Waiting in my Jeep, I don’t hear their conversations but I can see the smiles. Even through face masks, their cheerful eyes signal genuine appreciation.
It’s ten minutes before 7 AM on Sunday morning outside the South Bay Alano Club. Because of pandemic restrictions, the local chapter hosts its Twelve Steps meetings outside in the Club’s parking lot. I’m parked in the neighboring lot just above; overlooking the scene as the group gathers, reconnects and finds their seats.
My friend Kevin invited me to the meeting. After sharing his story of recovery and the growth work taking place within his chapter, I showed interest.
Kevin calls the Twelve Steps “a design for living” and credits not just his sobriety but much of his character to the program. He’s a better husband, father and friend. He’s confident, vulnerable, honest, loyal and a noticeably strong listener.
Since reconnecting with him in December, I sense gratitude, conviction and intention not present when we worked together years ago. I never knew Kevin the drinker. And I didn’t know this Kevin either. It’s clear he’s come a long way.
The group outside the Alano Club comprises around forty people. As they settle into their socially distant seating arrangements, a message catches my eye.
Taped to the back of the chair directly in front of me, a small sign reads,
We absolutely insist on enjoying life
I take my seat stage right in the last row. The sun breaks behind me over my right shoulder. It spotlights the secretary and group leaders sitting center stage. They ask for introductions and people begin saying their names moving from front to back.
It’s a shivering 45 degrees as the Pacific wind rattles the parking lot palms. The morning sky presents a magnificent lavender hue dolloped by one hundred cotton ball clouds. Crow sounds, bird chirps and the faint whoosh of driving cars along the main road soundtrack the scene.
I’m one of the last to say my name,
“Hi, I’m Bobby.”
“Welcome, Bobby”, the group shouts in unison.
I liken the next 90 minutes to a casual, collaborative, funny and fluid form of Sunday church. It’s a warm and inviting atmosphere filled with stories. Those shared are just as random as the people sharing them.
I see chefs, professors, plumbers, school teachers and rocket scientists.
Members are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. One person celebrates his 20th year with the group. They sing him happy birthday. Then end the song with the words, “Keep coming back… no matter what… woo!”.
I witness thoughtful, active listening. The group hangs on every word as I do at the theatre during a movie’s best part. They learn from each person’s story. It’s connection and education in the purest form.
I am inspired by how much ownership I hear in their remarks. This crew holds themselves accountable for their actions, reactions, circumstances, challenges and triumphs. No gossip or pontification. Just sincere confessions and consolations.
During one of the final shares, an older gentleman eludes to the power of the community. He announces, “he came for drinking and stays for thinking”.
I get it. There is palatable growth going on here.
As I put away my chair and look for Kevin, I spot that sign again:
We absolutely insist on enjoying life.
Living with intention requires such a declaration.
Choose to enjoy life.
Ownership is a theme for the week. Days before the meeting with Kevin, my friend Mikhail Alfon shares his experience taking ownership of his life.
During Student of Intention’s 3rd episode, Mikhail says powerfully,
“I can decide my way out of this.”
Mikhail has a remarkable story filled with challenges, perseverance and growth. He credits much of his growth to his shift in mindset. His shift toward taking ownership of his decisions, opportunities and circumstance. Here is the full clip:
You’re a genius!
I read this quote and think of all the things we let get in the way of our genius.
For those in that Sunday meeting, they let alcohol get in the way.
For Mikhail, it was his trust in his father.
For me, I’ve let fears, frustrations and poor decisions get in the way.
But make no mistake, we all have genius available to us.
In his book, Power vs. Force, David Hawkins writes,
Genius is by definition a style of consciousness characterized by the ability to access high energy attractor patterns. It is not a personality characteristic. It is not something that a person has, nor even something that someone is. Those in whom we recognize genius commonly disclaim it. A universal characteristic of genius is humility. The genius has always attributed his insights to some higher influence.
We must remain humble enough to know we do not own genius. Rather, we can access it.
We access it when we absolutely insist on enjoying life.
When we decide our way forward.
When we live with intention.
For next time (possibly):
Action is the answer
A vision quest
Until next time,
Don’t wait. Start small. Learn as you go.