These AA folks in the Marin Fellowship I’d started hanging around with professed to not being a glum lot, but I was not in any mood for their kind of sober fun, whatever that looked like. I oozed contempt prior to investigation. Yet I kept coming back. When I found the miracle of sobriety I experienced the joy of which they spoke, as my sponsor guided me. “The old pleasures were gone. They were but memories” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 151). When I read these words, I was still drinking at the time. Though sobriety was in my future, it was but a mere speck at the tunnel’s end. The companionship drinking had provided was lost when the court served me a “kick-out order.” No longer did I have a surefire release from care, boredom or worry. Instead these feelings permeated my waking life.
I attended sober parties with this new attitude and outlook on life. I got involved in 12-Step calls and was asked to sponsor a new man every now and again. As my horizons broadened, so too did my interests in being of service. I was willing to accept life on its terms when I heard the recent end-of-meeting-announcement about a talent show. The Marin Fellowship Intergroup was sponsoring a talent show. All were invited to participate. Due to COVID-19, it was on Zoom. Talk about being rocketed into a fourth dimension, this sounded interesting indeed. What I got was kind of like an updated version of the old TV game show, Hollywood Squares, on steroids – in a good way, well-organized from start to finish.
Talk about being rocketed into a fourth dimension
The tone of the day was set by a songstress who acknowledged she did not have a great voice but she really wanted to share memories from her childhood in songs. She told touching stories about learning verse at her grandma’s knee, turning a ramshackle chicken coop into a clubhouse, and playing bluegrass. A love of music closed her act where it felt like a natural end. In vintage storytelling style, the singing was sparse, punctuating the tales, and then it was done.
Although a Zoom event, the stage was set. So when a popular local singer wowed the audience with her latest new song, it fit with other musicians who followed, each demonstrating their personal favorite tune, including a hit from Frozen. In one case the Zoomers joined the artist in a Cat Stevens song which, if you were old enough to remember, you could not help but welcome the opportunity to belt out a few verses. There was even a surprise visit from the Dynamo Duo of Sonny and Cher (or a couple strongly resembling them). Their duet exhorting the Zoomers to a truth they already held self-evident, that together there “Ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb” became the theme of the day’s festivities.
Joy defined the stage. The spoken word offerings ranged from traditional in nature, a set of engaging raptures which would make any long-gone Bard proud, to blank verse realism. I was reminded of the primary purpose of the recovering alcoholic – to carry the message to the one who still suffers.
“Science” also was prominently on display. A group of “researchers,” claiming to have been at one time on staff with National Geographic, presented their findings from prolonged research into the history of the species known as “Herd of Alcoholics.” They were able to conclusively establish that the first drink of the first alcoholic was actually a Crabappletini, shaken, not stirred, from the Fruit of the Tree of Ignorance.
The monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town
Any good alcoholic knows the foolishness of drinking on an empty stomach. The aforementioned researchers also described menu offerings available at “AA Burger, a Drive-Through Recovery Hamburger Palace” which their work was funding. This unknown, but up-and-coming fast-food food chain believes its Pink Cloud of Hope or Second-Time Sober burgers will soon be sweetening the palates of those in recovery. They even offer a Half Measure Menu for those intent on continued research. However, they were also quick to caution that the price of the Relapse Meal Deal with its Resentment Burger was very steep, often more demanding than the diner anticipated.
A trio presenting “Log Cabin Blues” ended the day. They reminded us, “Fear is like having faith that things will all go to hell” which harkened to times past, where they lived one day at a time—but that day was always yesterday or tomorrow. On the upbeat side, they proclaimed a truth so often heard: “The monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town.”
My takeaway of the day was from the artist who shared not her fine art, but her “fun art.” With the promise of hope, she described how sobriety brought art into her life. Her goal in displaying her talent at this event was to carry the message that in sobriety anything was possible, such as achieving an artist’s talent where before there had been none. So much was on display during this Talent Show that it proved beyond any doubt was: we are definitely not a glum lot.