For today's entry ... A recent personal experience:
A sponsee once related to me a story in his early sobriety. In his first year sober he sat Christmas morning in a pile of parts and wrapping paper attempting to assemble his kids biggest Christmas Gift. Just as he was ready to take the whole mess outside and throw it in the trash he had this thought ... "maybe I should read the instructions!"
Opening the instructions he saw
"Step 1 - Insert tab A in slot B"
"Step 2 - Install Wheel as shown" ...
In short order the project was complete and everyone was happy. He later relayed the story to me and related it to his unwillingness to work "the" program as our book (and I ) had been suggesting.
Why must I continually learn this same lesson?
After noticing my 11th step wasn't what it used to be (this is roughly defined as the understatement of the year), I began to look around at my AA activity. There were more signs of a guy not in the program than a guy in the program. I am not proud of this but it is true. Minimal service, slacking meeting attendance, not actively sponsoring etc. Now I had plenty of excuses for this which I would have gladly offered to my sponsor except that he had moved and I was not in contact with him. So 6 months of sponsoring myself had left me an AA jelly fish baffled that I was "blocked" after 12 years of very active AA participation. What I had come to describe as "a little of the beam ... maybe
", was actually further off the beam than I could have imagined.
I became convinced that if I just got back to praying more all would be well. I soon stood on a mountain top gazing at the sunset wondering why my meditation didn't seem to work anymore. Then Bill Wilson's words in the 12 & 12 hit me hard. In essence he wrote that self examination and prayer and meditation were each good in their own right, but when combined they create an unshakeable foundation for living.
When had I last honestly conducted my evening review as outlined on page 86 of the Big Book? I could not honestly say, but it had to have been months. As Bill W. suggests in the 12 & 12, the results of step 11 without self examination will not be nearly what they could be.
Fortunately for me I had already taken some action, and found myself committed (almost involuntarily) to completing steps 1 through 12 (again) in a workshop environment with my new sponsor. I am currently in Step 9 and prayer and meditation is becoming a real part of my life again rather than an easily forgotten mechanical routine.
I've heard it described as having a "built in forgetter" or as a "re-construction of the ego", whatever the phenomenon, I suppose I am an undisciplined person who would do best to let God discipline me in the simple way outlined in our Book. I remain grateful that I do not have to drink to be reminded that the program works best when we follow the instructions.
BTW, the picture is an actual picture from "Broke Step Mountain" (actually the Mogilon Rim in AZ) taken mere moments after my baffling 11th step experience ... The irony is that it was much later when I realized I did receive guidance and it was perfect ... it was rembering Bill W's comments that said to me in essence "follow instructions dummy"
. As a former sponsor told me "if you saw a burning bush you would probably piss on it."