I can’t really tell you if this is a true story or not but it makes a valuable point to my recovery. When I started this way of life my strategy was to find the “secret handshake or magic pill”, because I was sure there had to be one. I knew dozens of people who had preceded me into the rooms, and I was not going to be like them, and found peace and love. Whatever the game was, I would figure it out and be really good at it. After 3 years of burglarizing every conversation I heard relevant to recovery and passing them off as my own, relapsing into hell and finally limping back into recovery, I surrendered. I understood the message in this story. There isn’t any magic.
In 1988, a group of Soviet narcologists-as addiction experts are titled in the USSR-visited the United States. As a part of their research, they attended several A.A. meetings, hoping to find in those smoky rooms something that could be used to fight the serious alcohol problem in their homeland. They listened to the stories, they talked to the A.A. members, and they decided that, yes, there was something here that could help. But what was it, exactly? They couldn’t quite figure it out.
At the end of one meeting they approached their hosts, several of whom were recovering alcoholics. “We want to make alcoholics like that,” they said. “Teach us how.”
The hosts smiled in gentle understanding. “Well, that’s what we’ve been doing this evening,” came the answer. “You see, you learn how to be like that only by being like that.”
“But,” the Soviets sputtered, “surely there must be something you could share with us, a technique, a certain kind of approach, some kind of trick that would make this all a little easier?”
“No,” came the reply. “What you see in this room, what you want to take home with you, is spirituality; and if there is one thing that all alcoholics discover, it is that there are no shortcuts to spirituality, no techniques that can command it, and especially no ‘tricks.’ That’s what we tried to find in the bottle, in booze, in alcohol. It didn’t work What we have learned is that the only ‘technique’ is what we call ‘a four-letter word’: it is spelled ‘T-I-M-E.’ “12