We learn from slips
The train wreck was horrific. Fire swept through the town after the train cars left the tracks. Crash investigators immediately flew in to study the wreckage and the damage.
Railways take accidents seriously and review them carefully to understand what happened. They work to learn what happened and bring these lessons back to the operating managers to prevent it from happening again.
Experts learn from automobile accidents, plane crashes, and other bad things. Old lessons are relearned, and new lessons are built into operating procedures and systems. Their post-mortem reviews yield information about the causes and conditions of the failures, things to avoid in future operations.
Crash investigators live a strange life. They wait for disasters, hoping they don’t occur, but at the same time looking forward to the next one, understanding the value that each wreck represents.
Sadly, each accident involves death and damage for someone. But each accident, looked at carefully, yields lessons that benefit everyone else. As a result, many people pay a terrible price for our train, automobile, airplane and traffic safety.
Sometimes an AA meeting is like a crash site. When we go to AA meetings, we see success stories, but we also see failures. At most meetings, the meeting leader will ask if, “anyone is coming back who would care to be identified.” And frequently, hands are raised.
In this, we are like investigation engineers. We don’t want to see people ‘go back out,’ but understand the value. At the meeting, we see fellow AAs who have slipped and gone back to drinking.
Like crash investigators, we learn from failures. We hear about drifting away from the Program, how prayer and meditation practices declined and how the returnees did not keep in touch with the Fellowship. Old lessons are relearned, and new lessons are built into our Fellowship’s fabric.
We profit from failures. We understand that knowing what not to do is often as important as knowing what we should do.
But the ‘slippers’ often pay a terrible price. Jobs lost, families ruined, sometimes people die. A lot of people have paid an awful price for our safety. A lot of AAs have paid a terrible price for our sobriety.
Each slip is a potential lesson. Every relapse is a fresh reminder of what can happen if I don’t pay attention.