A Really Smart Person is Interested in Your Thoughts


I got an interesting question from a gentleman we all love who is interested in your, my fluffy readers, thoughts! After my last entry “Dear Slushkitten” and I’m afraid my next entry coming soon “Dear Rubbuh Fox”, this blog can really use some class – the class, maturity, and curiosity (without necessarily being “solemn or earnest”)  that Bhaskar carries in his pocket and in his heart wherever he goes, I am sure, and certainly to every meeting…. Here’s Bhaskar’s question….

Dear Cara,

The question, “Is a serious question prohibited?” is not the question I actually want to ask.

My question is simpler: How can I use my sobriety to persuade newcomers that:

  1. their recovery is valuable and important; 
  2. that they should take themselves seriously; 
  3. that it’s worthwhile to be ambitious; 
  4. and that ambition and dreams are not at odds with humility and being “another bozo on the bus”

A clarification: I don’t think that to accept these things means that one has to be solemn or earnest.  I don’t think that this means that one’s ambitions have to be discussed with all and sundry, in meetings or even with one’s sponsor. In AA, as in the rest of the world, one chooses one’s confidants carefully. It’s better to miss out on a really good confidant than to make the mistake of choosing one who’s imprudent or indiscreet.  

But I do think that one’s sobriety has to be taken seriously.  (If you’re a step person, steps six and seven are relevant.  They are non-trivial and they are tough — they have to be taken as complex, and taking those steps is a process that should take years, not days.)

I’m expressing an opinion as though I were asking a question, of course. But there is a question?  How do even the newly sober (say 6+ months and greater) recognize this in their friends?  Does being part of the fellowship mean encouraging people to explore all their abilities, or it does stop with “mere sobriety,” whatever that is?

I also write this question because I am interested in the answers of the people on this forum — they are the people by whom I would like to be influenced, not necessarily in the other direction.

Finally, although “Is a serious question prohibited?” is not the actual question, I do get excited by sentences like the truth or falsehood of sentences like “This sentence is false.”  And I’m always delighted to discuss those types of statements — rather than sobriety, for example.

I do like the blog, its lightness and its comfort, its implicit but relaxed assurance of friendship and support.



We’re looking forward to your comments!




7 responses

  1. As a person who does not take things seriously, as a general rule, I believe there is only one way to show people that sobriety is serious. Be serious in a manner equitable to the topic being discussed. For sobriety, I am very serious about the things which are important, i.e. the steps, building a network, staying sober one day at a time no matter what, and having hopes and dreams that were/seemed impossible when active.
    The thing that makes life (actual, sober life) worthwhile is the ability to achieve ambitious or unambitious goals. I find that as I get more recovery time, I need to continually challenge myself to be better, and to get better.
    Specifically referring to the idea of combining humility with ambition, it’s important for me to understand that being “another bozo on the bus” is mainly used to deal with the fact that I am an alcoholic like anyone else, and this solution can work for me. I don’t think it needs go any further than that. We don’t all need to give up on our hopes and dreams, or conform to some particular ideal outside of AA. But in AA, we are all the same: striving little ant-like alcoholics, following the scent that our brothers have left behind for us to follow and find sugar and hopefully not a big kid waiting to squish us.

    Ichabot Crank
    Professionally Not A Robot

  2. I don’t think we can persuade anyone to become sober. The only way is the power of example. It does not stop with putting down the drink, that is only the beginning. I’m not the greatest writer. I am much better at discussion than the written word.

    In short, I try to live a life of self-exploration and hopefully I will lead a fuller life. Maybe someone will see that and want it too.

    I would not mind talking about this as I speak my thoughts much better than ivcabwrite them.

  3. 1. their recovery is valuable and important;
    2. that they should take themselves seriously;
    3. that it’s worthwhile to be ambitious;
    4. and that ambition and dreams are not at odds with humility and being “another bozo on the bus”

    My answers:

    1. because in my experience, I would be dead otherwise…and if I picked up again I would prefer to be dead
    2. hmmmm…rule 62?
    3. what else are you going to do with your life? we all wasted YEARS to drinking and being miserable.
    4. this one I haven’t figured out yet. I suck at being a worker among workers

  4. Bhashkar,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts/questions. Here are your answers:

    How can I use my sobriety to persuade newcomers that:

    their recovery is valuable and important;
    – You can’t. And it’s not your job to. It’s between them and God.
    that they should take themselves seriously;
    – You can’t. And it’s not your job to. It’s between them and God.
    that it’s worthwhile to be ambitious;
    and that ambition and dreams are not at odds with humility and being “another bozo on the bus”
    – Good one. I like this. I like to turn to the ol’ 12×12 for guidance here…
    “..humility – a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in AA, it amounts to a clear recognition of who and what we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”
    So, to answer your question, have the person turn to page 58.

  5. Dear Bhaskar, via Slushkitty,
    I write to tell of several things:
    1. you were the first person I heard qualify when I came into the Cambridge meetings, and it is because of your eloquent combination of humor, humility, and empiricism, that I have stayed. So, I found the qualities you want to convince people can coexist in sobriety right there, in you!
    2. I have been in and out of AA for over 12 years. In NYC, where I first started my journey, I was surrounded by outrageously ambitious people, including myself. They were living proof of the successful coexistence of sobriety and ambition. However, many of the people I meet in AA have, for good reasons, put ambition aside in favor of being “just another drunk.” AA being the socialist program it is, I can’t argue with taking this direction, ESPECIALLY in early sobriety. But sooner or later, we all want to fulfill our destinies. We are an incredibly odd mixture of people who have failed to become what they wanted to be, and people who have done that, but crashed and burned anyway. Or because of, or in spite of…., etcetera.
    3. I think that what lies at the heart of your question is how to rectify personal ambition with the lessons we learn in AA (of which the world could use a huge dose), which are to put ego/will aside as it has run amok. In order to even begin sobriety, you do have to do this. Swimming back to your own personal ambitions, which are as important as sobriety, in my opinion, means taking on a passenger: the humility of knowing you are “just another bozo on the bus.” I.e., we have to learn to have these two seemingly opposing awarenesses coexist in our consciousness.

    I am struggling with this mightily. I travel in high-powered, often alcoholic circles, where somehow everyone but me seems to have decided extreme behavior in the face of ambition is the only way to go. I am currently hiding out from all that, in large part to get sober. That is not working very well because ambition is time-sensitive: if you’re off the radar for too long, you’ll be forgotten. But, and this but is what keeps me trying, you have to trust that when you come back into the fray, you will carry with you knowledge that will not only keep you sober, but will make you better at what you are destined to do. I have faith in very little, but this I truly believe.

    Love to Slushkitty and all the rest,

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