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Grapevine : August 2011
and procedures, but to succeed you need to get in the cockpit, put your hands on the controls and practice. The Air Force taught me that repeti- tion is the key to learning to fly. Each complex flying task is done over and over until you get it right. Recovery from alcohol addiction is the same. First, you study the Big Book, learn the Steps, then practice what you've learned until it becomes second na- ture. Practice, practice, practice. You don't become a great chef just by reading cookbooks. You can start with books, of course, but at some point you'll have to get in the kitchen and turn on the stove. This goes for artists, musicians, athletes and anyone else who wants to be re- ally good at something. You'll need to practice every chance you get. Successful sober living takes prac- tice as well. Early on, I realized that my mis- sion objective wasn't just to stop drinking, although that was part of it, but to learn how to live life sober again. Today, I'm convinced there's a difference. Just stopping the con- sumption of booze won't do it. My practice today involves daily meet- ings, joining a home group and get- ting involved as a trusted servant. It's nothing magical or miraculous but, so far, with practice, it's worked. The Big Book is my "flight man- ual" that guides my life and sets a standard for daily behavior. I found a sponsor who would be my instruc- tor, not only to make sure I learned the essentials (the Twelve Steps, for instance) but to dissuade me from making serious mistakes that could ultimately cause me to spin, crash and burn. When I first came into AA and I heard people announce that they had ten or twenty years in sobriety, I sim- ply couldn't believe it. If they were recovered for that long, why would they keep coming back to meetings? Then it occurred to me that, as a pi- lot, even when I had thousands of flying hours under my belt, I still had to practice the basics, making sure I stayed current with the regulations and evaluating my progress at regu- lar intervals. After over thirteen years of sobri- ety, I've truly found a new freedom in AA and I'll be forever grateful. I still learn something new almost daily. I don't fly military airplanes anymore, but AA has given me the ability to skillfully navigate the skies of this sober life. Bob B. Puyallup, Wash. The Air Force taught me that repetition is the key to learning to fly. Each complex flying task is done over and over until you get it right. 52 August 2011