It seems that AA members get an endless chuckle out of the phrase” we aren’t a glum lot” from page 132 of the Big Book. It is followed by the statement, “we absolutely insist on enjoying life.” As with other interesting choices of words in the literature, we might be curious about the emphasis on “insisting” (we WILL have fun, damn it). The not-glum-must-have-fun passage adds that Newcomers would hardly find us appealing if we were all work and no play. To many normal people, the term “sobriety” connotes a kind of sanitized refrigeration, and the term “sober fun” evokes visions of a junior high school dance. In my experience, there are at least two reasons why we “insist” on enjoying life. First, if the goal is attraction and not promotion, we must at least avoid revulsion. Who would want what we have if it looked like a nonstop bingo game? We owe it to Newcomers to freely express our joy of sobriety, not in a false cheerleader fashion, but from our genuine happiness and gratitude. Second, getting sober is a lot of hard work, a lot of digging deep, a lot of on-going service. Once it has saved our lives, we might be so determined not to relapse that we bury ourselves in recovery to the exclusion of all outside pleasures. Our disease is cunning, baffling and powerful. It can trick us into believing that sobriety is not fun at all, and is therefore unsustainable. We must insist on having fun because our illness will tell us we cannot have fun (hoping we will therefore give up on staying sober). For me, the enjoyment of life in AA has taken many forms. Some of us need a little bit of physical risk to have fun – speed, heights, unpredictable and tricky sports. This is Extreme Sobriety. Others are happy just going to a comedy show and not being thrown out for heckling and drunkenness. Others still find a new inspiration to get on stage in performing arts and do what they never before had the courage or discipline to do. For me, the Fellowship is very fun. I know I will walk into my home group and be warmly welcomed, then teased to no end about one thing or another. The laughter is contagious and chronic. Sometimes the enjoyment of life in sobriety just comes down to be able to walk without weaving down the hall, talk without slurring my words, breathe without polluting the air, and party without humiliating myself. So I will keep having fun, especially if you insist.
Photo Courtesy of MK