The first person I approached in AA that I talked to for longer than five minutes (I guess that’s my attention span for all things new and challenging) said he was 19 years sober. I didn’t believe it. Later I’ve learned he was telling the truth. But in that moment, and for a while after, I figured there was no way someone would be 19 years sober and a) still going to meetings; b) be as positive and cheerful as that guy certainly was. Yet at the same I really wanted to have some of that positivity for myself. I was going through darker times. My life was out of control and I wasn’t enjoying reality.
The farther I went down the lane of AA-inspired positivity through sobriety and getting more of a hold on reality, the more I was wondering of how far can I get and for how many years I could actually stay that way. On the other hand, I kept being reminded that years are not that important. What counts is days, since we do it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. That is the principle that the whole wisdom of AA, besides going to meetings, listening and sharing and connecting through all that, is based on. One day at a time, one step at a time. It is that simple, it is that hard. Simple because it is not a complicated idea, and if we put our mind to it, we can all do it, whatever it is we focus on. Hard because it still takes me a while from time to time to keep it in mind when I’m tackling something that is larger than me (or feels that way).
So, there is no competition for trying to get more years under the belt, being older in sobriety than others. Focusing on time take the focus off the quality of recovery that we do/live. In my case, when I was four years old in AA measures, I knew more than I know now. Yet now I feel more than I felt then. Now I absorb more from the world and how it changes. I must admit, sometimes it doesn’t do me much good, because I fall into negativity thinking of how hopeless it is to keep going through the world that is eating itself alive. That’s one of the things that getting old does, I guess. It’s probably my realistic age that does that to me. But then my AA age tells me to get going with the program, call upon my fellows and drink from the wisdom well, the positive one, with hope and lightness in a mix. And it works well that way.
Thinking can play tricks on you sometimes and let you forget the simple truths. The closer it gets to the time of another milestone, another year to celebrate recovery, the more I think of time. So when I catch myself doing that, I turn that thinking into reflecting with care. I compare the years passed -what I’ve learned, what I’ve forgotten, perhaps, and what I’ve seen in a different light. Been sober for several years allows for thoughts of security in mental and spiritual terms. I mean, you’ve learned something, you made it work for you, and if you keep practicing that wisdom, it will keep you strong for times to come. Yet if I think of myself as someone got more recovery time than others, and because of that as someone important, and that somehow make me more special than them, it’s a step in a wrong direction. I am no better or worse than them. They tackle their demons, I fight mine. I just have more tools to do so. Maybe they were born under less of a kind sun than I have. That makes me more fortunate, but that means I should be more compassionate and less full of myself that I sometimes may be.
Years count for something, though – I have an opportunity to keep celebrating my recovery in a social setting and with that I share of my experience, goods and bads, wisdom and stupidity. That way others have an opportunity to learn from my mistakes, and with their actions perhaps the world may benefit somehow, in 0.0001 percent maybe, but I think that still counts. It is easy to burn the bridges. It takes longer to build them back up. Hopefully, the time spent on rebuilding will also allow for using better technologies (perspectives) on how to make it steadier to avoid easy destruction in the future.
the image was copied from http://www.chrispacke.com/2012/03/perfect-lack-of-competition/. thank you.