Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.
What I just wrote in that first paragraph were not my words, though I live by them in every sense. Every word. That paragraph was taken straight out of page 417, 4th edition, of the book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Powerful words aren’t they? When I returned to Elkhart, Kansas May 27, 2009, one of the first things I did was to attend an AA meeting at the local jail. And not just in their “conference room” where we had our weekly 15 minute “visitation” while I was a guest there from June 5th, 2008 until November 10th, 2008. It was INSIDE the bullpen, the 270 square foot concrete and steel “living” quarters I called “home” for 158 days. To refresh your memory, the bullpen housed up to 8 of us at a time and I wrote about it on the blog here on May 5th, 2010. So, on the first Monday of June, 2009, just days shy of a year earlier when I first “checked in” to that facility, I attended their weekly AA meeting at 8 p.m. sharp. I’ll never forget what happened next.
When I walked inside the bullpen with one of my local AA comrades, a man who has been sober for over 31 years, we sat down at the table and everyone exchanged pleasantries. What was strange though was seeing 3 people who were still in there when I left, all 3 of which I had come to know oh so well during my stay in mid-2008. I remember one in particular, Lance. Now, here was a psycho if there ever was one. His sister was also present, Katie. They were both in though for different reasons. Just a family thing I suppose! Anyway, Lance looks at me and says “Wow, this has to feel kind of scary for you to be sitting here with us, huh Gus?” I looked at him and said, “No Lance, actually I’m pretty calm. I’m more worried about you than me.” And so the meeting began with Katie being the leader that night. Later, they asked me to speak of something they were all reading in the “big book” as we call it in amongst us members. I asked Lance to hand me the book and I looked at the pages they had been reading silently for about 10-15 seconds. Then I closed the book and SLAMMED it face down on that steel table as hard as I possibly could. Everyone seemed stunned of course but what I said next reverberated throughout that little cage.
“People, you may think this book is about how to get sober, how to get clean of drugs, how to overcome any one of countless addictions. And you’re right, it is. But there’s more to this book than what you see in just trying to overcome your physical or mental problems. This book is about LIFE.” I went on to say that people aren’t perfect, and that this book is only a guide, one of many tools we have to help us. I told them each of us are unique and not to try and copy me just because I read the silly thing all the time when I was there and they saw and commented on how I was doing so well. Because I’m not perfect. And neither are ANY of us. Each one of you have to find out what it is that works for you and it might take an entire encyclopedia of books, going to AA/NA meetings every day of the week, attending church, or whatever. Point being I told them, simply find out what works for you and stop. Stop right there and run with it. Whatever that “it” that works for YOU, then do it, and don’t look back. Most of all, when you do find out what that “it” is, don’t interpret another human being’s actions and judge on what YOU think they should do. Let them find out for themselves. Live and let live.
My whole thrust and message of this latest blog goes back to what I wrote in the first paragraph: “…….there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying I know better than God.”
The Bible puts it this way, a passage that gets mis-interpreted often. ” 1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”