by Brian C.

audio by John B

Sometimes it’s better to not care too much. Really. Caring too much can destroy friendships, screw with your serenity and mess up your sleep schedule. I know: it’s happened to me.

Years ago at one of my meetings, The Friendly Circle, we had to decide whether to put the donuts on separate plates or let the fellowship pick them out of the box. It came up at the business meeting. My friends Kasi and Wolfe were strong advocates of using paper plates (hygiene). I was on the opposite side, saying we had always let people pick the donuts out of the box. Why should we change now? The arguments became heated, and in that process my friendship with Kasi and Wolfe was permanently damaged—we no longer fellowshipped after the meeting.

I regretted being so passionate about paper plates. The price was too high. I hurt my friends. And let’s be honest: paper plates aren’t that important.

We had to decide whether to put donuts on plates or let people pick them out of the box

You can care too much about sponsees, too. My first sponsee would call me up at 2:00 AM drunk, from underneath a bush. I’d listen and support him. 

When you don’t care too much, all sorts of good things happen

“You gotta cut that out,” my sponsor told me when he found out. “Tell him to call you back when he’s sober. You’re not helping him by listening to him when he’s drunk.” I argued with my sponsor, explaining that I was helping my sponsee, that I was showing my sponsee that I cared. But you know what? My sponsee didn’t get sober until he fired me and got a new sponsor. His new sponsor didn’t tolerate late-night drunk-dialling. Sure, his new sponsor cared, but his new sponsor didn’t care too much.

Everyone at the meeting cared, but not so much they would burn down the meeting to get their way

When you don’t care too much, all sorts of good things happen. Last Sunday at The Friendly Circle business meeting, we had a motion to make the steps and traditions readings gender-neutral (for example, changing “God as we understood Him” to “God as we understood God”). There was a newcomer there and it was his first business meeting. He was quiet the entire time. He listened as we discussed the pros and cons of the motion, abstained when we voted, heard the minority opinion and then watched as we updated the readings to reflect the group conscience. No drama. Everyone at the meeting cared, but not so much that they would burn down the meeting to get their way.

The newcomer called me the following day and barraged me with questions about AA business meetings. At the end of the phone call, he said, “These decisions are incredibly important. People’s sobriety hangs in the balance.”

I agreed, and added, “Try not to care too much about these things.”

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