Saturday, June 27, 2015

Freedom in Form--Or Why We Have a Program

We joke sometimes about all of the “suggestions” we are given in recovery. The steps are suggestions, and other advice like “Don’t drink, go to meetings and pray” are also suggestions. But we are also told, “Yes, these are merely suggestions but death is the consequence of not following them.”
It’s all about structure and form and order: All the things that alcoholics just naturally resist.
So today I read something great about the benefit of form and structure. I was doing some research on writing for a class I’ll be teaching soon and I discovered this gem that also applies to recovery.

This is from Stanley Fish in his book called, “How to Write a Sentence”. Fish says:
“A famous sonnet by William Wordsworth begins, ‘Nuns fret not their convent’s narrow room;/And hermits are contented with their cells;/and students with their pensive citadels.” Wordsworth’s point is that what nuns and hermits and students do is facilitated rather than hindered by the confines and formal structures they inhabit; because those structures constrain freedom (they remove, says Wordsworth, “the weight of too much liberty”), they enable movements in a defined space…and then every movement can carry a precise significance.”
Fish says, “This then is my theology: You shall tie yourself to forms and the forms shall set you free.”Following the “suggestions” of our program, working the steps, living within the traditions then also can set us free. It can be our theology too. In that way of thinking I’m very happy to be all tied up in recovery.

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