His Enlightened Sobriety

Some of our most loyal customers at the shop are the human pigeons who are passing a point in life where a master circuit breaker has been reset. They are scratching along, starting to hop, with a mind toward testing out their wings. While they are poor tippers, I really like these pigeons, because I identify with them. I myself found some salvation while frequenting a coffee shop in California, and at the moment, I’m starting to hop around, dizzied by the navigable opportunities, at the moment interviewing with a company which may find me leaping into the air to return to California!

He told me he’d found a bag of weed, just sitting there. What fortune! He figured he could probably get $5 by selling it to somebody. After carrying this bag for a little while, he got rid of it. He figured that this would be just the time to find himself in the middle of a misunderstanding with the cops, who would find him in possession of an illegal substance in which he had no interest.

That he was more inclined to sell than to smoke, makes me think that this baggie presented itself to him, not as a test but more of a demonstrative reminder. It was entirely his doing that a nickel of pot should be viewed as one thing, and not the other. Of course, now he has an even clearer view: that found herb is just trouble.

In a previous life, he’d have just smoked it, perhaps sharing his good fortune with a friend. In this life, he wouldn’t do such a thing because he is aware of a personal limitation. This limitation can be painful in a culture where pretty girls are found at bars and a happy trip in a bag can be just plain found to offer itself to you. The whole point to Recovery, in which he is presently engaged, is to make sense of this limitation.

We all have limitations. There are things we can never do. He can never drink alcohol again, because he knows that it will conspire against him to serve its own thirst. The pain of this self-imposed prohibition, the burden of this limitation, is a price paid for enlightenment. He may be limited in a way that others of us are not, but he is also enlightened in a way that others of us are not. How many of us can point out the mortal personal danger in some activity that others regard as mostly harmless?

Hell, I might have smoked it, but then I have yet to endure the gnashing cataclysm of a full-on substance abuse. (Though I sometimes flirt with and on occasion even reach my hand up the skirt of such catastrophes.) I have not consummated any relationship with substance abuse because I tend towards the impotence of uncertainty in the brilliant light of abundantly diverse possibilities. I am frequently reluctant to commit myself to any lifestyle that wishes to consume me.

He has paid a great price for his enlightenment, and he will continue to pay with his sobriety. This is how we become enlightened, and subsequently wise, instead of merely “educated” – by suffering and rejoicing in the direct experience. Addiction and sobriety are both great examples of something that can be alternately painful and exhilarating. Sobriety offers the pain of limitation with the exhilaration of knowing that you’ll be alive and consciously in control of yourself such that you can more directly realize the oft-obscured kick we can get from living with ourselves and amongst our others. Sobriety is that tingle you get when you step away from the ledge with a grin at what a great deal you’ve struck by declining the world’s offer of the final death experience of suicide.


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