Where would we be without the founders? When it seemed all might be lost, and men of good substance and good character found themselves in the throws of alcoholism, the solution came down to one interaction of a man in his own throws of a desire to drink, and the almost miraculous need to work with another alcoholic, started this great ball of sobriety rolling.
That day, standing in the lobby of the Mayflower hotel, Bill Wilson’s business meeting went down the tubes, he stood there contemplating a decision that would change the world. There were just two choices. One, to drink, or Two, to make a phone call.
Old timers I have met in my years, have stood in the lobby of said hotel and told their story of what the room looked like, how many feet stood between Bill, as he stood there, between the lobby bar, and the phone directory on the opposite wall, on the other side of the room.
Many years later, here in Montreal, a man in the throws of alcoholism, in the year 1943, wrote to New York for help. Help arrived for him. In 1944, the fellowship began, here in Canada. Dave B, got sober, in spite of himself.
A year later, into his own sobriety, Bobbie said to him, “It is time for you to carry the message to another alcoholic, we think it is time you helped someone who needs help.”
New York GSO sent Dave, 400 letters, they had received, and so A.A. was born in Quebec. From a humble apartment not far from where I live today, a rag tag bunch of drunks met in a living room, while their wives congregated in the bedroom or the kitchen.
This was before the dawn of the hallowed church basement.
The little living room meeting, grew exponentially. A group of three men, turned into twelve and then twenty five.
In the beginning there were three meetings in Montreal. I’ve been a member at all three of those original meetings.
We take for granted, many of us, that we have a meeting list, that is chock full of meetings, in various languages, in various locations, every day of the week.
Imagine in 1944, there were no meetings, but the one living room.
Gratitude is a word we hear often in the beginning. Oh, you must have gratitude, or, you must cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Many of these suggestions go unheard and untouched by many. Because when many come in, they have no idea why they need to be grateful to sit in a church basement, with these people, they don’t know, AND for the rest of their lives.
How can we have gratitude, when we ourselves, most likely haven’t even admitted to our innermost selves, that we are alcoholics.
Sobriety comes in stages, by fits and starts, by trial and error, but eventually, we find our grooves, and we settle in for the long haul.
Tonight, we attended the 60th anniversary of the first meeting I homed in when I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners. And the read tonight, from the Big Book, was Gratitude in Action. the story of Dave B, and the dawn of the fellowship here in Montreal.
Out of all the people sitting in the room tonight, THREE of us have had interactions with Old OLD timers, who knew Dave B, in the flesh, old OLD timers who went to meetings with Dave B, and had their own stories of him, aside from what view we get from the book.
In years Nine and Ten, I went looking for OLD OLD timers. I spent more than a year, combing the city for them. I lucked out and found a handful of men, who knew Bill and Dr. Bob, and Dave B. Three founders. I also met men who were participants in the very first phase of the fellowship as it had its humble beginnings. I spent all that time collecting their stories, and here, deep within the memory of this blog, are those memories.
Every minute of sobriety, even the most mundane moments, had their precise usefulness. I talked with one of my oldest friends in the room today, at the meeting earlier tonight. He was there when I came in, during a time, that Tuesday Beginners was a very unique meeting. It was unique for its people who were there when I came in. Mostly women. It was unique for the fellowship that existed then, and the specific men and women who populated that meeting.
I commented to him that, we’ve never seen another iteration of that kind of community, anywhere in the city. And it is true, that a generation of people have long since moved on to other places, or have grown old and don’t make it out, and several have died of old age.
It is good to be reminded of gratitude every so often. Because you really don’t know how grateful I am for the people, the meetings, and the immense amounts of time people spent with me, to help me stay sober.
Before the dawn of cell phones, we had what was called LAND LINES.
You know, that phone attached to the kitchen wall ???
We did not sit at home waiting for that 2000 pound phone to ring, we went to break bread before and after, we hung out together for hours before and after a meeting. You don’t know a good thing, till it’s gone.
A sober friend might be the most important person in your life right now. And the more sober friends you have, will make the journey so much sweeter. I had all that and a whole lot more.
I met the right people, or the right people, were in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. I’ve said this before, in an earlier post, I listen to a lot of people on a weekly basis. And over time, I’ve watched many of my friends grow up. I know everything that they did in sobriety.
Because what do we do in meetings? We listen to others, figure out their own lives, in front of us, in real time. We hear them talk themselves through situations that used to baffle them. We listen to them justify just about everything under the sun.
We know all the good and all the bad. We know who succeeded and who did not. We know everybody who chose to drink again, and we even watched friends loose their battle with the bottle and die …
The solution exists, for those who need it. All you need is to ask, and it will be given you. You cannot imagine the immense wealth of education you find sitting in a church basement, several times a week.
If it were not for the multitude of WOMEN and MEN who took time to show up and talk, I would not be who I am today. Because, who I am is an amalgamation of every single woman and man I know to this very day.
All of them participated in creating the life I have, because I listened to them talk, and create their own lives of success and sobriety.
There is no better formation ground for personal growth, than inside a church basement. What the greater world out there does not know, and has no idea of, unless of course they are powerless over the drink, never know what they are missing.
People in the real world, OUT THERE, follow the distinct pattern of life, education, work, marriage, children, cars, houses, and money. I tried that life and failed miserably, because I was powerless over my addictions.
I thought I had to walk that walk, like my father before me. He had the life, the wealth and the material success, amid the functioning alcoholism that pervaded his life. I walked that same road for a while, until it stopped working for me.
Had Todd NOT SAID STOP, when he did, I would surely have died many years ago. He started this road to my success. If it were not for his love and devotion to saving my life, I would not be here today to constantly repeat this portion of my story, over and over again.
God exists. I know that deep within my soul.
Remember all those good people who played a role in your own success, and when you do, you grasp the notion of Gratitude In Action.