One encounters a Whitman’s Sampler of humanity in the rooms of AA -“Yale-to-jail” as they say. Early one Sunday morning, nearly a decade ago, I was sitting in a bitterly cold, dimly lit AA clubhouse with a small flock of fellow dipsomaniacs. Large, heavily tattooed, and dressed in full biker regalia, a woefully inarticulate ex-con unleashed an incomprehensible, though passionate, soliloquy.
“How drunk do you have to be before cutting your own hair starts to seem like a good idea?” Taz Mopula
After many minutes of wrestling with the language, and losing, he paused, becoming quiet and still. Then, unable to contain his frustration any longer, he blurted out this memorable phrase with clarity and impact, “I just want to be one of God’s employees!”
“Arguing about God is like screaming about silence.” Taz Mopula
I imagined a man in work clothes, aluminum hardhat and steel-toed boots, arriving at a factory, punching the time clock and awaiting instructions. He has no will at all, he does not know what the day’s work order will be, and he doesn’t care. He only knows that he will carry it out to the best of his ability.
“A knowable God wouldn’t be; any more than a square circle would.” Taz Mopula
Like so many Americans, I am frequently pulled away from the important things of life by the insane mythology that there is a direct link between worthy accomplishment, fame, and material prosperity. Even as I write these words they seem to belong together, but just a cursory look at our culture quickly reveals that fame and prosperity are rarely associated with merit – indeed, they have become goals, not byproducts, which is shallow and very sad.
“Never confuse fame with artistic quality, or wealth with value. Society gets what it wants, not what it needs.” Taz Mopula
It was in the rooms that I first truly understood that each of us has the capacity to provide something unique, something useful, something that can change a life, even save one. When we look to convert that activity into cash we’re already way off the mark. One does it because it’s the right thing to do.
“Share your self; it’s the only thing you have to offer that isn’t readily available elsewhere.” Taz Mopula
As a writer in an age when people don’t read, I don’t expect to be a household word anytime soon. I’ll settle for sweeping the nation … one sidewalk at a time.