Tonight I hosted my Homeowners Association Meeting at my house. It has been a long road for me to be happy about this. I quit the HOA in August of last year. I had fulfilled a two year commitment to serve on the board, hating it most of that time. And the funniest thing happened... after I quit, I found I missed it. After a few months of my absence, the president of the board asked me to return and I was happy to say "yes."
I am not naturally a "sweet" person. I am not someone who naturally thinks loving thoughts about others. I don't naturally like others when I first meet them. My nature is to dislike people and distrust them. My ego wants to compete with them and figure out why knowing them will be a bad deal for me. It takes a lot of prayer for me to not let this horrible nature get the better of me.
My first really good experience with living in community with others was being part of AA. I didn't have to always agree with everyone, but I learned how to disagree without being disagreeable. I learned how to do things for others without expecting a parade in my honor and holidays named for me. I learned how to show up and just do stuff that other people do every single day without ever giving it a second thought.
The most amazing thing was, I learned that others were not out to get me. Most of them are pretty decent people. After years in AA, I was able to take those lessons out into the community at large and hopefully be an asset wherever I am. I find that when I am looking at what I can bring to a situation, people tend to look at what they can bring back.
Today my neighbor was out at 6:30 a.m., shoveling the snow off of my sidewalk. I have never asked her to do this, but she does it frequently. When I get out before her, I shovel her sidewalk. In the spring, summer, and fall, we are often outside sharing our manly tools - saws, tree trimmers, drills, etc., and sharing our limited expertise at using them. We have mixed cement and fixed fence posts, chopped down trees, painted shared fences, etc. During one snowstorm, after we realized the snow plows would never come through this little neighborhood, we all got out and shoveled the snow out of the street... no small feat. But it was great community building.
We are now citizens of the world we once rejected. I find it is not nearly as ugly as I thought it was. I have some wonderful neighbors. I am so very grateful for them. I am so very grateful that by being sober and being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous I have learned how to embrace the responsibilities of being a member of a community. It is a wonderful thing.