The human spirit cannot be conquered. This is an undeniable truth. However, one always has the option to quit.
I went off the booze a long time ago. Didn’t touch the stuff for five years. Then, just as quickly as I stopped, I took it up again. I felt like I could handle it, that I could be responsible and enjoy a little in moderation. The problem is that I’ve never really been about moderation. I had to learn to make choices.
Becoming a great drinker isn’t for everyone. Learning to drink is like falling off a bicycle. Just when you start going, you wobble a bit and then you do a header on the concrete and skin the crap out of your knees…
But if you’re going to be really great, you get up and do it again. Soon it becomes easy. Soon you can’t live without it.
I hear people talking about writing in the same way. If you look around on this site, you’ll even see where I’ve done the same thing: ranting about the need to give everything up, to focus everything on the writing life, to give it your all and leave nothing on the table.
Hard to deny that it feels romantic when you’re writing this sort of rant. My journal is full of such chronic writing and I can recall quite clearly how happy I felt as I laid down each line, empowered by the idea that I was really getting to the core of the work.
The thing is I wasn’t getting to the core of anything. I was just setting myself up for the next fall. All that anger and passionate rage just turns in on itself. Next thing you know, I’m raving about the destruction of life in service to art. One trigger leads to the next and soon enough you’re a long way from where you started and you’re in trouble.
Last night, I had this ice cream flavored with Makers Mark. Boy, the stuff sure tasted good. I can taste it now in fact. This is a trigger with a capital T. It tells me many things about myself that I’d rather not face, but I made a choice.
If you’ve never been a drinker, it can be difficult to understand what wanting a drink means to someone like me but I’ll try to explain:
Wanting a drink isn’t about a glass or a bottle. It isn’t even about what you drink. It’s about a hunger that you already know you won’t be able to satisfy because volume isn’t the point. It’s about dedicating yourself to the destruction of your life.
Once you learn this simple fact, you have a choice to make: do you drink or do you live? If you choose to live, you have to learn to avoid triggers and if you fail you have to recognize them for what they are and set them aside before the next one falls into place.
Many writers struggle daily with topics that lead to more suffering. Some of the best choose to show us how to navigate through this Hell. In the end, we arrive with our spirits buoyed by life.
What’s your choice? And more importantly, how will you recognize the triggers that may cause you to slip?