Book Stories - Updated
An early Chicago member writes the sequel to her story,
"The Key Of The Kingdom", (page 304 in 2nd edition
Big Book of "Alcoholics Anonymous") and clearly
spells out the progression of sobriety.
Take Our Word for It
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., January 1969
first ten years of AA in the Chicago area (1939 through
1949) were years filled with much activity. During the
first four or five years, the activity was at times even
feverish. Our numbers were small when AA received its
first national publicity, so all of us were pressed into
service in an effort to answer the flood of requests that
poured in from all over the Midwest.
would be nice to intimate that my part in all this amounted
to some kind of noble, self-sacrificing contribution.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This tremendous
activity, by bringing me into almost constant contact
with other members doing likewise, provided me with everything
I most desperately needed to same my life -- quite literally.
As I look back I realize this was the most excitingly
beautiful period of my life, filled with great humor,
incredible thrills, and revelatory happenings. Out of
these were born human relationships the like of which
I wouldn't have believed possible.
1955, when I wrote my story for the revised edition of
Alcoholics Anonymous, our membership in the Chicago area
alone had grown from six to six thousand. Now, there were
many to carry on the work. The group did not need us in
the same degree as it had earlier. But our need for the
group had not diminished. After we come into AA, after
the fog is lifted from our thinking, then we begin to
find ourselves. When we have had the time to complete
that all-important, searching personal inventory, we must
ask, "What is it I really want from life? Sobriety?
Yet, or course, for there can be no future without this.
But if I can maintain sobriety -- then what? What can
I do with what remains of my life?"
answers may vary somewhat, but I think there are certain
fundamental desires that are much the same in all of us.
We want, first of all, to be liberated from dependence
on any human crutch. Next, we want to achieve dependability
and trustworthiness, so that our self-respect is restored
and we can earn the right of respect from others. The
we must find some reason for our existence, so that we
may obtain purpose in our lives -- a purpose worth striving
to achieve. We need to learn to laugh again, relax again,
enjoy living again. We want to be capable of meeting the
daily challenges as they come, with courage and good humor.
Instead of running from life's problems, we'd like to
find we can meet them head-on and handle them well.
It seems like a pretty big order, and it is. Yet all these
wishes and many more can become realities if we will just
follow the AA blueprint for living.
AA concept tends to simplify life. It teaches us how to
keep ourselves straightened away by weeding out the crippling
attitudes and replacing erroneous premises with true values.
It wisely counsels us to turn the inner searchlights on
what underlies our motivations before we act, so that
the chances for constructive action will be greater. Also
when we learn to take a good look before we leap, we can
eliminate the purely emotional decisions we used to act
upon, so often to our sorrow and destruction.
AA approach to life steers us along a maturing course.
We become willing to accept the responsibility of our
actions. We learn to improve the quality of our living
by constantly striving to improve ourselves. Although
we cannot change the world, we find that for us relative
(yet miraculous) change does occur outside ourselves as
we change inwardly. And after a while we begin to realize
that we are developing a pretty sound philosophy to live
very nature of this approach to life calls for a continuous
striving toward the personal goals we have set for ourselves.
We will never outgrow the program. Always, as more vistas
open up for us, or when we reach a new plateau, we find
the need to climb a little higher, or go a bit further.
is it I really want from life?" Now we can answer
want to mature. We want to be able to make a constructive
contribution to our world. We want to develop well-integrated,
whole personalities. We want balance in our lives; we
want to develop all the areas of our being equally. We
want to improve our understanding of and appreciation
for our fellowman, and thereby learn how we may serve
him. We want to earn the privilege and the joy of being
wanted, needed, and loved by those around us.
find that the principles of honesty, purity (of motivation),
unselfishness, and love (without ourselves at the center)
do work, when we apply them to any and all departments
of our living. It often takes courage to make the experiment
of applying these principles in our daily affairs, in
our personal relationships, or in our business contacts.
Bur by gum these principles do work. They work because
everything we have to do in this world involves other
people, and people will and do respond to this kind of
approach, no matter what the problem at hand. I can make
this statement because I have had, not one, but many experiences
with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations over
the last twenty-nine years.
never really know anything theoretically. We truly know
only that which we have experienced. And this is why we
say to the new person, "Don't take our word for it.
Instead, try it for yourself. Only then can you be sure
you have latched on to a design for living that can really
work for you."
faith in our program continues to increase through my
personal experience with it. The last thirteen years have
found me still striving toward the shining goals laid
out for me long ago. I now live in Florida with my husband,
and we will soon be celebrating, most happily, our eighteenth
wedding anniversary. He is an alky, too, and our lives
have been enriched by our mutual faith and perseverance
in the AA way of life. Through it we have found a quality
of happiness and serenity that, we believe, could not
have been realized in any other way. Small wonder our
gratitude knows no bounds.
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., January 1969
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