The Last Men’s Meeting.
Last night I went to my last men’s meeting. It was a strange feeling. A couple of the quarter-century crew weren’t there, so I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. Frenchie’s wife had taken a bad turn with her chemo. There was a new guy. He’s got 90 days sober. Hopefully he’ll keep coming back. I didn’t get to talk until the end, so the meeting wasn’t about me.
Part of me was disappointed in that. I like to be the center of attention. If I had been the first person to speak, then the rest of the meeting would have been a big goodbye to me, and I’d have felt nourished and loved and that would’ve been great. but I was one of the very last to speak, so people had forgotten that this was to be my last meeting there. Nobody mentioned it.
That’s ok of course. I’m not saying that because I’m insulted or anything, I’m not. In fact, it was a good reminder to me: it’s not all about me. AA meetings are about getting sober. Staying sober. For many of us, me included, that means cultivating a sense of humility and circumspection. It was good to be reminded that whether I’m there or not, that meeting will go on. People will come and go. Sobriety will continue to be the focus.
One of the things we say in AA, in fact, the twelfth of the Twelve Traditions, is that AA is about principles, not personalities. It’s not important who says what, or how I’d like the meeting to go. What’s important is that we come together, and adhere to the principles of the program, so that we can remain sober together. No person is the heart of a meeting. If someone is, that meeting is sick. It’s not about the people. It’s about the program.
It’s also an exhibition of the vaguely stoic sentimentality of men. No tears. No maudlin tribute. Kenny told me to give him a hug. Most of the rest shook my hand. Rusty is going to be painting my house, so he just said: “I’ll be in touch.” And that’s right. There’s no need for a sad goodbye: my departure is a good thing. I’m going to ECC for good reasons. I’m not dying or being transferred against my design. I chose this. So they say goodbye and wish me well. And that’s as it should be.
AA is full of these spectacles for me. How to be a grown-up man. How to stay focused on what truly matters: sobriety. How to live in a strange and often hostile world. How to live. Full stop.