Yesterday I spoke at a meeting and as the anniversaries were announced there was happy applause for the man with three years, and also for the woman with 17 years, but when another man announced that he had 42 years there was foot stomping.
Last summer in Atlanta I saw thousands of AA members play out this major paradox of recovery. As AA members counted down their years of sobriety we cheered like mad for the man with one day and for the woman with three weeks. Then when the old timers stood up for 30, 40, and 50 years we hooted and we screamed.
We do this in our home groups too. We say, “All that any of us has is today,” and “The person who got up earliest today has the most sobriety.” But then we brag that our sponsor has 28 years or that our sponsor’s sponsor has almost 40.
So is this a contradiction? A paradox? I think the reason we are in awe of old timers –even though each of us does have only this day—is that we know that if someone has been in recovery for a really long time then we also know that they have been through a lot of very hard stuff: love, loss, illness, death, success, failure, more success, more failure, new love and more heartbreak—and they stayed sober through all those things that we desire and fear.
We love the person with one week but we want to be the person with 40 years—so we do pay attention and...And that is what we want for ourselves—one day at a time.