Scary times: invisible death stalking the streets, jobs lost, businesses going under, world and local disease and death tolls on the rise, meetings of all kinds---business, church, Twelve Step, Scout, National Guard, even boot camp---being cancelled, it's the Covid-19 Boogie. These are the kinds of times that remind me of early recovery when I couldn't work, all my remaining relationships were like walking through mine fields, I was frightened of everyone who I needed to ask for help, waiters in restaurants and friends at parties kept offering me drinks, and every cell in my body was demanding a return to business as usual. Then I would call my sponsor or a program old timer, lay my bucket of woes on him, and invariably the return comment I would get was, "Look for the opportunity."
Opportunity? My disease had latched onto twenty excellent reasons to feel terrified and miserable enough to use, and this guy wanted me to dig through all the horseshit to find the pony?
Well, yes. See, a grateful addict doesn't use. And although times may be tough, the tough times contain and even generate opportunities. For example, at last night's video conferencing meeting of the Farmington, Maine Dragon Slayers Group of NA, a newcomer at the meeting from Pakistan shared that he was only a few months clean and was pretty much limited to one meeting a week in his area, which was not enough. Then came the pandemic, physical NA meetings around the world shut down, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms began holding NA meetings open to the world, and now he can do numbers of meetings every day. He found lots of opportunities.
I even found a couple of opportunities myself. At the three Farmington meetings, we had been pretty much limited to our local recovering community along with the occasional visitor. Now the number of those attending has increased quite a bit, and with recovering addicts attending from outside Franklin County, Maine, from all over the United States, and from many countries around the world. In the past week we have had recovering addicts from Iran, Australia, England, Iceland, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and Pakistan. The stories shared are both familiar and new. We are indeed a fellowship bound by a common disease arrested by the mechanism of one addict helping another through the program of Narcotics Anonymous. What's more, now the number of addicts who I can help and who can help me has increased enormously.
There was another opportunity I found for me. I have seen a lot of faces and heard a lot of voices in the virtual NA meetings, men and women, young and old, of many nationalities, religions, political persuasions, colors, and economic stations. Instead of focusing on those differences, at the NA meetings we focus on the common problem: Staying clean and growing as happy productive members of society. It shows me that we are but one race: The Human Race. And we are all in the same little lifeboat, Planet Earth, sailing through space. It shows me that if we focus on our common problems and treat each other with compassion and respect, there are answers to be found.
Times are tough, but there are many opportunities within and around you. You can find them if you look for them. If all you look for is pain and disaster, of course, that is all you will find. Or, as an old timer once advised me, "If all you do is look at an asshole, sooner or later you are going to get an eyeful of something you really do not want to see."
Be careful out there.