Driving into work today, I found myself making what could only be called an anti-gratitude list. As I inched along in rush hours traffic, I began making a mental list of all the things that make me crazy. It started out, not as one would imagine, because of the other drivers on I-10. No, what started this fiasco was my irritation at other AAs when they complain of bad driving in Houston in Step Six meetings. First, I am not a good driver, so this always makes me uncomfortable. I want to raise my hand and say, “Oh, was that you in the red Toyota? Whoops. Sorry about that.” But secondly, I cannot imagine a world in which an alcoholic’s worst character defect is exasperation at other drivers. I don’t have to see the fourth step to know that that ain’t true.
My mind goes a million miles a minute and can invent all sorts of things to be bent out of shape over. Was she just looking at me? Oh, no he didn’t just crosstalk at me. On Tuesday, I led my homegroup’s 10 PM meeting. I finished the opening, Step Ten. The first guy I called on, looks up and asks, “Was there a topic?”
“Shakespeare said, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’ He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. AA and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here” (Big Book 417).
I like the line that says, “I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point out.” People around me know, I get really crotchety. As soon as the meeting lets out, I have an opinion about something. It’s not pretty. And it always makes me self-conscience as well. Was my share too long or esoteric? Off topic or crazy? And my criticism is not just limited to meetings. Its touches everything and everyone around me.
With that said, I don’t want to be that person anymore. Its taken me a while, but I am finally beginning to understand what it means to want to be rid of character defects. Before, I wanted to rid myself of laziness or procrastination, and those are still important. But what I want today feels deeper. I want to be a better person. A kinder person. I want to see the positive in people and in the world instead of the negative. Being able to see flaws does not make me smarter or more intuitive. It makes me mean. “There is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us.” That is what the book tells me. And that is what experience tells me. So that, is what I should remember. And that is what I should practice.