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July 1965

Learning to Relax

When I was a small boy living in the city of New Orleans, a tropical hurricane practically wrecked the city, but my home was untouched. After the storm, my father and I were walking in Audubon Park, surrounded by the casualties of the gale. Giant live oak trees lay on all sides, uprooted after centuries of leafy grandeur. We came to a small grove of willow trees and these relatively tender saplings were not uprooted, were not even damaged, but swayed gently in the breeze that was the aftermath of the storm. My father said to me: "They lived, for they were able to bend with the power of the wind. The oaks could not do this and they died."

That is essentially what the AA admonition to stop fighting everything and everybody means to me. As an alcoholic I have come to know that I must learn to relax with the tensions of life, or they would destroy me. In short, there are forces in life far more powerful than I--alcohol is one of them--against which it is suicide to struggle. So, I must accept this parade of powers as something I cannot change. To fight forces more powerful than I is to beat the air in frustrating futility. I stopped fighting and, lo, the enemy has retreated, the compulsion to drink has gone away.

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