I read this yesterday and it perfectly sums up why moderate drinking doesn’t work for me but abstinence does.
“Bright lines…are clear, simple, unambiguous rules. You can’t help but notice when you cross a bright line. If you promise yourself to drink or smoke “moderately,” that’s not a bright line. It’s a fuzzy boundary with no obvious point at which you go from moderation to excess. Because the transition is so gradual and your mind is so adept at overlooking your own peccadilloes, you may fail to notice when you’ve gone too far. So you can’t be sure you’re always going to follow the rule to drink moderately. In contrast, zero tolerance is a bright line: total abstinence with no exceptions anytime.”
For those of us who feel bad because our enthusiasm for alcohol means we don’t get to have any at all, maybe we should instead feel pride at our adept ability to overstep perceived peccadilloes, which is also a real mouthful.
If only we could apply bright lines to the gray areas of life, such as eating or relationships or productivity. I can’t realistically apply the bright line “no more snacks for you, chow hound!” though I could make a rule limiting what I allow myself to eat in the afternoons, ie “only fruit or green juice or small tubes of cardboard”. I could do that. I might. Who knows.
Too many rules leech at the balance between clean living and wanting to live in the first place. I am reminded of trying to put the octopus to bed. I remind myself I am sober, and this is the muscliest tentacle of all that gives strength to even think about dealing with the wispier ones.
I am reminded sometimes the heart just wants what the heart wants, and anyway, our fun-loving vices could always be worse.
I am a little sorry for the last link, so let’s cleanse the palate with this remix (thanks Joe! xoxo) featuring Fat Albert and the son of Alan Thicke, two important staples from childhood.