Sponsorship: Into the Unknown

This is the 168 yard, par 3, third hole at Beaver Creek Golf Course in Grimes, Iowa. Between the trees and on the other side of the pond is a green; there’s no land between tee and green. The man standing on the tee box about to tee off into the fog is my sponsor.

This photo has served as the wallpaper on my iPhone for the past two or three months. On Friday, October 31, 2011, I celebrated 13 years of sobriety. That night when I came home and looked at the photo, it became something much more than wallpaper. It became my metaphor for sponsorship in Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s how.

I’ve been sponsored long enough to know that my sponsor, whom I love dearly and admire greatly, is an imperfect human being like myself. He’s just another man striking the ball into the fog and hoping everything turns out all right. The only difference between us is a difference in perspective. On the tee box, he’s closer to the green and has a better view of the target than I do standing back at the tips taking his photograph. He sees more clearly. His visibility from 50 yards in front of me is greatly improved.

In life he’s just another imperfect human being striking out each day into the unknown, full of fear or blessed with faith, depending on how well he’s using the spiritual tools laid at his feet the day he walked into Alcoholics Anonymous. In life, his perspective is deepened by his years of experience as a sober human being—he’s more than 18 years my senior in sobriety. Those years of experience mean he’s seen things I haven’t, things about which he can caution or coach me. Those years of experience, and the perspective they give him, mean he sees more clearly than I do. Those years of experience have not provided him with all the answers, but they have provided him with better advice to offer than I could possibly offer myself.

I’ll let you guess who’s shot landed closer to the pin this side of the foggy pond.

2 responses to “Sponsorship: Into the Unknown

  1. I really like your metaphor.

    Your perspective on sponsorship is refreshing. Too often, in the AA culture I experience, I see and hear what I call Old-Timer worship.

    I don’t see that AA began this way or is effective this way. Old-timers including sponsors are imperfect… as you state. The main advantage they offer is perspective based on experience. They are not saints, gods, or gurus.

    To carry the analogy a little farther if I may…. our sponsors have simply played the course longer and more times than we have. I believe we are wise to keep this perspective.




  2. Thanks Chaz. Appears we’re on the same page. I read your post on Legalism last night … but late last night … and haven’t had a chance to respond. Prompts a lot of very interesting questions. Maybe tonight. Kayko