Bill W’s Holiday Gift
December 1, 2020
Humility in Recovery and How to Develop It
December 10, 2020

During these past several months many, if not most, of us have been trying to figure out how to maintain our “normal” during a pandemic. Cancellation, after cancelation, after cancellation. In fact, our own July-August-September edition of this Newsletter was “cancelled.”

What is most disturbing is that in our urgency to maintain some semblance of normalcy, we have ended up becoming divided on many fronts. There are those who insist on continuing to meet in some form of live face-to-face encounter, and those who insist that we must go virtual. And we of Alcoholics Anonymous are not alone. Schools, sports, businesses, and churches are all impacted. It truly reminds us that, as a group, recovering alcoholics are nothing more or nothing less than a microcosm of the society from which we virtually withdrew during our “drinking careers.”

The bottom line is that these times let us know of how much “fluff” we have become accustomed to. Those of us who live in urban centers throughout northeast Ohio are particularly vulnerable. I don’t mean vulnerable for catching “the virus;” I mean vulnerable for having our social weaknesses exposed. How solid is my foundation? Have I become overly dependent on “meetings,” knowing that in many communities (especially the Cleveland metropolis) we had over 900 meetings per week available to us?

During my drinking days, I was involved in some sort of drinking activity for all of my leisure time, and much of my non-leisure time. In fact, at the breaking point (a.k.a. my “bottom”) all of my time, period, was in one way or another drinking time. I recall the point in time when it was no longer about going to a bar. I became “sheltered in-place” – just me and my bottle. Could it be that current health guidelines suggesting that we become less-social remind us of the isolation that we once knew? Could that be a significant contributor for those of us who just can’t seem to get with this “Zoom thing”? Have we become gripped in a fear that we disguise as macho reverence for the need to have live meetings – everyday? Have the meetings replaced the bar?

There was a period in my life when social-distancing was the norm. I taught school in a rural community. There was only one traffic light in town (down by the courthouse), and you had to drive about 20 miles to the closest liquor store or closest McDonalds. There were no corner bars; most folks made their own “corn,” as it was called. The biggest social activities were high school basketball and football.

Recently, out of curiosity, I checked on the availability of AA in the area where I taught in southern Virginia. There are 3 meetings per week, all of which are about 20 miles from where I lived. For anything more one would have to drive about 50 miles up to the Richmond / Petersburg area. And we complain in Northeast Ohio about a couple of meetings being unable to meet during a pandemic. Really?

Perhaps we need to return to AA of 1940, or AA of Lawrenceville, Virginia. Just because our daily (even weekly) meetings might be shut down or gone virtual, does not mean that AA has shut down. After all, the very foundation of our fellowship is not the meetings; its one alcoholic helping another. Its not a room full of alcoholics socializing without liquor; its delivering a box of literature to the local hospital, or taking a box of sandwiches and socks to a local homeless shelter. In short, its all about service.

Our challenge should not be about figuring out how to hold a live meeting. Our challenge is figuring out how to bring in the new guy despite there being no live meeting. That is what general service ought to be about during these trying times. In fact, I don’t recall seeing anything about meetings in Chapter 7 of the “Big Book.” And when we need to “get together” for planning or for fun let us embrace Zoom or whatever electronic platform works for you.

Demanding that the only way to meet is in person is no different than demanding that the only scotch I would drink had to be single-malt. But when I could no longer afford single-malt scotch, the blended scotch worked just fine. So now will I find a way to enjoy a fine Glenlivet 18, or will I simply surrender to Zoom?

Love and Service,

By James T.
Editor, Northeast Ohio Recorder

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.