Nine years ago today, Nell Wing, A.A.'s first archivist passed away, on Valentine's Day 2006. It was the same day that I checked myself into an outpatient rehab clinic and the first day in my entire life that I made the conscious decision to TRY and not drink or use drugs. I relapsed four months later, but Valentine's Day will always be a happy day for me, as long as I stay sober.
Speaking of Valentine's Day, I am having a love affair right now with the A.A. archivists and historians who share their treasured discoveries and happy accidents with me. Recently, we lost one of the big hitters, Ernie K., author of Not-God, and my personal favorite, The Spirituality of Imperfection, among many other books and articles on A.A. history and spirituality. I had not had the pleasure of corresponding directly with Ernie and I wish I had taken the opportunity sooner when I had the chance. From what I understand, he was as generous with his time as he was in spirit.
During the first annual A.A. History symposium at the Sedona Mago Retreat I was fortunate to see an interview with Ernie about researching and writing history, produced by Page 124 filmmakers Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino (who I have been lucky enough to meet and what do you know, they're super friendly and generous with their correspondence too!).
There are so many amazing gems in this but I remember at first viewing being incredibly moved by Ernie saying that as historians (and I apply this to myself as a creator of documentary theater and historical fiction), our job is "not to convince but to present."
"We present what we find interesting."
I had a moment of clarity hearing Ernie speak those words. I present what I find interesting. It's that simple. Nothing grander is required. I can let my curiosity take me to places I, and perhaps others, had not thought to explore (or hadn't from this particular entry-point or angle). I verify my discoveries with independent sources, and then I present to others what I think is interesting at the end of my search.
Keep it simple, right?
As any one who has seen or read one of my plays knows, I'm quite enamored by Sybil C. of Los Angeles, the first woman to get sober on the west side of the Mississippi. Sybil's sponsee, Matt M who now lives in Florida, told me a beautiful story. Matt was sponsored by Sybil during the last part of her life, and he would drive her whenever she spoke at meetings or conferences (which was quite a lot!). Before every share, Sybil would go to the bathroom and get on her little old lady knees and ask God that her share be "adequate." Not funny, not moving, just adequate.
Now that's humility.
I don't have to be brilliant. My play does not have to be innovative and launch the field of theater into the next epoch of artistry and cultural evolution. My next play doesn't even have to be the next best thing I ever wrote.
It can just be adequate. Sufficient to get the job done. Just enough to show someone else what I found interesting and why.
This is why I love writing and thinking about A.A. This is why I love living the program, to the best of my ability at a given moment. Because I am asked so little and in return given so very much.
It's 8:56 a.m. I've stayed up all night working on this new website and writing my first blog entry.
NIne years ago I stayed up all night because it was my last chance to get high.
This is the better deal.
Thank you and good night ... I mean good morning.