John's been "working the program of AA for about thirty years now." He had some insights about the differences between his old self and the person he's become. "Actually, I am always in that state of change, of unfolding to the better. At least that's what I hope is happening."
If you see a bunch of guys having coffee, standing in line at the store, or waiting for a bus you can always recognize John. Light eyes, easy smile, usually the first one to laugh. If you ask any of his friends who is the most gentle, most humble, accepting person among them, they will invariably say "John" without missing a beat.
"Did I mention that I was a drug addict, an alcoholic, had been arrested for hitting a cop, and got in fights in the local jail? I'll be those guys you asked either forgot or didn't remember those days."
He told me a story about this two weeks ago at our twice a month cup of coffee meeting.
"I had been asked to speak at an AA meeting, and I told about my story. The poor people at the home group have heard that more than I can count. But this one kid in the back, a guy that maybe had thirty days sober, was leaning in. I connected with him after my talk and when the meeting was over. He said something to me I've never heard from another person before."
"The kid said that he liked what I had to say. So I asked him what specifically he liked."
"The kid said, "I don't remember. I just like the sound of your voice. You have a peace in your voice, and it gave me goose bumps listening to it. Sounds like it comes from your heart. If I can ever sound like you, I know my recovery is on the right course."
John stopped for a second and smiled. "I've never heard that from anyone before. I used to be a yeller, a carouser, the first guy to react. I'm none of those now. But "peace in my voice?"
"I made another person feel at ease. Through my voice, from my heart. I'm not trying to do that, mind you. But it's nice it happened. If one more person stays on the course to a peaceful balanced life, and all I have to do is talk, next time I'm asked to speak, I'll just read out of the phone book. Saves all that time to prepare."
John's pretty funny, too.