The Marina Dock Newsletter OCTOBER
have just heard of the sad passing on September 27th of Frank
B (1918-2003) who had 57 years of sobriety. Check the San
Francisco Chronicle's obituary for service details.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Dear Marina Dock members
and patrons alike,
I got a lot of compliments
about last month's (September's) newsletter everyone seemed to
get something out of it. This of course presents somewhat of a
dilemma for me, because now I feel I have to deliver every month.
Ah well! They say God never gives us anything we cannot handle;
I just wish she did not have as much confidence in me. In addition
to using the newsletter as a means to hone my literary skills,
I also have to squeeze in important information about the Marina
Dock and it's survival.
Speaking of which, we are doing everything possible, with your
unstinting support and random acts of kindness to keep this place
open for all of us. Not just for the people who use the Marina
Dock as a primary source of spiritual growth and recovery, but
also for those of us for whom the Marina Dock is a way of life.
The other day I was reflecting on how this place has profoundly
changed the direction of my life, almost everyday someone comes
up to me on the street and tells me what a great job we are doing
at the Marina Dock and how much the place means to them. That's
big stuff, especially when I have the humility to inwardly acknowledge
that "God is doing for me what I could not do for myself."
I call this the paradox of surrender, the more we recognize our
powerlessness, the greater our ability to seek and do God's will,
in the service of others.
OCTOBER IS A BIG MONTH
This month I kind of
want to remember all the beautiful people God has put in my life,
for close to twenty years now.
It was around ten years ago, the last time I was back in Ireland
that I learned my good friend Phil Fay had passed away. Phil was
one of those guys that looked like he was about fifty five all
his life, you like, always imagined him as fifty five, you could
never see him any other way than how he looked. He drove a huge
big Lincoln that was about the same size as my studio apartment,
and he was an avid racing bike enthusiast. One hot July day he
shows up at the then Dry Dock in full racing bike regalia and
just casually mentioned he went for a short bike ride. When I
asked he how far he rode, he said "Oh, just down to Aptos
He always dressed impeccably, a perfect gentleman and he referred
to me always in greeting as "his eminence". We would
hang out at the Dry Dock into the small hours of the morning talking
about all the characters he knew from his earlier years growing
up in San Francisco, his love of boxing and knowing the great
gentleman, Jim Corbett.
One night we left the club around 2:00 am and he, as usual, gave
me a ride to where I was living. At that time I was at McAllister
and Jones in San Francisco. On the way we stopped at that all
night place on Mason and Geary for breakfast. Phil was a great
storyteller and he loved to talk. On the way down Jones after
breakfast he got into a great story about a barroom brawl he had
with Ty Cobb. He was so into his story that he completely ignored
a flashing red light at Jones and Turk and the big Lincoln demolished
a speeding yellow cab that was going through the intersection
on a flashing yellow. We got out, there was hardly a scratch on
the Lincoln but the cab driver wanted evidence of insurance from
Phil. As all of this paperwork was being sorted out, the cabbie
left his cab unattended with the keys in the ignition whereupon
a young gentleman who looked like he was overly medicated jumped
in the cab and sped away with the cabbie in hot pursuit. The remains
of the cab, I believe, were found outside Bakersfield several
weeks later. We got great mileage out of that story, and then
just like that he was gone. Recently I heard a quote "Today
is the first day of the rest of your life, except the day you
A LAMENT TO
LIZ S (1953-2003)
Liz died August 29th
2003 at her home in Palm Desert. Liz and I worked together as
counselors at the Henry Ohlhoff house on Steiner Street several
years ago. Liz was dynamic, brimming with ideas and energy, she
had a huge heart and smart as a whip. She could turn her hand
to anything and you always felt she knew what she was doing. We
also took Psychology at Dominican in San Rafael together; she
ended up working in the Psych Department and everyone there was
in awe of her passion, her lust for life, and her skills with
At that time she had a couple of Jack Russell terriers that she
insisted on bringing to class. One night she brought them to a
music class we were taking together. As the instructor tried to
get us to sing "The Streets of Laredo" her terriers
jumped on the piano keys, and that was the end of that. Liz was
one of a kind, doggedly independent and feisty, with brains to
burn, she reached out and impacted the lives of hundreds of less
She loved coming to the Marina Dock and hanging out with Frank
B. Her Marina Dock friends extend their deepest sympathy.
MY GOOD FRIEND WADE
Wade D in Nebraska celebrated
53 years of sobriety September first and he also turned 88 years
young on August 18th. Wade has recently moved to a home for seniors
in Valentine. I know he has legions of friends all over the place
and perhaps some of you may not have this information yet. For
those of you who want to know how he is doing the best source
of information is through his son Mike who can be reached via
e-mail at mdavenportATinebraska.com (replace
the anti-spam AT with @ to send).
I would like to take this opportunity to once more thank Wade
for all the years of friendship he exuded love and tolerance in
the service of others, through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
MENTAL HEALTH, AND
THE ROLE OF SERVICE
Mental Health, according
to Freud, is the ability to work and love. Mental Health depends
also on the sense that one's life has meaning. It is through meaning
that we are protected from existential transience, anxiety and
despair. It is how each of us confronts this dilemma of existence
that measures our mental and emotional stability. It is through
the spiritual experience of connectedness that we overcome the
feeling of isolation in a random universe
When I was younger and still seeking altered states of consciousness
through mind altering substances, I scoffed at the mystics, and
the notion of being one with God. Today, I see my skepticism and
self-centeredness, as a barrier to experiencing connectedness.
It's not however, all entirely my fault, for my resistance is
dominated by a mode of consciousness that is strongly materialistic
and competitive. A situation that has evolved over thousands of
years in order to survive as a species. This according to scientists
creates barriers and boundaries (described as the instrumental
state of mind) that prohibit us from transcending our immediate
self-centered reality. The experience of service can provide access
to this higher state of connectedness as long as it is other-centered
and not self-centered. The problem of course is the idea of service
in modern society is filled with moral and religious associations.
To some it means sacrifice, the handing over of time and money
for the reward of being "good" entitled to a place in
True service, on the other hand, is the kind that opens the doors
of perception and creates a sense of wholeness. Let me see if
I can rescue this concept from abstruse and obscurantist rhetoric,
by giving a practical example.
- I am walking down the street and I see an older person standing
at a crosswalk afraid to step out onto the street for fear of
being run over. I look around and make sure everybody is watching
and I escort this lady across the street.
- I see this person needs assistance to cross the street, but
there is nobody around and I still help her across the street
because I know God is watching.
- I see this lady needs help crossing the street, I help her
regardless of who is watching, simply because that's what needs
to be done. In other words it's not ego-directed.
What an order!
MEETING ROOM RENT ADJUSTMENTS
This is something that's been in the works for some time now.
After lengthy consultation with AA members who have many years
in service. It was decided to restructure the amount of rent charged
for hourly meetings in the East Room. We agreed that there should
be a realistic attendance rent ratio. In other words, the amount
of rent we charge should reflect the amount of people who regularly
attend the meeting in question.
For many years now we have been asking $36.00 for hourly meetings
in the East Room, regardless of the time of day or how many people
attend that particular meeting. This we determined is unrealistic
and creates problems for us the Marina Dock management as well
as AA's compliance with their 7th Tradition.
There are a number of
AA meetings in the East Room that consistently have a very small
attendance. The 10.00 am and the 1.30 pm are two in question.
Commencing October 15th, the rent for those two meetings will
be $15.00 per meeting.
All the remaining AA
meetings in the East Room from 3.30 pm on will be scaled back
to $25.00 per meeting. This is a bold but necessary step, which
we believe will have a positive impact on all concerned:
- By making this change, we can help the group/meeting comply
with AA's 7th Tradition: "Every A.A. group ought to be
self-supporting, declining outside help".
- It would also help if the Secretary or Treasurer announces
at each meeting that the rent for this room is $15/25 per meeting.
- Ideally each meeting ought to pay outstanding arrears the
following week. Under this new attendance/rent ratio, at least
in theory, it allows all groups, to not only make their rent,
but also in most cases accrue a prudent reserve so contributions
can be made to the various services designated under AA's 7th
Until next time,