Mine’s food; computer solitaire in a pinch. I haven’t played solitaire since
Oct. 10 (the day I heard Anne Lamott talk about being involved in your life). I still feel the itch every time I sit at the computer.
Nobody ever died playing solitaire, of course, but plenty of us have wasted precious hours because it’s easier than engaging with the world around us. Same principle as any other substance abuse of choice.
Now, the reasons we wish to dis-engage are infinite. I won’t presume to guess anyone else’s — heck, I can barely figure out mine.
We talked about this in Sunday School last week as we finished our discussion of Lamott’s “Stitches,” in which she mentions that for the alcoholic, neither 1 drink nor 1,000 are enough. We talked about the freedom that comes with discipline, although until I read Tom Junod’s Esquire reverie on Philip Seymour Hoffman, I wasn’t familiar with the 1876 quote of Flaubert’s in which he told a correspondent: “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
But regularity, orderliness and discipline can be in short supply if you’re one of those damaged people with a wind tunnel inside.
Real nourishment — spiritual, psychological and physical — helps with wind tunnels. But those of us with hardcore problems (“I’ll just have 1 tablespoonful of chocolate chips, honey”) need the rules quoted by British comic Russell Brand after Hoffman’s death. (Yes, I know, it’s odd to be quoting Brand on rules, but his 800-word piece in Britain’s Guardian was full of experience, sanity, common sense and 10 years of sobriety.)
“All” he needs to do, Brand says, is not pick up drugs or drink. Every day. One day at a time. Make it ’til bedtime. Nobody who’s lived it pretends it’s easy, this business of walking away when life socks you in the gut, of telling yourself it will be better in the morning and believing it without any chemical or caloric crutches.
Sometimes you can walk away on the sheer strength of how accomplished you feel the next day. Other times, you need someone to talk you through it (a sponsor, a spouse, a Higher Power). Sometimes you go tour that wind tunnel for a while, see it’s not so scary after all and settle in another room, away from the kitchen, with a good, new book.