In this episode, I speak with David S., a stand-up comedian in the Kanas City area who has been sober for thirty-seven years at the time of this recording. We talk about his recovery, the challenges of being a secular person in AA, his thoughts about agnostic AA meetings, and how he got involved with performing comedy.
00:00 John: AA Beyond Belief is a podcast by, for, and about people who have found a secular path to sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous.
00:26 John: When our group had to move our meetings online because of the Coronavirus pandemic, I was concerned that the group might not hold together. Not everyone likes online meetings, and in fact, I’ve found that the attendance of the meetings has dropped a bit since we’ve had to go online. However, there have been some silver linings behind the clouds. There have been some positive benefits to going online, and one of those being that I’ve been able to meet our guest for this episode, David S.
00:52 John: He’s from the KC Metro area but a little too far away for our meeting place to attend our in-person meetings, but since going online, he’s been a regular and as I got to know a little bit about him, I wanted to know more. So today he’s here, and you will have the pleasure of getting to know him too. Hello David, welcome to AA Beyond Belief.
01:11 Dave: Hello. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your podcast. I’m really looking forward to this.
01:15 John: Oh, it’s nice to have you here. So I guess you’ve listened to a couple of episodes so you kind of know what we do here. As I told you earlier, it’ll be you sharing your story, and then I’ll be interrupting you with rude comments [chuckle] along the way, but it’d be interesting to know your background, so maybe we can just follow our standard AA formula a little bit if you could go through your story. When did you start drinking, when did it interfere with your life? What was it like, Dave?
01:45 Dave: Well, before we get started, I do have one question. Do I have to be wearing pants?
01:50 John: You do not have to wear pants.
01:52 Dave: Oh, good to know. Okay.
01:53 John: You do not have to wear pants.
01:56 Dave: I’ll be right back.
01:57 John: Okay.
02:00 Dave: I started drinking, actually, late in life. I was raised without a drink in the house. I started drinking a little bit, but it was the late ’70s when I started drinking, and I found out that it was magical, and it took care of all my worries. At that point, we had moved to Kansas City, and I was working in a liquor store, a store that sold beer and wine and occasionally there would be an accident in the cooler and one of the cans of beer would get damaged, and so they would put it aside and there was this box of what we called bent beer and they said “If you want, just take one of those and you can take that home ’cause we can’t sell it.” So I started doing that and that was my second job.
02:54 Dave: So when I got home, I was tired and man, that beer really hit the spot and then I started doing it more and more frequently and then with more and more quantity and pretty soon, it was every night and weekends and it was… It always worked until one time it didn’t. I was at a company picnic and a beer truck pulled up to the picnic. Now when I say a beer… It wasn’t a truck with cans or bottles of beer, it was a truck that had a giant keg on the back and spigots on the side and you can just walk up and help yourself. So that bad boy pulled up to the picnic and I said well, here’s an interesting challenge [chuckle] let’s see if we can empty this thing.
03:49 Dave: So I don’t remember driving home, I don’t remember anything the rest of the day. Apparently, in a blackout, I had gone and bought more alcohol. I bought a jug of wine, which I don’t recall and I woke up the next morning and I said to my wife “I think I have a problem.” Actually, she reminded me that the first thing I said was “Where are the kids?” Because at this company picnic, I had all three kids with me.
04:20 John: Oh wow!
04:21 Dave: Yeah and the second thing I said was “I think I have a problem.”
04:25 John: Wow!
04:25 Dave: And yeah, I’ve since asked my daughter, my oldest daughter how I did driving home and she said “Well, you stayed between the lines most of the time.”
04:37 John: Wow! Oh poor thing. Yeah.
04:39 Dave: I said “Well that’s good.” [chuckle] that’s good, I didn’t…
04:44 John: That reminds me of how I drank. I would also black out and I would have… For me, it was the next day, I was paranoid that I had done something really awful and that people had seen me and that I would be discovered at work, was always the thing for me. So I… Man, I can totally relate to that feeling and so you had that experience of oh gosh, I guess the fear of your being out of control, putting your family at risk and you realized that was it.
05:19 Dave: Yes and it was very, very scary. Fortunately, in the neighborhood we knew a couple, both of whom were in AA and so the wife Barbara was able to help my wife get into Al-Anon and also help me get into AA. So she was pivotal in our success right from the beginning. So I just remember within 10 days, vowing never to drink again. I was out in the yard doing yard work and it was a hot day and I was sweating and I finally finished up all the chores and I looked up and I said “Man, wouldn’t five or six beers taste good right now.” and I said, that may be alcoholic thinking.
06:10 Dave: Most guys would just say “Wouldn’t a beer taste good [chuckle] right now?” And I was thinking maybe wouldn’t a six-pack taste good right now. So yeah, I had all the symptoms so I started going to AA and they described the symptoms of the disease and I had them. There was very little doubt in my mind that I had it.
06:32 John: What did you think about the first AA meeting?
06:34 Dave: Well, the very first one was a smoking meeting. I got there late. I had to leave early ’cause I had trouble breathing and I was getting a headache.
06:41 John: What group was it?
06:43 Dave: That was the North Kansas City.
06:45 John: Ah, I know the group. I actually used to go to that group a lot in my early days.
06:49 Dave: Seriously, they’re above a bar.
06:51 John: That’s right. [laughter] Above a bar.
06:54 Dave: So every time you go to that meeting, you need to go left to right.
06:56 John: Right. [chuckle] There’s probably been a few people that walked in the wrong door. Too bad.
07:02 Dave: Yeah. Every time, it’s a decision.
07:05 John: Yeah.
07:07 Dave: But anyway, I couldn’t… They said “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.” so I didn’t. Then I found out that that was… The reason that Barbara had suggested that group is that that’s the one she went to. It turns out there was an AA hall within a mile and a half of where we lived and so not wanting to be late again, I got there a half hour early. [chuckle] Not ’cause I thought “Well, I better go now.” So I just sat around for half hour and that was Parkhill, the Parkhill group. Very welcoming, very comforting, very open and I just started going there and then, basically, have not stopped. I’ve gone to meetings all over the place but I keep coming back to my home group.
07:56 John: That’s cool. How long has it been, Dave?
08:00 Dave: I sobered up in August of ’83.
08:02 John: Oh my goodness.
08:03 Dave: Yeah. So it’s been a couple of days. I’m coming up on, I think if I’m doing the arithmetic right, at 37th AA anniversary is coming up. Oh a couple of months, hello.
08:15 John: Okay.
08:15 Dave: It creeps up on you. Yeah. So I had… When I came in, I did… That was not my intent. I didn’t intend to stay sober for [chuckle] 37 years.
08:23 John: No. I didn’t either. [chuckle] I started in ’88.
08:27 Dave: Oh, good for you.
08:28 John: Yeah and they were also smoking at that time. They didn’t stop smoking until what? Was it the late ’90s or the early 2000s? [laughter] It was a long time and they went kicking and screaming and they did not wanna stop smoking.
08:40 Dave: Oh yeah. At Parkhill, there was a splinter group that is still smoking. In fact, we call their group… Their nickname is The Smoke House. [laughter] ‘Cause you go in, there’s just billows of smoke pouring…
08:50 John: Oh God, I know, I know. I don’t know how we did it actually. I mean, I used to go to P3 and the… Oh the smoke was like a heavy fog that would just hang in the room. I mean seriously, everything was… It was very foggy and then, I would smell. I probably smelled like I was in a bar wherever I went.
09:10 Dave: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. I didn’t like that in the basement of a church where as the meeting went on, the cloud would start lowering. [chuckle] You’d look up and here it comes.
09:21 John: Well, one group started a fire in their church and then the church threw them out. [chuckle] Do you remember that?
09:25 Dave: No.
09:27 John: Yeah. It was… I can’t remember the… It was Bill’s friends. Yeah, they used to meet at a church. Anyway. So listeners, you’re getting a lot of local flavor here [chuckle] talking about our groups in Kansas, KC but, you know, Dave so you found our group as a secular group. Did you have or do you have any issues with just the nature of the steps and the language of AA and have you noticed any change in it over time?
09:55 Dave: Yeah. The language did not really become an issue until recently. I had been to a couple of year of secular meetings… A couple of secular meetings because I was interested and as far as I could tell, it was the same. I don’t go to get religion. I go to stay sober so that was, you know, mission accomplished but Carmen, Xavier is the one who really got me more interested and the pandemic has been a godsend.
10:37 John: Right.
10:41 Dave: Yeah. An opportunity for me to go to more secular meetings so it really has met a need. In fact, I’m one of these people that is reluctant to mention that I’m an agnostic or atheist at a regular AA meeting because I think it’s… It really would… I think serves no purpose.
11:04 John: Right.
11:05 Dave: Because that’s not why they’re there but I just feel right at home in a secular meeting and the one thing that saved my bacon was my very first AA meeting, we had a woman who had been sober a long, long time, I think, five years at the time [chuckle] and her nickname was Mother Superior because she would just lay down the law and it was really… You couldn’t argue with her so it was… So in my very first meeting, Mother Superior said “Don’t worry about the God shit.”
11:39 John: Okay [chuckle] there you go.
11:41 Dave: So I said “Yes ma’am.” and I saluted and moved off smartly.
11:45 John: Well, they told me that early on too. They told me not to get too hung up on that, that my higher power quote could be whatever I wanted it to be and they just encouraged me to go to meetings and it really wasn’t until I got into P3 and the Big Book, that it got a little bit more regimented, I guess if that’s the right word to use but what is it that happened recently that made it… Or is there anything that happened recently that caused you to maybe have a little issue with the language?
12:22 Dave: Well, a couple of things. One, I work for a company that had a subsidiary in Singapore and Singapore is a very cosmopolitan city with all kinds of races and cultural backgrounds and religions and so with their AA meetings, they don’t close with The Lord’s Prayer, they close with the Serenity Prayer and I said “Hmm, now that you mention it that is a Christian prayer. It’s not a prerequisite to be a Christian to be an alcoholic, by any stretch.” So that was the first chink in the armor and then the other thing was that I always felt… There was a guy in a meeting one time who made a comment about worshipping false Gods and I said “How can that even be. If everybody comes in with their own concept of “God” how can there possibly be any “false Gods.” That just makes no sense whatsoever and I think that was the final straw when I realized that I had just been putting up with these comments that “I prayed to God and my car started.” people. I’d just been tolerating them for a long time and that was I… That’s the one, the comment that really started me thinking. I was like “What? What? What am I doing?” and the thing that appeals to me about the Agnostics and Free Thinkers meeting is that you don’t start by reading the traditions, you don’t…
14:05 John: How it works.14:06 Dave: Yeah, you modified… Yeah and it’s just… But it freed me up. It freed me up to say anything I wanted and to express my doubts and not be worried about having somebody pull me aside at the end of the meeting and say “Which is it? Either God is all or God is nothing.” I said “No, no, no. There’s actually a third path.” My God could be orderly direction. You can be a good person and not have a deity. Those things are not… Those things can be mutually exclusive.
14:43 John: At P3 they would read “How it works.” but the group did have a pretty good sense of humor. So during the time… And it was for me way into my sobriety, when I realized I was an atheist and I started really kinda figuring this program out in a secular way, a very practical approach to it and a lot of people at P3 didn’t really have a problem with it and when they would read “how it works” it would increasingly bother me more and more and more but then I started reciting back to it. So when they’d get to the part that would say ‘There is one who has all power, that one is God. May you find him now.’ and I would always say ‘Or not.’
15:20 John: I did say that and they put up with it. People would laugh and everything. It was not… I could get away with stuff like that but what kinda started bothering me a little bit is, I would sometimes directly contradict some of the things in the “12 and 12” that specifically addressed atheism and so forth, that I thought was wrong and I did insist that I didn’t need any sort of a higher power and I think that that language is kinda just… People didn’t quite understand what I was talking about. I could call my higher power something else. I could call it “the group.” but anyway. That’s when I realized I needed to go start this group “We Agnostics.” Yeah but I didn’t have any… It wasn’t like any… I didn’t have any anger or animosity towards the group when I left. It was just…
16:09 Dave: No. That was… I’m the same. That was never… I didn’t leave in a huff, you know?
16:15 John: No, no. I didn’t either. There’s only a very few people that ever gave me a problem and a lot of the problem may have been my own imagination, to be honest with you, my perception of what people might have been thinking.
16:28 Dave: Right, because once you open that door, or once I opened the door, I started noticing people making these comments about God that really did not jive at all and yeah so no, I did not leave in anger, you know, ‘He arrived in a Chevrolet and left in a Huff.’
16:48 John: Yeah.
16:49 Dave: Not like the smokers, you know? They stormed out.
16:51 John: Oh they did. That was like a civil war at P3.
16:55 Dave: Yeah. Yeah yeah. It wasn’t anything like that. It was more of a gradual and then… At a meeting one time a guy said, ‘My God has skin.’ Meaning he relied… His… The group was his…
17:09 John: Oh that makes sense, yeah.
17:11 Dave: And I said ‘That makes a lot of sense to me.’ Because I always came out of a meeting feeling better than when I went into the meeting and it was… So it was magic for me.
17:23 John: Yeah, I still do and when I go to the online meetings I feel the same way. I do miss the face-to-face meetings but I have to admit, when I go to the online meetings, I leave with a smile, generally. I usually have a good feeling about me when I leave those meetings and it’s nice to see people, you know?
17:39 Dave: Yeah, no question. Yeah, I love the online meetings.
17:43 John: Yeah. So let’s talk about your recovery a little bit. I’m sure you’ve been around for so long that it has probably evolved and changed over time.
17:53 Dave: Absolutely. Well, early on I would pray a lot. You know they said, ‘Get on your knees. Put your shoes under your bed so in the morning you have to get on your knees and pray and while you’re down there getting your shoes.’ And I did all the things they recommended. They said ‘Pray to a doorknob.’ I did that one time.
18:09 John: Oh really?
18:10 Dave: The ‘Express your anger at God.’ and I did and it’s a horrible feeling but it got it out. So I basically was a good Marine. They told me to do something, I’d do it. I’m what the medical profession calls “compliant.” They’ll tell me to do something and I’ll do it. One time I broke my ankle and they said ‘Put it in a cast.’ They said ‘Don’t put any weight on it.’ So I didn’t. I hobbled around and would go up and down the stairs on my butt to avoid putting weight on it and I forget, maybe three weeks later… A couple of weeks later, they came and changed the cast and they said ‘Did you put any weight on it?’ And I said, ‘Well one time I tripped and fell going in a door and I may have put some weight on it on my way down unintentionally.’ And they said ‘That’s it?’ [laughter] And I said “Well, you told me… ” I said, ‘Well, you told me not to.’ They said, ‘Yeah but nobody does.’
19:11 Dave: So basically I’m pretty good at following instructions. Yeah, they would tell me to do things and I would but it’s only very recently that I felt comfortable getting off of the standard AA path into the agnostics and it’s actually been hard… Oh, the other thing I wanted to mention was “The Lord’s Prayer” at the end. The only part of “The Lord’s Prayer” that I say is the middle third because the first third and the last third are dogma. “Our Father.” meh. “Who art in heaven,’ meh, you know?
19:48 Dave: Is it a father or is it a mother, or is it without gender? Is there a heaven? I don’t know. Anyway, forgive us our trespasses. Okay, that’s right. I pick up this bread. So that’s the only part of The Lord’s Prayer I’ve been saying for… That has been going on a long, long time.
20:08 John: Well, you have to say, even The Lord’s Prayer, I’m a total atheist and I have a natural view of the world but I do see some good things. There’s a positive sentiment in the prayer, I don’t think that it belongs at an AA meeting but yeah, what’s wrong with forgiving others as they forgive you? I think that’s a good…
20:30 Dave: Sure.
20:31 John: Good way to live.
20:32 Dave: Oh, like I mentioned earlier, good orderly direction. One time at a meeting a guy said he lived in the country and between the meeting and his house was a stop sign for him and he lived out in the country and it was black, black dark when he went home. So he knew if there were any other cars coming but he didn’t see any headlights. Instead of running the stop sign, he would stop and then continue on his way and he said that he did that every time as a reminder to himself for good, orderly direction and I took that to heart and I mentioned that to one of my good friends in AA, Charlotte, that the good, orderly direction is my concept of God and then she went off, she said “Oh, no, no, you’re a very godly person. You take people to meetings, you visit the people there, shut in. You do… So you’re a very godly person.” and to which I responded “Charlotte lies. She lies like a rug. She lies about her weight, she lies about her height, she’ll lie about stuff, just to keep in practice.” [chuckle] No but… So you can still be a good person without faith, without a specific set of beliefs.
22:00 John: So in your early days, you went through the program just as probably they suggested that probably at your group, as it did at mine, you probably used the big book, had a sponsor, kinda went through the steps and all that?
22:11 Dave: Yeah, that I’ve used actually the 12 and 12 for my four-step. It has two pages of nothing but questions so I put a question at the top of the page and then would try to answer it and sometimes I’d fill half a page and sometimes several pages.
22:26 John: Yeah, that’s not a bad format really and some people don’t realize there are the two ways of doing it, you’ve got the big… Well, anyway you can do it any way you want to or not do it at all but yeah, you’ve got the 12 and 12 and you’ve got the big book. I did the big book way where you list your resentments and so forth but yeah, either way.
22:44 Dave: And the thing that occurred to me recently is that after you do step five, you’re supposed to go home and do steps six and seven. The thing is in the big book, steps six and seven is like a paragraph.
23:00 John: I know.
23:02 Dave: So I went home, they said “Okay, read the next section of the big book.” So a good little marine, I saluted and moved out smartly, went home, read the next paragraph and at the end of the… And the following… The paragraph after that, it says “Now having taken step seven.” and I said “Woah! Wait, time out! Holding, Green Bay. 10 Yard. What just happened?” It just blew by me and I said “Okay, let’s do step eight then. Let’s get going here.” Yeah so that was… That one kinda snuck up on me. I’m glad it did because that would have been a huge hang-up for me.
23:40 John: Oh yeah. It’s funny, I think it’s actually a hang-up for everybody, even those who might actually have a belief because I… And I’ve said this a million times on this podcast that any time I would attend a meeting where the discussion was step six and seven, invariably more than a couple of people would say “Well, God just hasn’t removed my character defects yet.” [chuckle] It just… It’s like, that was always the it. It was like they asked God to do it but he just didn’t do it. They still have these character defects but they’re working on them but what I find interesting now, those steps actually, six and seven, when I really think about them, those are really important steps for me now because for me, I take a real practical look at them where these are the steps where I really start working on things about me that I’ve learned, that I want to change, that I want to improve on. This is where I’m seeking help, outside help; this is where I’m working on improving just as a human being. It’s something we all do.
24:48 Dave: The thing that… Yes. I’m coming on that, in the big book, it says, we know but a little and so I have… Have I gone to counseling? Yes. Do I use anti-depressants? Yes. Somebody said something about don’t be so open-minded, your brains fall out. Don’t be taking this stuff without a grain of salt so yes, I have sought outside help. Don’t feel bad about that one bit. The AA program opened the door for me for other possibilities so I will always be grateful for them for saving my marriage, saving my relationship with my children, saving my life, saving my job, everything.
25:42 John: I have to agree.
25:42 Dave: Opening me up to these wonderful opportunities. I now do stand-up comedy.
25:48 John: I know, I wanted to talk about that.
25:50 Dave: I’ve always been a smart ass. In fact, my brother said “One day your mouth will write a check your body can’t cash.” [chuckle] and so far it hadn’t happened so…
26:03 John: So when did you get into comedy?
26:05 Dave: Well, I’ve always been silly. I was a teacher and I would teach using jokes and it’s… ‘Cause I was teaching math and statistics so I used it to kind of take that fear out of the room and when my wife came down with Alzheimer’s, I was able to care for her for several years before it got to the point where I could no longer and she went into the nursing home and my son, bless his heart, had taken up stand-up comedy and he said “Dad, you should come over and do an open mic.” and I said “Yeah.” So I will always be grateful to my son for introducing me to stand-up comedy and I liked it and got some laughs so that has been… It’s been therapy, it’s been a distraction while my wife continued to go down that path, Alzheimer’s. ‘Cause once you have it, that’s it. One lady said, one counselor said “You either die with it or from it. It does not go away.” So once she started going down that path, comedy became a wonderful release, wonderful release for me.
27:24 John: Yeah, it’s really an art form, isn’t it?
27:27 Dave: Oh absolutely, yeah and see in open mic, you can say anything you want. Absolutely anything. Because it’s art. You can’t restrict art. It’s free expression.
27:40 John: Yeah. I’ve interviewed a couple of comedians and I sometimes… I’m just intrigued by comedy because I had a sponsor who you know, who was a comedian and I saw him perform a few times and he’s always kind of a funny guy. He has a good sense of humor and everything just in his regular, normal life but when he was on stage, he’s also funny but in a different way. It was like you could really see the performance, you could really see the effort that he put into it, the focus that he put into it, to that act and so I really can appreciate just that there’s a lot of… A lot of serious thought goes into comedy. It’s not like just as natural as just being you, is it?
28:31 Dave: The difference between being silly and being a stand-up comedian is being silly, you can just be extemporaneous and just say stuff that occurs to you but if you perform, you have to… I have to work on that concept, that silly concept and shape it and mold it and change the wording and change the sentences around until it’s funny start to finish. Let me see. I’m trying to think of an example of that. Oh, it’s the one about, I was out walking one day and I saw a symbol that had been drawn by one of the utility companies on the sidewalk, where they’re gonna be putting in, I don’t know, street lights or something, I don’t know and I said “Man, that looks like a gang symbol.” So I had this funny thought and I have finally after, I don’t know, two months, I finally had that down to a 30 seconds of comedy but it took that amount of time to mold it and move stuff around and change the wording until I felt real comfortable with that little bit. Would you like to hear it?
29:44 John: Yeah, please do.
29:46 Dave: Alright. So when I was a teenager, I was in a gang. We called ourselves The Electrical Workers Union 4-12. Our gang color was bright orange. We would wear hard hats backwards because we were rebels. Our gang symbol was the same symbol electric companies used to indicate “We’re gonna install a street light.” I’ll tell you our neighborhood was very well-lit.
30:16 John: That’s really good.
30:18 Dave: Thank you. That little piece right there started with that symbol on the ground and it took a good two months before I could feel comfortable making that a routine so yes, it does require thought. You just can’t get up there and be silly.
30:34 John: So how would you characterize your comedy? Is there a certain style of comedy that you perform?
30:41 Dave: And I’ve always… Because of my training in the classroom, I don’t tell dirty jokes at all ’cause that would not… That would get you fired. [chuckle]
30:50 John: Yeah, yeah, sure.
30:51 Dave: In the classroom, that’s not good. So I just focused on just doing the comedy I’ve always done, which is silly and non-offensive and not trying to make a point or anything.
31:04 John: And do you usually perform around here or do you travel?
31:07 Dave: Well I have met three professional comedians who have taken me under their wing. The first is Rod Reyes, who was from New York City, where he did stand-up comedy for years. He took me with him to do some professional performances and then William Clifton, whose stage name is Will C, he founded a group called The Veterans of Comedy, who are military veterans who are also comedians. He took me under his wing and also recently, Michael Joiner, who is a Christian comedian and these three guys, they performed nationwide and for some reason, they have taken me with them to do 15 minutes while they do an hour of comedy.
32:00 John: That’s great.
32:00 Dave: And I will always be grateful to them but as a result, I have performed in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado but none of that’s my doing. It’s all these other three comedians that just dragged me along with them.
32:22 John: Well that’s great. That’s great. Yeah, there’s… I guess when you get to work with other comedians so there’s almost like a kind of a bonding, a fellowship there, isn’t there?
32:33 Dave: Well yeah, especially if you’re driving to a gig and it’s eight hours away, you’re gonna have some time. [chuckle]
32:39 John: Yeah. Dave used to tell me some funny stories. Sometimes he’d have an annoying companion that he’d have to drive with, [chuckle] drive to North Dakota with or something but yeah. For me anyway, to have some sort of a creative outlet and it’s my recovery that has definitely made that possible. I’ve always been kind of a creative type of a person but when I was drinking, that was certainly stymied. There was nothing I could do and then for a long time in my recovery, it was putting my life back together but once my life got back together and that took a long time, once I kinda got together, I was able to focus on things that I really enjoy and the podcasting is what my great love is today, meeting people like you and doing this and trying to improve upon it all the time. I would encourage anybody who’s in recovery, you have a lot more time now that you’re not drinking and using and it’s nice to find a good use for that time that isn’t necessarily involve work but something you really enjoy. I think it’s important.
33:50 Dave: Oh yeah, absolutely, yeah. In my earlier sobriety, I described it as “I got my peripheral vision back.” When I… Alcohol is a depressant and I found out after I quit, that I was actually… I had tunnel vision. I was always looking down, looking straight ahead and once I was able to get that depressant out of my system, I was looking up and looking to the side, it was a very freeing experience.
34:14 John: Yeah. When I was drinking, of course, I was young and my drinking period was a short period of time but I didn’t really have… I didn’t have any friends really. I wasn’t really learning anything from other people, I wasn’t getting any new information in my head and that was one thing that I noticed that I really liked about getting involved in AA and at that time, when I was getting involved, there were other people that were like me in my age group and so I was able to have friends, do things, learn from them and it kinda helped me with my growth but that was a real important part of my recovery I think, was just that social aspect.
34:52 Dave: Right, right. Absolutely, yeah. I would go home, go down to the basement and drink. That was my evening’s entertainment.
35:00 John: Yeah, I can relate to that and I’m glad that we both have outlets outside of that today. So Dave, thank you again for coming on the podcast. It’s been great getting to know you and I look forward to getting to know you better as time goes on. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we’ll be able to meet face-to-face again and who knows, maybe someday we can start one up in your neck of the woods too. I don’t know how well it would go but you never know but you’re right, the meetings are just like any other meeting, it’s just that we don’t open and close with a prayer; but other than that, you’ll hear the same sort of talk that you would hear at any other kind of a meeting as far as this, the practical things that we do to stay sober and that social aspect as well.
35:46 Dave: Right, absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely.
35:48 John: Do you have any final thoughts, Dave?
35:50 Dave: I really do not, other than to just thank you so much for inviting me to be part of this podcast. What you’re doing, I think, here is wonderful and it has helped me and hopefully we can help some others.
36:00 John: Yeah. Well, thank you. So with that… I love this. [chuckle] and that’s it. That’s another episode of AA Beyond Belief, The Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. It was great to have you here, Dave. Thank you for joining me and speaking with me. We’ll put a link to Dave’s website up on our show notes so that you can visit his website and also, should you like to contribute to AA Beyond Belief, we could use the help. You can do that in a couple of ways. Our Patreon site, patreon.com/aabeyondbelief, just sign up for a dollar or $5 a month is great and more if you want to and you can also donate at PayPal at paypal.me/aabeyondbelief or just go to our website aabeyondbelief.org and click on the Donate button. If you can’t, that’s fine. We just do this for the fun of it and… But if you can, it helps a lot. So thanks everybody, that’s it. Bye-bye.