Thursday, July 09, 2015

The AA International in Atlanta

Last week was the AA International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. 57,000 AA members participated and they were joined by Alanon members, plus family and friends. It was a pleasure.

This was my third AA International Convention—they take place every five years and each year is a different city. My first was in Toronto, Ontario, then San Antonio, Texas and this year in Atlanta. In 2020 the Convention will be in Detroit, Michigan. So you have time to save for your trip!

Truly—an AA international Convention is worth saving for. It is an amazing experience to spend three or four days surrounded by people in recovery—we do completely take over the convention city. And the information, continual meetings and special programs and presentations are nothing short of mind-blowing.

Isn’t that a funny thought: we who tried to have our minds blown by chemicals for so many years now are thrilled by the high of fabulous podium speakers, exhilarating stories of long lives in recovery and exposure to every possible—sometimes unimaginable segment and slice of AA life. 

In Atlanta there were meetings on men, women, GLBTQ, 16 and under, 65 and older, and AA in every language. The opening flag ceremony—kind of like the opening ceremony of the Olympics—showed 94 countries participating. The large meetings at night completely fill the football stadium, The Georgia Dome, and the outdoor parties and music events make the world’s largest street party. It is, in fact, the truest test of one’s sobriety and recovery: crowds, lines, languages, and asking for direction. And so much laughter.

Our book says, “We are not a glum lot”, and this is born out at the International Convention. There are hourly giggles, guffaws and belly laughs—from the comments to the stories to the sayings and slogans on tee shirts and buttons.

I wish I had bought one of the Canadian tee shirts that say, “AA, eh?”

But my favorite take-away from Atlanta was hearing from 10 members who each had more than 50 years of recovery. They spoke on Saturday night –The 4th of July—in The Georgia Dome. And they were collectively: happy, humble, sincere, funny, heartbreaking, and deeply faith-filled folks.

 I’ll carry their image and messages with me until I can get to Detroit. Start saving now and join me in 2020.

No comments: