The Marina Dock Newsletter January
Dear Marina Dock Members
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
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
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.
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
Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"