Sometimes, life in recovery can feel like a math problem. You could be working Step Three, studying Tradition Eight, and listening to a reading about Concept Four, all while trying to count up the number of people at your meeting and their Seventh Tradition donations as numbers, lists, and rules swirl inside your head.
It’s a simple program, but there are just enough moving parts to make it hard for those who want to get caught up in all the minuscule details. Like the saying, “Keep it simple stupid,” people in recovery like to remind each other of “Rule 62” when it comes time to get back to basics.
So what does it mean? Like any good urban legend, the story behind Rule 62 changes with each telling, but telling in Tradition Four of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book is the official version.
Basically, the book tells the story of an AA group that went rogue, and decided to establish a luxurious rehab and education center despite the warnings of central office that it might violate the traditions of AA.
The group was fired up, and ignored the advice because they thought they had every possible outcome covered: They even came up with a list of 61 rules that would govern the new organization. They were so sure that what they were doing was right, and that they knew better than the other members of AA.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a total disaster. And once it failed, the man who had spearheaded the growth of the new project sent central office a note that said Rule #62 on the front.
What was the rule that the group had forgotten? The one rule that might have saved the growth of their enterprise? “Don’t take yourself so damned seriously.”
The punchline holds several lessons for people in recovery. First, Rule 62 means being able to admit when you were wrong – and being able to do it with a sense of humor and grace. Second, it’s a reminder that the wisdom of the group, and the traditions that have developed over decades, are often a better guide to action than the desires of one individual or AA group. In modern terms, you might say, “You’re not that special.”
Rule 62 means that it’s possible you are wrong, and it’s OK to admit it. In fact, it might even be funny once you realize just how wrong you are! Take the guidance of your sponsor, recovery friends, and your Higher Power, and pretty soon you won’t need to consult the rulebook.
Find out how to have fun exploring the serious business of recovery with Clean Path Behavioral Health. Click HERE to find out how.