My addictions strangle me when I’m unable to cope with situations. Hearing bad news kills. Chilling, defined here as succumbing to any addiction, then feels acceptable. If you’re anything like me, we need to re-enforce our defenses, rather than ask that the constant barrage of life’s perhaps-positives and perhaps-negatives cooperate with us. It would be nicer to have a conflict-free life. That won’t happen. Let’s instead try figuring out how to build up our defenses.
I don’t remember what stressed me out enough to possess me to drive home on my lunch break, drink enough 190-proof grain alcohol to get wasted almost immediately, before driving back into work to finish my shift. That event’s cleared out of my memory. It was certainly trivial, like someone saying something in a particular way I didn’t like or some process not working as it should, because I’ve encountered many harsher situations while sober.
Today marks five years since I last drank. I’ve since been in many bars, been around many people drinking, but have had good enough friends to respect me, and steward me through. “If I saw you with a bottle in your hand, I’d knock it out and ask ‘what the hell are you doing?’” My external resilience has enough fortitude to endure pretty much anything now. I think it’s the internal weakness that kills us.
I don’t meditate like most people. Traditional practice asks that you should empty your mind, clear your thoughts, and calmly sit. While I’ve had some success with this method for reaching thought equilibrium, I’ve had more success in float tanks (or when I have downtime) letting the errant thoughts freely roam, with the most success occurring after going in with challenging questions that need time to develop, like a photo of an unclaimed optimal future.
I used to profoundly respect anyone’s opinion. It’s not that I’m some kind of awful curmudgeon now. More that I refuse to freely accept anyone’s subjectivities about the world, or myself, until I’ve listened with my empathically critical ear to validate their true intentions. If the argument is reasonable enough, I’ll buy it. If not, I move on with my life. Why obsess over negative thoughts? Why not forget and carry on? That’s easy, right?
I have the technical aptitude, mental fortitude, and capacity to learn a few higher paying skills in my field. I’ve turned them all down. One director was stunned at my no. This is because I realized the work that will inspire me to wake up at 4AM to start my day is not and will never be their work. When you find that work, it’s easy. How do you find that work? Gotta dig deep.
I’ll sometimes ask questions a self-aware videogame character might ask to progress the story along. (…I was a character in a videogame…) Especially when there’s enough time for parting words, I like asking for advice. Along with the extra lives’s worth of experience, these are the most rewarding conversations, because when faced with the reality that we may never meet again, any pretenses are dropped, and we exchange unfiltered truths about ourselves and our realities.