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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

Travel Safe!

Patent number 37435 proved to be the birth certificate of the modern-day gasoline-powered automobile. Officially applying in 1886, Carl Benz (yes, of Mercedes Benz) formalized what he had been developing, the three-wheel vehicle, since 1879. Though steam-powered, internal combustion-driven and even electrical people movers were on the market, Carl Benz's discoveries changed everything.

Henry Ford introduced mass production of the automobile in 1908, forever changing life as we know it. Improvements and enhancements have been made for comfort and efficiency since the invention, but one that jumps out at us today is the “check engine light.”

The “idiot light” (its real name) was rolled out in the 1930s and was a common alert feature until more advanced computer solutions were integrated in the early 1980s. The “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” visual indicator annoyed us for a couple of decades, and it was in 1996 that the formal “check engine light” became the bane of our existence.

The marker lights up to let us know that something has gone awry. It could be as simple as a loose gas cap, a bad battery, something involving the spark plugs or wires, a faulty EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system, an oxygen sensor, a catalytic converter, MAF (mass air flow failure), or a vacuum leak.  Neglecting to heed the warning light and failing to address the trouble early can lead to more significant problems or subsequent loss of the vehicle.

We humans are granted one vehicle on this earth: our own body. We must maintain that mode of transport with an intensity greater than our automobiles. If the light goes on, if our internal gauge sounds an alarm, we need to be alert and responsive early to avoid complete destruction.

We light up within when something has run amok.  It could be as simple as poor dietary choice (Hunger), situational frustration (Anger), temporary isolation (Lonely), sleep deprivation (Tired), or a more severe problem of unaddressed resentment, untreated anxiety or depression, or a grave physical condition.

The crisis's significance can be mitigated in the early-paying-attention phase (when the light first goes on).  Immediately correcting the destructive direction is always the least painful and costly course. 

Sometimes, we tap into our network (the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous) to see if they, through their experience, have ever encountered our particular warning signal and get advice or suggestions on a remedy. 

We might add that we are NOT mechanical. For us, our cure is found in the capable hands of a mechanic who understands the vehicle's inner workings. Moreover, service is usually best located at a manufacturer's dealer as they presumably know the car best.

So, when we feel “off,” or our light goes “on,” we first stop the ride, navigating off-road toward our trusted mechanic to get advice and the necessary work done to get us back to a safe and optimum performance state. (do you see how we snuck spirituality into this?)

Here is the point: if aligned with our emotional state, we will get the indicators when things move sideways.  Our light will go on, and if our eyes are affixed to the dashboard, we will pause, have it checked out, and make the necessary adjustments to keep us riding smoothly down the highway of life.

Lastly, our fathers taught us the art of preventative maintenance—getting ahead of a problem before it occurs. Today, we take daily, weekly, monthly, and annual actions toward the only acceptable solution: our sobriety.

Cars and people don’t run by themselves.  They need concentration and care.  

As we've mentioned in previous writings, relapse progresses through three distinct stages: emotional, mental, and physical. Each phase presents its unique challenges and signs to watch out for. That first mind marker, the emotional pull, sends the signal, good or bad, about our effectiveness. We look at that meter and act accordingly. 

We don’t possess the patent on successful recovery, but we know the manufacturer personally and own the manual (the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous). We invest in ourselves and tap into the experience of our fellows. We also provide roadside assistance to others in distress—at no charge.

Today, our indicator reads “Good.” However, we will keep an eye on it, as that is the responsible thing to do.

Travel safe!





Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from podcast #165 titled “Life after Abstinence - Coffee with Claudia”The session dropped 5/22/2024.    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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