“Service work.” I really hate that term. There's no depth to it, it's just "stuff that has to be done." I guess I can accept that when it is expected to be as such; empty trash, make coffee, setup/teardown rooms for meetings, greet people, etc., etc. If you've been in a 12-step program, you'll know what I'm talking about. I guess if we want to compare it to “changing the oil” or “doing laundry,” I could make more sense of it.
But I think that “service work” is a misused term. So one of my sponsors challenged me to redefine it.
“Service work” feels (to me) like it is forced work. “I have to do this in order to keep my sobriety" (fixing a flat tire). It’s doing something with the expectation of getting something back (now I can drive). Can’t it be done just because it needed to be done, no return expected? Because we CARE? (I fixed my neighbor's flat tire, and now they can get to work.) I get that not all things are enjoyable. Sometimes, they're just downright awful. (Please don't tell my neighbor I can unclog toilets!) I get that. Maybe it’s an attitude thing. I don’t know. To me, when I have to do something, especially when I’m told “to keep it, I HAVE TO give it away,” it makes it feel so much more selfish. Isn’t that what we’re trying to get AWAY from? Self centeredness?
I get that we have to take care of ourselves first — hence the “selfish programs.” That only makes sense. However, I’ve found in my life that if I do it because it NEEDS to be done, and I don’t expect anything back — I get it back anyway. I don’t need to wish for, or even hope for, it to come back.
It’s like giving out your last twenty bucks to someone that you know will never repay you, but they were out of gas. I don’t know, maybe I just can’t explain this one. I’ve struggled with that term from day one — it just doesn’t register on a likable level with me. I mean, I fully comprehend it and what is trying to be accomplished, but — it has no depth to it, it is just “service work.”
I pondered this for a very long time. I reasoned, I thought, I listed, I rewrote — but every time, I ended back to “service work.” I just can’t find a better phrase — not for lack of trying, though. I guess what it ultimately boils down to is the attitude behind the service work being rendered; if it is done because I want to, with no expectations of anything coming back to me, then it is what is. Otherwise, I've begun to realize that it is a training tool to help us get from "forced to do" with an expectation of return, to "it simply needs done" and an expectation of nothing.
I think the reality is that the authors of the statement, in their original context, had probably already worked through the plethora of terms that could be associated with what needed to be accomplished: service work. I guess I should let the experts do what they do, and just follow the beaten path.
Gratitude - Day 13 (Friday (early Saturday AM))
I'm grateful for islands.
When I finally got to the outpatient treatment center, I had a counselor there that used to tell me to "look for the islands." She was referring to small, enjoyable things that I could look forward to in a week. These little islands were short, attainable goals.
It has taken me roughly two years, and this may sound trivial, but in my world, I assure you, it is not:
I'm glad that I had some friends I could go hang out with for a few hours on a Friday night, typically my hardest night of the week.
I'm thankful for my islands, and the friends that visit them with me.