The Student and the Coffeepot by Mark Masserant

Mark Masserant

Dig the well before you are thirsty.
Chinese Proverb

Back in my darker ages, I was rarely motivated. It wasn’t a stretch to think I was under-exerting myself. Relaxing, listening to music and watching TV were my favorite past-times. Unfortunately, they weren’t ambulatory, and my wife got them confused with being lazy; she was very narrow-minded when I was in my dormant period. She thought I looked like a crash test dummy for a La-Z-Boy commercial when I was pasted to the furniture, wasted.

Me? I’d just wonder: Why is it so hard to walk late at night when I’ve been practicing all day?

But what was wrong with me? Mixed with a persistent thinking problem, alcohol blocked any new course of action; fear of failing always prevailed. I frittered away while my dreams were cast aside. My Murphy’s Law Spirituality kept me chained to a dreary existence that wasn’t much to hang my hat on, but it beat the threat of more failure. So I didn’t do anything.

Besides sounding better than lazy, drunk and afraid, it was the perfect storm for alcoholism to fester. My life was a big, neurotic zero that smelled like booze. If nothing changes, nothing changes. And addiction thrives.

The wise person does at once what the fool does finally.
Baltasar Gracian

I finally sobered up in ’87 and everything shook loose. My rock’n’roll lifestyle was abandoned, and friends were left behind. My wife split; I know the grass was greener. I began attending Twelve-Step meetings regularly for my own survival. Before long, it was suggested I participate in my recovery. I decided to join a home group, something I heard mentioned at meetings.

My coffee-making career was put on ice, however. It was hard to admit to the peanut gallery I didn’t know how to make it—wasn’t that entry-level AA stuff I somehow missed? I could bounce a quarter into a glass of beer, tap a keg, and roll a joint one-handed while driving, no problem there. Basically, my drawback was I just didn’t go to parties where we fired-up hundred-cup coffeepots and started slurping.

The longer I waited, the worse it got. Before I knew it, a year passed and I still hadn’t made the stuff. I flew under the radar so long, I thought I was flunking AA.

Finally, my sponsor got me moving. He believed that when the student is ready, the coffeepot will appear. He didn’t care if I thought something would work, or if I understood why it did. He knew I’d stay stuck in my ‘aha position.’ To him, action was not a magic word; if there was any magic involved, it would have to be performed, not spoken. He got me unstuck.

Naturally, my first shot at amateur coffee-making had old-timers wincing and blinking. Whispered gasps from the grapevine hinted it was a little too strong. Later, I gently got the guidance I hadn’t prayed for.

After a minor correction, I opened the meeting again and noticed profound changes in how I felt. Unexpected chats with people who arrived early disarmed me; I didn’t have to impress them. They were likeable and really wanted to help. I stayed after the meetings, and friends were made. They helped me to want to believe in this new life.

Instead of feeling apart from, now I was part of something. I was plugged-in. When I chaired the meeting, I felt useful instead of the ‘useless’ I used to feel. The actions I took, despite the risks, gave me results I hadn’t expected. There was something new to believe in; my track record, littered with failure, no longer dictated my future. See ya, Murphy’s Law.

New methods were discovered when, at another group’s anniversary, I took out the garbage and helped clean up after the event. I was almost as thrilled as they were. They persuaded me to join their group. My world was getting bigger.

Before long, I was giving newcomers rides to meetings, and sponsorship soon followed. I was all in. My life was heading in a new, better direction. Because of service-work and a sponsor’s nudge, a fear disguised as a simple coffee assignment was removed. Well, enlighten me.

Action should culminate in wisdom.
The Bhagavad-Gita

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