News Coming Soon!

Hello all!

Well, it’s been a while since I have posted! Apologies. I know you were all sitting and waiting with baited breaths.

There have been many substantial life changes for me since my last post in September. Where has the time gone?

Most notably, I am back in school studying geomatics, the technical term for surveying technology. Thus, a large chunk of my time has been dedicated to getting back into the swing of school and, you know, making the grade and all!

All that to be said, stand by for some new additions to Stoic Sobriety. I’m staring down the barrel of one year of sobriety. I have learned so much about myself and my place and purpose in life. Stoic philosophy remains tantamount to my understanding of life’s little curveballs and how to deal with them (which often means relegating them to the “out of my control” subheading!)

Make sure and add me to your RSS feed. I’m really excited about the future of this site!

Toby Keith: A Philosopher For Our Generation

I’ll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with a good saying.

Seneca, On Tranquility Of Mind, 11.8

I’m starting to question my reality. I was forced to endure a country song I’ve heard a 27garbage_600thousand times and actually took something from it. Toby Keith’s song “Ain’t Much Fun” has imparted some wisdom on me. Mr. Keith (because I know you are reading), I respect you as an artist, being one myself. I like country music, but I am a purist. While I can’t say I particularly enjoy your lexicon of work, I will say thank you for this song.

The premise of the song is of a man getting sober and returning to real life. Chores, the “honey-do” list, the everyday routine of life. It’s very tongue in cheek, but the reality of it is, well, my reality. I don’t get to go out an party all the time, drinking away my problems for another day and time. I can’t go to work and drink the whole time (I’m a musician) and then come home and do it again scot-free. At this point, why would I? Things creak and cramp hard enough in the morning without a hangover.

I know that a fear that many people in recovery have is how to cope with being sober. One question is whether they will get boring, whether they can have fun sober. Continue reading “Toby Keith: A Philosopher For Our Generation”

That’s Just Your Opinion, Man

Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinion about the things: for example, death is nothing terrible, for if it were, it would have seemed so to Socrates; for the opinion about death, that it is terrible, is the terrible thing. When, then, we are impeded or disturbed or grieved, let us never blame others, but ourselves, that is, our opinions. It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, neither to blame another, nor himself.

Epictetus, Encheiridion, V

Disclaimer: Reading this aloud to myself, it rattles of teenage angst. Emotions involved with anger are difficult dragons to slay. I am proud that I am able to take responsibility for my actions, to the point of blaming myself for things that I shouldn’t. This is a hard pill for me to swallow because I almost want to be the agitator, I don’t want to think others have done wrong. The fact of the matter is that I can’t blame myself for everything, only the things that I know I am directly responsible for. C.S Lewis stated that “true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less”. In this particular situation, I still find myself on the fence. I haven’t discovered the true resolution if one is possible. I would rather face this than sweep it under the rug, cognizant of my lack of definitive proof against myself or a surefire resolution.

Resentment is an ugly, awful feeling. There are a couple of people to this day, as hard as I have fought in my mind, that I continue to harbor varying degrees of residual resentment towards. One, in particular, has become very troubling. I started to really analyze this problem and figure out how much of it is me, picking individual elements and situations apart to see if I was the ultimate cause.

According to the dictionary, resentment is a feeling of “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”. If I adhere to this definition, I’m not truly resentful. I’m angry, to the point that I don’t want anything to do with the situation any longer. Continue reading “That’s Just Your Opinion, Man”

Sobriety Without Sanctimony

If you have assumed a character above your strength, you have both acted in this matter in an unbecoming way, and you have neglected that which you might have fulfilled.

Epictetus, Encheiridion, XXXVII

soapboxThis may be the last time I get sober, but it surely wasn’t the first. I would be interested in viewing statistics on the number of people that truly quit on their first attempt. I am currently trying to quit chewing tobacco as well, for the umpteenth time. I gave myself a grace period after I quit drinking alcohol. Nicotine is a real hard demon to get off your back. And from an earlier experience, quitting both at the same time is nightmarish.

A couple of years ago, I achieved a successful and fairly long-lived quit. One day, I woke up and decided I had had enough. I put down the alcohol and cigarettes on the same day and walked away. The next week was one of the most physically painful weeks of my life. It made my body hurt so bad. My brain felt as if it was barely functioning, wrapped in a fog of incoherence. I found myself constantly looking at online “quit timelines”, making sure that the sensations I was feeling were normal and trying to calculate when they would end.

One side effect that was not described anywhere in the medical information I found was an increased sense of sanctimony and self-righteousness. I had developed this “holier-than-thou” attitude over time towards anyone who drank. I seriously thought that I was stronger than them, better than them, cleaner than them. In retrospect, I was probably a deplorable drag to be around for a period of time.

Soapboxes are portable platforms that public speakers use to elevate themselves above the crowd. Before the advent of corrugated cardboard, many trade products like vegetables or fruits were packed into wooden boxes for the shipment of wholesale merchandise to retail establishments. These wooden boxes were chosen as mobile platforms for impromptu speeches, oftentimes for a political or spiritual purpose. In America, the period after World War I was considered the heyday of soapboxing. There was very little money in circulation for a majority of the population so these “soapbox preachers” served as cheap entertainment. Often, unrest would result between these amassed crowds and local authorities because the crowds would block walkaways or disturb vehicular traffic. There were cases of local law enforcement attempting to disband “street meetings” out of fear of social unrest and the possibility of an outbreak of violent protesting.

Between 1907 and 1916, street oratory was widely practiced amongst members of the International Workers of the World, a union and labor movement based on socialist and communist policies. Many members of the socialist movement used the soapbox method to hone and sharpen their political acumen, in many cases to spearhead the cause of free speech brought on by attempted censure by local governments.

I have been guilty of soapboxing my sobriety. My attitude about being sober was to the point of irritating zealotry. One of the goals of the AA program is to help and give back, to turn from selfish behaviors and attempt to help those that need it. By looking down my nose at those who drank alcohol, the only thing I accomplished was disenfranchizing everyone around me. I had become just as irritating sober as I had been when I was drunk.

This time, with the help of AA and the true and heartfelt willingness to better myself and change, I have kept my teetotalling attitude in check, or at least internal. I can not look you in the eye and admit that I haven’t had moments where the old attitude has crawled into my head. Fortunately, I am honing my ability to examine my sentiments and dissect why I am having those feelings and thoughts in the first place. Admittedly, it is often because I am jealous of those who can moderate. I find those thoughts happening less and less, but they still exist on occasion.

I have consciously and actively reframed how and if I even speak about my sobriety. First of all, I don’t go around and talk about my sobriety to just anyone who will listen or has a pair of ears; they don’t hear it whether they want to or not. If people ask about it, my goal is not to tell them that quitting is best and they should because of reasons x,y, and z. Rather, I describe how it has enriched my life, made me a better person, more cognizant of my actions and how I have really begun to find the real me through self-realization. I want to be the person that is here to help and listen to someone who believes that they have had a problem, not the person who preaches to those who may not have a problem in the first place. I have come to see that there is a vast difference between drinking alcohol and being a true alcoholic. It is not my job to regulate those who can moderate. My job is to regulate myself and live my best life so I can be of the best use for those who need help.

I have placed my soapbox in the darkest corner of my closet to collect dust. My object is to be the best me I can, to lead by example and lend a helping hand. As classic Roman philosopher Cicero stated, “men were brought into existence for the sake of men that they might do one another good”.

Advice From Napoleon

 

In war the general alone can judge of certain arrangements. It depends on him alone to conquer difficulties by his own superior talents and resolution.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon’s Art of War, Maxim LXVI

In an earlier post, I utilized a quote from Marcus Aurelius that encourages a person to ask for help, to not be afraid and accept that there are many occasions and circumstances we can not nor should we tackle alone. Friendship and community are one of the foundations to successfully quitting drinking. Hence why groups such as AA are as popular as they are. I could not have done this alone. Swallowing my pride and asking for help created a sense of courage in me that I knew that I had but was too stubborn to use. It’s hard to say if I would have discovered this fully on my own, but joining an AA group aided in the willingness to self-exam and lead me to that goal.

Napoleon Bonaparte has been called a giant for the ages. His military prowess is considered to be on a scale rarely seen before in human history. Continue reading “Advice From Napoleon”

Thunderous Silence

And let silence be the general rule, or let only what is necessary be said, and in few words.

Epictetus, Encheiridion, XXXIII

My mother always taught me that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But it’s not just about nicety. If you can’t say anything constructive, stay silent.

How hard it is to just keep our mouths shut sometimes! Social media has its positive and negative attributes, but in my personal opinion, the negative has a tendency to outweigh the positive, especially in our divisive era. I guarantee there are a plethora of examples of amazing positivity. I think you know from experience, though, that if you were to receive 99 positive comments and one scathing criticism, which one would you focus on the most? Human nature is to respond violently to negativity, even it is some vitriolic firebrand trolling out of boredom. Because we want to be liked, we crave thinking someone cares or is interested in our lives. On my YouTube channel, I always get a chuckle when someone takes the time to give me a thumbs down on an instructional video. We get it, thou dedicated misanthrope. You hate learning!

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Including mine about the pitfalls of social media. Continue reading “Thunderous Silence”

Define Your Environment: Addiction and the Art Of War

Sun_Tzu_open_rights
Sun Tzu

The addictive mind is a battlefield. Everyday occurrences that are mundane and routine to some people can be a complicated mix of emotions for someone coping with addiction. There are many little instances during the day that I still find myself trying to remember how to do things sober or breaking routines and patterns that I developed while I was drinking. For example, I travel the same route to a gig once a week. I usually stop at the same gas station. For a couple of weeks, I found myself walking unintentionally towards the beer cooler. I had no intention of drinking; I had no craving. It was simply a pattern. It was as if I was a deer, traveling the same game trail every day to my food, water or bedding source. It was a simple, nearly animalistic, behavior. The same can be said of coping with your environment. Your environment absolutely determines attitude and behavior and vice versa, at least for me it does. Continue reading “Define Your Environment: Addiction and the Art Of War”

The Safety Of Life

The safety of life is this, to examine everything all through, what it is itself, what is its material, what the formal part; with all thy soul to do justice and to say the truth. What remains except to enjoy life by joining one good thing to another so as not to leave even the smallest intervals between?

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 12.29

Life is life. It happens every day, with or without our input. Every day is made up of small events that we string together in our waking hours. I would say that most of these events are unglamorous: brushing your teeth, what you eat for breakfast, your commute to work, relaxing at home. They are just a point of existence in a day. They still hold importance, for sure, but those aren’t the moments we focus on.

On your commute to work, a millennial pulls out in front of you while she is texting and driving. A little blue-haired lady with a handicapped placard is going 15 miles an hour under the speed limit. An overcompensation of a diesel truck rides your tailgate and then flies around you, giving you the finger as his show of appreciation. These little moments are the ones that make you lose sight of the glorious sunrise, that first cup of coffee, the soft words or lips of your significant other, your ever-faithful cat reminding you how hungry he is and that he loves you. Continue reading “The Safety Of Life”

The Honeymoon is Over

A dear friend of mine who attends my home group sagely advised me that if I was starting to feel worse, I was getting better. I was told this about 30 days into sobriety. I had just achieved my first chip and I was on cloud nine. (Many AA groups use a colored chip system for varying lengths of sobriety). I didn’t get his gist at all. I felt better in mind, body, and spirit than I had in a very long time. Sure, it’s a daily uphill battle, but to this point, I was flying up that hill.

His experienced prediction was right, though. I started to feel the end of the honeymoon period very recently, right around my 90-day celebration. A little context: Continue reading “The Honeymoon is Over”