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Episode 118: Wally K. | AA Beyond Belief

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This episode features Wally Okay.  from the Atheists, Agnostics, and All Others group in Boise, Idaho. Wally has been sober for 47 years, and that is his story.


Secular AA Meetings in Boise 

Atheists, Agnostics, And All Others Website


00:37 Wally Okay: Thanks for having me, John, I respect this chance. We don’t have loads of speaker meetings here within the higher Boise area, so I look ahead to a chance to do this. It’s all the time constructive for me.

00:51 John S: Yeah, I feel the same. I thank you for taking your time to return on here and share your story with us. It’s necessary, there’s a lot of people on the market who don’t have secular AA meetings, and this type of helps them out fairly a bit.

01:05 Wally Okay: Properly, I definitely have rather a lot to say concerning the secular elements of my sobriety. I don’t have a very thrilling story. I say I’m a garden selection drunk and I was. I used to be born in 1940, so I’ve been around some time, and I took my first critical drink once I was in school as a freshman, in fall of 1957. I don’t… In my household, there’s lots of male alcoholics there. Don’t appear to be any feminine alcoholics. And I knew for an extended, long time that something wasn’t proper, lengthy before I picked up that drink. I all the time felt like I didn’t slot in. I used to be all the time in search of consideration. Constructive attention was good, pat on the back, etcetera. But if I couldn’t get that sort, I’d go for the unfavorable attention.

02:12 Wally Okay: And a very fascinating factor. I was a deportment drawback in high school. Nicely, I was a deportment drawback right through faculty, however I was such a problem in high school that I received black-balled from the Nationwide Honor Society. I feel I’m the only one. A instructor that I singled out for a lot of hazing and disruptions in her class as an eighth grader, ninth grader, she bided her time and when it was 11th grade and we had the enormous tapping of the brand new National Honors Society members, she simply made positive my identify was stricken from the record. So, this was an early signal that I was a set up.

03:08 Wally Okay: Wanting again on it from what I’ve discovered in AA another signal was that I did a geographic remedy before I ever picked up my first drink. To vary places means, in fact, we’re changing individuals, places and issues, it’s just that we drag ourselves along. And so somewhat than keep in Louisville, Kentucky, where I grew up, I went off to school over in Alabama, about 500 miles away considering that things have been going to be higher because I might begin over. It never occurred to me that the one thing that I wanted to start out over was me. Again, I used to be going to start out over individuals, places and things. And that didn’t work because I acquired involved with fraternity rush. And I keep in mind being invited into this one fraternity, they usually put a reasonably little Southern woman underneath one arm, they stuck a beer in one hand and a cigarette between my fingers and away I went. And the beer was implausible. It seemed to short-circuit all that I felt that made me not ok, not acceptable with other individuals. So, I didn’t should be an ideal scholar, I didn’t need to be an athlete. I didn’t need to be anything as long as I might pop a can of beer.

04:50 Wally Okay: And so, there I used to be at age 18 half-way via my freshman yr of school. And I had turn out to be a daily drinker, I consider I used to be an alcoholic earlier than I was 19 years previous. And I started to rely on alcohol. And in school, there have been a whole lot of fascinating individuals. There have been sensible individuals, there have been athletic individuals, there have been clever individuals, and I didn’t really feel like there was anywhere where I might stand out. But once I picked up the drink, I stood out. And when you have been on my aspect of the fence, in fact, I used to be actually standing out. I used to be socially acceptable. I was Mr. Hotshot. Should you have been on the other aspect of the fence, you noticed the garden variety drunk. You noticed Wally making a idiot of himself and being a humiliation to his peers in the fraternity, his associates, the women who would date me, and naturally, in the summertime once I went house, I used to be a humiliation to my household because of what I did with my consuming. Nothing spectacular, just embarrassing, disappointing. And so that’s the best way alcohol was for me as a youngster. I attempted to make use of it like a Superman go well with, however it just wasn’t there for me.

06:41 Wally Okay: This can be a true story, [chuckle] little vignette of Wally, the women’ man. Once I was in a fraternity, I dated several women. And one night time every week, we might have an enormous open home, and all the fraternity boys would deliver their dates in, and we’d have dinner. And a fraternity brother came up to me after one in every of these meals and he stated, “I observed you had a date the other night time with,” I overlook the woman’s identify. I stated, “Yeah, we did. She was a variety of enjoyable.” He stated, “Are you all an item?” I stated, “No.” He stated, “Would you thoughts if I dated her?” I stated, “Definitely.” That’s the best way it was in the fraternity. And it wasn’t 4 months till they have been engaged, and I feel that was because I set the bar so low. After going out with Wally, it was quite a bit simpler to select any person as potential marriage material however… And it ought to have been an indication, it ought to have been an omen to me, however it wasn’t. That occurred two extra occasions in the identical educational yr. I date a woman, convey her to the fraternity home, fraternity brother says, “Might I have a… Might I ask your date out?” I say sure, three months go by, they’re engaged. [chuckle] It made no impression on me in any respect.

08:15 Wally Okay: I had a horrible automotive accident whereas I was in school, and it ought to have been a street signal that I wasn’t doing nicely with consuming. I totaled out my automotive, driving into the aspect of an enormous pine tree at about 60 miles an hour. The pine tree was situated on just a little rise in the midst of the Auburn Cemetery, and it was Easter morning about 3:00 AM, and I used to be in a blackout. So, there have been all these street indicators for me that I didn’t see. By the time I graduated from school, I was in the midst of a horrible, horrible marriage. A marriage made in hell because neither one in every of us, I don’t assume, was responsible, mature, definitely not a very deep thinker.

09:20 Wally Okay: I lived in a fantasy world. My grandparents introduced me to films, and once I was just a little child growing up, I went to 40s films each Friday with my grandparents. It was the John Wayne westerns, Hopalong Cassidy, or it was Richard Widmark and all of those those that projected a picture of a responsible grownup simply grabbing life by the horns. And I assumed once I was in school, perhaps that’s what I needed to do. I wanted to get married. When Richard Widmark and Jane Wyman acquired married, my God! That they had this lovely little ivy-covered cottage and a white picket fence. And he was kicking it at work or as a detective or no matter he was doing or sporting his Navy uniform. And I assumed all of that may come to me if I simply get married. And so, that’s what I did, and once more, Wally made a nasty selection. I really didn’t put much thought into it, and the marriage ended fairly disastrously 10 years later after 4 youngsters.

10:50 Wally Okay: And I took another geographic remedy earlier than we have been divorced. I went from Auburn, Alabama the place we have been dwelling. I took my family to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I acquired into the enterprise of designing gasoline for nuclear submarines. That was a fun job, it really was. I used to be qualified for it. I had a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. The Grasp’s diploma was in all probability one other one in every of my geographic cures. If I get enough schooling, I’ll be Mr. Hotshot. But I knew I was on the end of my string after my master’s diploma. But at Pittsburg, I really enjoyed the work. It was technical, and I met numerous actually gifted individuals. I met people who have been sensible, and I had fantastic friends, and if I needed them, mentors. However whereas I was doing this fun work, I was also consuming so much. Properly, one other time for it was time for an additional geographic remedy. I was, at the time, about 28 or 29, and I satisfied Westinghouse that I wanted to be on this particular workforce to refuel a nuclear-powered plane service down in Norfolk, Virginia; Newport News, that space. They usually took me up on a deal and despatched me down there. No one knew about my consuming. I’m positive the general public would haven’t slept too properly at night time if they knew Wally the drunk was down there enjoying games on a nuclear-powered aircraft service. And I had a number of authority as a subject engineer. I received by way of that task okay, they usually, Westinghouse then despatched me to…

13:02 Wally Okay: The city of Groton, Connecticut, where they made submarines, and I turned a subject engineer for nuclear-powered submarines. And this undoubtedly was not very sensible of Admiral Rickover and the nuclear Navy, but I hid my consuming fairly properly. But as I had mentioned earlier, as a garden variety drunk, I had hooked up myself to some very nefarious characters. Some have been sailors on the submarines I worked on. Some have been shipyard staff that I worked with. Some have been simply sleazy individuals I met within the bars. And I had a nasty habit of consuming often from Friday night time all through to Monday morning, getting simply enough sleep to perform.

14:00 Wally Okay: Properly, I was attracting a variety of consideration, and one night time, oh, it was about 2:00 AM, I was working on a submarine. I assume it was fall, it was a bit chilly. The submarine was tied up next to the pier there in Groton. And my boss showed up on the pier at 2:00 AM and asked me to return up out of the submarine and have slightly speak with him. And he stated that he had been getting studies of the characters I was hanging with. Now, this was pretty critical as a result of my job required a safety clearance. Heck, I used to be engaged on nuclear reactors on the submarines, they usually have been essential to national security. So, he talked concerning the individuals I hung with, he talked about my consuming, he talked about the fact that at work, I wasn’t holding up my end of the seesaw, that I used to be unaware of my job and I was in all probability a hazard. And I informed my boss, John, I stated, “For those who don’t like the best way I do things, John, we’ve got workplaces in a number of shipyards. Simply switch me.” And John looked at me, I still keep in mind, this was my aha moment. John stated to me, “Wally, I don’t cross the trash.”

15:40 Wally Okay: Now, as you observed, I don’t have any hassle speaking. It’s all the time coming out of the pie gap, but when my boss stated that, for the primary time I can ever keep in mind, I used to be speechless. I know my mouth was opened; it wasn’t even shifting. Now, I didn’t know what my drawback was, but I knew instantaneously when he stated that, one thing was really dangerous, fallacious because I had all the time managed to sidestep any second like that in my life. But John’s remark really set me back on my heels, and I knew that there was one thing dangerous, improper that would value me my job, and I didn’t equate it with my consuming. Fortuitously, I had a pal within the trailer park where I lived; I was dwelling by myself on the time. My wife did not need to have anything to do with me, so she had stayed in Virginia once I obtained transferred as much as the submarine yard. So, I was dwelling by myself, and I had a pal, Lloyd, who was a retired navy chief from submarines. And one night time, Lloyd requested me if I’d wish to go to a buffet with him. And so, I stated, “Positive, let’s go.” And we went to a place referred to as Starlite Farm up north of Groton. It was a very, very high-end, drying out place and rehab. In the present day, its identify is Stonington something or different. It’s modified, nevertheless it’s nonetheless there.

17:38 Wally Okay: And so, we had an exquisite, fantastic buffet, and afterwards, we went to an AA assembly. This was my first AA assembly, and there have been in all probability 75 individuals there in this auditorium; was a speaker meeting, in fact, that measurement. And I sat there and listened to the speaker. And while he was talking, he was on a raised platform. The 12 steps and 12 traditions have been on some nice, huge panels that hung down behind the speaker, and I used to be studying, particularly the steps. And I listened to him, and it made a lot sense to me. And I assumed, “If solely I have been an alcoholic, but I’m not.” [chuckle] I used to be ninja-level denial at that point. And so, it appeared to me that until I discovered where I wanted to be, however I noticed AA work for drunks, so I needed something for my specific drawback, and I stated, “I’m powerless over humanity.” I replaced the phrase “alcohol”, “alcoholic” within the steps; I feel it seems 3 times. I stated, “I’m powerless over humanity.” God solely is aware of what meaning, nevertheless it was sufficient foolishness to get me house that night time.

19:18 Wally Okay: And I continued to drink, but I continued to go back to that AA meeting as a result of I knew that if AA might assist a drunk, there have to be one thing for people who find themselves powerless over humanity. [chuckle] And lo and behold, there have been a few actually good dialogue meetings, certainly one of which was closed, but they didn’t have any hassle inviting me. I assumed it was my dynamic character, however I feel they saw any person that, you realize the one-legged man with rubber crutches, so [chuckle] they had to do what they might do, they usually did a bit of outreach. I stored going to the meetings and I never doubted that AA might assist individuals get sober. I picked that up immediately as a result of being an engineer, once I go to the conferences and see all these sober individuals, they usually weren’t just individuals, they have been knowledge factors, and there were plenty of knowledge points in Southeastern Connecticut that stated AA works.

20:37 Wally Okay: One man, I used to be listening to at least one night time and it was on the Starlite Farm, Stonington, no matter immediately, this man was speaking, and as he advised his story, it paralleled mine. Now he was about 10 years older than me, and his story began 10 years before mine did, however aside from the 10-year gap, the tales have been very comparable about our consuming patterns, our emotions. And when he obtained to the point in his life the place he was, that corresponded to where I was, sitting there within the viewers, his story continued on. And he experienced lack of job, he experienced going to jail, he experienced rehabs and family down the tubes, and a variety of other horrible things. And it occurred to me, what he’s sharing that night time was previews of coming points of interest for me if I stored on with my conduct. And so, I stated, “I’m wondering if I could possibly be an alcoholic.” Nicely, back then, this was 1971 perhaps. Back then, there was an previous noticed, “Should you don’t assume you’re an alcoholic, attempt consuming.” So, I went to a vacation meal and I had a glass of wine, and about 20 minutes later, it was like I used to be itching on the inside. I had in fact dropped off into withdrawal. I had twisted the tiger’s tail, and now the tiger, he needed me to scratch him behind the ears once more, and I noticed my sample. Once I was enjoying with the tiger, I needed to scratch his ears every 20 minutes until I used to be horizontal. [chuckle]

22:49 Wally Okay: And so that was what satisfied me that lo and behold, I wasn’t powerless over humanity, I used to be just a drunk. I used to be an alcoholic. Thankfully for me, I was a perfect match for AA. Back then, there weren’t many rehabs apart from the rich, insurance coverage packages didn’t pay for rehab hospitalization as we all know it right now. Numerous what we did in AA was the picture, the “Man on the Bed” image, that was sort of what it was like, numerous 12-Step Calls. And I sit right in to… I’m going to call it regular AA, and I started working the steps. I learn the Huge E-book. I read the Twelve and Twelve. And all of it fit for me. I had to do a couple of things as a result of I didn’t have the upper energy God factor down very properly and so, I translated a couple of words and I just determined that step 11… Once I acquired to step 11, I simply stated, “I’m going to should say that God, as I understand him, is God as I don’t perceive him.” But that’s just understanding down close to the zero degree, and that worked for me. And I attempted doing what it advised me to do within the Massive E-book and the Twelve and Twelve.

24:36 Wally Okay: So, I might attempt praying and I might attempt meditating. Once I would pray, I didn’t even get a dial tone, so I didn’t assume it was anyone on the other finish. It’s a humorous thing, by the best way, Mother Teresa had the same experience. She just decided Jesus was a great listener and went on together with her life, however I wasn’t getting the dial tone. And so, I stated, “I’ve received to study just a little bit more about this God factor.” Now, at the moment, I used to be carrying some stuff that I didn’t know I was carrying. I grew up in, as I discussed earlier, Louisville Kentucky, and I acquired into the large mainstream fundamentalist faith that dominates Kentucky. And naturally, I had allowed my soul to be saved and I carried an terrible lot of guilt and shame. And as I discovered later, guilt means I made a mistake; disgrace means I am a mistake.

25:53 Wally Okay: And I felt that I’m a mistake. I felt it very deeply. And so, I started working what I assumed was step 11 and now know that I popped over the aspect rails of step 11 slightly bit. I wiped my slate clear and commenced to discover God as I understand him, and I went on that quest for about 30 years. Now, I never picked up a drink. I used to be never even uncomfortable. I didn’t really feel like AA had a timer going, and when it acquired to zero, I’d blow up or turn into a pumpkin, so I just stored at it. And the longer I stored at it, the extra I turned, I went down the size from very confused potential fundamentalist Christian, I labored my means up that scale to agnostic. After which, afterward, after about 30 years, I read a e-book referred to as “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. That was type of my religious Huge Ebook, and I noticed that I was an atheist, perhaps even a more committed atheist than Richard Dawkins, because he was only 9 out of 10 factors on his little train that he went via, but I felt like I was larger than 9. But I used to be very, very snug once I noticed that I used to be an atheist, and it was an enormous, large load off my back.

27:46 Wally Okay: And this was… Properly, let’s see, I’ve been sober 47 years, so this was perhaps 15 years in the past. And I had this realization. Nicely, it wasn’t lengthy after that, it was a few dozen years in the past, my spouse and I went to a party for a few AA pals, and, properly, you understand Angela, properly, Angela was a just about a new comer, and there was a fellow, Greg, and a woman, Chia, and we received to bemoaning the truth that regular AA conferences have been irritating us as a result of we couldn’t be what we have been. What we have been was two atheists, I feel a deist and a Buddhist, and we stated, “Nicely, we will fix that. We might begin our personal secular assembly.” Now, once I first came in AA and back in the days the place I was powerless over humanity, the meetings in Connecticut, as I keep in mind, have been fairly secular. Now, individuals did speak a bit of bit about God, however I feel as a result of the population in New England is so numerous, we’re rather more tolerant of the fact that we’re surrounded by numerous sorts of Christians and Jews and every thing. And even again within the ’70s, we have been numerous ethnically and religiously, so we have been fairly secular in the conferences.

29:35 Wally Okay: Here in the higher Boise area, I found that there were some meetings that weren’t almost as secular as I’d like them to be. So, the four of us decided after the birthday celebration that we might get together and discover establishing our own secular assembly. And we did; it took us, I’m going to guess, four months, anyway. We might meet and plan every part out. While we have been planning, for example, the format of the meeting and the boilerplate for the meeting, the identify of the assembly, others of us have been working within the background to discover a good place to satisfy. And we have been… One of the things we did, I knew the man that ran the shop at our… What’s the phrase I’m on the lookout for right here? Central Office, yeah, so I went down and started sowing seeds with Bob, telling him what we have been doing and all, and, how do you assume it’ll go over? Etcetera, etcetera. And so, we sort of fertilized the garden earlier than we put the seeds in, with native AA.

30:54 Wally Okay: After which at the right time, we had a spot to satisfy. We knew we have been going to have a speaker meeting or a dialogue meeting with a short speaker to introduce a critical matter, and that we have been secular, and that we weren’t going to bind ourselves only to conference-approved literature from AA. And we had our first meeting, the primary Friday of the New Yr, 11-and-a-half years in the past, our meeting… I simply start compromising, because I used to be type of set in my ways. But one of many things I battled and misplaced, thank goodness, saner minds prevailed, what can we name our meeting? And I made a decision our meeting should have some milk toasty title. Thank goodness I lost, as a result of we named the group “Atheists, Agnostics and All Others”. And we have been critical about that, and we actually meant the “all others” part. And a couple of the issues we did proper, among the 4 of us, a few us pledged that we might cover all bills of the group, just in case we didn’t acquire any money into basket. And we pledged that we might be there at these conferences, that we wouldn’t run off if we acquired uninterested in taking a look at one another for a while. And we began, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than we acquired our first newcomer.

32:36 Wally Okay: I feel it was in April that our good friend showed up on a bicycle. He wasn’t driving, [chuckle] for obvious causes, and he worked a few miles away from where the assembly was. And he was an atheist, and he noticed, I feel fairly shortly, he slot in with our group. And we would have liked somebody to open a corridor, so we gave him the key. No one bothered to inform him, “You’re alleged to be sober for some time.” And he turned the fifth founder, and away we went. And right now, Jeff’s still sober. He’s acquired, I feel Jeff just picked up 11 years this previous April. And the group is heading in the direction of its 12th birthday, and we’re just cranking right along. Our group options numerous younger individuals, and I want that, I want that. The millennials have taught me so very, very much. And I feel I was ossifying just a little bit as far as being a really conventional AA individual, except I was an atheist. And I’ve discovered that, “Hey, during the last 47 years, numerous stuff has occurred.” And we’ve got, out there, many restoration packages; some based mostly on AA, some not. We now have access to professionals: Psychologists, psychiatrists. We have now packages in the Veterans Administration, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

34:22 Wally Okay: And these younger individuals in our group, they arrive in, they usually appear to show a real want to be accountable for their sobriety, and of course, they take what we have now to offer. However on the similar time, they’re wanting on the Veterans Administration program right here in Boise; it’s very, excellent. They take a look at… We’ve obtained several individuals with a nodding acquaintance with secular Buddhism, in order that they take a look at Refuge Restoration. We’ve acquired folks that have checked out SMART Recovery. We have now folks that lean very closely on a psychiatrist, psychologist. So, there’s all the time one thing new popping up each Tuesday night time at our little house group. And it’s really good for me because I don’t feel like I’m 79 years previous again; I feel youthful, I feel younger. And I see all these fantastic issues occurring. So, this yr, I made a decision this was a yr I was going to take a look at Buddhism. My daughter-in-law is a Thai Buddhist, and I’m so impressed together with her parenting expertise with… She’s a single mom with twins which might be two-and-a-half years previous, and she or he is such an incredible, super mum or dad. I assumed perhaps there’s something on this Buddhism, so I’ve listened to a couple of dozen Buddhist podcasts, Secular Buddhist podcasts, read a couple of books. And simply final night time, I need to meet my first real, stay Buddhist in downtown Boise. We’ve a Zen Middle, they usually had an open house, they usually had a educating session, a Dharma lecture, as they name it. They usually had introduced in a monk from, I feel California.

36:32 Wally Okay: So here I am at 79 years previous, 47 years sober, and I’m altering once more. And I’m altering because I need to change. And I’ve all the time stated, not all the time, but virtually the complete time I’ve been in AA, one thing I picked up on is we’re amateurs. So, my sobriety comes from what other individuals supply that I take. I take expertise, power and hope; there’s the three classes. So AA is like that fantastic cafeteria that I went to at Starlite Farms the place I might slide my tray down and have my decide of what I needed. And I inform individuals which might be exploring AA, “You’re going to should do one thing. You’ve acquired a tray. You’re at the most effective cafeteria for recovery going. There’s no means I may give you a suppository that’s going to get you sober. You need to pattern and decide what you assume you need. And perhaps you’re going to not all the time decide precisely what you need, however you possibly can maintain coming again; there’s no restrict on seconds.” And so, right here I am with new ideas at 79 years previous, and I’m having a ball in my sobriety, especially since I’ve tried to… Decided to make this next move and incorporate slightly Buddhism into my sobriety.

38:17 John S: That’s nice. I feel it’s really good that the individuals in your group will avail themselves of different packages, too. I want that I might see extra of that in my group. I feel that’s the best way it must be. Why ought to we be in several camps the place you just go to this program and never the others?

38:35 Wally Okay: Nicely, I observed a few innovations which have crept in through the years with the young individuals, the mavericks. There are individuals, a couple of individuals in my group, we number between 25 and 35, by the best way, at our Tuesday night conferences. And we now have a few folks that don’t rely birthdays. We have now a couple of folks that don’t say, “My identify is blah-blah, and I’m an alcoholic.” We’ve got a few individuals which are really struggling to seek out sobriety, but our group is so tolerant and so non-judgmental, and we seem to know one another, and we have now an actual empathy for regardless of the drawback is. So, we now have folks that if they’ve an issue with staying sober, they come again as a result of no one’s going to look down their nostril, no one’s going to roll their eyes or say “hmm” beneath their breath because all of us achieve from different’s experiences. And individuals are so prepared to share these issues with us, it enriches the whole group. And that’s yet one more thing that I feel the younger individuals had delivered to our group, this acceptance, this tolerance.

40:07 John S: Yeah, and I’ve observed that the era that you simply’re talking about. Our assembly, we originally began it as a refuge for us, agnostics and atheists. However I’m noticing that this new era of individuals, they don’t actually determine either method. It’s more prefer it’s not even a problem for them, they might care much less. And I discover that fascinating, it’s like our group is turning into less of a special function group for atheists and just extra of just an AA group that happens to be secular.

40:35 Wally Okay: That’s the best way our group has been from the get-go. The truth is, one in every of our earliest attendees was younger Christian woman. And she or he match right in just because none of us… Nicely, since we already began with a deist and a Buddhist.

40:55 John S: There you go [chuckle]

40:56 Wally Okay: We have been type of numerous even with four individuals.

40:58 John S: Yeah. And it was sensible, you set the “all others” in your identify too.

41:02 Wally Okay: Sure, that was very sensible of those newcomers. I overlook who beat me up on that one-in-one, however I feel it was Angela, however I’m unsure, however that was very clever, the identify they picked. And I used to be sensible to only tuck my head and go together with it. I figured it simply wasn’t value going to the mat over the identify of the group. And we’ve all the time recognized we will change issues, whether or not it’s our boilerplate. We’ve even voluntarily modified our lease. The church has never requested us because the group has grown to extend the lease as a result of we all the time get there first and say, “We’re jacking the lease up by another $5 a month.” And properly, that’s sort of a part of the seventh custom, proper? The pay our personal approach, and when it’s not 4 individuals utilizing the sink and the toilet, it’s 25 to 35, they should get slightly more, right?

42:11 John S: I’m actually impressed by your group. As I speak to Angela and get to know her higher and I study more about your group. And I didn’t… For whatever cause I didn’t know that y’all have been meeting for 11 years, happening 12 years. That’s fairly superb. [chuckle] There weren’t plenty of agnostic teams around at the moment. I didn’t even know they existed again then.

42:30 Wally Okay: I don’t know that we did, but we had been to groups that have been fairly near… I’m going to should play the age card, what word am I attempting to find here?

42:40 John S: Fairly close to secular.

42:42 Wally Okay: Not… Secular, secular. I do know once we had our first worldwide secular convention down in San Diego a number of years again, I used to be performing some work for one of many individuals on the board of administrators sort of as a volunteer, and it brought about me to look around the Pacific Northwest for secular teams as potential places to ship meeting bulletins. And we have been sitting here in Southwest Idaho all by ourselves. You needed to go all the best way to… I feel Seattle at the moment had a secular group or two. I don’t know that Portland did if you go west of Boise, and if you go east, I don’t know, you may need needed to go all the best way the Mississippi River…

43:35 John S: In all probability so. [chuckle]

43:35 Wally Okay: To find a secular group. South of right here, I feel you had to go all the best way down into Colorado, the Denver area to seek out one. So, we have been sort of… We have been distinctive for some time. Now we now have two proper here within the Boise space which might be secular.

43:54 John S: Now did you ever have any problems with the central office of the native AA as you have been getting began?

44:00 Wally Okay: Nothing that was greater than a flea chew. We had any person that was… We ready a pamphlet about our group, and it was a bit of one-page trifold. And we put it in literature racks at docs’ workplaces, etcetera. And certainly one of our pals down at the central office, he stored our pamphlets there on the primary pamphlet rack, separated in fact, from the holy rack of AA.

44:32 John S: The conference-approved AA stuff, yeah.

44:36 Wally Okay: Convention-approved. But we had a couple of folks that have been throwing that away once they acquired the prospect, however that stopped and now once we refill the literature rack with our pamphlet, they’re there, they usually disappear separately the best way they’re imagined to. And actually, [chuckle] our pamphlet, the primary one that got here out was about six years ago, seven years in the past, and a good friend of mine, actually the guy that confirmed up on the bicycle in April proper after we began the assembly over 11 years in the past, he and I wrote the first pamphlet. Nicely, he’s a software engineer, and I’m a chemical engineer, so we compressed the complete history of the western world, onto one sheet of paper back and front in font so tiny you want a microscope to read it. Couple of the women in our group are quite artistically inclined. They re-worked the pamphlet, and it’s principally bullet-points now. I feel I sent you a replica.

45:51 John S: Yeah, I have to see if I’ve acquired it, if not, would you send it once more? It’d be good to have it, yeah.

45:56 Wally Okay: Positive. But they did this lovely job, and it’s in all probability acquired no more than 5% of the textual content that the original one had. But they knew tips on how to decide the necessary stuff and put it in there. And since they have been newcomers, once they got here to our group, they knew what a newcomer, a secular newcomer would need to see. And so, it’s just a knock-out piece of literature for the newcomer, for the professional, like a decide, a policeman, a physician and actually the local church, we meet in a Universal, it’s a Unitarian Church. They hold it of their literature, proper in the foyer where you enter the constructing.

46:48 John S: You guys are really organized. I’m impressed by that.

46:51 Wally Okay: Properly, we would like individuals to have a fairly trustworthy view of who we’re, and what we’re. Now, if any person comes to our assembly they usually don’t like it, we’ve got sufficient people who go to different conferences that if they arrive in and say, “We don’t like your meeting. You’re heathens, you do every little thing, however animal sacrifices.” What we’ll do is, we’ll introduce him to a few members in our group who can sit down with him and go through this somewhat giant schedule of local meetings, and help them select those that they could need. We’ve got couple of three meetings in the space which might be type of new agey. We’ve acquired some which are very spiritual, and we now have some which might be more traditional. And so, what we do, we help those that don’t like our assembly find another assembly or especially with newcomers, we assist ’em find different meetings they’ll be snug with. Due to course, as newcomers we’d like multiple every week, often. And so, we might help a newcomer find a half a dozen, a dozen meetings that they’re snug with in the larger Boise space.

48:11 John S: Now, Angela informed me that you simply like to put in writing, and that you’ve an e mail group and you will write stuff up and send to them. And I know that one thing that you simply wrote, we truly posted on AA Past Belief, it was your critique of the, oh, what that e-book was, “One Huge Tent”.

48:27 Wally Okay: Sure.

48:27 John S: You didn’t prefer it.

48:28 Wally Okay: Sure, I keep in mind that. I actually strapped them on for that.


48:34 Wally Okay: I used to be so disenchanted as a result of I was, I don’t know why, I had a false expectation.

48:42 John S: Yeah.

48:42 Wally Okay: As I grow to be a better secular Buddhist, I’ll study to simply accept. But I did not settle for that pamphlet when it got here out, at all.

48:49 John S: Right.

48:49 Wally Okay: Because it was all AA. And I knew that AA wasn’t just AA anymore.

48:56 John S: Right, proper.

48:57 Wally Okay: In reality, a few of the authorized packages now, like drug courtroom, large place for someone to base their recovery and get some steerage and mentoring and encouragement, and that they don’t should get more from AA than we may give.

49:17 John S: You just didn’t assume that that guide reflected the truth of our experience as secular individuals in AA.

49:24 Wally Okay: Properly, immediately now, I take a look at what I stated, and I’m wondering it might have been that that’s the best way the central workplace needed it. They didn’t need to speak about other organizations that may assist you get sober. And there could also be a superb purpose for that, I don’t know. But I was type of dissatisfied as a result of I see such a variety of recovery packages and restoration tools getting used and efficiently used.

49:57 John S: And there’s no purpose that folks shouldn’t be capable of reap the benefits of quite a lot of totally different instruments.

50:01 Wally Okay: That’s a reality. That’s reality. AA is a device package, and there’s no cause we will’t have some metric instruments in there.

50:08 John S: I’m beginning to see AA as sort of like a unfastened network of people who get together and assist one another out, and if part of that serving to one another out is saying, “Hey, you recognize, there’s a SMART Recovery Group I went to final week. You may need to check it out.” What’s incorrect with that? [laughter] It is sensible.

50:23 Wally Okay: Completely nothing. I know as a sponsor, I used to be having hassle helping this one fellow, and I encouraged him to place his own program together, and I had to be gone for a month, and so I fired myself in order that he might get some local help 24/7. And he put collectively his own program. I feel SMART Restoration is perhaps a part of it. I do know the VA program was a part of it. I do know he had knowledgeable counselor, he had a couple of several types of AA conferences, not just ours, and he worked at it, and labored at it, and out of the blue he’s getting his first bronze medallion, he not gets the 30, 60, 90-day medallions, he’s getting the ones with the Roman numerals on it. By the best way, I needed to thank you for inviting me right now. My spouse was celebrating her 50th, and she or he was having, she threw an awesome massive celebration in downtown Boise at the moment for all the those that she’s recognized through the years and you have saved me from swimming in an enormous Sea of estrogen. And…


51:39 John S: Properly, congratulations to her. That’s nice.

51:41 Wally Okay: Susan has been a real, real help for me. I don’t know where my sobriety would have gone with out her. She was two-and-a-half years sober once we met, and she or he turned a licensed skilled drug and alcohol counselor after our son was in high school, and I received a whole lot of good constructive suggestions, not just the AA feedback, but the professional alcoholism and drug counselor feedback. She’s been very, essential to my sobriety.

52:17 John S: That’s great. I thank you too. This has been a fantastic speak, and I definitely determine with lots of your story. I was in AA for a long time, 25 years, learn Richard Dawkins, realized I used to be an atheist, that was a recreation changer for me. It’s type of modified issues. I started wanting on the program in a different way. It’s cool, it’s nice. So, thanks, thanks very much for sharing your story with us. I recognize it.

52:42 Wally Okay: You’re welcome John. And perhaps sometime I may give you a report on conversion to secular Buddhism.

52:47 John S: Okay. [chuckle] We’d like that really. You possibly can write us a narrative about that.


53:00 John S: Nicely, that concludes another episode of AA Past Perception. Thanks for listening. If you need to help our website and podcast, there are a few ways you’ll be able to assist out, you possibly can publish a assessment on iTunes, hopefully a positive one. You possibly can assist us out financially with both a recurring or one-time contribution. You can do this by establishing a small recurring contribution at our Patreon web page, which yow will discover at, or by means of PayPal, at And you may all the time simply go to our website,, and click on the donate button. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll be back once more real quickly with one other episode of AA Past Perception.

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