08 May 2009

Sacrifice

My last few posts here have been centered on addiction, on the feelings associated with engaging in some often self-destructive habit that feeds our own internal desire to cling to the familiar and explore the limits of desire, whether through indulgence or mere habitual acceptance to partake in a given vice. But what of the other side of that, of the drive that made me forego my usual comfort-zone addictions and delve into the realm of withdrawals?

Generally this severance is taken as part of a ritual of some sort, be it social, religious, or entirely personal; there are those who fast, or remove from themselves some other thing which causes them this suffering, in the hopes that this purity of body will bring to them an expanded consciousness or further their spiritual development; Christianity -- and Catholicism in particular -- has the annual deprivation rite of Lent, where one cuts unnecessary aspects of one's life to attain a clearer understanding of the concepts of resisting temptation and to represent the fasting Jesus undertook before being tempted by Satan in the desert. Then we have the social aspect, the rehabilitation clinics and 12-step programs to help people "get on the wagon" and find themselves in a state that's more socially "appropriate" so that they can continue to succeed, to be role models, to recapture the public's affections after a stormy fall from grace at the hands of heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

And why? What sense of this makes us feel as if this improves us as people? Is it that we feel that through intentional suffering, we steel ourselves against the inevitable sting of temptations that we must resist for their own sake? A human is only as strong as they will themselves to be, after all, so these trappings of tradition and ritual can certainly serve to bolster the mind that would otherwise falter, can bring one to a sense of self-satisfaction and purify the guilt that society so often heaps upon the addicted, no matter their affliction; we seek to prove to ourselves and to the world that we truly can "quit any time we want" and then, having made our point by lasting the 40 days of Lent, the 6 months to get that next tag, the first few weeks of intense withdrawals to be overcome, we allow ourselves the victory relapse of diving full-bore back into our own vexations and cravings; a congratulatory leap from the wagon to the watering hole, followed by the same repeating cycle of self-induced guilt forged from the taboos of sociopolitical ethos and group morality until we are driven again to seek the succor from our own imagined hell through the dedication to some other program, some other ritual of salvation through starvation of our basest desires.

I think that through this dedication to deprivation, we learn to see ourselves through limits rather than shortcomings; in addiction, in trying through futility to break such, we see only our failures and pitfalls. Through superceding that with some overdriven dedication to the removal of that aspect, we gain a control over ourselves and our existences; we shift or view not to that which holds us back, but that which we push against to become something greater either in our mind's eye or in the public's distorted sense of super-ego and semireligious group morality. This more positive spin on existing struggles brings us the hope and necessary strength to overcome our other weaknesses, to improve the force of our will that we might grow and mature and blossom into something more than what we were; through divesting ourselves of these fractuous clingings-on to unnecessary aspects of our lives, we find that we have strength beyond our own measure.

And so, fight on! If you find yourself addicted to something, remove it; not forever, not to prove to society that you can kick it to the curb, but to prove to yourself that you ARE capable of what you set your mind to. This is not a test, this is not a challenge; this is a suggestion to grow in yourself and expand your own mind through the dedication to yourself and your own life. Accept or deny it as you will.

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1 comment:

shirleytreasure said...

ummm! I gave up caffine 2-3 years ago because it put me on edge.
Now, sometimes I feel like I'm around the bend!!!
Great post & go easy on yourself.