Having recently had my birthday, I’m in the process of a new fourth step.
In my line of sponsorship, we do a new fourth step every year, once we finish working the steps.
The first is a narrative fourth step. The second is an AA-style inventory taken straight out of the Big Book. Every year after that, we begin “peeling the onion,” as my sponsor puts it, by taking a focused topic and doing an inventory on that topic.
Doing this second inventory is interesting to me. Having a different format makes me think of things a little differently. Some things I hadn’t addressed directly and straightforwardly in my first fourth step, like my fears. Though they lingered on every page.
But what strikes me most about this time around is how much lighter it feels.
My first inventory felt like that kind of cleaning and organizing that requires months of work in little pieces, moving from room to room to decide what to keep, what to donate, what to throw away.
It felt overwhelming at times. So much had accumulated.
I felt like one of those garage renovation projects you see on TV, where a consultant comes in toting heavy equipment, armed with tips, hooks, plastic boxes and a label maker.
In the thick of things, it gets messy. Stuff is strewn in piles all over the driveway and lawn. It seems things will never get put back together. Then there’s the shot at the end: the floor is clean, the bikes and garden tools are neatly organized and hung up in their places, and the owner drives the car into the garage for the first time in years.
That’s what my first inventory felt like.
This time feels more like a good spring cleaning. There are a few cobwebs. The shelves have gotten dusty. I’ve let some of the junk mail pile up.
But it’s more like a Saturday job. Easily managed with a little help from Mr. Clean. It’s the kind of spring cleaning that makes you feel good, even as you’re doing it.
Then, at the end of the day, you collapse into a chair with your favorite tea, the scent of pine cleaner still in the air. The muscles might feel a little sore. But only a little, and in a good way.
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