What does making coffee have to do with sobriety?
Even very early in my sobriety, I had a begrudging recognition that there was wisdom in the simple phrases I saw posted on the walls of meetings. I had some contempt for these cutesy expressions and the people who said them. I also had serious doubts that these simple concepts could help me out of the hopeless shambles my life had become.
I was different. My troubles were big. And I didn’t see where taking things one day at a time, or keeping things simple, was going to improve my lot in life, even if meeting makers really did make it.
Luckily, when I finally showed up at the doors of AA, I did not have any more answers. I was just utterly defeated. A big part of that was that the drink was no longer the ambrosia that quieted my thoughts and made intolerable conditions okay. In fact, drinking was having quite the opposite effect. Gone was the relief from myself that I was always seeking. My thoughts raced. Drinking was driving me crazy, yet it was the only solution I had. I think it is safe to say that I had reached the jumping-off point.
I was indeed very lucky. I was ready to listen. I was willing to accept the help these strangely happy people were offering. Yes, some of the things I heard seemed silly, and didn’t seem to have anything to do with staying sober, yet I did them. I was too tired to fight, and I didn’t have any better schemes of my own.
I got a sponsor, chose a home group, made coffee, greeted, cleaned up after the meeting, prayed in the morning, prayed at night, read the Big Book, worked the Steps with my sponsor, wore a tie to my home group, called my sponsor daily, and went to meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
Somehow my life began to improve. I can’t tell you why my life was changing or how doing things such as being where I said I would be, when I said I would be, would have the impact on my life they did.
What does making coffee or shaking people’s hands have to do with sobriety? For me, the why of it doesn’t matter. I believe that the essence of the program, and the reason my life improved, lies with what I was doing, not what I was thinking or feeling.
It finally dawned on me that all the phrases and suggestions I had heard centered on actions that I could take. I can’t recall ever hearing anything I wasn’t capable of doing. Of course, I had to be willing to actually do them. That was the hard part. “Simple” doesn’t mean “easy.” I can shake a person’s hand, but I don’t like it. At large meetings, the last thing I want to do is share from the podium. Yet, I do it anyway. These actions do not depend on what I think or feel; they only depend on my doing them.
The times that I struggle are the times when I forget to keep things simple. The spiritual tools that were so freely set at my feet are useless if I ignore them. When I stop doing things my way and start doing things the way they are described in our text and by my sponsor, I again get some relief from myself. The world looks nicer. My life gets better.
Today I try to remember to keep things simple. I make many mistakes that remind me to be humble. I am far from perfect, but I’m not required to be. Life still happens–some good stuff, some bad stuff, and lots of in-between.
When I do what is in front of me to do, I don’t need to worry about what happens when I have done my part; I am not the one in charge. I can face fear with the faith in a Higher Power that never left me. I can finally bring more to life than I take away.
It is as simple as that.