If you are going to jump out of a plane, do it with your friends.
This weekend we celebrated the marriage of one of our men to his wife. The thought of marriage was not his first thought when he got here. Among family and friends they shared their vows, and today was their first day of married life.
It could not have happened to a better friend.
The month of May is a very busy in sober land. The first push of sober events begin next weekend, with the Spring Men’s Intensive in Vermont. We will be leaving Friday afternoon, returning on Sunday.
Later in the month, we have the Pioneer’s Roundup and the weekend following is the West Island Round Up. Kind of a One Two Punch of sober experience, strength and hope coming from all over the map.
I have said that the Spring offensives have begun in earnest. People marching in the streets will be the norm for the months to come. Last night they marched Westward through the downtown core, today they marched Eastward for the March against the Armenian Genocide.
I left just in time to see the parade step off not far from home, I was traveling against the tide. A solemn memorial then took place further down into the core.
I’ve been noticing all the shoots and buds that have been appearing in gardens, on bushes and trees. Little by slowly, Montreal is greening up. On my walk to the church we walk through a row of condos, and all of their gardens are coming to life. New flowering plants, the bushes and slowly slowly, the hundred year trees are beginning to bud out.
The trees in the church yard were struck with the blight last fall, so the leaves dropped dead and did not color. Hopefully the long cold winter has killed whatever bug is going around the tree tops.
There were signs on the church door when I arrived this evening, “Le Petite Chanteurs de Montreal” were performing this afternoon. (The Little Singers of Montreal) The BEST youth choir in all of the city. They performed a few months ago and today kicked off their summer tour, which will take them from Montreal to Europe this summer.
In the end, it all came together. We swapped the kids out and restored the hall to normalcy and we had our meeting, albeit a much smaller crowd, because you know, the weather is good, and there was hockey on tap, which gives anyone who enjoys hockey a pass for anything other than the great game.
This week is also auspicious because it is May anniversary sweep for my guys. Today we celebrated one six month anniversary. He survived a terribly stressful trip to Europe that did not end well, because of immigration issues. In the end he navigated the swells, he didn’t drink, and he got back to Montreal eventually, after several trips between Vienna and Frankfurt to sort out his paperwork and passport.
It was a nightmare …
Tomorrow we celebrate a three year anniversary at the M.A. meeting with another one of my guys. I was going to say Friday as well, but I won’t be here on Friday. Oh well.
It was a small meeting and we read a couple of short stories from Experience, Strength and Hope. The sense of gratitude for the first 100 folks who got sober, did it by the skin of their teeth and through fellowship with the suffering alcoholic, affords us the opportunity to read their stories, the first stories, and how they got by in the hardest of times, World War One, the Great Depression.
If it weren’t for them, we would not have what we have today.
It was a good night.
More to come, stay tuned…
Sometimes the image speaks to the message I will write, and sometimes, it is just an image.
We are sitting at (-2c / – 9 w.c.) at this hour. Not as chilly as other nights, and they tell us there might be flurries, maybe that is a stretch…
I went to bed a little late last night, and I spent some time reading before bed as usual. I did not have anything pressing that needed to be done today, but I woke up and knew that I wasn’t going back to bed again, like I usually do. I don’t watch daytime t.v. and I can only sit in front of this box for so long before I want to pull my hair out, so with nothing to do, I usually nap …
Not the case today.
I did some supermarket safari, early. I usually do it on my way home from the meeting. I’ve been waiting for several packages to come in the mail, so there were excessive trips down to check the mail throughout the day, because our mailman comes at his leisure and not on schedule.
No Joy today.
I got ready to go early, which meant I departed early, I needed to pick up a script at the pharmacy and it was on my way out. I got lucky all my trains were prompt and running for that matter. When I got to the church a friend told me the green line had been down the entire rush hour period.
Honestly, trains ONLY go down during rush hours. Totally Predictable.
I did not see anything on social media prior to leaving. I made my transit and I have hours and hours of music on my phone, and I listen to certain songs over and over – In a certain order, by single selection. I have a collection of dance hall mixes that I like, and if I had the equipment, I would seriously consider mixing my own sound files. Alas, no mixing board here.
My little phone does amazing things. It also has a mind of its own. Androids do funny things. If you upload a tune, in a specific folder, my phone will sort that music by itself, and shuffle those tunes into the select screen, in the order it wants, and not necessarily the way I want. It knows where music comes from and how to sort it. I’m not sure how it knows this, but it does.
I have a few sorted files of dance hall mixes, all single shot pieces. They aren’t on an album, but I’ve pulled them singularly, and sorted them where I want them. On certain files, my phone makes no distinction, but on others, it auto sorts music the way it wants to.
- You get the album sort screen.
- You get the artist sort screen.
- You also get the “single” screen, where it lists every song alphabetically
- Then you get a “playlist” screen – Those you create on your own
My phone creates playlists by itself. I am not sure how it does that, but it has pulled certain music that I listen to often, and sorted it into playlists. I finally decided to create a couple new playlists, one is dance hall mixes and the other is my Annie Lennox massive mix. Very cool …
Those playlists will cover an entire transit from one end to the other.
Tonight’s fare was a reading from A.B.S.I. and the Nightly Review, a.k.a the Tenth Step.
Steps are merely suggestive. At some point or other, you do them, in the order they come in, with a sponsor, is your best bet. Listening to others from other places, there is wisdom in doing certain things, and in my opinion, there are things I ask my guys to do, which fall out of order. Some old timers have told me that I am wrong in my approach, my sponsor, on the other hand says that, if it works, then keep doing it.
A nightly review, for anyone, is something we learn to do later on in the process. I am of the mind that if you start with prayer and you learn to write, from the start, it becomes second nature. Writing a list gives us (my sponsees and I) something to talk about nightly. So they write. I write as well.
The calling every day, is something that is a tall order for some. It is something that does not come easily, and for years, I did not do that either, until I was shown how that worked, by people who were doing it themselves. I adopted practices from many, into one set process that is my sponsor model.
My sponsor gave me certain things I must do every day and for that matter every week.
- Call me every day
- Make a meeting with me once a week
- Work your steps
- Help others
I do this every day and every week. I had to practice, myself, these things, before I could be able to share them with others. “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !”
Everybody has their comfort level as to what they can or will do to stay sober. And I think about this thought, most of our folks went to the round ups in 2013, and 2014. They heard the same messages I heard, and we all go to the same meetings every week. I can see now, two years later, where those messages got me, and how I applied what I learned and made it my own. And also where my fellows are in this same time period.
I also know, now, that people with considerable time, are comfortable, dropping anchor in a familiar meeting, doing service, and navel gazing. They don’t feel the need to spice it up, or crank up the heat in any way, that would shake their equilibrium. And I wonder why ?
There is a reason my old sponsor is not my sponsor any more. He was comfortable sitting in his chair and not going to the round ups as we all did. It was also the way he spoke to me that cranked me up in a negative way. I don’t allow people to shit on me no matter how much time they have.
Last night I heard him share. I did not get to speak to my sponsor at great length today because he was busy entertaining guests at home, so after the meeting tonight, I spoke to another friend who’s got twenty five years as well, and he is in a different place than other folks with the same time.
I explained to him my observations. He knows me personally, and he knows how I do my thing. He knows my guys and we hit the same meetings week in and week out. He does meetings across several spectrum meetings, A.A. C.A. and such in two languages. French and English.
He listened to me talk, then I listened to him talk. He explained to me how he sees things, and what observations he has himself. He went on to explain how he sees life at his twenty five years and what he does, and how he does it.
This is a program of action, that is merely suggestive.
You either take the action or you don’t. It’s very simple.
At some point I was fired up to do something MORE. I wanted MORE. Some people are comfortable with doing just enough. And doing nothing more than what they believe is what they should do.
And nothing more.
I’ve had more than a decade to figure this out. And it has been a fact finding, and practice inducing activity. In the beginning, I sat and listened, and did what I was told. I sat in meetings, did my steps, did service and got comfortable, until the ladies came and shook up my world.
That changed my entire trajectory.
Listening to New Yorkers talk, just fired me up to want to do more and to push the envelope as far as I could in The Work. When my guys came, we spoke of what we could do together, they wanted to get clean and sober, by any means. So The Work became their work as well.
I’ve talked about giving my number and expectations.
My sponsor explained it this way.
- If someone approaches ME and asks me to help them, I offer them my plan. I ask of them the same things my sponsor asked of me. They get my number and they follow the plan. It is their decision to step up and do the work, or they don’t. They came to me.
- If I approach someone and offer to help them, and give my number, then I cannot expect any return on my investment. They did not ask me, I offered. Again, it is their decision to either do or do not do something. I can say, call me every day, and we know how that turned out. Calling every day is a tall order for many people. I went to them.
For every human being in the program, there is a way to do it. No two people are the same, and no two people do the same thing, unless of course you follow the suggestions of your sponsor.
In New York, you do The Work, as it is given to you, the way it is given to you, by the book. They have rules for their meetings in New York. Something we have never done here, to the extent they do it there, so when they came here and told us how they did it, most people tuned out to the severity of just how hard they work at it and share that message with others.
Things are way laid back here.
I had never heard of these methods until I met folks from other places. Even when I go to Vermont and I listen to folks there talk, they don’t do it the same way either. The path I choose to walk myself and with my guys is an amalgamation of the methods they use in New York, with a tweak here and there.
How it Works says … “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.” I have my method. My guys chose to follow them, and they are all the better for it. And I am as well. Thanks to New York and my sponsor.
It is the weekend. The weather is looking up. Everybody is sober and happy.
What more can you ask?
More to come, stay tuned