Old Timers Don’t Always Agree

Andy Crooks writing as Andy C
2 min readFeb 2, 2023

The topic at the AA meeting was spiritual awakenings.

After several younger AAs spoke, an old-timer was asked to share; he decided it was time to straighten everyone out.

His point, “the Founders of AA only did the Steps once. They did the Steps once, and they had their spiritual awakening. This idea of doing the Steps again is nonsense.” Speaking at length, he made the same point repeatedly, not appreciating the irony of repeating a lecture on doing something only once.

The young AAs in the room were hanging on his every word. Perhaps memorizing his points to be able to quote him to their sponsors.

He finally wound down his share and stopped.

The next fellow, another old-timer, announced his name and began his share.

“Spiritual awakenings are interesting for sure. Bill Wilson had a big one with his white light experience in the hospital. It was a doozy. If I had an experience like that, feeling I was on a mountain with a clear wind, like Moses and the commandments, that would be all I would need. I wouldn‘t need another step. Once and done, for sure.

“But that was not what happened. Bill had his white light spiritual awakening in Townes Hospital, then a couple of years later, he wrote the Twelve Steps. Before writing them down, he had been practicing them.

“The Founders talked about progressing spiritually and applying the Steps in all their affairs. They did not think that the Steps would wear out with repeated use.

“Their story is my story; I am a slow learner and have done the Steps many times. And every time I did them, I had another awakening.

“Some guys do them once. I needed more.

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain and many ways to maintain our spiritual condition.

“Everyone has to find a way that works for them.

“There are many things we are not, including dogmatic.

Thanks, I’ll pass to the next fellow, knowing we may hear another way to bake this Program into our lives.”

The young AAs in the meeting were confused, but it was constructive confusion. The flexibility they were seeing was frightening and liberating. Confused, they would surely talk with their sponsors. Not with memorized wisdom, but curiosity about what their path to the mountaintop would look like.

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Andy Crooks writing as Andy C

For Andy C, not drinking was the first spiritual awakening. He’s been blessed with subsequent spiritual awakenings as the results of the 12 steps.