Port Townsend, WA – While the rest of the world has already adopted the sensible metric system, the United States has literally remained in the dark ages by clinging to the English system from the 9th century.
However, one small sector of American society has bravely, characteristically, recognized the need to accept change. A 12-Step “Anonymous Group” in Port Townsend, Washington, has embraced the cleaner, less fractious system of measurement.
“It all started when I was trying to make an analogy about the 12 steps to recovery resembling inches in the ruler of life,” said sobriety poet Norman MacLear, “But when I posted my poem in an international blog forum, nobody really responded. So I got to thinking, maybe us American 12-steppers should drop our dependency on odd increments, such as 12, and finally adopt the metric system.”
A Calculated Conversion
When first proposing the switch at his bi-weekly support meeting, the reaction from the group was largely confused.
“I thought the 12 steps were fine the way they were,” said Fay Mahoney, recent metric convert, “But then I got to thinking that our common welfare comes first and who was I to stand in the way of the removal of our shortcomings?”
Beginning with Fay, the group admitted they were powerless against the English system. Thereafter, they earnestly began converting their 12-step group into the universally lauded metric equivalent. The power that restored their sanity was a Google search, which led to an online metric conversion calculator.
“I learned that the metric equivalent of 12-steps turns out to be 30.48 steps,” explained MacLear, “At first I thought I’d just use the original 12 steps, but somehow expand the numeration of each so as to fit into 30.48. So I divided 30.48 by 12 units, for a result of 2.54. And then I renamed the existing steps based on the quotient.”
In MacLear’s first model, as described above, the steps looked like this:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, etc.
Step 2.54: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore… etc
Step 5.08: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, etc.
Step 7.62: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves…
And so forth, up until 30.48.
“But then I realized that even though I had properly simplified the system using the metric equivalent,” said MacLear, “I hadn’t actually created 30.48 steps. No matter what I was calling it, it was still only Twelve Steps, I was still just acting out my old addiction to something based on twelve, like the inches in a foot.”
Fearless Moral Metrics
After making this fearless, moral inventory of himself, MacLear began in earnest to add 18.48 steps to the original 12 steps, for a total of 30.48 steps. He thereby truly performed a metric conversion and brought his anonymous group into the modern era.
“I’ll always be grateful to Norman,” said Fay Mahoney whom at one point was on step twelve, but is now less than halfway through the new system. “He started out as a poet, and ended up a mathematic visionary. Sure, the road to recovery is now longer, but at least these baby steps can be standardized by addicts worldwide.”
Below is a list of the new 30.48 Steps of Recovery. The original 12 steps, which served as the basis for the new metric program, are depicted in bold font.
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We admitted the above a second time, mostly because the prospect of coming up with 29.48 more steps was a bit overwhelming, and we wanted to add some padding to the list.
3. We looked around for a shorter, easier path to recovery, that involved something exactly like our addiction, but somehow different and innocuous.
4. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
5. Decided to properly define the words Power, Sanity, and addiction, just to be sure we didn’t go too far down this path without being on the same page.
6. We looked in the Scrabble dictionary for an abbreviated definition of Power, Sanity, and addiction, hoping this would somehow make it more fun.
7. Ate some corn chips and took a nap, woke up in the fetal position, agitated.
8. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
9. Changed our minds, made plans to hang out with some self-destructive friends.
10. Changed our minds back again, blew-off those friends.
11. Argued with self over the definition of God, thinking, “Who am I to claim I understand Him at all.”
12. Settled down into an acceptable definition of God, mostly by visualizing Morgan Freeman, or the guy from the Quaker Oats box.
13. Brushed up on our Microsoft Excel skills in preparation of the upcoming step 14.
14. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
15. Double-checked the numbers on that moral inventory, and discovered that we omitted tons of issues, and in some places added problems that weren’t actually there.
16. Forgot to hit save on that Excel document, and when the computer crashed, lost the entire inventory sheet. Repeat steps 14 and 15.
17. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
18. Admit to ourselves that we shouldn’t have done step 17 on Twitter.
19. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
20. Reflected what life will be like after we are finally perfect. After all, ‘no more defects’ is Huge.
21. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
22. Asked him way less humbly. A tinge of entitlement and agitation creeping in.
23. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
24. Justified some of those people on the list, and then removed them from the list.
25. In preparation for step 26, we logged into Facebook. But to find that one guy from that cover heavy-metal band, we logged into myspace.
26. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
27. Tried to return the goldfish and the vacuum cleaner to their respective retail outlets, after someone from number 26 refused to accept them as direct compensation for a past transgression.
28. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
29. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
30. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
30.48. We repeated step 30 almost halfway over again, just to get the math right.
Photo credit: aslakr/flickr (book) and dizfunkshinal (nerd) – both from flickr creative commons
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