It’s a Symphony!
My guess is that most Al-Anons don’t regularly listen to symphonies, but I’m sure you have all heard the last part of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony (Ode to Joy) – it has been used in numerous commercials, as the theme song for a popular TV show, and the Olympics! So in a symphony there are 20+ different instruments, with most instrument groups having multiple parts. Different instruments may repeat a theme at different times, or play supporting melodies. It can all come together one beautiful sound.
So in Al-Anon, we have these 12 steps, 12 traditions, 12 concepts, 5 warranties, (Geez, 41 things!!). It can seem a bit complex, maybe too much. However as I’ve moved thru the program with the help of meetings, sponsors and friends, I see the pieces coming together, supporting each other, repeating ideas in a different way, and becoming an interesting whole. Some examples as I’ve experienced them —
Focus on ourselves — Step 1 says we are powerless, so no point in focusing on the alcoholic. In Step 3 a lot of the words I heard were about “let go and let God,” again moving the focus away from the alcoholic. Steps 4 thru 9 really force us to focus on ourselves! Then we come to step 11, “…praying ONLY for knowledge of God’s will for me…” – well, that will make you focus on yourself!
“Sought thru prayer and meditation…” — So I made that initial commitment in Step 3, but always realized that the way I would turn my will and life over to God was thru working the rest of the steps. And Steps 4 thru 9 were pretty much essential to clearing away the “garbage” before I could have meaningful prayer and meditation mentioned in Step 11.
Enabling — well, I certainly learned about that in Step 1, but you know, we can also apply the Traditions to families, and Tradition 7 says every group (and family, family member) ought to be self-supporting. So again, it reminds me to let the alcoholic become self-supporting, because my help can get in the way of his hitting bottom, and his recovery.
Anonymity, why? — Tradition 12 talks about it being the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions. We leave our professional identities (perhaps as a psychiatric social worker), and ambitions to take charge (say if we are a manager at work), outside the meeting. Tradition 8 says that our work is non-professional, and Tradition 1 implies we are all equals, which ties in the “humility” in Step 6. So our “outside” life is pretty much irrelevant once we walk into a room of equals.
Ultimate responsibility and authority for [WSO]…belongs to the Al-Anon groups (Concept 1) — This Concept is underlain by Tradition 2, “For our group purpose, there is but one authority – a loving God…,” and Tradition 7 which says in exercising this authority, we are self-supporting. And the flip side…where we are not responsible (e.g. the alcoholic), which comes from Step 1.
So as you experience and practice the Steps, Traditions and Concepts, look for the linkage, how they come together, how they support each other. Like being a good musician, It takes practice to also become good at life. And…if you want to see an example of how the pieces fit together in music, here is a flash mob version of Ode to Joy – shortened, and with a reduced orchestra size –
I wonder if the audience response in this reflects in some way how people respond to us as our life comes together.
Illinois North, Panel 55
P.S. A “commercial,” or encouragement: if you want to look at the Traditions and Concepts as they apply in our home or outside lives, get a copy of Reaching for Personal Freedom.