The Big Book Races

I recently changed my morning reading habits a bit. For the past few years I’ve been depending mostly on meditation books that were broken down into relatively small pieces, and reading other inspirational (or whatever) books in larger chunks.

This year I picked out two books in addition to the one I’ve been using for a couple of years–books not laid out in a daily reading format–and determined to treat them the same way, taking them in small, easily digestible chunks and then meditating on those readings, instead of trying to cram my head full as has been my habit for most of my life.

I read a few pages at most, stopping at what seems a reasonable point. Sometimes I read only a few paragraphs; on one occasion, only a couple of sentences. I find that I’m getting far more out of the basic text of one of my fellowships, for example, than I ever got when reading a chapter at a time. Cutting it into small chunks makes it far easier to digest and see how it applies to me. It seems that I do better with less to think about, rather than more; with small ideas, rather than big chunks. (In fact the eating/chewing/digesting analogy seems to fit perfectly, now that I think of it.)

This leads me to a problem that I’ve had with “big book” and similar meetings since back in the Dark Ages. Continue reading “The Big Book Races”

Two-Stepping

aaAt a meeting the other day, a guy suggested a topic and proceeded to share at length. It really makes no difference what it was, but two things were clear: the person didn’t have any concept of what recovery is really about, and he is so far up in his head that he has a long way to go before getting the hang of it.

It got me to thinking about when I was in the same boat. To begin with, I analyzed everything. I was so smart and so on top of things that I’d been pretty much a useless drunk for the previous six months and a semi-functional one for several years before that. So, naturally, a few weeks out of treatment I thought I had all the answers.

I had all sorts of high-falutin’ theories. I’d read a few books, and I was pretty sure that with a bit of effort I could become a recovery guru and help all those other poor folks who just couldn’t seem to get it. I was going to re-write the Big Book and streamline the program so that it would work for folks in the here and now, instead of fooling around with ideas that were (at that time) fifty years old. Continue reading “Two-Stepping”

Rituals

Night-before-last I was at a meeting, and the person who was supposed to chair failed to show up. Since he had all of the group’s paperwork with him, we didn’t have the necessary literature for the usual readings that begin the meeting. People sat there looking at each other, completely bamboozled by the fact that there was no way to complete the rituals before beginning to share.  As a relative newcomer to that group, I kept my mouth shut. After about ten minutes, a guy came in with some of the necessary material, and we commenced the meeting in the usual way. It got me to thinking, though, about rituals in the rooms of recovery. Continue reading “Rituals”