I had already chugged several drinks before arriving at the restaurant for an office dinner party some years back. We were running late and arrived at last call on the cocktail hour, about to be seated for dinner. I grabbed one of the last drinks from the tray that was being passed, chugged it, and took a seat at the table. Within seconds I realized that I needed to get some food in me quick. The room was spinning, I couldn’t focus, and I knew if I opened my mouth, my words would be jumbled and lushy.
In a single AA meeting you might find a couple of Christians, a Buddhist, a Jew, maybe a Muslim, and a handful of people that identify as “spiritual but not religious.” They all believe different things but enjoy the same result: sobriety. This is because they all follow the same course of action. A pragmatic spirituality focuses on how you believe, not on what you believe, which can be difficult to grasp if you are accustomed to propositional religion.
Getting sober is just the beginning. Life rolls out the red carpet when we step fully into recovery. What can you add to this list? (1) Tell the truth. (2) Say YES to life and no to substances. (3) Stay connected to the invisible side of nature (not because we’re “supposed to” but because we enjoy it and it’s awesome.)
Noting the differences between religion and spirituality is necessary for recovering individuals and addiction recovery professionals. Both populations need to understand that spirituality is something that already exists within every person, just like emotions and cognitions. Religion, however, is an external force – a manmade and organized set of beliefs which are typically taught.
I am filled with calm knowingness today as I awaken to the essence of spring, new growth, seeing the world around me come to life as I shake off any residual slumber in me. I step out of the status quo of my comfort zone and onto my green growing edges. I am filled with gratitude as I easily turn my inner clock to make time for lightness, warmth, and energy. I stay fully present in the remarkable moment of now, using my breath to center me when I need to. It’s that easy and that available.
Lately, that familiar yet relatively short list of guidelines that are “suggested” in Chapter 5 of the Big Book have been a focus for me. I am referring to The 12 Steps, comprised of a mere 203 words. That’s adding up all 12! But they go deep. If I were a painter I would mix and match colors on a palette to capture just the right brightness, boldness, and feel I wanted for my creation. Words are like that – even the most subtle shift in a word can sometimes give the right tone and get a teeny bit closer to the intention of my feeling.
My early sobriety was bedeviled by unnecessary struggles and overdue surrenders. Incredibly, even though I was D.O.A. at my first meeting—Defeated on Arrival—willingness and an open mind didn’t come automatically. I always wanted more than I needed; here, I needed a lot more than I wanted. A long, bumpy road lay ahead.
Chances are you have heard some of these things too – I don’t claim that they are the original utterances of the people who spoke them – but I loved hearing them. I am not attributing them to anyone, but maybe they are published somewhere… we can share.