Saturday, October 14, 2006

Keep comin' back?

It's late afternoon here and the weather has been nearly perfect. Not too hot. Not too cold. It was an ideal day for walking. Unseasonably warm without being uncomfortable. I was in flip flops. Since I was headed to an AA meeting, I had to leave the dog home. Needless to say, I got bawled out when I returned. Nothing can yap like a little dog. :)

The meeting brought up many thing. Since I haven't been in years, it seemed new. There were things I liked and things that made me extraordinarily uncomfortable.

One of the good things is that there were very few "drunkalogues", those rambling testimonies of past misdeeds and misfortunes. The talks seemed focused on positive tools used by people to maintain sobriety. Many people talked about meditation, exercise, changing diets, finding healthy outlets for aggression, dealing with depression and practical ideas for coping with cravings. That part was impressive. It was obviously geared to speak to new people who hadn't discovered any methods yet. There was plenty of laughter and a little bit of quipping, despite the rule against talking while someone else has the floor.

In general, most of the people seemed very nice. I noticed very little cliquing or any other social behavior that would alienate newcomers. It was obvious that new people were welcome as I was greeted by so many ~ along with many others.

The things that made me uncomfortable are still in "thinkin' about it" mode. Honestly, I'm not sure how much of it might have made me uncomfortable a few years ago and how much is a result of my "reculturation". That is a Thailand Gal word, entirely made up, to replace "acculturation". I have, in many ways, been experiencing a "reculturation" as I adopt more and more Thai customs into my daily life.

So, that said, the parts that made me uncomfortable are those which included loud noise and chanting. (Yes, it seemed like chanting to me.) It is a rather common reinforcement technique and I'm aware of the application. It still caused me to feel very out-of-place and awkward.

The underlying philosophy in the AA message is very western. Having never been to an AA meeting anywhere else, I don't know how that is adjusted or handled. (Another question for my friends on the Thai forums.) I can tell you that I absolutely did not feel comfortable reciting The Lord's Prayer which is not compatible with my personal religious belief system. It felt very hypocritical and not consistent with my personal ethics. One of the things I've learned over the years is that my actions and my values have to match. I will not participate in that again if I choose to go back.

I didn't care for the clapping each time someone finished speaking. AA is not entertainment to the best of my knowledge. This is also a trend that has taken hold in churches. It just doesn't feel appropriate.

As I walked home, I realized how much I have changed, how these changes within me have taken such deep root. It's almost as though my core is finally finding expression. Things sound differently to me now. My life has indeed changed. Very much. More than I realized.

My world here on a day-to-day basis is very Thai-centered. It is also very quiet and peaceful. Even with V. and D. here, I still have a great deal of solitude and meditation time. Aside from shopping, walking, exercising and occasional get-togethers with friends, I am usually right here at home. I have plenty to occupy me with the garden, caring for my dog, sewing, writing, reading, learning a new language and an assortment of other activities. My friends are very much like me ~ quiet-natured ~ and we are usually content with a picnic basket and time at a nearby park. Occasionally we go elsewhere. Sometimes we will go to a restaurant or community event, but never a loud one. The outside world of commerce, traffic, parties and such are not so much a part of my life anymore. I have a car but rarely drive. You get the picture. My life is a small one. And I'm happy.

It's hard to say whether I will return to any more meetings. Naturally, my background as an activist led me to start thinking about setting up a meeting of likeminded people, those who want a quieter, less frenetic atmosphere. I would like a round table and people would have the freedom to talk as they see fit within reason and there would be no clapping or chanting. There would be no prayers. That may yet come to pass. I just don't know yet.

Luckily, it's not a decision I have to make soon.

May everyone have a wonderful, peaceful, restorative weekend ~

Thailand Gal


Joel said...

I too am uncomfortable with the lords prayer so I dont recite it.
Back east we dont applaud for sharing, but do for milestone anniversarys I close with serenity prayer.
I make it clear that the GOD of my understanding is
G ood
O rderly
D irection too many people confuse spirituality with religion

Thailand Gal said...

Thank you for your comment :)

I am relieved to know the applauding seems to be only a west coast phenomenon. When I went to AA in the mid-70s, there was no such thing. It seems to have developed while I've been gone. (And they didn't even ask me what I thought about it. Can you believe...? :)

As for the God aspect, it all sounded very much like the Christian concept to me and it was a major turnoff. In LSR, we often refer to Higher Power as "Doorknob". We'll say "Thank Doorknob" or somesuch. It really is only to get away from the notion that there is something "out there", controlling our actions. I simply can't buy into the latter at all, no matter how hard I've tried.

I agree that too many confuse spirituality with religion. Religion is one of those things that ~ well, I could go on and on. Let me leave you with this quote from Ed Krebs:

"The World is divided into armed camps ready to commit genocide just because we can't agree on whose fairy tales to believe. In the end, Religion will kill us all."

May you have a most peaceful night ~

Thailand Gal