What about these chips? We like to get the medallions to commemorate our sobriety. We like the roman numerals. Some of us have learned to read roman numerals by getting our chips each year!
For a while, in recent years, I attended a 5:30 every evening meeting. And every evening, they would go through the ritual of chips... usually about 15 minutes worth of 24 hour, 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, 6 month, 1 year, multiples of years chips. And applause. And passing them around to hold and look earnest about. My friend Larry called it "The Academy Awards," which I thought was fitting.
Don't get me wrong. I have a chip in my wallet. I have one in my home, displayed in the arms of a little praying cowboy... I like my chips. But I always try to give them away.
Yesterday when I was writing my post, I tried to find a photo that would illustrate the idea of superstars in AA. I found an ad for a velvet lined case to store your chips in - like coins in a coin set. This, to me, is absolutely obscene. To think of taking outward signs of the God-given gift of sobriety, and putting them in a velvet lined case, to be shut away and preserved... just isn't right.
You have got to give it away to keep it. I think that goes for our chips too.
We used to pass them along. And then you would look at your chip all year and know whose hands it had been in the year before, and the year before. And you would plan on who you would pass it to. It would be tangible evidence of the chain of sobriety, freely given from God and shared from one member to another. If I got a chip that was bought by a group, it seemed to me to be a failure of sorts, to not have someone who was passing along their cherished chip.
In 2005, I drove to Tucson, Arizona to pass on my 20 year chip to a dear friend. And that was the last time I had someone who wanted my chip.
Our culture has changed. People now look at you like you are a cheap skate if you talk about passing along a chip, like it is second hand, used. How sad. I will still try to pass mine along...
And I really need to say that I cannot stand the passing the chip around the room - for everyone to put their "mojo" on. According to Merriam Webster, mojo is "a magic spell, hex, or charm ; broadly : magical power" and you know, I don't want any "mojo" on my chip, thank you very much. We did not used to do this. I think it makes us look like a bunch of cultish superstitious nuts. Sorry. It is a strange practice, but it has become commonplace. I do believe it started in treatment centers.
This is part of what makes me feel so old. I sit in my meetings and usually keep my mouth shut about all of this crap. It is what they want. I can be a bleeding deacon or an elder statesman. I won't make a very effective statesman if I am always carping about all this silly ritualistic stuff - but I sure wish we would stop it.
So I write this to you tonight. And I don't expect many of you to agree with me, and that is 100% OK with me. Let's all stay sober, agree or disagree... OK?