I heard something truly shocking yesterday.
I had called an Al-Anon member who had recently moved here from another state to ask him to be a speaker at my Alateen meeting. We had struck up a conversation in the parking lot on the way to my meeting on Monday night.
He was 19 years sober in AA and had 18 years in Al-Anon. The Alateen sponsors in my group had decided on a mix of AA and Al-Anon speakers and, combining both, he seemed perfect. Then he told me he had been an Alateen sponsor. It felt like a God thing.
But that's not the shocking part. What he said on the phone is that he felt comfortable approaching me in the parking lot because he had seen me at other meetings and found me "friendly and approachable."
That makes three times in recent memory people have referred to me that way. They used those exact words: friendly and approachable.
And that's the shocking part. Because I've never been what people call "friendly and approachable." They've always used other words to describe me. Words like "aloof."
I never meant to be aloof, but that was the pronouncement. It's been one of the constants in my life.
A couple of weeks ago, after I shared on the topic of selfishness, a sponsee told me she couldn't even imagine me being selfish.
I was speechless.
So the question is: Who is the person people are talking about? And what have they done with me?
Change has been a lot on my mind these days. Change used to be another constant in my life. I changed jobs, relationships, cities. I liked to say I was born with track shoes on. I was always running.
These days, I'm as settled as I've ever been. I've lived in this house longer than I've lived anywhere in my life. I've been happily married for years now. But it seems change is still a constant. It's just a different kind of change.
It reminded me of a story I heard recently about a zoo. Seems the zoo had a $60,000 problem. That's how much the landfill charged it to dispose of its poo.
Then someone had the idea to compost the poo. It became a hot commodity. People lined up around the block to get bags of composted zoo poo for their gardens. After deducting expenses, the new poo netted the zoo $20,000.
The problem was utterly transformed from a liability to an asset.
And this is poo we're talking about. Excrement. Waste.
So this is what I was thinking about yesterday. I had spent the afternoon listening to a sponsee's fifth step. As is the tradition in my line of sponsorship, I presented her with the gift of a butterfly to symbolize her shedding of old skin in preparation for spiritual rebirth.
Because that's what the program gives us. New life. The old stuff, our character defects, get thrown on the great compost heap of the program and are transformed into something valuable. The liabilities of our past become our greatest assets.
I can't think of anything more remarkable. Shocking, really.