration to say there are 35-50 people there on any given Saturday night who would go to any length available to them to support me in my sobriety.  I've never had a family like that anywhere else.
  2. I realize that, today, I am  responsible for what AA will be in the future.  If I don't like what it is today or its general trend, I need to become active in making it into something different.  It's part of why I became a co-founder of  It's a privilege to, perhaps, be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  Besides, as a fellowship, we've been arguing since 1936 as to what is the "right" thing for AA - mistakes of AA leadership in the past seem much more egregious or dangerous than the ones of today.
  3. In every case where my feelings have been hurt or that there's been betrayal, it's been as a direct result of my either projecting intentions or commitments that were not there or I've been attached to people being something they weren't or I've been too sensitive or taken myself way to seriously.  I can't think of any other way I might have learned these lessons.
  4. For every minute I've invested in my and others recovery, I've received countless dividends.  Frankly, the world is not knocking my door down to ask for my professional contributions and my family is happy when I can be involved with them but are just as happy when I let them get on with their own lives.  The principles I've learned in AA are the only things I think that make me attractive to anyone else in my life.
So, while I have times of discouragement and despair in AA, on a good day I can see where all of those times have led me toward growth that I really could never have accomplished in any other way.  On a really good day, even my discouragement and feelings of hopelessness in AA can be useful to someone else on the same journey as I am.

Today was (is) a really good day.

Monday, February 15, 2010


For the past few days, I've had hat the lyrics to "If I Were a Rich Man"  stuck in my head.  Probably not all that surprising given that, off the top of my head, I've worked on 6 productions of Fiddler on the Roof in the theater, have seen it produced by others (including on Broadway) at least 8 or 10 times and have seen the movie countless times. 

About the only relief I get from that the past few days seems to be when I'm working with others and then the tune in my head has largely been "Tradition."

When life gets uncomfortable for me, I can so relate to Tevye in fantasizing it being improved by money, relationship changes, political differences, changes in the weather, whatever.  Likewise, when people are struggling in any way with compliance to the principles of AA, my answer wants to be "...because you just have to do it that way if you want to stay sober."

Yet, people in far worse situations and circumstances than mine all over the world are happy and grateful.  People who work a radically different AA program than I get sober and seem effective in their lives.  I guess my only natural response to that would be that I would have to hate them for that.

I thought I was over my head cold last Wednesday but this morning was the first morning that I've felt anywhere over 80% towards normal.  Last Friday, I finally had the bright idea that I could move the Kleenex box down from the shelf to the place where I could reach it while at my computer.  I'm a pretty slow study sometimes.

Anyway, when I'm sick (in many different types of ways), my "situation" becomes more intolerable and it seems the only think I can bring to the table is judgment/condemnation.

Seems I still have some things to learn.  I guess that's why I'm here.  As my sponsor continues to remind me: "All that is asked of me is my best effort."  God seems to add to that whatever additional is needed.  With God's help, I can learn and life will continue to surprise me with blessings aplenty.

That's been my experience so far.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Aw shucks, I'm going to live after all...

I've been sick (head cold) for the past 3 days.

I have lots of experience around sickly, heroic people.  People who rise above their challenges and accomplish amazing things while presented with ill health or tough life circumstances.  While I was laying around this past weekend, I watched the program Temple Grandin, a semi-documentary movie of Temple Grandin on HBO.  It truly is amazing what people can accomplish when so many odds are stacked against them.

I'm not those people.

I get a head cold and it serves as an excuse for an extremely self-centered me to focus more on me - How am I feeling?  Am I going to die?  Can I get something out of this?  Can I disappear and nobody notice? Am I going to live?

Way to much of me for me.

The good news is that I feel better today.

The even better news is that, so far, I've thought about at least 2-3 people besides myself today.

God is good.

...and AA works.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I spent some of the weekend at a local conference with a theme of "Haven at last."  Comes from our Big Book:
"Many a man, yet dazed from his hospital experience, has stepped over the threshold of that home into freedom. Many an alcoholic who entered there came away with an answer. He succumbed to that gay crowd inside, who laughed at their own misfortunes and understood his. Impressed by those who visited him at the hospital, he capitulated entirely when, later, in an upper room of this house, he heard the story of some man whose experience closely tallied with his own. The expression on the faces of the women, that indefinable something in the eyes of the men, the stimulating and electric atmosphere of the place, conspired to let him know that here was haven at last." BB - pp. 160
 I just love that....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Solution, the...

In a comment left on yesterday's article, dAAve posted a comment to the effect of "Solutions?".  This was interesting to me in that I thought I was actually representing a solution when I wrote it.  I could see where it would be seen that I was simply griping about living in the selfishness and self-pity and, well, self.

I'm one of those rare folk who truly see the nobility of Sisyphus - as the rock rolls back down the hill, I really am grateful for the purpose, direction, strength and grace that I have to roll that rock back up again.  Where others see futility, I see a heroic effort and an answer to a life that has just always been beyond me.  My hope today is not only that I will get a huge income and fancy toys.  My (sometimes successful) pursuit of money and material goods has all but ruined me, drunk and sober.

What this life is about for me, today, is that I can be true to my task.  Again, carefully hidden in our Big Book are the directions:
"... We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. 'How can I best serve Thee--Thy will (not mine) be done.' These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will." BB - pp. 85
So, what I understand for today is that I get to apply my will to learning how to serve God.  How can I be useful?  What can I contribute?  Where can I offer love and tolerance?

On a practical basis, this gets worked out in some queer ways (sorry guys - you know what I mean ;-) ).  Yesterday, I spent $175 that I don't have on some computer equipment that will upgrade my tools/infrastructure so that I can make some progress in developing some software that I've committed to provide.  Makes no financial sense (maybe).  Makes no practical sense (maybe).  But, I've avoided dealing with this part of my life for nearly 3 years now and it was really "the next thing.™"  I'm trusting an instinctual nudge that just seemed to indicate this was right.

I wish I had a clue what the vision thing is about - I sometimes think I have an idea where it might go and then, well, surprise!

The thing I really want to be clear about today though is this is not a veil of tears.  This is not drudgery.  The truth is, as best I can express it, that in sobriety my circumstances have been up, down, easy and challenging.  When I have applied my "...proper use of the will", I have had an amazing life regardless of my circumstances.  For alcoholics like me, AA works.  It has thus far, and I believe it will into the future.

I truly have had a life beyond my wildest dreams in my time in AA so far.

I can certainly see where someone who isn't an alcoholic would be reluctant to step into the harness of recovery as outlined in AA.  How, would one cure low self esteem, selfishness, self pity, etc. by carrying a " ... vision of God's will into all of our activities ... "?  How indeed?

For this drunk, it basically gets pretty simple:
problem = self
solution = God

It just really does work.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I don't feel like it...

I truly can't remember when a sponsee has offered the "I don't feel like it..." line to me.  I guess the current crop know what they will get from me in response.
"...For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that." (my emphasis added) BB pp. 14-15
I've not felt like it much of the time recently.  I've been in fear.  I'm embarrassed I've been in fear.  I've been selfish.  I've been embarrassed about being selfish.  The list goes on but I recognize it from when I hear it from myself and others.  It's just character defects as expressed in the latest drama of the day.

And, I have a sponsor that I really think I could convince him that my sorry lot in life just deserves a rest.  In my heart, I think I could get by with that about as readily as convincing him that it would be a really good idea for me to drink.  It might happen.

Truth is, I think my favorite sentence in our Big Book is: "... With us it is just like that."  It's an amazing catch-all that really, does, in the final analysis, explain it all.  Every little bit of it.

 'nuff said.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's up...

I have no real excuses for not having posted the past few days.  I just haven't made the time to do more than read and comment.  I generally seem to much prefer that to writing my own entry these days.

My life since Thursday (my last post) has been too much self and too little thought of God and others.

The activities have included:
  • working on my computing environment and making a commitment to learn some things I've been skating on (just sort of not committing to really learning about and improving my network but hating the problems and patching together a framework which sort of works, some of the time) for over 2 years
  • my wife had an AA deal in Buena Vista, CO (about 4 hours from here - lives up to it's name) on Saturday night and we had a gorgeous drive over there
  • some wonderful folks there put us up for the night but I had to fly to NYC on Sunday morning so we had a gorgeous drive back over the mountains in a wonderful full moon early Sunday
  • I arrived in NYC on Sunday afternoon and got to walk around the upper west side and experience some of what I love (the people) and what I hate (all those people in a small area) about NYC
  • I interviewed for a voluntary position there Monday afternoon and learned that the fact that the interview didn't come off well had precious little to do with me - I gave, I thought, a pretty good interview but the fact that the people who will make the decision were not there (along with other factors which might weigh against me) mean I will probably not be offered the job/service opportunity - that could well be a very good thing...
  • I flew home last night and got home more tired than I'd like but I will get over it
During that time, I had plenty of time and opportunity to write an article but didn't.

My life feels like it's in a (major?) transition.  I've hesitated to put this observation down in a blog article because it's felt like that for over a year now (it's part of what brought me to writing here in the 1st place).  It just seems like I'm ready to cease fighting and let go of whatever resistance I have but I can't, for the life of me and with all the inventory and honesty I can muster get to anything I can do.  Writing this, I realize I'm just frustrated - yet more manifestations of selfishness and ego.

At the very least, I'm here for now (did you notice? ;-) ) and that is all I've got.

Now, it's on to the next thing...

Thank you.

p.s. the pictures are the best view I got of midtown (I think) from the cab on the way to LGA and Union (I think) on the way out Monday night.