May 29, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

The foreseeable future of recovery was revealed in yesterday’s letter. Using the analogy of drupulets, the little balls of deliciousness on a raspberry, I explained in a manner both fanciful and masterful how different small groups could, using very cool technology, be connected into one large group. This solves the challenge of providing large recovery communities while maintaining social distancing. Each drupulet remains its own system while forming the larger system of a raspberry. Hope is continuing to perfect the experience, but our first dry run with seven Hope members, four staff people and a handful of distant Zoom participants, was deemed an overwhelming success. Every member who was polled afterward on the recovery value of the meeting gave the experience an A or an A-minus. The small groups forming drupulets felt a part of the raspberry. I was shocked and amazed.

Shocked and amazed because the technology worked? Nope. We’d planned and played and configured for a while to make sure everything was connected and capable.

Shocked and amazed because it’s hard to get that kind of agreement on what kind of ice cream to buy, much less the usefulness of new technology? Not exactly, although I am always disappointed when I can’t get a group to agree on pistachio.

I was shocked and amazed, because, apparently, I’m allergic to raspberries.

 No one has ever mistaken me for a doctor, and I’m glad of it. In even formal social situations, doctors are asked to look at all kinds of pimples, boils, eruptions and rashes. My father, who owned and ran a dental laboratory making dentures, was still asked to look inside people’s mouth to examine their pus discharges and oozing gums. Even when he explained he had no medical training, his friends and relations begged him to give their opinion. Because he was a kind man, he never gave the response I would have.

“My opinion? In my opinion, your mouth is disgusting and you’re a boor for even asking me to look at it.”

Back, though, to my not being a doctor. I know I’m not qualified to diagnose anything, unless we can call, “Ewwww! Gross! You need to see a doctor,” a diagnosis.

Still, I am allergic to raspberries, at least those formed by collections of dropulets networked together and providing recovery. While everyone else loved the experience—being in community as part of a larger community—I found it alienating, frustrating, off-putting and another 15 or 20 negative gerunds. The technology was fine—big-screen televisions, 360-degree video cameras and crystal-clear audio—but I can’t (or at least don’t like to) sit in a room with four or five people while trying to divide my attention among the physically present, the groups that are virtually present and the individuals joining from home. My default is toward those people at whom I can throw a water balloon, not that I would ever do such a thing.

For other allergy sufferers, Hope has come up with a tentative and evolving solution. In addition to the dropulet model, we’ll also offer an old-fashioned “wherever two or more are gathered in the name of recovery” possibility. We’ll do our best to set aside space for the here-and-now obsessed like me, so we can have a meeting that satisfies our needs.

Water balloons are optional.

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Best,

Keith