All You Can Drink

March 17th is coming up this weekend. It’s been a long time that I celebrated any type of St. Patty’s Day celebration. I’m not Irish nor do I drink alcohol, but it’s a holiday for many of us in the AA realm, that’s deadly. I was at a meeting last night that many people spoke of the horrors of that holiday and how much green beer they drank. They spoke of how they don’t remember the parades or even of the bars they visited on that day. The last St. Patty’s Day that I celebrated would have been in March of 1995 and I only would have celebrated it just to say I had some green beer and got drunk. This Sunday, when the day actually is St. Patty’s Day, I’ll probably wear green just to stay in the fun spirit of it all, and that will be the extent of it. I don’t miss drinking at all nor my actions that I had on holidays such as this one. And just recently when I was on my cruise, I remembered why I don’t miss all those years that I spent getting drunk.

In the last year or so, cruise ships have added packages that a person can purchase for their voyage. There are the all you can drink soda packages and there are the all you can drink alcohol packages. On this past cruise, I had the premium soda package which allowed me unlimited Perrier, San Pellegrino, decaf lattes, and smoothies. Because I’m a curious person, even though I haven’t had a drink in over 17 years, I inquired on how much the alcohol package was. For $400, one could drink all the beer, wine, and mixed drinks they wanted for the cruise. I figured it out in my head with the prices they charged on the ship for a drink, that a person would need to consume at least 6 alcoholic beverages a day just to break even. What was even crazier was how many people had done that on the ship during my cruise.

I’m grateful I never did a cruise nor had a package like that back when I was drinking. I would have spent my money on it, probably had no more than 4 drinks each day because of being a lightweight, and I would have missed my whole vacation being passed out and blacked out. On one of the nights of my cruise, one of those people that I could safely assume had that alcohol package, got on the elevator around 10pm just after I finished dinner. He stumbled over himself and slurred his words asking where the party was on the ship as the elevator ascended upward. I felt sad for him. The truth is that he was me many years ago. I saw that same guy on the ship every day for the rest of the cruise and not once did I see him sober. Not once. That would have been me.

I loved the all you can drink specials at bars all those years ago. It justified my alcoholism and gave me a reason to celebrate holidays like St. Patty’s Day even though I wasn’t Irish. I’m grateful that I have a God centered life today and a strong recovery program because I know that I most likely would have been drunk on that all you can drink alcohol package on my cruise and would probably be stumbling out of a bar in Boston this Sunday and into the middle of the big parade on St. Patty’s Day.

I’m so grateful to be sober today.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Meeting Before The Meeting

One of the things I like best about my home group in AA is that when I show up early, I get to set up the meeting which I enjoy doing. But there is another reason why I show up earlier that is much more important. There always seems to be at least one person who shows up just as early as me that is relatively brand new to the program who I get to say hello to.

I imagine sometimes the founders of AA, Bill and Bob, walking into a meeting in the early stages of the program, and going up to everyone present and introducing themselves and establishing a connection, especially to the newcomers. Sadly today, I have found that at many AA meetings, people show up that have been around for awhile and just socialize with those that they know and ignore those they don’t. While being social with other fellow alcoholics is important, I try to believe that Bill and Bob’s original intention was to help out every newcomer by initially making them feel welcome.

Walking into an AA meeting for the very first time or maybe even for the first few times is overwhelming. Those that have been around for awhile always seem so happy, smiling, and socializing, while the newcomer generally sits alone and is scared, angry, afraid, or one of any other number of emotions that can overwhelm their psyche. My first reaction in my early experiences with AA was to run out the back door. Having had someone come up to me and shake my hand and then tell me that they were glad I was there was key to keeping me from doing just that.

At this week’s home group, after I had set up the room, I saw a person sitting there by himself looking down at the ground. I’m not sure if it was the lost look he was portraying or if it was just the fact that I had never seen him before, but nonetheless I felt compelled to go up and say hello. After introducing myself, I asked if he was new and he replied it was his second day of sobriety and his second meeting. I gave him a friendly welcome and spoke about home groups in AA and told him if he had any questions at all about anything to just ask. I hope I see him next week but either way, I believe that I did what Bill and Bob probably would have all those years ago when AA first began. I made a newcomer feel welcomed and outstretched a friendly hand letting that person know they were not alone.

All of us in AA were at one point a newcomer and I know in my case, because of someone who welcomed me there, I stayed and I’m glad I did. AA has saved my life, brought me closer to God, and shown me how to help someone just like me who is trying to recover as well.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Sneaking Into A Movie

I love the movies. Tuesdays seem to be a great day for me to go because many theaters now are offering Discount Tuesdays where the cost is almost half of the normal price no matter what time the movie starts. Yesterday I went to the movies at a local theater where the cost for the movie ticket was $7.50 which was about $6 less than it’s normal price. Because I had the time available, I paid for two movies (Snitch and Jack and the Beanstalk in 3D) that I could go from one to the other without missing any of either. A long time ago, when I was a misguided young adult, I thought it was cool to go from one movie to the next on a crowded Saturday at the theater. The difference then was that I wasn’t paying for each ticket, I was only paying for the first.

Lately, this seems to becoming an epidemic as the costs of anything seem to be rising, especially movie tickets. I’m not sure if more and more people are sneaking into movies after seeing another but I have definitely have observed it happening lately. Take for example yesterday, I had just finished seeing Snitch and had gotten a refill on my popcorn. Across the hallway from the entrance to the Jack and the Beanstalk showing that I was going to, was Die Hard 5. Two men emerged from that theater having just seen it and cautiously looked over their shoulders a few times and then headed into the theater I was going into. I watched them pull out an older pair of 3D glasses that was in their pockets and wipe them off and proceed to stay for the whole movie.

Movie ticket prices today are a reflection of not just a factor of inflation, they are also a factor of many other things as well such as the actors and actresses asking for more money, the cost to producing a film rising, people not going to the movies as much anymore, and then there are those like these two people who were sneaking in and seeing a movie for free.

I’m guilty of having once done this. I did this a long time ago when I wasn’t trying to be in integrity in my life, be God-centered, and honest with all that I do. There was a part of me back then that said it wasn’t fair how expensive ticket prices were and I justified that I didn’t have the money to pay for multiple movies. The truth is that I did have the money. I just wanted to get away with getting something for nothing. I told myself that no one was being harmed in me doing that. Today I realized that I was part of the reason why movie ticket prices continue to soar. I also realize that sneaking in is essentially stealing. It’s no different then going into a store and taking anything off of a shelf, putting it in one’s pocket, not paying for it, and leaving.

I have a friend in New York who is a lawyer and earning more than six figures every year. He has a nice home and a family, and on just about every weekend, he goes to at least three movies and pays for only the first one he sees. Can he afford the other movie tickets? Of course and he would openly admit it that he could. So why does he do it? Why does anyone steal anything if they do steal? When I did it, there was a thrill or a rush of getting away with something. In other words, I got a “high” in doing it. The funny thing is that the money that I “saved” was only spent on something else that I couldn’t get away with stealing. A thought to ponder is what if all of the world’s goods were done on the honor system? What if the price was posted everywhere for each good but it was on the honor system to pay? Would anyone pay? Or would everyone just take and take and take? Today I can honestly say I would pay the price that was being asked. I wonder how everyone else would handle an honor system based society?

While people may not look at sneaking into a movie as stealing, it is. I know that to live a spiritually centered life, I can’t do things like that which I once did. I don’t want to live that way and I am glad I’m not. Today I refer to this as my God consciousness. What people don’t realize when they sneak into a movie or steal anything for that matter, is that they are hurting everyone else with the rising prices, and even worse, they are hurting themselves by corrupting their souls.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson