Friday, January 19, 2007

The Fine Line Between Hope and Narcissim

A conversation I was having last night has led me to ponder some things about myself, the people around me, and life in general. I consider myself an optimistic person. I believe humanity has a lot of potential and great things can come about if we try as individuals and as a collective. I believe most people know between right and wrong and most try to choose the path that causes the least amount of suffering. Sometimes we can lose ourselves in the busy and flashy world we live in today, but usually something is there to ground us. I often know, that in the profession that I currently spend most of time, and depending what segment of the population I am working with, it can seem the opposite. At my primary job (as of now) I serve alcohol to a group of people which have a difficult time finding acceptance in mainstream society. Some have families and/or friends that have rejected them for who they are. Others, while more comfortable with loved ones wrestle with self imposed images from their subculture. Still others get bogged down from the everyday pressures of life and its sometimes elusive purpose. Others just do not see the possibilities in life and are bored.
As someone who believes everyone has potential and something to offer others, this can often seem like a waste to me. Constantly drinking to take your self away from what you would rather not contemplate. Yes, I love my glass of wine (or two) with dinner, and I do like to drink. But I see drinking more as a reward for work well done. For when you've squeezed every bit of yourself out that you can for that day, week or month. This idea combined with my "drinking only when it is dark" rule are in part restraints for myself. This keeps me on target, allows me to see drinking alcohol as something other than the everyday, and most of all helps curb what is an addictive personality. I believe I know what I am talking about since I have been that person before, that drinks all the time everyday. Then you go to work (well most do) and to cope with how bad your body feels, and/or how bad you feel when the pressure from life that you have not attended to starts to mount up, you do it again. Before you know it, life has flashed before your eyes. In a sober moment you realize that maybe you are not where you want to be in your relationships with loved ones or family, or your job is a dead end job, or you wish you would have done things differently in your life.
That moment I believe is the crucial moment in many of our lives. The moment we either decide to live or just keep existing. It is the moment we can decide to face our problems in life and work with what we have. Many people take that route and continue to grow as people. But many others decide that the alternative, the safe, comfortable life is more appealing, and continue with their current path. I am no stranger to addiction and I know the damage it does to your health, mental, physical and spiritually. I also know that in this state of mind a person (as I once was) is the least receptive and/or willing to listen to anything else other than what they perceive will alleviate the situation and/or pain immediately. You begin to contemplate your problems and if you've ignored them and/or the pain of life for a while it seems like they will crush you. The sweet allure of becoming intoxicated and forgetful are powerful aphrodisiacs during these moments (whether it be alcohol or other substances). I know the allure and it is powerful, but I think it is strongest for those who view themselves in the least amount of light and pride (no, I do not always think pride is bad). Those who constantly demean themselves or others are known by their calling card of caddy remarks, insensitive jokes, or plain outright rude behavior.
Most humans are very perceptive and usually know what must be done, we just do not like hearing it from others (myself included). From experience, changing ourselves can be one of the most difficult and painful things we experience, but just like that kick-your-ass-work-project or that mile you just ran, you feel proud and more confident after it is done. You learn something about yourself, life and people in general, and it makes you a better person. I know many consider my views narcissistic, and at times I can be. In knowing what I have experienced, and hoping the best for those I care about to learn their full potentials as beautiful human beings I'd rather you see me as being optimistic and encouraging rather than narcissistic, but in the end I'd rather be happy with myself than whether or not you are happy with me.

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