My cousin, she’s 28 or so, just celebrated three years of sobriety. It wasn’t the first time she tried, but it’s been three years since she entered rehab hopefully for the last time. She keeps a very insightful and introspective blog and says that she writes all of the time, whether it be on her blog or, she says, “stepwork or journaling or on random napkins in restaurants or the notes section of my phone, writing has been the way I’ve processed nearly everything (good, bad, ugly & indifferent) since I got clean.”
So, I am not the only one who sees writing as salvation. Even though I don’t have the history she has, the same obvious struggles, I need it to center myself, to keep my eye on who I am and who I want to be. Though how often I let it slip.
Maybe this is why so many excellent memoirs come from people who have had serious struggles, drug addiction for one. It is not, as I sometimes have worried, that you need that, like as if because I wasn’t a drug addict, my life can’t be interesting to anyone.
The reason so many good memoirs, like those top selling Amazon singles written by Mishka Shubaly, address the painful struggles of their authors, is not because that’s the only thing worth writing about, or the only thing worth reading, it’s because those are the people who have to write, in order to save themselves. It’s not that their lives are more interesting than anyone else’s, it’s that they develop the skills to express themselves truthfully, because they have to, not just to thrive, but to survive.
My motivation isn’t as compelling. If I fall backwards I merely become irrelevant. I don’t get physically addicted to anything, I don’t become its slave, and I don’t die.
Of course, eventually we all die, and believe me, I am beginning to consider the very real possibility that I die before I achieve any of the things I set out to do, but I already can’t complain that I didn’t have a fair shot. It takes awhile to die, at least for the lucky ones, and I am a lucky one.
But I also want to be happy.
I can do what they do. I don’t need to be a drug addict. I just have to remember that it is as important to me, and it is. Besides, I have my own demons.
We’re not so different my cousin and I. I do things because I am unhappy that are just as ineffective as drugs. What I do may not be as damaging to me, may not get me fired, it may not take hold of me and threaten to become permanent, but it’s still counterproductive. And just cause I’m not addicted to the things I do to procrastinate, does not mean I don’t keep at them so much that I might as well be. I just never hit rock bottom. So what’s wrong with these distractions, if they make me happy?
They don’t. They placate me, like a drug.
I don’t even know why this is true, but the more I write, the better chance I have at happiness, even when it seems like all I’m doing is drudging up whatever pains me.
So I sit here at my local coffee shop drinking my herbal tea and writing. I would love to have the energy that a good cup of coffee promises, but it doesn’t deliver, not to me. I am not better, more creative on coffee. It’s one of those alternatives to what I should be doing. I like it, but I become less productive. It is actually a drug, of course, albeit mild. Fine for others, I’m sure, I’m not knocking coffee, but for me it’s a distraction. It is inflammatory. I can feel its subtle influence on me. On it, I dream about what could be, like it’s already here, and feel good about my achievements as if I didn’t just now dream them up. I can believe in myself, without any good reason. That’s what coffee is, when I should be pushing through whatever low I’m drinking coffee to offset. That’s what eating (often) is, what TV (often) is, what playing with my pussy is. They are shortcuts, except that don’t ever get me where I want to be. I feel good for a moment, and just end up feeling like a failure. It is like I shot up heroin and lied down on the couch to feel good. I might as well have. I need to put that in my memoirs.