Thought of the Day: “I prefer not to”

While in rehab, a fellow drunkard explained his life this way: “when you boil a frog, the water has to start off cool. If it starts too hot, the frog will jump out”.

I don’t know if that’s true. I never boiled a fucking frog before. But the analogy seemed appropriate. When we jump into our addictions, it starts off cool. The longer we stay in it, the heat rises and then it’s too late. We’re boiled.

I’ve been sober for just over three months. Honestly, I’ve made it look easy. It hasn’t been difficult necessarily, but there’s been many times where it’s crossed my mind….To dip my toes into drinking, have a swig or two because no one will find out. But that’s how it starts. The waters are cool in the beginning, but it progressively gets hotter. The next thing I know, I’m boiled. So I’ve decided to step off that merry-go-round. But I’ve spent most of my adult life on that ride. I try to block the past from my mind when  the weekends or evenings come around and I’m all alone. That’s the way I once did things but not now. And I must admit, it’s strange sometimes to sleep in on the weekends, only to wake up and find myself NOT hungover. But that’s been nearly every weekend since turning 21.

But I’m reevaluating myself, trying to find a new identity under my newfound sobriety. And what I’m finding is surprising. My favorite episode so far of Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite is where she visits a “loaf coach”, played by Jason Mantzoukas. Maria wishes to avoid overextending  herself and being back in a psyche ward due to stress. Mantzoukas attempts to teach her to “loaf” and avoid taking on too much responsibility. This naturally fails, nevertheless Maria learns a valuable lesson in….taking it easy? Honestly, I don’t remember, it’s been a few days. But the episode stuck out to me because I found myself wanting to be Jason Mantzoukas’ character. Hell, I wouldn’t mind being Mantzoukas the man. That being said, I guess we all wouldn’t mind loafing around the house all day, but the episode taught me a lesson in not rushing things.

In the end we all die. So I might as well enjoy the ride towards death.

I don’t know if that’s what the episode was saying. But that’s what I took out of it.

I vaguely recall Slavoj Zizek, in one of his many interviews that you can see on YouTube, once wearing a shirt that read “I prefer not to”. I later learned that that’s a reference to Herman Melville’s short story Bartleby, the Scrivener about a man that turns lazy while working on Wall Street. I never read it, and probably never will. Not because “I would prefer not to”, but because, well….I’m lazy. So yeah, “I would prefer not to”. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I saw Zizek’s shirt as an endorsement of laziness.

I mentioned in an earlier post how I was dreading turning 30. It’s amazing how people are living much longer, yet culture still embraces youth like it means something. “30 under 30” are bullshit columns that we find littering the internet. And now we find more people than ever going through a “quarter life crisis” because we’re told that we have to accomplish shit early if we are to ever find success in life. Despite thinking that I was better than that, I came to find out that I wasn’t immune to that sense of dread either. So I pushed myself into getting a second degree and falsely believed that I was capable of handling a managerial job.

Living life in America, we’re told to do MORE. As some asshole explained to me, it’s part of our “protestant work ethic”.  (Fuck that guy, by the way) And now we have a generation of people buried under student loan debt dissatisfied with their employment because “it’s not what they went to college for”. Additionally, a fuckton of people are being diagnosed with a mental disorder and many more are becoming addicted to prescription medication, alcohol, opioids, and who knows what else. And few of us have the money to pay for all of our student and medical bills. Because of this “DO MORE” attitude, everyone is fucking miserable and addicted to something.

So here’s a revolutionary idea: do less. You know that you want to. Are you pushing 40 and stuck in a dead-end job that you love? Fuck it! You were meant to do that job!

But the larger lesson to be learned is: you don’t have to wait for something to be happy. You can choose to be in that state RIGHT NOW. No amount of money, college degrees, job responsibilities, houses, cars, etc. are necessary to achieve that. In fact, the less shit you have…the happier you’ll probably be. But it’s something that you and I have to bring to ourselves, nothing (or no one) else can do that.

As some wise people once said:

“I’m in a hurry to get things done. Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die. But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”

Yes, I quoted the band Alabama. Don’t fucking judge.

So I’ve decided to slow down. It’s a hell of a lot better option than making a return to drinking.

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