19 November 2006

The Remedy

Nature is notoriously parsimonious with pleasure so many try to engineer their own. Throughout recorded time humans have sought a higher level of happiness to soften the hard edges of life. Lush leaves in Amazonian jungles have long competed with fiery liquids distilled from grain. The trouble is, chemical stimulants have a woefully short-lived effect on mood. Mind-altering they may be, but not for long.

I wanted a happiness molecule, a slice of hormone pie. "Anyone know how this hypothalamus works?" I might have shouted. "How do I dial up more Adrenaline, Testosterone or Serotonin?" Many years ago I swallowed a big daily ration of liquid brewed from hops to numb my pain and distort reality into something more sufferable. I chose to swamp my brain’s natural chemical balance rather than try to understand it. "Hey bartender, gimme a pint of Endorphin!"

I read but failed to grasp the wise words of philosophers who spoke of the courage to change what I can, the strength to accept what I can’t and the wisdom to distinguish between the two. I was miserable at work, at home and at play but instead of addressing those issues and developing solutions I drank the day away and pretended tomorrow was light years away.

What I really wanted was steady and reliable happiness but my immature mind and undeveloped aspirations had not figured out the most effective solution. Oh, and I was also waiting for a certain someone to be born and grow up, although I didn’t know that then…

In 2006 these events have happened to me concurrently.

Early retirement
Major change in life habits
Sons leaving home
Sale of house

I show signs of anxiety but they pass. Matters beyond my control still frustrate me but I take a deep breath. In my thirties I would have collapsed under the weight but approaching fifty I have somehow acquired the strength to cope with these experiences.

I wonder if you can ever proclaim you are cured of the thought processes associated with addiction but certainly the evil seed can be rendered dormant or even impotent. Skills acquired during sobriety form a foundation and it is up to us what we build on it. For many years I regarded building that foundation as my sole objective.

My long march through time took me through bland countryside, along narrow, mundane roads. I saw the horizon but distant panoramic vistas remained just that. I existed in a world of waiting, strengthening my foundation. Eventually I had put sufficient time and distance between me and my youthful demons for enthusiasm and interest to raise their sleeping heads. I began looking more closely at my surroundings.

True, I had achieved some stability and reached a plateau of comfort. But there must be more than this, oh so much more…

I had tricked myself into believing I was waiting only for some catalyst to explode me from my rut but in truth I had been prepared for longer than I thought. When love came she arrived hard and fast without warning but I was ready. No respecter of age or geography she wrenched me into a new life of excitement and potential, a beautiful life in which two souls can live like one.

Every day a natural chemical rush tells me this is life and how it should be lived.

"All I want is 20/20 vision
A total portrait with no omissions
All I want is a vision of you"

Blondie – Picture This

14 November 2006

Packing a life in boxes

... in a material sense, all I ever wanted fits into a dozen small tea chests. But reduce life to its core value and all I ever needed is just a long-haul flight away. Possessions are what define us so I will ship my boxes and enjoy opening them under a different sky.