Experience is the mother of knowledge.

If I experience something then, hopefully, I have some knowledge of that thing. If I experience it again then I gain a little more knowledge and so on.

In my days before AA I had much experience of, well, pretty much everything. You name it I had done it, met them, slept with them, taken them, drank as much as possible of them and so on.

On arriving at Alcoholics Anonymous it was a real slap round the head. The reason for said slap was I was suddenly in a place where I knew nothing about what was happening.  I was a “newcomer” and I resented that fact.  I had no experience of the 12 steps or AA groups or suggestions therefore I had no knowledge to offer on the subjects. I was also, unknown to me, in a room with people like myself  who had seen me coming so they knew the tricks of my trade (blagging, lying, different character on a different day and so forth) so in the rooms at first I felt uncomfortable.

Sit down, shut up and listen was what I heard. My ego was in complete turmoil. My head spinning and every part of me wanted out of this place.

Luckily I stayed in the meetings and although I did not know it in doing so I began listening to some of the experience of others. I took the advice of that experience on my first night and am now over 5 years sober. So it seems to me listening to experience works. The same as when I trained to be an electrician, at first I knew nothing, I would reluctantly turn up at work, not wanting to be there, not paying much attention yet by some miracle I picked up what the experienced guys why trying to teach me. Knowledge was passed on and some gained.
So today I am over five years sober you know!!! Do I still need someone else’s experience? Or am I now an expert on spiritual living and the Alcoholics Anonymous way?

Yes I do and no I am not.

It is true that I now have 5 years’ experience of living sober, experience of working the steps with a sponsor, of following a daily plan, of service in various positions, of being a member of a home group. So I have something useful to offer the new man when they walk in, something from the experiences above. Yet I am not done, as I am still an alcoholic. All be it an alcoholic on the road to recovery. Still I have an alcoholic mind which often wants to run the whole show, to not listen to the experience of others who have walked before me. That will disregard others’ opinions for my own seemingly right ones, while chuckling how wrong they are. Or just a mind that is afraid to take on new ideas and let go of old, to listen to someone else and be humble enough to know that where they speak from is a place of experience and why they speak up is to share that experience in the hope that it is useful. So if I do listen and take on board the experience I may save myself some time by learning something quicker. Or save myself some pain somewhere I don’t foresee.

So the passing of knowledge through experience is one of the most useful tools in the box. Be it from a sponsor or a long-term member or leader of a home group. It can come from the new man straight in the door, from the person with something to say in a group conscience or even from me, experience is everywhere. If people are willing to share their experience and give their time then that really is a wonderful thing. Even if I don’t know why, my new experience is to not discount anyone’s experience until I have sat with it for a while. Not always to understand it, just to see if it fits with the principles I continue to learn.

To learn and start to understand this, has taken all my sober years.

Nov 2013