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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ad Astra Per Aspera - 熬煎樂趣


It has been suggested by wiser men than I that perhaps one of the most beneficent events of the Apollo program was the tragic loss of astronauts Grisson, White and Chaffee during a routine preflight test. Shocked as I remember being when I first heard this suggested, I understand now.

The Command Module was so complicated, the pressure to meet Kennedy's challenge to land on the moon by the end of the decade so
great, and the fear at NASA that congress would cut funding due to the Vietnam war so all pervading that things were rushed, reckless engineering shortcuts were allowed, and just plain old shoddy workmanship led to the fire on pad 34C that killed those interepid voyagers.

Good how?  Well, had that spacecraft not incenerated on the pad and an appropriate postmortem not been conducted, the odds were very great that the crew would have expired in orbit because the spacecraft was so fraught with defect. Had that happened, a failure analysis would not have been possible, funding would have been cut and we'd never had landed on the moon.  Made right here near Long Beach in Downey, the collective guilt of North American was such that the
oil islands outside my window were named after these guys - too little, too late.

The same thing happens in AA every day - newcomers are encouraged to do the bare minimum, most fail, a few survive without doing the work, and a precious few are left remaining standing to lead the way out. Ironically, I never hear anybody say - "...hey, why didn't anybody suggest to so-and-so that he perhaps try the steps while was spending the last 25 years talking about HIS recovery"? If you're talking about YOUR recovery, it's time to look at Step Three again - or maybe for the first time, actually. That's the one thing that's probably NOT a hot topic of conversation in the backyard.

The 'Art of War' teaches us that sometimes the most humane thing a general can do when a troop disobeys the 'moral law' is to publicly behead him - this way thousands of other troops learn discipline - and live long and happy lives because of it. Death is a very effective motivational tool.

Sometimes, every once in a while, a suicide or two is just the tonic to move our pencils along on our own inventory, for a change.  It's the closet thing to a public beheading that we can manage - and the troop does it to himself.  There are not suicide victims in AA every AA member that goes to the guillotine puts their own head in voluntarily; we all hear the same message.

'If you don't think you're fighting for your life, you're not finished yet'.  In AA, sometimes two eyes have to close so a thousand can open.  Thank God I've found a sufficient subsitute to quell the voice in the head that is alcoholism. That voice is trying to kill me, and it doesn't care if it gets me from the end of a gun or the bottom of the bottle.

The reason for this senseless loss tradgedy is very simple. No second step, no sanity.  No God, no recovery.  No recovery, no life.  How's that for keeping it simple? I found out this morning that a guy I knew from our old home group in Brooklyn blew his brains out.  'He could not or would not see our way of life'.  He was my biggest heckler, by the way.  For a guy who had all the answers, he never knew what questions to ask - the one entitled Chapter 5.  Though I feel sorry for him, he's really much better off.  He suffered for years - and made a lot of people around him suffer also;  that's what alcoholism does.  It takes every last bit of good out of everybody else's life around you - then you die - if you're lucky.

Relapse is a big joke until one day you realize that you're the problem - and all you've got to show for all your years in AA are some really bad jokes and lots of 'friends' in the backyard, who actually loathe you more than you loathe yourself.

Happiness is overrated, I think.  Dread and discomfort have driven me to do better things. The joy is in the journey - and the only pain involved in doing the 12 steps is in the resistance.  I pray you find a teacher loving enough to tell you what my teacher constantly tells me:  "I'd rather step on your toes than stand on your grave".

Today was day 61/90 and that room is so heavy - there is so much voluntary suffering present it literally hobbles me.  I have to pray and mediate before and during the meeting - and I am so grateful for it. There is a collective suffering in that place that's actually palpable - and entirely voluntary.  'Pain in inevitable - suffering is optional'.

And ladies - give it up.  You are NOT special - in case daddy never told you he loved you, he probably never will. Alcoholism is alcoholism - all suffering is relative, and you are NOT special.  The malady is the same, both male and female - but the good news is so is the cure. Look at your audience - who are you trying to impress with your dramas of life?  For someone who 'doesn't believe everything in the Book' you spend an AWFUL lot of time on the second column of the Fourth Step - Boo frickety hoo - shut up and finish the steps.  Life's rough - get a helmet and do something about your pathetic little story.  Put away the hanky and buy a Book, already - this one is not working for you.

This room is a really rough pull for me - I'd rather take some time off and relax a little - but my sponsor knows that right now I need that room more than it needs me - so though I may not sound like it, I am very grateful for that AA Clubhouse. He often reminds me of a Latin Prayer he learned as a little boy entitled 'Ad Astra per Aspera', or 'Through Hardship to the Stars'.  As much as I dread that room, it's helping prune me for the next level, whatever that may be, and hopefully, just hopefully, I'll be able to lift at least one soul up from the bitter morass that is alcoholism along the way.  If nothing else, I'm learning a lot about toilets.

I love each and every one of you.  However, I love some of you so much I have to stay away from you.  And for the cocky few, it would behoove you to keep in mind that '...all warfare is based on deception'.  AA is spiritual warfare - if you come after my Father's children, you better have your warface on.  You got a warface, Private Joker?  Let me tell you something - all the tough guys are in inventory right now.  The cowards are in the backyard talking about the hero's in the front row who are doing the deal.

COG, 1st Cl.

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Welcome as a witness to a fools journey out of the darkness. I welcome all tidings - you are all my teachers on this path toward a meaningful and purposeful sobriety.

COG, 1st Cl.