Styles are constantly changing. For a while baggy jeans were all the rage. If you didn’t own a pair, you weren’t cool. At one time bell bottoms were the in thing. Today, it seems that everyone is wearing skinny straight leg jeans. We members of the fellowship are as concerned with fashion as the next person. Survey any meeting and you will see that our clothing choices follow modern trends. So yes, you will see us wearing skinny straight leg jeans.
Philosophically, we take a very different approach. A popular expression in the rooms is to “wear this world like a loose garment”. With a tight fitting garment, we don’t have much room to move. The same holds true in life. We need to display a degree of flexibility. This means that when appropriate we let go of old ideas and patterns that no longer work for us. We are open to applying new approaches in solving issues that arise. Often, we just need to let go of expectations and accept how things unfurl for us. Because we have flexibility we can even accept hurt and disappointment. Our jeans may be stiff and tight but our minds are limber and open.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to develop flexibility?
It is so easy to find things that separate us from other people. Many of us became experts at this. Almost every person we met had something wrong with them. One person was too talkative, another was too quiet, a third was too nerdy and a fourth was too stuck up. We could go to a party and have a miserable time because we couldn’t find anyone there we could relate too.
These days we view life differently. We look for points of commonality and interest with other people. We find that when we practice active listening, we are able to build common ground with others. Nowadays, when we go to a party we can have a great time. We enjoy speaking with many different types of people and finding out more about them. The only thing that has changed is our attitude. It takes a degree of humility to be able to identify with others. When we express ourselves in an open and honest manner; people enjoy speaking with us as well. We have also noted that the better we feel about ourselves, the better we feel about others
Personal Reflection: Do I still slip into judging others?
Many people in the program speak about their childhood and upbringing. A large number of us came from living situations that were extremely rigid and close minded. Our response to this rigidity was often the development of a rebellious nature. This often manifested itself by our engaging in anti-social behavior which included drugs and alcohol. We envisioned ourselves as “rebels without a cause”. Paradoxically, this largely reflexive response, did not include an openness of mind and spirit. We used substances to buffer our pain; but were loath to change our life situation. If anything, we found comfort in the status quo, although it had long ago stopped working for us.
In sobriety, we began the long journey of emotional and spiritual progress. When a sponsor or another member made a suggestion to us, we did not reject it out of hand. As these suggestions were applied to our lives, improvements were observed. Feeling encouraged by this, we began to be open to changes in areas that had never before been considered. Whether it was experiencing a new food, a new vacation spot, or attending our first opera; we were game. Each day was now viewed as an opportunity for further growth due to our expansive nature.
Personal Reflection: Have I checked my parachute recently?
Over the years, many of us have attended hundreds of meetings. Often, when we go into a meeting we don’t know what we are going to speak about; or even if we are going to speak at all. Nothing seems to be particularly pressing in our life. Yet quite often, while we are sitting in the meeting, we hear something which we can identify with. Before we know it, our hand is up and we are sharing with the group. Sometimes we hear something which doesn’t really strike home during the meeting itself. Then, after the meeting, while we’re chatting with another member of the group, an issue comes to the surface and we begin to share. Sometimes, a few days pass before we realize that something within us had been touched at the meeting.
Over time we discover we prefer certain meetings over others. Step vs topic, large vs small, day vs evening; circle vs rows, to each his or her own. And for that rare moment when a meeting has little or no appeal, just move on to another one.
Personal Reflection: What did I learn at my last meeting?