When we were young our elders insisted we adopt and practice a series of social graces. We were told to wash our hands before meals and to not put our elbows on the table. We were told to put on a sweater when we left the house, and to wipe our feet when we came back in. And lastly, we were told to speak when we were spoken to, and say please and thank you. Thank you, two simple words that can transform the atmosphere of any exchange. They are often the lingering pleasantries, which suggest that you considered our interaction to be substantially worthwhile. It didn’t matter if I gave you the hope diamond or just a warm smile; the moment we shared was more than a commercial in the TiVo of your recollection. Thank you can become a conversational silver lining, the icing on a mundane gesture. Thank you turns days around, and even saves lives. So why do we forget to say thank you? Have we embraced a culture so fast paced that gratitude has become cordiality something that has become assumed, where we generally gather that everyone is pleasant and has the best intentions? And if not, what does that say about the current state of our society? Though this is not a widespread war cry to fight the great fight against an indifferent and unappreciative social dynamic, please consider the ramifications of two simple words.
In sobriety, we talk about being grateful for a new chance, for those that pulled us out of the mud, and for those that gave us a place to sleep. But how often do we tell them? Often we become so consumed in the wonder of the miracles of sobriety, the “pink cloud” of recovery, that we forget to say thanks to those that gave us the support to reach this plateau. In our group sharing we say, “we are so entirely grateful to AA for helping us get sober”, but never turn around to shake the hand of the man sitting behind us. We say, “thank you to these rooms”, but brush past the man sweeping the floors as we push our way to the coffee pot. We say, “thank you for all the warm meals”, as we stuff ourselves with donuts and cake. Sure, we clap for those who take commitments, but how many of those names do we remember two steps outside the room?
This holiday season, lets strive to give thanks, personally and practically, to those that both deserve, but probably never hear it, to those that depend on it, because kind words give them meaning to live another day. Give a pat on the back to the newcomer, for they remind us of our origins and give us avenues to be of service.
Look into the eyes of the welcome people as you enter the meeting, literally opening the doors to a new lifestyle. Smile at the man sitting next to you, because he has taken the time to show up, and be counted amongst those that care about recovery and care about community. And stop and say thank you to the man sweeping the floor, because he maintains order amongst the chaos. Sometimes it may seem like nothing. Nothing has been done to deserve gratitude. The only thing notable is that they’ve shown up. And sometimes that’s all it takes. When we were in our darkest hour, in our pits of despair, we didn’t have the courage to show up. And in the same turn, no one wanted to show up for us. We weren’t worthy
for anything but miserable solitude. And now that we have found a new path, for some of us, showing up, being present is all we have. All we can offer is a willing body to sit next to. Even though it seems like nothing, that nothing too deserves a thank you. Thank you for showing up and being there.
Tags: Relapse Prevention