In a meeting this morning, I noticed an object under the table I sat at, seemingly adhered to its bottom, half-hidden from view. Suddenly instead of listening to one of my OA friends sharing, I leapt into What if land. What if the half-hidden object were some overlooked treasure? It would change my life!
It turned out to be a support for the table.
But…what if it had been a treasure? A wad of money, a valuable trinket, something exciting! The fact that the object, whatever it would turn out to be, rightfully belonged to the hospital we meet in didn’t seem material. Not in What if land.
There’s this old TV commercial, probably for insurance or financial planning. A fella’s standing at a yard sale, buys a cheapo painting, and peels the backing off of it, only to find a signed, original copy of The Declaration of Independence inside. Treasure!
Before program, and even in recovery, that’s the guy I wanted to be. The lucky one who catches the windfall in his lap, moving not one muscle to earn it, nor being especially deserving of the gift. In fact, I wanted not only the invaluable document inside the painting but also for the painting itself turn out to be a priceless classic by some old European master. Because one life-changing find isn’t enough! In What is land, I don’t go to yard sales, I don’t buy cheapo paintings, and there’s no way that’s happening for me.
Still, my mind always seeks that hidden treasure, the Magical Mystery Solution. Once I’m rich my problems will be gone! I’ll be taken care of and have not a care in the world! Not once do I consider the consequences of such a find as our mythical painting. I can’t afford to own something that precious: the insurance, the security, the appraisals, the storage, the anything. I wouldn’t be rich, I’d be me with an albatross of a painting hanging around my neck.
It’s not unlike how I think about the lottery. If I would just win the lottery, I’d be set for life! I forget the oft-reported statistic that a full one-third of lottery winners go bankrupt within a single year of taking down the pot. Stories abound about how winning mondo money changes people and their lives in strange and often undesirable ways. But I’m only interested in the What if.
I want the easy way out. I don’t want to have to work for change.
I didn’t arrive at OA on a winning streak, and I knew I needed to change. But how?! And where to even start? The job seemed impossibly daunting, but the alternative—doing nothing—was even worse. Luckily I didn’t need a Magical Mystery Solution to come and take me away. I just needed to do a little work.
OA’s promises give us high expectations. Fortunately the Twelve Steps, the Fellowship, our sponsor, and our Higher Power provide us high levels of support to achieve those expectations.
In fact, there’s only twelve things I have to do:
- come to believe
- make a decision
- make an inventory
- admit some more
- become ready
- become willing
- make amends
- carry this message.
This work isn’t necessarily easy, but it ain’t rocket science: To do it I don’t need to know how to measure a parsec, map the genome, solve differential equations, interpret dense philosophical or literary texts, or use the Hubbell telescope. All I really need are pen and paper.
But when I do this work, I get the windfall I’ve always wanted—a spiritual windfall. You see, all along I wanted my problems taken care of, my fears allayed, my mind cleared, and my food to get better. I just didn’t understand it with that clarity. The good fortune I’d always imagined wasn’t capable of solving my life. So when I do the Twelve Steps I establish a relationship with a Higher Power that DOES accomplish those things.
Best of all, while I have to do some work, I don’t have to make any of the changes at all! My Higher Power does all the changing of me, for me. I just have to show up and be willing to be changed.
So even though I still sometimes end up in What if, I don’t have to stay there for more than a moment. I don’t have to wait in pain for a Magical Mystery Solution made of tomorrow’s luck. I can remind myself that I need never postpone serenity again as long as I live this one-day-at-a-time solution, today.