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Day 18 – The Garden Path

“Don’t trip over your own feet by worrying about the sidewalk” – Mom

I deliberately mis-named this post to echo the idiom ‘being led down the garden path’ because I think it reflects a suspicion I feel sometimes when things are too easy.

Like I learned from horror movies, “it’s quiet… too quiet” When I hit my stride and things seem easy, I sometimes start wondering what I’m missing and start worrying. This is a personality flaw of mine, and something that I seek refuge from with drinking.

This month I’ve had some great moments where this tendency to worry has gotten in the way. I think I can safely say Dryuary is at least some kind of challenge to everyone doing it – we probably wouldn’t have signed up otherwise. But for most people there are times when it’s hard and times when it’s easier. I’ve noticed that my worry creeps in when it’s easier, and that deprives me of the much needed rest and respite needed to get through challenges like this.

Sometimes a garden path is just a garden path. Sometimes, I’m just up early on a Sunday morning because I want to make it to the farmer’s market and get sheep milk so I can make my own cheese, and I’m not hungover. Saying hello to the early morning is one of the things I like best about moderation.

And I don’t want to think about it too much and have to ‘be grateful.’ Not really. It’s more like I want to not-think about it. I want to just stand in the fresh smells and mulling crowd, people stamping snow off their feet and chattering with their children, my backpack weighted down with jams, apples and jugs of milk as I bite down on a crisp, warm croissant. I want to just feel that moment and relax into it. I don’t want to be ‘mindful’ about doing this either. I don’t want to meditate about the ‘flow’ and remind myself to appreciate the day. I want to be mindless, unaware, just relaxed.

You know… the way I feel when I’m drinking… I mean, that carefree feeling is 99% of why I drink, why can’t I find it in the rest of my life? It’s literally a state of mind that exists within me. It’s potential is there, if only I can find it. If only I can put aside my worries, if only I could avoid tripping over my own feet.

Mom, I remember your advice, but I don’t always know how to follow it.

The idea of seizing the moment is an old one. But how do you experience it with less effort and attention and all those things that seem awfully stressful considering you’re supposed to be enjoying something and now have to really think about whether you’re doing it right? Setting a timer to remind myself to meditate seems like the wrong way to go about it – relaxation on a strict schedule.

The ancient Greeks had different words for time and how we experience it. I stumbled across them the other day – chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to chronological time, the latter signifies something a little different. Kairos is a proper or opportune time for action. While chronos is sequential and quantifiable, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature to it. It’s sometimes translated as ‘the times’ and in Christian theology it’s used to mean ‘the appointed time in the purpose of God.’

I think that’s the feeling I’m looking for. The sense that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, that I’m perfectly in my place, in my life, on my path, at the right time. It’s effortless because it’s perfectly placed. It doesn’t need worry or mindfulness because there’s nothing to analyse. It’s kairos. It’s complete in itself.

Don’t seize the moment when you’re sober, just open up to kairos in your day. Life is hard enough, even when it’s easy. Don’t make it harder on yourself by only allowing yourself to relax when you’ve got a drink in your hand. We can just stop and look for a moment – a kairos – and appreciate the wonder and liveliness of the winter’s market and the bounty of creation. Admire the colours, scents and sounds around us in their dazzling display. Warm ourselves with the joy at the good fortune that brought us to this market that would be the envy of people throughout the world and throughout time. The kairos of the many, many blessings of that fill our senses. We don’t need to reach for them, we just need to let them in.

Post Submitted by: Jonathan
Jonathan M. Langley is the author of Re-think Your Drinking: 5 practical tips to cut back on alcohol