To be fair, since 2004 the procedure has only been performed for "research purposes" (and how does one wind up in that study I wonder -- and, more disturbing to consider, are there some people in such mental agony from their addiction that they volunteer? If you're a real addict and you reflect on your journey is that so great a leap of imagination?).
Regardless, my gratitude for AA is not lessened by the fact that this procedure is currently only "research" when I consider my life today.
It is not always easy (Lord, no) but AA is a simple spiritual solution which gives me a daily reprieve from what was once a disease with virtually no hope of recovery.
Or, to put it another way: Jails, institutions, death... or brain mutilation vs. Meetings and the 12 Steps.
SP: And, although I know I can essentially bring anything to You, I
have a question that feels kind of... well, kind of stupid.
silence for a few moments
Mr. SP: Ummm, God?
SP: Aren't you going to say something encouraging like, 'There are no
stupid questions' or 'yes, you can bring everything to Me' or something
No. I don't think so. You know I really don't go in for responding to
you when you're being passive/aggressive like that.
SP: God! Err, I mean the exclamation, not You, but... God! That is
so... you know, sometimes maybe I need a little encouragement.
Sometimes maybe I'm frightened and I need a little reassurance. Needing
encouragement is not being passive/aggressive you know.
GOD: Yes, I know. You're right.
Mr. SP: Ha! So there!
Needing encouragement or reassurance is not being passive/aggressive.
Being manipulative in your statement so that you can get that
encouragement... now that's passive/aggressive.
Mr. SP: <sigh> How come when I start to talk with you about something else we often take these left turns?
GOD: Because you're driving? Just ask your question, Mr. SponsorPants.
Mr. SP: Okay. I wonder if sometimes I'm doing gratitude... wrong.
You certainly come up with a constant stream of new and inventive ways
to make yourself feel bad about yourself, Mr. SponsorPants, that's for
sure. How on earth could you do gratitude 'wrong'?
Mr. SP: Well, sometimes I find my way into gratitude by <mumble mumble mumble>.
GOD: What? Speak clearly.
SP: Sometimes I find my way into gratitude by looking at the
misfortunes and challenges other people have, and I'm grateful that is
not my lot -- that I do not have their problems. That I do not suffer
as they do or have to face down the things they must. And that seems...
I dunno, just... like the wrong way to go about feeling grateful for
what I have.
silence for a few moments
Mr. SP: That's it? 'Ah.' All that and all you give me is 'Ah'?
Mr. SponsorPants, I have a question for you, too. Do you feel pleasure
at the misfortunes of these others that you're comparing yourself to?
Mr. SP: What? Of course not. I mean, sometimes if it's a person that has really challenged me in the past...
GOD: One of your Great Spiritual Teachers, you mean.
SP: Yes. If someone's been an arrogant schmuck, and they get a little
egg on their face, maybe I feel a sense of cosmic justice, but I don't
actually enjoy anyone's hardships, no.
GOD: So you just use other people's challenges, their paths, as a frame of reference for yourself, a way to see what you have.
Mr. SP: Yes.
GOD: Okay then.
Mr. SP: Okay what?
You're not asking if that's a wrong way to find gratitude, you already
think it is, and you want maybe confirmation, or absolution and maybe
SP: Do other people get a headache when they talk to You? 'cause I'm
starting to get a headache. I thought it was a simple question and...
GOD: The question is simple. You're the complicated part.
Mr. SP: Is that... kind of a compliment?
Mr. SP: oh.
Gratitude is, indeed, seeing what you have, and what you are spared,
yes. Whether you do that via comparing yourself to others' misfortunes,
or through a more positive view of whatever bounty you have doesn't
really matter. The point is more that you are training yourself to
perceive your life and your circumstances differently; to see the gifts
in your life for what they are. When you don't see what you have,
you're focused on what you lack -- and when you do that, you are
generally in Fear, and it is then much harder for you to hear Me.
Mr. SP: oh. So gratitude isn't about feeling good really, it's more about being able to see and hear You a little better.
GOD: Pretty much, yes.
Mr. SP: And so... as long as I'm doing that, it's okay however I get there.
GOD: Bravo, Mr. SponsorPants.
Mr. SP: See, God, if you stick with me, I get it eventually.
GOD: Mr. SponsorPants, I have never, not for one single solitary moment, doubted you. You on the other hand...
Mr. SP: I know, I know... work in progress, God. Work in progress.
GOD: I know. I know. Happy Gratitude Day, Mr. SponsorPants.
SP: You too, God. You know, for a somewhat trite literary construct,
these exchanges are very helpful and surprisingly emotional for me
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
--- William Arthur Ward
They do not love, that do not show their love.
--- William Shakespeare
The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
--- John E. Southard
Stop thinking of gratitude as a by-product of your circumstances and start thinking of it as a world view.
--- Bryan Robles
I try hard to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one's heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion we can ever know.