Friday, February 3, 2012

Meditations on a sober month part 1

Now that I'm done with my sober month its time to reflect upon what I've learned. Thanks to Amanda I found out I'm not the only one who's had this idea:

For years I thought my lack of specific goals was a problem. I'd read through other people's bucket lists and look for inspiration for my own. But now I don't think life is about "checking things off my list," I don't ever want to feel like my life's work is done. I want to explore the world rather than subject it to my will.

Another thing I've been thinking a lot about is what I'm good (or improved) at and what I'm bad at. First the good. I'm generally optimistic about life, I can reflect on my past without regret. I used to try to forget who I was or where I came from, I hated pictures because they reminded me of the past. But now I've realized that was foolish, Past Paul is the one who got me here, I should be grateful and proud. And as a result I've gained an affinity for pictures - they're an homage to how I got to today.

More recently I've become better at not obsessing with staying busy and learning to say no. I learned years ago that I can't relax by being idle, watching a movie doesn't help me destress it just pauses my stress which then comes back as soon as its over. To truly destress I need to be physically or socially active, but I had taken it so far. When my schedule is over-booked everyday things like laundry, dishes or calling my family become additional sources of stress. Plus the more I try to do the less value I attach to each particular thing. Learning to say no has helped here, there's no reason for me to try to fit a workout, laundry and trivia into one weeknight. My friends won't abandon me if I can't make it out one Tuesday. Also this past month I've become a lot better at thinking introspectively. I've always had trouble articulating my thoughts verbally, writing has always been easier (the backspace button helps.) But over the past month I've been able to take a more objective view of my life, hence this post.

Now, what I'm bad at. Part of my month of drinking was about not doing the easy thing. Although I accomplished my goal, I don't think I did enough with my time. I certainly read, wrote and thought more, some of which was hard but nothing that I wasn't already accustomed to. February's theme needs to be more about going beyond my comfort zone. In some ways I need to become better at giving up control. I don't like crowds, I don't like airplanes, not because of the inherent risk but because I'm not controlling the risk. Yet if I only put myself in situations where I'm in control then nothing unexpected will happen. Often its the unexpected things that happen or people you meet that are the best. I also need to stop trying to hard to seek the approval of others. Not that I want others to hate me but on occasion it has stopped me from doing what I wanted to do or maintain relationships I didn't want to maintain. Some people won't like me, its a fact of life I don't need to change their minds or pretend that I like them. One last thing that I'm bad at (for now) is following through or following up. I've always been more of an idea person than a details person, in other words I'm good at starting and bad at finishing. But if I'm not going to finish why bother starting? And finally I'm bad at spending money. Not because I think I spend too much or too little but because for months I'll think its ridiculous to pay $8 for lunch but then be totally ok with dropping $2k in Vegas over a long weekend.

More to come.

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