Rule 62 In Action: A Fellowship Fun Hike 

Rule 62 In Action: A Fellowship Fun Hike 

My name is Joel B. I’m a sober member of alcoholics anonymous. For no particular reason this morning, I pulled a book, “A New Pair of Glasses, from my bookshelf and started rereading it from the beginning. At the end of the first chapter, author Chuck C. sums up who we alcoholics are and why we cannot free ourselves from the fatal disease of alcoholism. 

“Alcoholism cuts across our society from the highest to the lowest. We are people of all professions, all states of poverty and riches, priests and preachers, from all denominations. We have world scholars amongst us, and bankers. Not one would have come here if they could have stayed out. We have a problem that you and I cannot solve. We have to have help. And those first nine steps will roll away the stones, because those are the surrender steps. Surrender is the thing that opens the door that allows us to get the help, because God himself cannot help us until we will allow it. The recognition of the need for help, and the turning of our will and our lives over to the care of God, and clearing away the wreckage of the past, is the beginning of victory. It’s fantastic. Don’t be afraid of it.”

Then in the next paragraph, Chuck C shines a light directly on one of my own most irksome shortcomings when he says, 

“I’m convinced that you and I have to do this without getting too serious about it. We get too serious and nothing happens. If we look too hard, we’ll never find.” 

After achieving some time in AA, paradoxes like surrendering to stop drinking and this one no longer surprise me. But I admit the latter still has the ability to mess with my emotional sobriety. To quote from a young person’s share I heard recently at a meeting, “God is responsible for my life, but I’m responsible for having fun.” In this person’s case, he raved about his experience attending the young peoples’ convention in Barcelona this summer. In my case, I joined a “Fun & Fellowship Hike” organized by our Zurich Intergroup (IG). 

Being privileged to live in a land where wandern (leisure hiking) is an unofficial national sport, and the fact I’m past the age of waking up with an abundance of natural energy, I intentionally go for serious walks almost everyday. My my phone’s health app shows my daily average this year is 7.7 km/day. Typically I go set off in the countryside around my home accompanied by earbuds and a Revisionist History podcast. The walking is good for my physical health, Gladwell’s serious podcasts are educational and entertaining. But neither are particularly social. 

Which is why I chose to participate in an IG-organized group activity billed as a “fun and fellowship hike.” I had no serious goals to trek 40 km or bag a 4000 meter peak (and we have seven “easy” 4000 m. peaks in Switzerland). I joined simply to have fun and fellowship.

Here’s what I experienced on an August Sunday with eight others (and two children). The weather gods smiled on us, delivering cloud-free blue skies and t-shirt temperatures. About 10:30, we all arrived in Sihlbrugg Dorf where we picked up the trailhead. Over the next two hours, we traipsed up and down a well-worn path following the noisy white water of the river Sihl to the Sihlmatt Restaurant, a local’s favourite sited in the midst of wide open empty green fields. Once seated at the Sihlmatt, which would look perfectly at home in County Mayo Ireland, most of us ordered the house specialty: grilled and poached trout, allegedly pulled from the river only hours before our arrival. 

Much much later, after consuming large helpings of stories, food and laughter, our legs rested and water bottles refilled, all were ready to get moving again. Some of our group retraced the route back to Sihlbrugg Dorf. Others left the river valley to venture higher to the village of Shönenberg with its panoramic views of the Swiss Alps and Lake of Zurich. As the light began to ebb, half the group caught public transportation back to Zurich and others, myself included, took a new way back to the start of the day’s hike. Home again, soaking my tired feet before bed, I relished an overwhelming feeling of contentment: the culmination of completing a fun 20 km hike with my fellows where no one took anything too serious for the entire day.

In an August report to Zurich IG, the Activity Coordinator reported,

“Universal consensus among participants was the hike lived up to its promise of “Fun and Fellowship.” Given this splendid start, it is hoped a few of our members will step forward to suggest and lead another hike this fall. If willing, contact IG for assistance in planning, creating flyers, publicizing, etc.”

Chuck C. ends the book’s first chapter with reference to a “Rule 62,” apparently a humorous euphemism in 1975 California when Chuck C. gave his talks at a Pala Mesa retreat, later to be transcribed and printed in book form. You can look it up if you are curious, but I’d like to end this post with the text which likely inspired Chuck’s reference to Rule 62, and the joyous life he lived until his journey in this realm ended the same year his book was published.

On page 132 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. writes,

“… We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.”