Reimagining How It Works

Tonight  at the meeting a guy at his very first meeting was asked to read “How It Works”. This is something most of us hear at almost every meeting we attend. There are folks that brag they can recite it from memory without looking at the book at all. I probably could if hard pressed to do so. It’s one of those things I don’t pay much attention to anymore, l hear it so often that it just something I sit through until the real meeting begins. When a newcomer reads it and stumbles over the words – members in the meeting look up. We recognize that if someone doesn’t recognize those words enough to to get them in the cadence and pronunciation that we’re so used to this person is new… and that means the potential to share the message so freely given us. It’s really the only time I see people paying attention there anymore. I’m guilty myself.

I have a friend in the program that reads along when it’s being read – he says it keeps his head in the present instead of looking around judging other people he reads each word as it’s read. I kind of like that and if I’m feeling like my mind won’t stay on track I’ll do that once in a while.

For me it’s background noise, has been for a great long time and I think it is for others as well.

My first home group recognized this and they changed it up a bit – they read the beginning of other chapters  and the first time they did it I was flabbergasted, I wondered if I had the wrong copy of the book and started to look up the chapters to be sure…. What they would do is read

“There is a Solution” – up to the end of the first full paragraph on page 18 “…anyone can increase the list”


“More About Alcoholism” up to the end of the second full paragraph on page 31 “…we could increase the list ad infinitum”


“We Agnostics” up to the end of the first full paragraph on page 45 “But where and how were we to find this Power?”

and then read “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery” followed by the 12 steps and the a b c thing. It was powerful, I still find it so.

Reading things just cause that’s how it’s always been done isn’t something I agree with – keeping things fresh and making us stop and think once in a while is something I’d rather see.

But when I see a newcomer read that chapter, or the traditions and fumble over “anonymity” – which I did for a long time when I was new – it at least has me look up at the newcomer and recognize him/her for what they are and gives me the extra energy to stick out my hand and welcome them.

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