The Dave Matthew’s Band’s song Two Step is my theme song for life. It basically exemplifies how I feel about my existence on earth. I see my life as a gift, and seek always to celebrate that gift in every moment of life that I can.
A also tend to be a believer in the ideal that a life lived observing moderation, will be a far more successful, far more empowering, and generally happier life than a life lived observing abstinence.
I honestly have a strong belief that abstinence, in so many areas of life, leads to depression, disempowerment, and destruction for numerous people who believe that it is the only way to go.
We have seen glaring examples of this with priests who have been given the burden of living a life of sexual abstinence, and yet we often fail to look closely at the burden that we are putting on an addict when we tell them that they are powerless over their disease, and that they must beg and plead for some greater power to help them avoid what they long for, for the rest of their entire lives.
Believe me, I know that this is a controversial belief. Take into account however, that as a chaperone for my foster boys who were in substance abuse treatment, I have sat through hours and hours of meetings with people who had some of the worst drug addictions that could possibly be imagined, and I still came out feeling this way in the end.
In asking a person who seems not to know when enough of something is enough to stay away from that thing forever, are we taking celebration away from them? Are we taking away the joy of indulging in one of god’s vehicles for engaging in the great experience of living?
In telling an obese person that they must stop indulging in the blissful experience of tasting the culinary masterpieces that are abundantly available to them in life, are we telling them that they must give up their greatest love for the sake of living?
Why go on?
I believe that when we approach the damaging overconsumption of any one thing in this life, most of us go about it the wrong way.
It is like western medicine, where we put a Band-Aid on a wound and allow it to fester. Where we medicate diseases, and cut out cancers, and rarely seek out the reason why the body is plagued by these maladies.
We do this with addiction. Human beings overindulge because their life is missing something. We over-consume to fill a hole, to numb a pain, to forget a loss.
Addicts are people who are in desperate need of compassion, of counseling, of community support, and of recognition that they are suffering.
They need to be seen by the people in their lives, and they need to be simply offered help.
If someone offered you help by telling you that they were going to take away your favorite thing in the world, and you would be all better, would you let them?
Alcoholism is one of the most prevalent and destructive diseases in our society. It is also more strongly associated with celebration and conversely with loss than any other thing in our lives.
With a glass of wine in hand, I have celebrated the marriages of countless friends, toasted to the life of a dear young friend who was lost far to early, talked out one of the most difficult challenges in my own marriage, toasted the finality of a friends divorce, and mourned the unexpected loss of opportunity.
In our society alcohol embodies the living of life, but instead of looking at people who overindulge, and searching for what it is in their life that is driving them to do so, we tell them that the solution is to stop.
We tell them that to survive, they must give up their favorite thing. In many cases where the body is suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse this is true, but do we ever consider the fact that if this suffering person had been given an optimistic introduction to the idea that they were capable of moderation, it may have never gone this far?
We only offer the option of abstinence as a solution, and I think that we may do it to absolve ourselves of responsibility for what the addict in our lives was suffering while we stood aside and did nothing to help them, or didn’t even notice that they were in need.
No one person can ever take the suffering away from another. Sometimes it takes a family, a village, a community. So often the people that we hold dear in our lives are suffering silently without us having ANY idea what they are going through.
Reach out to those that you love as often as you possibly can, because you may never know how desperately they need you in that very moment. Set a good example for the people in your life by embracing moderation to its fullest and embodying a healthy balanced human life.
As to the life; truly live it. Drink up every moment, and savor every smile. Be grateful when you wake up each day and have the opportunity to share your love with those who are important to you, because this life just doesn’t last forever.
Sometimes, in the bad times, we feel like it is too difficult to be there for others, or that there is nothing that we can do to help, and that isn’t true. Be there for the ones that you love when it is awkward, when you are scared, and when you feel that you have little to offer, because your presence will always make a difference, and someday you will need them to be there for you too.