Technically, the title could have just as easily been, “Life, Why It Works Sometimes and Fails Most…” But let’s keep it simple, shall we?
“I am an alcoholic, my name is Jim. Welcome to the [insert AA meeting name here]. This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you have a problem with drinking, you’re in the right place…”
“[Slurred] Damn right I’m an alcoholic! Gimme another round of [insert drink of choice here]!”
I can tell you right now, until I had a change in my thinking, my doing was going to be for shit.
For me, that first line has been a solution for a very long time. I have a great family, we have love, my bills get paid, my work gets done, I play a lot… My life is good. The second quote, of course, was the way I thought prior to sobering up, my life pretty much was a cross between a Motley Crüe song, a Country song, and a rap. Not good. The People of the State of Michigan could have been taking bets on how soon I’d flame out and cease to be. Many people would look at being stuck with alcoholism as a hindrance when the reality is, being a drunk and having to recover from it has been the single best thing that’s ever happened to me as a human being. I consider myself lucky that I can’t take a drink. See, every now and again AA comes under attack for being any number of things that it isn’t. I won’t go into the list because I’m not about to give any of that BS credence. What it really is, down to its core, is an instruction manual for being a good, productive member of society, for learning how to be happy amidst chaos. It is a fully descriptive, active map for how to be, for the lack of a better word, good. Not only when it comes to alcohol and abstaining from its intake, but for life in general.
I used to have some pretty major anger issues. It never came to any kind of physical assault, but I wielded the threat of physical violence like a blunt instrument (or so my wife took it – I always looked at it like, “Hey, I can’t hit you, so I’m going to put a hole in this wall” – my wife looked at it like, “Hey, if you don’t watch your step, this could be your face”… Semantics).
My marriage was in shambles for a while (even after I started working on the anger stuff). My wife and I were both seriously contemplating divorce, when it was pointed out, rather ingloriously, that were it not for my wife’s faults, she’d have picked a better man. That became the beginning of an entirely new way of thinking which became sustainable, long-term action. My wife and I have never been happier, honeymoon included. We’ve built a wonderful marriage that still has its up’s and down’s but it’s nowhere near the rollercoaster it used to be. Also, and this is important, my wife made several key changes too – marriage is a two-way street, not a street and a bike path.
It worked for my weight and physical fitness as well, though this one has proved to be a little more of a struggle, at least until I found cycling, now it’s all unicorns, rainbows and rah, rah speeches. Before cycling, however, getting fit and thin was actually work. I’ve written multiple times about that come to Jesus moment, when I decided I’d allow myself to get fat rather than bother finding a way around it. That moment, where I chose to do what I knew to be wrong in every way, shape or form you can look at it, was only a pivotal moment because I had already been clean and sober… Choosing to get fat was exactly like choosing to take a drink. Same end result, just a slower march to the demise.
The main point, of course, is that I cannot change anything with the same thinking that created the problem in the first place – I could not have hoped to lose weight and get fit, to turn a complete 180, without a complete change in thinking – otherwise I just end up banging my head against the wall, wondering why nothing ever changes. If you’re having a difficult time committing to your fitness, changing the thinking that created the problem in the first place is always a good place to start.