30 05, 2023

My Shortcomings (Not Yours)

By John W

By the time of this challenge
Things seemed to have turned,
Mostly for the better, but still a mélange
Of times for which I had always yearned.

To avoid “laurel resting,” a forewarned snare
Meant me making the effort on my part to change me.
To focus upon my shortcomings, not upon others stare,
So that of My Shortcomings (Not Yours) I could be free.

Hardest of those to bid adieu were the ones that fit like a favorite coat
Snug and tightly held, but useless because so tattered and torn.
Still to them, as if in a keep surrounded by an empty moat,
I clung to those defects in fear of my look were they shorn.

The Help I sought would solve my plight.
Always He waited, asking only I cease my fight.

30 05, 2023

A Piece of Pie

By Cabin Wisdom

Latecomers to AA meetings are such a nuisance. They arrive late. Grab what’s left of all the coffee. Make a kerfuffle in the kitchen and the meeting rooms as they shuffle in. Then, of course, these are the ones who hijack the topic and talk for 10 minutes. What a pain!

Until I heard the following story. There was a guy who always showed up late and left early. You might even know this person(s). There I was, sitting with a grudge fertilized by resentment, every time this man showed up late, left early, and shared at length. Finally I spoke with him, inquiring what the deal was with his timing of the meetings.

Here’s what he said: “I’m a driver for the sick and infirm. The doctors’ appointments are often early in the morning, or my riders are slow and late. He went on to say, “Meetings are like a pie. If you attend a whole meeting, you get a whole pie. If you come during half a meeting, you get a slice of the pie. For me, I get a sampling of the meeting which sustains me through the day.”

The grudge with the fertilizer melted. The stinking thinking ended. I would rather have this person with us for his piece of peace than drinking in a lonely alley someplace.

Alcoholics have selective memory. Like the Barbra Streisand song, “It’s the laughter we will remember.” We forget where we came from. So much for the “conviviality and gay laugher.” In the end, there was no laughter. 

As this gentleman spoke, I began to recall the early days when I worked in San Francisco and had to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to be downtown by 8 o’clock. Our 7 a.m. Cabin Meeting was a lifeline. If only for the first half-hour, I got to hear the Steps and claim my seat, lest I forget the drama and chaos of the past.

One such dramatic ending came this week with the knowledge one of our members was found slumped over in a chair in the dark recesses of an apartment. After 911 was called, the sheriff came out to say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” About the same time, another member was in a head-on collision with a bus. Killed our friend. His partner made it home and died there. Within the past couple of days came these two stories. The reality of our disease.

Here’s a list from The Cabin so helpful to us alcoholics.

The thinking that precedes the first drink:

1) I can handle it.
2) I’ll show them, him, her.
3) I miss the fun.
4) It wasn’t that bad.
5) Life is passing me by. I should have this, that, him, her.
6) Is this all there is?
7) One wouldn’t hurt. I deserve one.
8) Next time, this time, it will be different.
9) What’s the use?

The AA beam lights the way for all. It is we who choose to take up the discipline by following a few simple “suggestions.” Only 12 of them in fact – along with the oral tradition, pass-it-on virtue of “go to meetings, call your sponsor, work the Steps, be of service, and above all: Don’t drink no matter what.” We used to say, “You can’t save your face and your ass at the same time.” Or, “Even if your ass falls off, take it to a meeting.” 

So come to the meeting. Have your peace of pie.


30 05, 2023


By Dee H

I named the tall tree Lucy
Had no idea if it was a she
It’s beyond gender you see
My love for this simple tree

Its poison ivy skirt reminded me 
Of a woman I could not help 
She relapsed in a drunken spree 
I had no notion of its scope 

That I would much later see 
Myself in that moldy old tree
I would not accept hope 
Nor love from humanity 

Sober now for some time 
I sit in the hot tub and joke 
Beneath that beautiful tree
Lucy is a towering natural 
Her forest is my cathedral 

30 05, 2023

Neglect, The Elephant in the Room

Continuous Credibility Leads to Integrity

By Rick R

When we are satisfied that we have given steps one through five our best effort and have identified the most glaring defects of character and shortcomings, it is now time to affect the changes in the most obvious of our faulty thoughts and the behaviors that stem from those thoughts by addressing them in Steps Six and Seven. To be successful in this endeavor, we must first get honest with ourselves and begin to establish some credibility and by that, I mean always doing the things we say we are going to do. We bring most of the basic flaws out in the open as we become aware of them. Then, if we are sure that we are committed to the program, we will want to set in place, principles to live by that cut off our own escape when we stumble and want to revert to that old way of thinking. Most of us do this with the help of a sponsor or a mentor, if you like, and go by the book as best we can. I did what I thought was a thorough job of it, then one day, about thirty years ago, I was trying to park my car in a somewhat crowded parking lot and as I found the spot I wanted there was a shopping cart blocking my way. I got out of my car and moved the cart aside, then parked my car. I then got that shopping cart and pushed it back to the store entrance, then went about my business. From that day on, when parking at any market, I search for a stray shopping cart and take it back to the store just to make up for all the times I shoved one into the flower bed and drove away. After telling that story at meetings over the years, I hear people telling how it is uncomfortable for them to leave the cart adrift in the parking lot, and we all get a big laugh out of it. Neglect, I can tell, the word neglect is only mentioned two times in the Big Book (page 97 and page 129) and two times in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (page 81 and page 151). And seldom, if ever, has it been the topic of a meeting that I can recall. It is like the proverbial elephant in the room. As I started to catch myself shirking my responsibilities it became obvious to me that if I wanted to regain some form of self-respect and dignity, I was going to have to put the word neglect on my list of shortcomings and question my integrity. Do I do what is right even when there is no one watching? If credibility is always doing what I say I am going to do, then Integrity, to me, is a whole bunch of credibility. To cut off my own escape I do routine things every day, that cost me nothing and the result of that is a clear conscience. If I am doing the little things that I should, I find it much easier to give the big things that same sort of attention. I never throw trash out of the car window, I pick up after myself, I never walk away from my bed in the morning without making it, and I liken that to being an unspoken prayer saying, I will be responsible, I will be orderly, I will be neat, and I will not be neglectful, I will be respectful, I will stay on the unselfish side of the ledger in all of my decisions, I sometimes revisit those pages in the Big Book and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and I try my best not to ignore the elephant in the room.

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