During lockdown last year, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood offered a series of readings for fellow alcoholics that he said helped bring him peace and acceptance in a difficult time.
Soon, Wood would confront his own challenge: he would be diagnosed with small-cell cancer (it was his second cancer diagnosis since 2017).
In an interview, Wood described what helped him prevail. It wasn’t drugs or alcohol.
“I’m going through a lot of problems now, but throughout my recovery, you have to let it go,” Wood explained to a reporter from The Sun. “And when you hand the power over to your higher power, that is a magic thing.
“That brings you back to the Serenity Prayer: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’ That’s incredible. What will be will be, it’s nothing to do with me.”
Festivals come and go in Telluride, but for those who reside here, there’s an entity that not only believes in the Serenity Prayer, but puts its words into practice seven days a week: the Telluride chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. “We’re always here,” said a member of that organization (let’s call him “Ted”).
Over the past 18 months, members of the box canyon’s AA group have faced challenges of their own: for a long time, they couldn’t gather in person, due to concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. For the last few months, members have at last been able to convene again at Christ Church. Participants must now meet wearing masks; at first, the church’s leadership requested it, and now San Miguel County has mandated face coverings. As a result, “Participation has dropped a little, but not by much, because we can still do Zoom,” Ted said. Donning a face covering “is a small thing to do for yourself and for everybody. It would be easy to use it as an excuse not to go to meetings. Nobody likes to wear one! But if all I have to do is wear a mask a couple times a week in order to stay sober and help others, it’s worth it.”
These days, AA attendance not only continues apace, the Telluride chapter is welcoming new members. A new meeting on Saturday at 4 p.m. — again, at Christ Church and on Zoom — is just for women.
“There’s been a lot of interest, and attendance seems to be growing every week,” said attendee “Lucy.” “It’s very nice, and very supportive, to have a space” strictly for females. “We have a commonality, and are able to share things we might not feel comfortable sharing” in the presence of both sexes.
Both AA chapters “are staying strong,” Ted added. “Last night we were celebrating birthdays and personal milestones, both in person and online. For newcomers, that’s a very positive thing. Throughout the summer, we had lots of new visitors tell us they were just glad we were meeting. We have a pretty significant following: a lot of return visitors from the Telluride Film Festival, or from Blues & Brews, come year after year. It’s nice to know, when you’re travelling — or for whatever reason may be out of your comfort zone — that there’s a meeting to go to. It’s especially helpful in early recovery to have a meeting to go to. It helps you stay grounded.”
Following a get-together, attendees may run into each other in town. “The next day, people still remember when they run into each other around town, maybe buying coffee, and say a ‘Hi’” Ted said (rather like motorcyclists raising their fingers slightly in swift, silent acknowledgement to riders across the road).
“The person you’re with will be like, ‘How do you know that guy?’” Ted said wryly. “It’s special.”
The support never goes away, because the fellowship AA offers doesn’t stop: the Telluride chapter is up and running seven days weekly, year-round. “The last year has been weird and hard and we’ve just had to endure it,” Ted said. “It won’t last forever. All in all, we’re hanging in — and going strong.”
The Telluride chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous offers meetings every day of the week (Al-Anon and NA meetings take place once each week). If you’d like a list of meeting times and Zoom codes sent to your phone, call 970-729-1120. Call 970-728-7270 if you need somebody to talk to.