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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

The value of a windshield

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”

Lau Tzu

When driving our car, with the destination plugged into the GPS, we use the front view, and the windshield, for progress and safety. This is arguably the most crucial piece of glass in the vehicle. As for average size, according to, the standard windshield measures 59 inches by 31 1/2 inches.

Along our route, we may need to tap into the function of the rearview mirror to turn around or navigate out of a “tight spot” The fact is, we spend much less time driving backward than moving forward. Therefore, we rarely use the rear-facing utility. For comparison’s sake, according to the average rearview mirror measures 8 to 12 inches by three to four inches.

So, typically, the rearview mirror is less than 2% of the windshield size yet serves a valuable role when needed.

What does this have to do with my sober walk, you ask? Well, nothing in the practical sense but so much as a working analogy as to the importance of looking forward while using the rearview mirror (the past) as a learning guide so that you are set safely on a new course of action.

When we came to the point of surrendering to alcohol and drugs and choosing the path of recovery, most of us found ourselves in a tight spot. We knew we had to turn ourselves around but needed to figure out how or what course to sketch out. What we did know was that the route that we had been on was the wrong way. We could have and should have relied on a higher power (the GPS) but decided to guide ourselves instead of the built-in supernatural power (artificial intelligence) available to us. We were unsure of where we had been - we had to trace our steps and figure out where we had made the wrong turns. (Step 4) We sat Idling for a moment, confused, and shaken (Quiet Time). Before engaging the reverse gear, we had to look at the map and document our turns as that would tell us how to get to this intersection – and risk driving aimlessly, only to end up at the same spot, or worse, somewhere harsher (Relapse). Once we determined our plan and direction, we had to turn in the right direction. Time to use the rearview mirror AND rely on our higher power (GPS) and the vision the windshield afforded us with an occasional glance in the rearview mirror as a reminder of where we came from.


Make sense?

Steps 4,5,6,7,8 and 9 of 12-step recovery have us looking at our past, as does 10, which asks us to review our day. That is 7 of 12 actions that have us backing up and recording our history. Let’s say we are using our rearview mirror a lot to get situated and turn in the right direction.

Here is where the rubber meets the road; once we have corrected our new course and are taking directions from something more intelligent than us, we should keep our hands on the wheel and use the windshield to enjoy the view. And yes, we occasionally glance in that review mirror to remind ourselves of the direction we don't want to go. Keeping our eyes on the small rear-facing mirror for too long could cause us to crash. There is a reason why the windshield is 60 times larger!

Safe Travels!

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”


Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from podcast #6 titled Step 5 - Admitted to God, To Ourselves... and to Another Human Being The podcast dropped on 5/12/2021. Click here to hear the podcast.


Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.


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