95% is OK with me.

By Rick R.

About 90% of the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I attend close with the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. There are a lot of words synonymous with serenity and they all amount to what I would call, Peace of Mind. On page 417 in the book Alcoholics Anonymous it says, “And, acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.) Bingo!! So why has it taken me so long to settle on this simple sentence? The desire to drink alcohol was lifted from me from my very first meeting in A.A. and has never returned. Prior to that, from the moment I woke up each morning until I got my first drink, I was an emotional wreck. The absence of that mental obsession to drink freed me. And I became highly influenced by the collective message of the meetings that I attended. 

Over a long period of time, I started to recognize the cause and effect of my defects and shortcomings. I began to address these issues with the help of the members of my group who  seemed to have the answers for me. Dealing with the wreckage of the past and in an environment where we talked about these issues made my journey much easier than I thought. I had to deal with a failed marriage, child support, parenting issues, legal matters, and an assortment of life issues stemming from my neglect and irresponsibility. One of the things that often goes unnoticed during the process of clearing up the wreckage of the past, is I stopped making those mistakes which caused all my grief. As a result of practicing the principles I learned in the A.A. program I regained the respect of my first wife and have been married over 50 years to my current wife. I got it right the second time around, while not dismissing my need to correct the damage done in my first marriage. 

Having said all of that, where do I address the acceptance statement? It would be easy for me to rest on my laurels, as they say, but I am never finished when it comes to examining my motives or how I act today. If I were finished, why would I still attend A.A. meetings? Over the years in the program, I noticed some habits we alcoholics seem to continue to discuss before and after a meeting such as: traffic on the freeway, red-light systems, not enough parking at the market, inconvenience of a rainstorm, politics, and religion, criticizing other people, places, and things. For some reason, talking about all these inconveniences seems to be my way of distracting attention away from our own thinking and behavior.

Simply put, there is a percentage of people driving on the freeway who travel faster than the speed limit, a percentage will drive slower than the speed limit, and others who may cut me off. That is never going to change. I cannot talk about politics and religion over and over. I am never going to change the other person. I have two choices while traveling on the freeway. My first choice is to take it and my second choice is to leave it and take a back road. If the speed limit is too slow on the back road, maybe I’ll take the freeway. All the issues I struggled with are pro and con percentages that will never change in this lifetime. Today I accept the things I cannot change. As a result, I am at peace 95% of the time and that is good enough for me.


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