An Anniversary of Sorts in Service

This week marks an anniversary of sorts.  For the past 365 days, I have written a card and mailed (USPS snail mail or hand-delivered) to someone about something.  My reason for launching this project was because I wanted to let folks know how much I appreciated their role in my life from family members, friends, and colleagues.  Importantly, I wanted to include the clerks and service workers we engage with every day.  As the year went on, I added public officials and civic leaders to express my concerns over local and national issues.  Lately, a number of my daily notes included a recent round of 9th Step amends.

In the first 100 or so days of the process, I was reluctant to admit to anyone what I was doing.  I did not want to be taken as grandiose or holier than thou for stopping to thank folks.  As well, I didn’t want the recipients to perceive the notes as a part of an experiment or my need to come up with someone to write to on a given day.  I was pleasantly surprised that I never ran out of people to write!

Over time, I have come to view the note writing differently:

  • From a selfish perspective, I know that my relationship with many has been enhanced by the simple note.
  • I am more mindful to consistently thank folks on the spot for service issues – bank, car repair, stores since writing the notes.
  • A relative I wrote expressing my admiration for her dedication to her family responded, telling me how much the note meant as she was filled with self-doubt about her role as a parent.  I thought about how today criticisms so often exceed the affirmations of our worth.
  • My expression of thanks to others for their contributions has on several occasions brought about a mutual reflection of our time together professionally.  Importantly too, in a 9th step way, the notes to colleagues and friends allows me to clean up my side of the street.
  • I enjoy just being in relationship with people, going to the Post Office to see the stamps available and to the bookstore for cards to personalize my notes.

What I have gotten most out of this process is having an enhanced attitude of gratitude for the people in my life and taking an active step to build those relationships.  Although distance is bridged in the virtual world, and perhaps this reflects my age, but I find a handwritten note a qualitative leap above an email or Facebook post.  Apparently many of my recipients feel the same.

Sobriety is self-serving to my very existence, but so too sobriety allows me to grow in community, relationship, and responsibility to the world.  In the same way that being of service, carrying the message, offering support to those in need allows me to be in community with those in recovery, that service, message, and support reaches beyond the fellowship to everyone in my life.

I have an intense “attitude of gratitude” for my recovery over the past 30 years.  The gratitude is the reason I write this blog.  The gratitude is the reason for the past year I have written and mailed the notes.  You have to give it away to keep it.  I am truly blessed.

7 thoughts on “An Anniversary of Sorts in Service

  1. As a recipient of one of your letters, I can say how wonderful it was to receive “real” mail from you! Such a blessing to receive one…the mail these days is mostly bills and advertisements. Real handwriting, real kindness, real card, from a real friend. Having an attitude of gratitude!

  2. What a wonderful post, Robert. Nothing grandiose about having a heart for others and taking the time to thank them for the ways in which they touch your life. My takeaway: “You have to give it away to keep it”. Love. That.

  3. Pingback: Waking up Sober, Waking up with Cancer | Process Not An Event

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