SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP?
A Few ANTI-SLOGANS, and Beyond FEAR of the Fourth Step
A few ANTI-SLOGANS (OTHER Talk & SELF Talk):
· Sit down and shut up.
· You don’t know anything.
· I don’t know anything, so I’m just going to listen.
As many of us know very well, these are topics or Anti-Slogans that come up frequently enough in The Rooms. On 8/19/90, by the Grace of God and the Program/Fellowship, I sobered up. I was smart enough to know that I didn't know anything, so I decided to ‘suit up show up, shut up’ (sit down ‘humbly’ and just listen). Good idea. It was the first time in my life that I was willing to not only listen but actually try things that people suggested. There is some legitimacy in the idea, but it’s not an Absolute Truth, for if we don’t know anything, why listen to what we don’t understand? How do I know that I don’t know? See hoe easy it is to experience the Alcoholic “Thinking Problem”?
Someone suggested that I go to 90 meetings in 90 days. I did not take their advice, but rather, went the extra mile. I canceled my plans for running (ruining) my own life, and had my Press Secretary cancel my retreats at Camp David. I went to probably 150-180 meetings in the first 90 days. Truly, I went to at least one meeting a day and usually more for the first 18 months of sobriety. Immersion and willingness to go to any lengths is a very useful paradigm and discipline for a guy like me.
Anyway, I think I didn't say anything after my first meeting for a couple of days. One person asked me why I was passing instead of sharing. I answered that I didn’t know anything. She told me that it is a program of participation. She also said if you wanna keep it, you have to give it away. Other people said similar things, and I took it to heart.
Yes, I didn't know the program "inside out" not by any means, and frankly, my prison language was quite appalling. I now wonder if she ever regrated telling me to speak up. It seriously took me at least a year to have more regular or civilized words in a sentence than I did expletives. People were generally unaware that in prison, such language is a Survival Skill. In the Free World, I knew it made some people very uncomfortable, but fortunately, I heard some very stable-minded Old-timers in The Rooms address Newcomers ‘character defects’ in a way full of grace.
Here are a few examples of their lifesaving pearls of wisdom:
· "But for the grace of God, there go I."
· "We don't shoot our wounded."
· "Live and Let Live."
· "There is only one requirement for membership is a desire to stay sober."
· "Our primary purpose is to help the still suffering alcoholic."
· "Love one another."
Somewhere along the line it occurred to me that I didn't have to use expletives to Carry the Message. Today when I cuss, it’s mindful. I put or make the Message more important than the Messenger. Put another way, I realized that if I used expletives, some people who were sensitive to such 'language' wouldn't hear the Message; if I did not use expletives, even the people that loved cussing would still hear the Message. Not cussing is a Win/Win. Full disclosure, I enjoy a good F-bomb from time to time, whether speaking it or hearing it, but it's all about context and respect for me. I disciplined myself to hear the message whether someone was using expletives or not. To me, that is Grace with a capital G.
I also learned about praising in public and criticizing in private from my martial arts instructor while I was in prison. I was still pretty young and didn't have much discipline to keep my mouth shut sometimes, and I certainly wasn't in sobriety yet, but I did have a clue about what real respect meant. To this day, I don't think most people understand the first thing about respect. I can respect that. In recovery, we refer to the 12th Tradition. Principles before personalities; it ain’t all about me, it’s all about WE. As an aside, Anonymity is harder to say drunk than sober.
Yes, we have a life and death condition known as Alcoholism, and I doubt if anyone will be upset if you cuss if your parachute release-cord doesn’t work. Slow down and THINK, THINK, THINK before you speak. Maybe even ask God to direct your thinking before you think. One of the slogans in the friends of Lois W. Program is, "How important is it?"
I've also noticed over time that people in the world will make excuses for bad behavior. I imagine we've all managed to do that at some time or another in our lives. Occasionally I've heard people beat other people over the head with their version of the truth. They might say you can't handle the truth, the truth a set you free, or more frequently, in a very melodramatic way say, "But it's the trooooooth!!!!" Yeah, it might be the truth, but I heard a recovering comedian say in his routine, "Truth without compassion is cruelty."
This one has been bandied around a bit, so you probably heard this as well, but a woman in recovery told me one day, "Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean." In another meeting, I heard one old-timer tell another old-timer who was raggin' on her about something or other, "Take your own (G-D) inventory!" Uh,. yeah, they were even married. LOL! Maybe go to different Home Groups if you're married? HA! I don't know, whatever.
Anyway, I like to weigh in on these somewhat controversial topics when they come up. Don’t we all? How can we have a Group Conscience if everyone in the group doesn’t speak up? I believe it's incumbent upon us all to try and walk into a room, any room, and leave it better than when we found it. Somehow it works to open our hearts so other people's hearts will open.
The following is probably a little debatable, but the big Book reads that we didn't have a drinking problem; we had a thinking problem. That part's not so controversial, but maybe this is: we didn't have a feeling problem; we had a thinking problem. Love is a feeling, and love is a great fact for all of us IMO. A person is less likely to understand this until they get halfway through the ninth step and come to "intuitively" understand things that used to baffle them. Before we are halfway through the 9th Step, our mind and heart will know balance of a new freedom and a new happiness. The mind is the thinking part of the heart, and the heart is the feeling part of the mind. We UNIFY our essence by working the Steps. The 10th Step keeps our hard-earned gifts clean. The 11th Step aligns us free of self-will, and the 12th Step…we help others by being the ‘hole in the doughnut’.
The following is a take on “12 Symptoms of a Spiritual Awakening”, author unknown.
ASSIGNMENTS and/or FOOD FOR THOUGHT
1. A tendency to let things happen rather than force solutions or impose harmony. ASSIGNMENT: Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean. Why? Because truth without compassion is cruelty.
2. Frequent spells of smiling. ASSIGNMENT: Decide to do something childlike (not to be confused with childish). Skip down the sidewalk. Giggle gleefully! Remember, it’s not illegal to be crazy. It’s only illegal to act crazy. Walking the balancing beam between crazy & illegal can be fun!
3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature. ASSIGNMENT: Maybe grab a friend and head down to Minnehaha for a walk in the park.
4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of gratitude. If you don’t tell at least three people a day that you love them, you’ve probably wasted a day of your life. ASSIGNMENT: Tell at least three people (pets and plants count, too) that you love them!
5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experiences. ASSIGNMENT: Imagine standing between two mirrors. The mirror on your left represents the past, the one on your right, the future. If you want to change your perception of the past, shift your angle of perception NOW. Everything changes!
6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. ASSIGNMENT: Look for the good and you’ll find it.
7. A loss of ability to worry.ASSIGNMENT: Don’t worry. Be happy. Why? As the proverb goes, ‘If you’re going to worry, why pray? If you’re going to pray, why worry?’ “The door to hell is opened only from the inside.” CS Lewis
8. A loss of interest in conflict. ASSIGNMENT: Forgive not because someone deserves forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. “Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you from yourself ten years ago.” Horace Mann
9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others. ASSIGNMENT: Make your own assignment.
10. A loss of interest in judging others (related to the preceding). ASSIGNMENT: Although the world seems to be addicted to judgment, don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk over it! Remember that when you point your finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you. “Judging others is easy because it distracts us from the responsibility of judging ourselves.” Charles F. Glassman
11. A loss of interest in judging self. ASSIGNMENT: Give yourself a break. Why? “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ee cummings
12.Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.ASSIGNMENT:Read the poem “The More Loving One”, a poem by WH Auden. Consider it a gift to your Higher Self.
"Take what you like, and leave the rest. "Had I not heard these words in my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, I might not have returned.
Here is a humorous piece my Sponsor told me before she passed:
A man and his wife were awoken at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push.
“Not a chance,” says the husband, “it is 3:00 in the morning!”
He slams the door and returns to bed.
“Who was that?” asked his wife.
“Just some drunk guy asking for a push,” he answers.
“Did you help him?” she asks.
“No, I did not, it is 3:00 in the morning and it is pouring rain out there!”
“Well, you have a short memory,” says his wife. “Can’t you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him!”
The man gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain. He calls out into the dark, “Hello, are you still there?”
“Yes!” comes back the answer.
“Do you still need a push?” calls out the husband.
“Yes, please!” comes the reply from the dark.
“Where are you?” asks the husband.
“Over here on the swing!” replied the drunk.
Have a GREAT MONTH!
RBA Board of Trustees Minutes
Monday August 8th, 2022
Meeting Opened at 7:04pm
Opened with the Serenity Prayer and AA Traditions One and Two. Our mission is to manage the property, finances and 501C3 for the RBA.
1. Members Present:
Joe R., Roger B., Bill M., Cherisse K., Jeff S., Norton L., Kate M.
Jerry Z., Maintenance
2. Building & Maintenance Report (Jerry Z.):
Jerry discussed the maintenance projects completed since the last board meeting. He has been pulling weeds and mowing the grass. Jerry trimmed the tree in the front of the building to make the patio accessible. He also fixed the dividers in the large meeting area, so they are now easier to pull along the tracks. Jerry is working to determine the source of the water spots on the ceiling tiles in the men’s restroom and will provide updates in the future. Jerry and Joe continue to ensure the shrubs in the front of the building are watered and fertilized.
3. Financial Report:
The August financials were reviewed and approved by the board. Large expenditures of note included a library material order and a check to Cherisse to pay for picnic expenses. Both payments were anticipated and in line with expectations.
4. Old Business:
The minutes from the July Board Meeting were reviewed and approved. The only item worth noting was the finalized revenue figure from the annual banquet as the club made a small profit on the event.
5. New Business:
Rik L. has moved away from the cities and formally resigned his position on the board. We thank Rik for his service.
Plans for the upcoming picnic were discussed. Cherisse and her team are ready and have a finalized plan. Raffle tickets are being sold. Food has been purchased. Volunteers for setup and clean up have been solicited. Members have been asked to sign up to bring a dish to pass which will be available along with hot dogs, hamburgers, and pop provided by the club.
We received a notice from our neighbor, Spruce Linen, stating they sold their business to a company headquartered in Iowa. This means RBA may choose to find a new vendor for paper products, floor runners, and linens. The previous owner will allow RBA members to continue to use his lot for overflow parking until he sells the property next year. The board will then need to arrange for additional parking.
Jeff continues to prepare for the Annual Meeting scheduled for Sunday, September 25th. He has posted notice of the meeting and distributed lists of members who are eligible to run for board seats. There will be five open seats, so members should be encouraged to volunteer for this 12th Step opportunity.
Bill M. brought up the subject of providing childcare during meetings. The board decided this is a squad responsibility if squad members decide it is needed.
The meeting adjourned at 7:40 with The Lord’s Prayer.