Greece, meetings, the future and Marcus Aurelius…

Although I am not making plans I am thinking of the future.  My work in the USA is not as crucial as it was and this fall I am seeing a real possibility of moving here to Greece for a short time, maybe a year.  A full year on the island will show me what I need to do.  I am lucky that I have an ‘in’ with some of the locals via the AA network.  This is a gift of sobriety, as I see it, as long as I do not abuse the connection.

The meeting this week was good in at least two ways.  The first is the obvious: a meeting.  The second is that I was able to learn both ho to live and how not to live soberly here on a small island.   I can leave the old resentments behind and dispel the angers that others have.  Thank God I am working my program and not that of someone else.  I m alright if I stick to my program.

I have been reading Marcus Aurelius’ ‘Meditations’.  It is amazing what the old Emperor had to say about how to live in a world of chaos.  For him the best that one could do was to shoulder the load of a day’ work with honesty, dignity and a sense that this is only for today.  Sound familiar?  It wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere along the live Bill W, Bob or their predecessors in other programs had read ‘Meditations’ and gleaned some solid common sense form the words of a philosopher who was stuck with the job of ruler of the known world-and I thought I had tough situations!

I have now been to meetings in Italy-Florence and Rome.  My scope i widening and as it does it is reassuring to hear the same stories in the room wherever I go.  I am not unique, not hopeless and not alone.


Barbarians at the gate and alcoholics in my midst…

There is a popular conception in Europe of Americans as barbarians.  We sit like slobs in our seats, legs outstretched, blocking the aisles, demanding out tickets (food, drink, etc…)in loud American English.  Sad to say this seems a truism.  I have been very aware of the Americans in my little ban this time and try as often as possible to not act like them.  The sad fact is that at their age I did act like them, and maybe worse.  Not all of the other student act this way, but many do.  They disregard notices on museum to abstain from photography and they sit, stand and loaf in the above mentioned manner.  Some of them have been revealed as hardcore wanna-be drinkers, going so far as to try to keep their boozing a secret by drinking when all the others have gone to bed.  It is easy for me to pinpoint the real alcoholics from the potentials because the real deal do not need the alcohol to act like it.  Their ego-driven self will is out there for all to see and a lack of alcohol just makes it more obvious.  When drinking they can almost blend into the crowd.

There is nothing I can do except stay out of their way.  The can bulldoze all they want through this term and I am keeping myself clear of their chaos, and there will be chaos, especially when we reach the island.  I doubt these kids will get much work done.  That being said I am the once who needs to get my work done, be selfish with my time and resources.  I can also set a few ground rules with them regarding the dark room and what that means.  There is only one I need to talk to and all he needs to know that there is no place for drunkenness or goofing off in the dark room with his buddies after a long night drinking.  This can be said with candor, honesty and, I hope, a sense of man-to-man straightforwardness.

Regarding my own program of action:  I will be attending the Tuesday night meetings on the island and, possibly, the Monday night group as well.  The second group is Greek-speaking, but it is easy enough to have translator for the bi-lingual angle.  This, on top of my mp3 speakers, phone calls and Skyping once on a while can keep me sober, sane, happy, joyous and free.

I will be in Rome tomorrow and I have the addresses for the meetings there.  They are a short, but uphill, walk from the hotel.  I will be grateful to be able to hit two–Monday and Tuesday evening.

Regarding the behavior of others…What I learned from last year is a gift from the Al-Anon program:  I didn’t cause it, can’t cure it and can’t control it.  What a relief that is!  Once again this is  a one-day-at-a-time formula for living that insures my own emotional sobriety.

More will be revealed…Johnnyboy