Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter January 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons,

It's Monday midmorning as I sit down to my favorite breakfast of Yorkshire Gold tea, salmon lox, and bagel with cream cheese. I am thinking about life's simple pleasures and how wonderful the last few days were, down in Carmel by the sea.  I attended some great AA meetings there and reconnected with some old friends who knew me in the last years of my drinking madness. They were delighted to hear from me and graciously invited me to dinner at their beautiful home, the night before Christmas. The trip was not really planned it just happened, an AA friend needed some fellowship support and I duly obliged.

Now, on my way back, I stopped in Half Moon Bay and over breakfast, I inhale a stunning view of the rugged Central California coast. The storm we had overnight still had some punch to it as it continued to pound the panoramic coastline. Big waves leaping over the rocks and depositing large pools of foamy white sea water on the deck a few feet from where I am sitting. The waitress hands me a copy of the Chronicle, where a breaking story about a tsunami off the Indonesian coast piques my interest. The details are still sketchy but it appears the quake deep on the ocean floor was a big one, over 9.00 on the richter scale, sending a tidal wave roaring across the Pacific, devastating coastal regions from Thailand to the East African coast. First reports stated three thousand people had perished. As I reflected on this distant unleashing of natures fury. I thought, how safe and secure I feel right now, and an incredible sense of gratitude descended upon me for this sober life, a life filled with love, beauty, friendship, and fellowship. I looked back over twenty years of sobriety and realized how this experience had utterly changed me, now more than ever being fully convinced the only life worth living, was a life dedicated to the service of others. It is in moments of crisis and natural disasters that we fully understand the need for empathy and altruism beyond family and friends. As a species, we are apparently the only ones with a genetic makeup that promises selflessness and true altruistic behavior. Sobriety, I mused, "one day at a time" was unequivocally the way to live one's life, definitely a gift from God.

Driving north on Highway 1, the news about the disaster in Southeast Asia became grimmer, and over the next couple of hours, the world was exposed to a catastrophe on an unprecedented scale. Suddenly my world, that was moments earlier safe and secure, is now hostile and threatening. Life I realized, like a thief in the night could be snatched from us any moment. It didn't matter whether one was sober forty years or forty minutes, we are all powerless when facing forces of this magnitude, a force that shifted the Earth on its axis and increased the acceleration of it's rotation. By the way, I am coming to this realization as I maneuver a borrowed Jeep Cherokee through the treacherous stretch of coastal highway known as "Devil's Slide." The concept of surrender, within the human psyche, I concluded has many layers and levels to it. It requires affirmation and reinforcement on a daily basis that in turn allows one to enter the realm of the now, the now of AA being "one day at a time."

A turn for the better

For some reason, whenever I round that last turn on Devils Slide heading back into the city, I always feel more at ease and I can relax a little. Today however, I feel a need to take a serious look at how I apply the concept "one day at a time" in my own life. I had to admit, for me, most of the time it was an obscure and abstract notion, a cliché I shamelessly bandied about to bolster my ego, in moments of contrived concern for new people at AA meetings.

Driving through Pacifica, I was suddenly gripped by a new fear. I became very aware of how in places; the road through Pacifica is almost at sea level. I find myself nervously scanning the turbulent waters of the majestic coastline for towering walls of water heading in my direction. The radio has scientists talking about fissures and faults all around the "Pacific Rim of Fire" tectonic plates that could erupt any minute and send massive tidal waves barreling into populated regions of the West Coast. I promised God that I would never utter another word in falsehood, that every thought and every action would be suffused with piety and reverence. I even said I would never sin again. Please God don't take me now I pleaded, just when I have found a couple of good new places to eat in San Francisco, and I am planning to go to the gym in the New Year. I even went over in my head, all the people I had harmed before during and after my drinking career, and again made amends to all of them, just in case someone was still mad at me. I said I would never sin again or entertain any impure thoughts, words or deeds, period. I even denounced the "Seven Deadly Sins" as the work of the Devil, the purview of the weak and the debauched.

Climbing up out of Pacifica into the higher elevations and relative safety of Skyline Boulevard I gradually started to feel safe again. By the time I hit 280 North I thought, "You know what! This is ridiculous." I can never fully remove all my character defects and instinctive drives. Especially now, having just discovered a new place in the city with killer crab cakes? Besides, does God really want me to be good all the time, what is good, what is bad? These are just words, pabulum, I ventured, that have little relevance or meaning in a secular world. Would God the Almighty, I pondered, really expect me to deprive myself, if he is, as we perceive him to be in AA"a loving God of our understanding"? Not to mention all those gifts he has bestowed on us. Is God someone who would give us so many toys and then ask us not to play with them? "That's it!" I exclaimed boldly. It's OK, no need for any more guilt and recrimination; you are fundamentally a good person.

In fact, the fellowship literature reinforces that notion over and over. The 12x12 tells us "there is good and bad in all of us". I even quoted page 449 (not by the way one of my favorite pieces in the Big Book), to bolster my argument: "AA and acceptance have thought me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here." By the time I hit Nineteenth Avenue, my thinking was that I will never ever be anything other than human. When danger presents itself, I will experience fear and seek sustenance beyond the cerebral. When it dissipates I become self-centered and egotistical with a strong need to control. Like the rest of us, I have my own version of spiritual growth entitled, "Oh Lord make me chaste - but not yet.

In conclusion, this is a disaster of monumental proportions and as humans, we have a desire to embrace and reach out to those in need. Our way of life challenges us to practice these principles in all of our affairs. There is little use in us talking the talk unless we are also walking the walk. This month if you have to make a choice between us, the Marina Dock, and sending money to a disaster fund for the victims of the tsunami, please, choose the latter.

Oh ye of little faith

We, as I have said repeatedly over the years are a higher power based operation, God is in charge. If anyone has any doubts about this consider what happened a few weeks ago. We had two total blackouts in the Marina district two nights in a row. Everywhere was in darkness except the Marina Dock, where our lights and appliances continued to provide electricity uninterrupted. When people came in and asked, "how come we have power?" my response was "you didn't know! Although we like everyone else have fat PG&E bills every month ($400.00, peak season) our real source of power comes from the highest authority, a loving God of our understanding." I know of course, no matter how compelling the evidence is there will always be skeptics.

Progress and Improvements Galore

You may have noticed the East Room and the West Room has all new chairs, bought and paid for via a magnanimous gesture of one of our more ardent supporters. We are still asking the meetings to refrain from clapping after 10:00 PM and before 10:00 AM even though we have greatly improved the soundproofing it the East Room. Please move to the left, beyond the first tree, to smoke, talk, laugh and cry. Several new meetings have started. We have a new OA Women's Meeting on Wednesday Night 5:00 PM, and there is an Emotions Anonymous meeting Tuesday Night 7:30 PM. There is also talk of a new Sugar Anonymous meeting coming soon. The Secretary's Workshop now has a set date. It will take place the third Saturday of every month at 1:30 PM. It's hard for me to remember all the different meetings going on at the Marina Dock. The best source of information is our fabulous website where meeting schedules can be downloaded and has other recovery related information for your perusal.

In Memory

Noelle S H passed away in December. Noelle was a fixture at the Noon to Midday meetings. Loved by all, she would periodically slip twenty or forty bucks our way. I know for a fact she could ill afford these gestures but the place meant so much to her, and this was her way of showing her love. Lisa O'C also passed away recently. Lisa was a great spirit who worked in the recovery field with all kinds of people with HIV and substance abuse problems; she worked primarily through Walden House.

With Gratitude,

Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"


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