Lake Mabprachan, East Pattaya, (The ‘Darkside’), 8th March, 2011

Pick of the day

Still sober – 67 days and counting

I went to a noon AA meeting yesterday and while it wasn’t one of the greatest meetings I have attended, as ever, I enjoyed it and came away ‘spiritually’ refreshed. When I say ‘spiritual’ I am not in any way referring to a ‘Higher Power’, I am simply referring to the ‘spirit’ within myself.

Yesterday we started reading the AA ‘Big Book’ from page one. Chapter one is entitled Bill’s story and is his first-hand account of how the co-founder of AA, Bill W, found his way to sobriety from a seemingly hopeless position. Bill, although an intelligent and well educated man, who had found considerable success in business, ended up as an inveterate drunk of the worst kind,  almost completely destroying everything around him including his family, friends and of course his own life. Yet he found a way out of all this and went on to enjoy many years of sobriety and, of course to found AA. He also single handedly wrote the ‘Big Book’ which has largely been left unaltered up to the present day.

Bill W is regarded as a ‘saint’ by many recovering alcoholics, and the ‘Big Book’ is frequently referred to as the ‘AA Bible’. For any of you out there who are even vaguely aware that you might be drinking too much, I highly recommend that you read the Big Book, as most of it is as relevant today as it was on the day that Bill wrote it. It is an easy read and you will find much in there that most of us can relate to. It is freely available on line if you don’t wish to buy it. Even for those who do not have an alcohol problem, it is still a good read as it provides much insight into the alcoholic mind and behaviour and it helps you to realise just how serious and life threatening is the curse of alcoholism.

Pearls of wisdom sometime come from the most unexpected sources and yesterday at the end of the ‘reading’, someone commented that Bill must have been someone ‘special’ as he didn’t have the structure of the AA around him to get him free of alcohol. It’s a cute observation, as AA maintains that there is only one way to remain sober and that is by joining AA and working the programme. Yet Bill didn’t have AA or a programme, but he nevertheless saved himself. Of course, if you read his story, you will see that there were one or two very significant people who showed him the path to sobriety and it was from these people that he was inspired to develop the concept of AA and the 12 step programme. Nevertheless, he did it by himself, albeit with a little help from his friends, but without the auspices of AA, which hadn’t yet come properly into being.

I take a little comfort from this. Not because I think I can stay sober without the help of AA, but because I do believe that as far as alcoholics are concerned, just as no two alcoholics are exactly alike, neither is their path to sobriety. Some can only stay sober by their total immersion in AA and the AA programme, but others will use AA to a much lesser extent and succeed in remaining sober. Bill must have been one of these, for although he eventually dedicated his whole life to the AA, in the early years, it simply didn’t exist as we know it today. He was on his own, although he did have the significant support of friends.

I have met people at AA who have enjoyed many years of sobriety but still do not accept the concept of a Higher Power. Some are out-and-out atheist. Others have never worked the steps but have still achieved impressive decades of sobriety. Others have embraced the steps and the concept of an ‘H.P’ but only attend meetings once a week, or even less frequently. Yet many daily attendees will tell you that unless you make daily or even twice daily meetings, then you will eventually fall off the proverbial wagon.

I have concluded that it really is a case of ‘horses for courses’, and some alcoholics manage to achieve sobriety without ever going to a single AA meeting. However, Bill W, all those years ago, through sheer inspiration, (divine or otherwise), came up with a way of life and a ‘spiritual’ programme which has successfully brought tens of thousands of alcoholics throughout the world to sobriety. Of this there is no doubt and anyone would be foolish to gainsay it. The basic idea of AA has been adopted by many organisations throughout the world, including psychiatrists and psychotherapists and treatment clinics for a wide range of addictions, from drugs, to sex to all manner of obsessive compulsive disorders and even eating disorders. It works, no one can tell exactly why, but it does.

So I will proceed with caution. I will continue to attend at least 2 meetings a week, and in due course I will start to put my mind towards some facets of the AA twelve step programme, but not necessarily in the order they have been written and not necessarily all of them.

*

I missed an eye appointment today with a Pattaya ‘eye specialist’. I have glaucoma and I have been taking eye drops for more than 20 years to keep the eye pressure under control.

Last year I had some bad conjunctivitis and was recommended to this specialist. He cured my conjunctivitis but also told me that he thought that I no longer had glaucoma and I could stop taking the eye drops.

So I stopped taking them.

Two weeks ago I went to see him for a check-up and he tested my eye pressure. He said it was very high.

‘How high?’ I asked him.

‘24’ he replied.

‘How high was it last year?’ I asked.

He looked at my records.

‘18. He replied. ‘Are you still taking the eye drops?’

‘No.’ I told him

‘Why not?’ he asked

‘Because you told me to stop.’

*


Last night I finished watching a veritable ‘tour de force’ of TV drama entitled ‘The Promise’. It has just been shown in the UK on channel four and is a four, one hour drama series set in Palestine/Israel. There are two parallel stories, one commences at the end of WW2 when the British Army liberated the Nazi concentration camps and this segment includes some horrifying, real footage. The action quickly moves to the British involvement in the ‘then Palestine’ and the subsequent UN sponsored partition of the country. The parallel story takes place in modern day Israel, including action in the war ravaged Gaza strip.

I won’t say any more, as it will spoil it for those who are interested in downloading and watching it. What I will say is that it one of the most compelling pieces of filmed drama I have ever had the ‘pleasure’ to watch. It is dramatic, exciting, heart rending, mysterious, and even romantic.  The script, acting and cinematography are all superb and above all, it teaches you about the Arab Israeli problem in a way you would never have thought possible and it is quite remarkable how many parallels can be drawn between what happened back in the 1940’s and what is going on there today. No one comes out of this piece of history with any kind of dignity or honour – least of all the British.

Ultimately it veers on the side of the Palestinians – well it has to really – but it makes a very good fist of explaining why the Israelis behave as they do. In the end, you feel empathy for both sides in this terrible, crazy nightmare and hope that the carnage of this 60 year conflict will somehow come to an end.

For those of you who have read ‘Mobi’s Story’, you will know that I am half Jewish from my father’s side. As best as I can establish, he was the victim of Russian Jewish pogroms and his family had to flee the Ukraine and settled in the east end of London, way back in the early 1900’s.  Persecution of the Jewish people has been going on for centuries so it is not unnatural for me to have a tendency to side with the Israelis. However, it didn’t take this fine piece of drama to tell me that what the Israelis are doing is wrong, but it did provide me with some interesting insights into their thinking and why they do what they do, as well as reinforcing my belief that they are wrong and that peace will never be attained until they modify their behaviour and actions.

I know I have recommended a number of films and TV dramas in this blog, but if you only ever watch one of them, then let it be ‘The Promise’. I promise you, you will not regret it.

(I was horrified to discover that the audience for episode 1 of The Promise on its debut showing in the UK was a mere 1.3 million. It was up against ‘Stars on Ice’ which garnered over 6 million and some other populist nonsense on BBC which also attracted a much larger audience. What a terrible waste…..)


*


I am continuing to make progress on my novel. Today I wrote another 1,800 odd words and the chapter is coming along nicely, currently at around 6,000 words in total. It will probably round out at about 10, 000 words, so not too far to go now. As long as I continue to make progress, however slowly, then I am happy.


Butt of the day

3 thoughts on “Lake Mabprachan, East Pattaya, (The ‘Darkside’), 8th March, 2011”

  1. Mobi,
    Again let me congratulate you on your 60 days on the wagon.

    I feel compelled to mention something else today after reading more of the blog. I’ve learned through careful study of the Big Book of AA (with Joe and Charlie as well as other scholars) and years of observing people in the AA fellowship that those within the fellowship who claim to be alcoholics but stay sober through only meetings or half measures are what us real alcoholics and students of the Big Book know to be only heavy drinkers and not alcoholics. They can take it or leave it. Many of these folks like the meetings for the social aspect and find friends there as AA becomes their sober “Elks Club” and a great place to go and socialize.

    Real alcoholics have to watch out who they listen to in meetings, for heavy drinkers who can stay sober through meetings and “putting the plug in the jug”, “just not drinking no matter what”, ” I choose not to drink today” are killing real alcoholics by the thousands mis-communicating the program of AA in the fellowship, watering it down to catch phrases like “meeting makers make it”, “just keep coming back” and “just don’t drink even if your ass falls off” etc.. etc..

    None of these ideas are the program of AA. Many real alcoholics die trying these simple non AA ideas or if they manage to survive conclude that AA didn’t work for them and continue drinking until death.

    Myself, I know I am a real alcoholic. I could never put together any permanent sobriety until I took the steps. I continue today as an active sponsor of 3 and have recently been invited to speak at several meetings in my area. I believe my “popularity” as of late is because I am connecting with real alcoholics through my knowledge of the program. The truth lies within the book if one is open enough to slowly study and see it.

    You mentioned pearls of wisdom come from unexpected places, my take on the “cute observation” is just the opposite. Ideas like Bill W did it by himself without a program are spoken from inflated ego looking to be noticed as smart without regard for the people who really need help. It’s a pity nobody in the meeting actually new it was wholly an inaccurate conclusion.

  2. Hi Mobi,
    How great it is to know you’re attending AA and taking an interest in the literature. As well I’m ecstatic that you’ve put together over 60 days of sobriety. If I might interject on the subject of the programme and fellowship. As a sober alcoholic of 18 years and student of the Big Book it is a passion of mine.

    It’s too bad but in many rooms of the fellowship of AA the programme and it’s history are often miscommunicated and the message of recovery differs from the contents of the first 164 page of the book and 12 and 12 literature.

    My wish is only that the program of AA be correctly quoted/summarized in press and otherwise.

    Firstly the fellowship of AA is never mentioned to be required for “working the programme” in either the first 164 pages of the Big Book or any of the 12 and 12. It’s a common mistake for people who have not studied the book or have been lucky enough to had help with studying it (like me) to think that the “structure of AA” is the real power and way for staying sober. This idea is not what the programme of AA suggests in any way. The fellowship is great and is the perfect place for newcommers to seek help but that help is in the form of providing guidance in seeking a Higher Power to give sustained and permanent abstinence through doing the 12 steps.

    Secondly, Bill W. did have a programme and he did not “save himself.” It was the 6 tenents of the Oxford groups which were communicated to him by a chap by the name Ebby Thatcher. The auspices of the Oxford groups by way of this gentleman are what put Bill W. immediately on a spiritual path and to have the needed spiritual experience (in the Towns Hospital) to give him relief from the disease.(Google search for more on Ebby Thatcher) As is seen below in the book quote, the 12 steps are more or less an elaboration of the Oxford group 6 tenants. This point is easily missed by skipping the preface and 3 forwards and going straight to Bills story.

    So, again, Bill W. didn’t do it by himself, he had a programme and a fellowship. He had Ebby Thatcher and the Oxford groupers and the 6 tenants of the Oxford groups which he later adapted into the 12 steps.

    The below is quoted from the forward to the 2nd edition, please note towards the end is a correlation/summary of the meat and potatoes of the steps which are adapted from the Oxford group tenants.

    –>The spark that was to flare into the first A.A. group
    was struck at Akron, Ohio in June 1935, during a talk
    between a New York stockbroker and an Akron
    physician. Six months earlier, the broker had been
    relieved of his drink obsession by a sudden spiritual
    experience, following a meeting with an alcoholic
    friend who had been in contact with the Oxford
    Groups of that day. He had also been greatly helped
    by the late Dr. William D. Silkworth, a New York
    specialist in alcoholism who is now accounted no less
    than a medical saint by A.A. members, and whose
    story of the early days of our Society appears in the
    next pages. From this doctor, the broker had learned
    the grave nature of alcoholism. Though he could not
    accept all the tenets of the Oxford Groups, he was
    convinced of the need for moral inventory, confession
    of personality defects, restitution to those harmed,
    helpfulness to others, and the necessity of belief in and
    dependence upon God.

    original quote which this comment is directed towards:

    Pearls of wisdom sometime come from the most unexpected sources and yesterday at the end of the ‘reading’, someone commented that Bill must have been someone ‘special’ as he didn’t have the structure of the AA around him to get him free of alcohol. It’s a cute observation, as AA maintains that there is only one way to remain sober and that is by joining AA and working the programme. Yet Bill didn’t have AA or a programme, but he nevertheless saved himself. Of course, if you read his story, you will see that there were one or two very significant people who showed him the path to sobriety and it was from these people that he was inspired to develop the concept of AA and the 12 step programme. Nevertheless, he did it by himself, albeit with a little help from his friends, but without the auspices of AA, which hadn’t yet come properly into being.

  3. Hey Mobi

    Good to hear your doing great!

    Also I agree 101% about AA

    Not that I am an alcoholic or ever used AA but as I said before I feel many folks do fine with quitting addictions on their own.

    Just depends on the person.

    So glad to hear your doing fine & keep up the good work!

    PS: I live the new pics you have added

    Love them all but March 4th still my personal fav

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