In this day and age, is anonymity still to be desired and actively guarded at the public level? We say yes! There is lots of debate to be found on the web – go ahead and search for yourself – arguments saying that anonymity in AA is antiquated and a disservice to those still suffering, but look closely at those arguments and I think you will find little or no mention of the principle behind anonymity, which is of course humility. Anyone familiar with the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve in particular will tell you of the importance of humility in sobriety, as a quality to be striven for and desired always, but never fully attained. Along these lines, Bill Wilson wrote the following in the Grapevine in 1961, “There can be no absolute humility for us humans. At best, we can only glimpse the meaning and splendor of such a perfect ideal. As the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” says: “We are not saints. . .we claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” Only God Himself can manifest in the Absolute; we human beings must needs live and grow in the domain of the relative. We seek humility for today.”
In writing this, I realize I am abandoning humility too because there is little humility in pointing out the faults of others, but let me say flat out at the start, that I am working at this daily and see that by having this website and podcast, I am far from the ideal of humility even though I’m trying to honor The Traditions on this podcast and website.
So instead of pointing out what others may be doing wrong, myself included, let’s focus on what AA members are doing right, specifically as they pertain to past guests of this podcast. Take our Rudy S. for example, producing amazing works of art that champion the human side of criminals and victims alike while raising his two lovely children and teaching his craft. Brett K., who fixes the mouths of addicts and sends them out of his office with new smiles that make them feel “a part of” again, all the while raising his lovely kids and carrying the message in many realms. Scott K., who is such a champion for all runners in our sport, podcasting, race directing, and racing some of the most difficult ones out there – such a solid example of what can happen when we have others in mind. Willem P., who packs his tool belt and lunchbox every day to fix and build for others, while being dad and friend to his now grown and wonderful daughter. – the man lines up for 100 Milers like standing in line for his morning coffee. Amy B., who sponsors women who are down and out and goes to work as a nurse for 12 hour shifts, taking on more shifts as needed and being mom to her lovely daughter. KC, who also produces unique and beautiful artwork, putting smiles on people’s faces and firing their imaginations with her awesome creations. Chris N., our Navy man, raising his family overseas and working with the still suffering alcoholic within his ranks. Michael K., who cooks for the elderly and brings meetings to them when they may otherwise not be able to make contact with AA, all the while being an awesome dad and inspiration to his two grown boys. Ryan K…not exactly sure what Ryan does, but his wife sure helps others while Ryan makes us laugh like crazy and reminds us not take ourselves so damned seriously – he is also raising his little ones and is sure to be one the most fun dads ever. Matt H., who is also raising his family and working hard to get better in running and sobriety day by day with some great canine running pics to boot. Anecia B., who went back to school and graduated and is back on track with her health in mind and body – she continues to inspire others and give them an awesome example to follow. Jason, who has made a dedicated return to AA and who can carry a very valuable message to those still suffering and the importance of anonymity. Rick S., who is spending quality time with his family, holding himself and others accountable, and continuing to lend a helping hand at every chance. Melissa T., another nurse who has made a dedicated return to the bedside, AA, and running, and who volunteers and sponsors now at every opportunity. Matt M., who is raising his family largely off-grid, always mindful of his footprints on this earth and in the rooms of AA. Libby Z., our beloved Al-Anon, who works The Steps in her life like we do, coach’s children and raises six of her own to boot…that girl is a superwoman in my eyes! Art A., who is mending fences with his boys and getting after his next buckle, always mindful of where he’s come from prior to sobriety. Fred W., who is stoked about teaching young people and still so passionate about the environment while he’s out there “getting after it.” Ray P., who is racing lots and who always has a smile that says “welcome” and “let’s trudge this road together.” Kim I., who is overcoming her physical limitations and actually out there smashing them so that others can be inspired and follow in her footsteps. Ashley T., who wins and crushes races seemingly at will, always with a smile and her humble gratitude brimming forth. Jim A., our service man, quietly and humbly going about the necessary responsibilities in AA, all the while raising his kids and crushing one to two hundred milers with subtle precision. Astrid and Jon H., my rock stars of running and sobriety, who are such an awesome team and who go about inspiring and working with others with such admirable gratitude and sense of duty for where they’ve come from. John F., who is raising his family and bringing laughter to others always, and moving ahead with The Steps. Paul K., our other rock star, whose honesty is so admirable and who is inspiring others and volunteering so that others can enjoy this great sport of ours, all the while raising his talented son and being a stellar example for him. Wing T., who is the ultimate volunteer and inclusive personality, crushing his own races and raising his teenage kids. Suzanne C, who is now of service to God and to others, getting after it in races and being such a great example of how The Steps and this program can transform us – she walks and runs humbly and gracefully through life now. Robin M., who is crushing races in rapid succession, ever reminding us not to take ourselves so damned seriously and to be humble in our victories and accepting in our defeats. Michele C., who is fighting an epic battle with cancer and who is inspiring so many with her quiet courage and the power of God in her life – and still running! Douglas B., our 200 Mile man, who carries the message in all areas of his life with a sly sense of humor and real appreciation for each day sober. Iain R., our “pigeon,” and one hell of a fast pigeon at that – killing races, raising his little girl and jumping right into his recovery and the rooms of AA. Meredith P., our world traveler, who can brighten an AA room anywhere she goes – she is stronger and more powerful than she might believe. And there’s our first ever guest, Charlie E., who’s one of a kind – innovative, imaginative and touching lives by the bunches – yes, he may be a bit of an outlier when it comes to anonymity, but let’s face it, he’s an outlier in many respects and I say that with all my respect for the immense good he has done and strives to do daily.
There you have it – a bunch of nameless ex-drunks who have recovered as a result of The Steps, good sponsorship and The One who’s infused throughout it all. And these are of course just very brief snippets of their lives – I sometimes wish I could be beside them in a meeting or running beside them, letting their stories unfold even more and be witness to the awesome, awe-inspiring people they’ve become, though admittedly one and all, still flawed and cracked in places, making them all the more beautiful. And possibly the most beautiful thing of all about them, is that they aren’t featured in magazines, videos, or plastered across social media feeds – they are quietly and effectively going about staying sober, cleaning house, helping others, and building lives that are worth staying sober for. Yes, they are anonymous and yes, that principle still carries “immense spiritual significance” for us – “this to the end that our great blessing may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 192 ). Friends, I see you in my mind’s eye putting one foot in front of the other and you have all my respect and admiration – let’s follow those “anonymous” footsteps that have shown the way before us and together, let us move with the grace and usefulness that is promised us and that so eluded us for much of our drinking lives.