Patience: Payment for Persistence

In my nine plus years of trudging the“road of happy destiny” (book selling metaphor for surviving one day at a time) I frequently find myself reminded of a need for awareness. It comes, through this month’s Tenth Step acquired skills of personal inventory. The more frequent it is taken the more apparent are one’s needs for change, impetus of its potential.

The “directions” suggest that I compare my life’s daily occurrences with respect to infringement of principle; its non-virtuous practices measured by incidence in comparison to the Seven Capital Sins: Pride, Greed, Anger, Envy, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth. So doing, the road of destiny stands much greater chance of being trudged “happily.” Well, that’s the idea anyway.

All well and good, but since the beginning of this journey, my non-capital sin practices of Impatience and Intolerance are consistently apparent in that their antithesis: Patience and Tolerance, when practiced, can alleviate the moments during which the trudging is “not so happy.” After all, Alcoholism is but a symptom of my disease,…….the conditions of which this writing focuses on changing, this day in my time.

You see, I don’t care much for waiting for what I want, which always seems to be what I need at that moment. Later, I often find that it wasn’t what I needed, but only a symptom of it. It takes me back to the measure of that all important addition to my Fourth Step Question Template: “How important really is this”?

It’s right after that measure that I find… I can wait; that my anxiety is misplaced and that some Deep-Breathing Meditation can help to replace the frustration – most of which is in my head.

Okay – we’ve covered patience a bit, while the mention of time’s concept we’ll leave to Eckhart Tolle in his “Power of Now” – (if you haven’t read this, you might consider it).

But now,…… on to Intolerance. The classic definition Webster relates as “not tolerating beliefs, opinions, usages and manners other than one’s own, as in religious or political manners: bigoted.”

I think this fits into the framework of narrow-mindedness by definition,……… but this wouldn’t be A.A. would it? The glorious “benign anarchy” (thanks for that illustrative oxymoron Bill) , for Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness are the three essentials of recovery,…………………… theory.

My own fellowship – the one that I was an Associate Editor of their regional magazine writing essays on Steps and Traditions as well as complete interviews that were collected and now entered into the archives -  they wouldn’t be narrow-minded would they?  (LOLOL)

They wouldn’t be small and petty, interpreting our agreements of tradition as laws, with situational interpretations of intolerance would they? Yes. Unfortunately, they might, depending on how you look at it.

I’ve been shunned. While sitting at breakfast with an understanding and open-minded, (but cautious) DCM, a woman who had bought my book the week before walked up and interrupted us for a moment to say ‘thank-you” to me, for writing a book that was refreshing, reinvigorating and as comfortable as a loyal pair of shoes after they had been “re-souled” (my turn for metaphors).

Yet the same magazine that I wrote for, for four years, won’t give me a two paragraph announcement of my book’s release; no brochure with their stacks of ad-ons about picnics, potlucks and conferences, “drunk junque”….that would violate the Sixth Tradition: “endorsement, financing or lending the name to a related facility or outside enterprise.” Never mind that Bill’s Essay in the 12×12 talks about 1) A.A. as a whole 2) examples affiliation with Hospitals, Educational Facilities, reform movements 3) endorsements that had to do with examples of liquor trade (reform) aka the wet-dry controversy.

This is another case of “scripture” being interpreted to suit one’s own argumentative needs in justification. This stance, when taken towards a classic revival of A.A. Principles – one which is enduring the Conference Approval Process – is misplaced ( I am so tempted to go upper case here – but will count to ten first :).

Outcome? Nope, Nada, Nyet. “The laborer is worth his hire” but only in The Big Book and The Good Book. No Gratitude Banquet discreet display, no selling books there either. No announcement, no brochures, no displays, no nothing,…but all the intolerance that I can eat and a tolerant “A.A. Gag Order.”

Yes! The doctrine of “Love and tolerance” is alive and ………something.  Contradiction in terms? Feels like it, looks like it,……but Patience is the Payment for Persistence. I will muster mine, for as much as it takes. You can’t keep a good book down.

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Nothing Changes Unless Something Changes

Now less than two weeks after receipt from the printers, things are starting to change.

I had no idea of the costs involved in Self-Publishing, especially when it comes to trying to attract attention with respect to the suggestion of Tradition XI, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion;…..” People have their own opinions as to what those two terms mean, and it seems that it is often situationally synonymous if they are in attack mode.
So far, it’s black or white. They either like the book,……. or they’re crazy and just looking for something to focus their insanity on.

They told me long before I got here that I would have to grow a snake-skin to deal with the uhmmmm, “variety” of responses.
I just try to keep focused on the people who are telling me they think its good, and that it has been useful to their spiritual balance. Reward enough, but I still have to pay for the costs, and where I started here about Self-Publishing comes sharply to focus.
Set-up, printing this and that, design services and this, to say nothing of the percentages the publishers interested want for their marketing,…..60-70%????

There is a plethora (Fall Word) of information out there in book- land, but actually very little of consequence that has been written about recovery, that is – other than the “hey c’mere, I know how you should do it here’s my glowing insight and direction.”
Living the 12 Steps of Recovery, One Day at a Time is a collection of daily meditations, in a classic revival of our principles: The 12 Steps and Traditions.

Yes, there is carefully selected original work in two additional Appendices on Prayer and Meditation, but the bulk of the book is the message we all have been carrying for 75 years.

No one has done this before and although I bring a classic revival, there is the usual instant fear-anger response which I thought would’ve been one of,….”well, okay, we’ll look at it and let you know.”

The dart throwers never read anything, they just throw darts, in the misconception that they are the protectorate of the fellowship – or maybe just plain out there.

One of the definitions for change is to: “become transformed.” In other words, dressing the same faithful body of principles in a different style of packaging.

That’s what I’ve tried to do here, and many more have appreciated my efforts than those who have not without even reading the work.

As to them, nothing changes unless something changes. Not my problem – gotta roll ’em off.

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book****
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:

Book Banning and Restrictions – Is This Really A.A.?

It’s one of THOSE days  -“today-at-a-time.” I am a regular poster on Staying Cyber, an A.A. “approved” on-line meeting and probably will remain so, even as a result of this story I’ll tell.

Seems the steering committee, (A.A. Police) has decided that my putting my web-sites link into my personal data, (not on the posting boards) is “selling” non-conference approved literature on the site and they made me take it down.  This was preceded by a charming member who addresses every one as “Morning Glories”! (yechhhhhh) told me, (in her most spiritual manner) that I was “pimping” my book.

I felt like a bunch of ridiculous conservative bureaucrats had mandated a new interpretation, just for me. (Poor me, poor, poor me another drink!)

While I see a point in an obvious commercialization of what is the 12th step work, this book is what makes it possible. It’s not like I am going: “Hey, give me $20 and I’ll make you sober”! First, the great majority is costs and I won’t even see a dime until I sell 300 books.  Damn! “The laborer is worth his hire.”

This is what Barefoot Bob. (Dec 2000) had to say about this sort of self-righteous action on the part of so-called trusted servants:

“If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer: the growing rigidity — the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure from G.S.O. to ‘enforce’ our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature, i.e., ‘banning books’; laying more and more rules on groups and members.”

The spirit of real old time AA is being destroyed as more and more people are beginning to ignore one of Bill Wilson’s favorite sayings: “Every group has the right to be wrong.”

I am so with the ‘Bobster’ in spirit, (and that’s all that’s left of him – his words) finding myself getting righteously-indignant with this —– action.

( I won’t say it, I WON’T SAY IT!…………………….. one-two-three-four-five,….etc.  🙂

This, especially when another member has a Surf Site with a store and shopping cart on the inside! He must be special!

Okay, you’re probably gonna say,” the wheels of change turn slow,…so very slow,..and what’s a few more years to a 6 year hawg”? I guess THEN I tell you back that Wal-Mart, Bookends, Kindle, Amazon, B&N don’t CARE if it’s conference approved. But I do, as its about carrying the message first and the money next. But “Art for Art’s sake, Money for God’s sake”! (LOLOL)

I am trying to do this the right way, (or at least my perception of it at the moment) and I’ll hold-off on taking the T.V. WWF Wrestling adjacencies for 10 second cable spots on how to cure Alcoholism like that guy from California.

It’s progress not perfection – right? It’s the next indicated or right thing – right? It’s this kind of stuff that is getting on my nerves – RIGHT?

A.A. made $10,500,000.00 gross profit last year on their literature, (source box 459 quarterly 2009 finance report) and that’s more than their contributions side of their revenue.

We press on in the lessons of patience and tolerance – Now THAT’S real A.A.

Book Banning? Uh-uh.

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The Conference Approval Adventure

Nervous. Yeah that’s the way I felt. It was gonna be me, the brochures and the book in front of about 60 people, all apprehensive of the first attempt anyone has made to introduce a new work for the long trek to conference approval; they say it can take ten years – I’ve already got six in writing and as I reflect, there’s am adventure novel in the process, with chapters developing.

So I might as well log some of the developments with you here tonight,..and you’re not gonna believe this; these strange occurrences with deja-vu instances of the universe’s benevolent influences.

I’d invited three speakers for moral support and to take the attention off of me, but when I walked into the meeting room, the local inter-group secretary who had become a compatriot was spooked. “I don’t know if I can have anything to do with this anymore Jay,…..these people are crazy.” She seemed apprehensive and I wondered if there were harsh and threatening comments.

My GSR walked up and said that there might be a spiritual explosion when my motion came up. Okay, this put a damper on things – right? So I made sure they both knew that I would go ahead anyway. It seemed even the lunatic woman who had been a volunteer at the office who told me, “people usually give their services to the fellowship” (you know, I just love unsolicited advice, especially when its unprovoked and you’re trying to be polite) – “yup”, she was there. When I tried to introduce a discussion of the traditions a few days earlier, she told me that I was acting like a salesman and “didn’t want to talk with me anymore.” (I’ll be quiet about the Medusa-like snakes growing out of her head).

The “trusted servants” officiating sent the motion back three times for modification saying it did not conform to procedure. I hand altered it while my GSR nervously twitched. In spite of the “Fan Club” and the efforts to kick it for procedure, it looked like we might go ahead.

One of my speakers continued to smile saying, “Don’t worry honey, everything is in God’s hands.” I didn’t have the heart or the cynicism to say that – my God didn’t have hands.

It looked like I would get shot down within seconds of take-off and it was an hour and a half later while they were still talking about display cabinets for archives that my guests started wilting like roses in a 113 degree L.A. Wedding. They were cooked.

I pulled the plug and we packed-up and left. We were walking down the stairs when I discovered that one of my speakers had night blindness and couldn’t find the stairs. I guided her down but my frustration was mounting.

They called my motion up moments after I left, as I would find out later.

So it’s patience and tolerance, signing to me like Paul Simon in “Sound’s of Silence” reminding me of their antithesis, my flaws, but ‘whaddya know’ – I got lucky. They gave me what I wanted oddly enough.

I get a chance to go out to the groups and present the book and brochures, as well as sell to those who will buy. We’ll come back next month and try it again when everyone has had a chance to digest the work and deal with the conference approved prejudice.

Here’s the best article I can find right now on this very misunderstood principle. For a benign anarchy, the perfect democracy, we certainly have a lot of rules,….errrr,…guidelines.

I can’t get the link to work so you’ll have to paste it – it’s worth it.

A. Messenger

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which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:

The First Issue Arrives

The driver unpadlocked the roll-up door, throwing it up to a near empty 10×30 cargo compartment. Towards the cab were three pallets and one of them had my first 500 books, shrink-wrapped and boxed in cases. It’s six years that I’ve waited for this moment. Yet – it was hollow and anti-climactic.

The enormity of the pallet’s weight became “Big-Time” obvious when I tried to steady it while the driver pumped it onto the hydraulic hand truck. Then – just like that, it was in my garage (which I called my warehouse – sounding so professional). Signed -sealed – delivered. “Done and Done”!

“POP” went the nylon straps as my tin snips made short-order of them.  I sliced the shroud of plastic, peeled it back like a CSI exhibit and cut the first case open – there they were – sixteen volumes of my first book: “Living the 12 Steps of Recovery.” This was finally the “One Day I was Living – at A Time.”

I was really thinking – there would be some flood of emotion, tears of joy or a long sigh of gratitude, but no, it was just me, the books and that question that faces everyone when their fleeting moment becomes a reality more than an expectation: “Now what”?

Later, looking out at 40 faces in a meeting I made my announcement  “for the good of the fellowship” a few hours later. I spoke – struggling with wordlessness, then I passed out the color brochures – the one’s I had “so” struggled with to get them finished and printed, ( a whole ‘nother adventure ) while holding-up the book and stammering through my simple explanation. It needed work – badly.

I am an award winning public speaker, but I felt like it was my first piano recital, weighing the projections of their approval before there was even a reason, letting that anticipation break my concentration and continuity. “Shit” – this was so nakedly honest.

There was no applause you know – we don’t do that. The moment had arrived with as little fanfare as the first issues shipment. From here on out, the saga begins: I start to realize what it is like – this way – to carry the message.

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book****
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:

Of Practical Use on a Daily Basis

Here is the reading for October, beginning our month of study in the 10th Step and Tradition.

Up to this point we’ve prepared ourselves for a new life adventure: living one day at a time. Now, whether the weather in which we live grows fair or foul, we put our newest principle to practical use on that singular basis. The critical test will be: Can we stay sober, live in a state of emotional balance, and find good purpose in our lives under all conditions we come across?

In order to do so, we find a continuous look at both our assets and
liabilities, coupled with our strong desires to learn and grow, are attitudes we’ll need for success.

A great number of us have learned the hard way: this isn’t a theory
at all. Self-survey and self-criticism have been practiced unsparingly by more experienced people than us at times and places gone by, and such wise people have known throughout the ages that in order to make something of one’s life, a regular pattern of self-searching and evaluation needs to be put into practical use in considering every day’s moments. To be successful at this, we will need to admit and accept what we find out about ourselves from this effort. Then, with our greatest patience and persistence we continue to practice and correct what we’ve found is wrong.

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book****
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE: