I came into sobriety knowing only one thing for certain , a fact that none of the thousand or so books I'd read nor the many words I'd written could help me feel deep in the bone, in the marrow, where it counted the most. I knew I didn't want to drink again, coming as close I cared to becoming a cheap, delusional , whiny punk petty criminal, gaunt, nervous and doomed to a tragic and end as cipher, a memory no one wants to recollect. But not until I accepted that I was doomed unless something happened was I able to stop arguing with an inevitable and walk the other way, up the hill, toward the sunlight of the spirit. It hardly mattered that I had no plans for the future, if I had any future at all; all that mattered was not drink today, not steal today, not lie today, not die today. That was nearly 29 years ago, and until I could admit that I was defeated and that my variety of jive was sounding stale even to myself, that I was beyond human aid of any sort, only then was I able to actually do something contrary to the compulsive behavior that made me the saddest sack you'd ever seen. Acceptance, and then change everything you're doing.
Self acceptance is one thing, but it seems to me that changing oneself is required in order to maintain a level of sanity that can return you sanity after the batterings, high and low and in-between, human existence brings us. We cannot remain stubbornly the same as a means of spiting those who attempt to add us to their particularized set of neurosis; learning how to change is an essential skill. Perhaps “change” is the wrong word, as its been co-opted and poisoned by every fad pop-psychology has heaped upon our mass-mediated culture. More appropriate, more useful, perhaps, would be “grow”. Screw trying to change yourself into a internet meme, our tasks is to remain teachable and to grow into new experience, to learn, to become wiser and more full of the love for the world as well as love for ourselves. Too many of us pay a sorry price for having an excess of one or the other. We can grow into ourselves into the world we find ourselves, as individuals, as citizens, as members of a community .
I realize the phrase “To thine own self be true” is a cliche that makes many cringe, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bad way to go. It’s a matter of how we do it. Besides gaining knowledge through experience, we should be able to gather wisdom as well. Or one would think.