This is what a week of sobriety looks like:
Everyone is stupid.
Coffee becomes the single most satisfying substance on the planet.
Everything in existence is irritating.
Everyone knows when you’re lying, and this, of course, is maddening.
Friends and family have never been more annoying, but they’re essential to your survival.
Promise, you realize, is the greatest commodity known to man.
And one day of truly living can make you regret you ever wasted yourself on anything other than life.
I spent this past Sunday with a woman I barely knew, who I now consider a dear friend—a woman who makes me want to be a better man. We ate and drank coffee together, laughed at ridiculous jokes, shared secrets and stories; we let Inception blow our minds, and waited in long lines. Almost strangers, we owed each other nothing, but the only lives we’re ever going to live converged for that day. So I stayed right there with her.
In those precise moments strung together over twelve hours, I was nowhere else. I forgot about the yesterday, and wasn’t thinking about the bills I’d owe tomorrow. I dropped my cell phone in a sink beneath a running faucet the night before, and the results were less than desirable. I couldn’t be reached unless by letter or smoke signal. So I spent the day living. In the present. Without fear. Without expectation. Fueled by the joy in my heart that I was alive, and able to share it.
This is what it’s about. Joy. Relentless, unending joy. We’re caught in a society that works fifty weeks out of the year to get a two-week vacation that never lasts. Joy should reign eternal. Not for the duration of one crummy fourteen-day trip to your Mother-In-Law’s Florida retirement community; not for one night until you get to the bottom of the bottle. No wonder we are a bunch of miserable, addicted slaves to our own flesh. We give our bodies everything they desire to numb us from the fact that we aren’t really living in the first place.
My Sunday ended with a sense of satisfaction no paycheck could ever provide. An accomplishment no publishing company could ever deliver. A sense of meaning no drop of alcohol could ever fill me with. A pleasure sex could never provide. I felt the satisfaction of living. Really living. Which is precisely what God had in mind when he created us.
Welcome to the human race. Forget tomorrow. Do not let yesterday debilitate you. Now is all we’ll ever have for certain. And right now God wants to fill you with joy. Relentless, unending joy. He’s not up there saying, “Hang on, I just want to watch this guy squirm for a few more minutes.” No. He wants your life infected with joy. Immediately.
How many of us spend our days hidden behind jobs we hate, stuck in relationships we’re over because we’re afraid to live, take risks, and get out? You’ll never find that joy if you’re living for the release. It’s easier to sulk inside your prison cell on the Friday before your execution rather than making your escape from Alcatraz tonight.
I may not know where my next paycheck is coming from and could soon be writing these blog posts on cocktail napkins then individually mailing them to your designated addresses, but I’m no longer worried. The same way you don’t know if a meteor is going to come screaming out of the sky in the morning, blowing your workplace into oblivion. Have you worried about that lately? Where’s your next paycheck coming from then, hotshot? From your accounting department now scattered across all fifty states of the US?
Forget tomorrow. Tomorrow makes you miss the moments that are most important: the ones that are happening today.
Do something with your life today you haven’t done before. Slow dance in the pouring rain. Take a drive with no destination. Ask out the pretties girl in the room. Punch a mime. Chat up some old folks on a park bench. Learn to skateboard. Buy a homeless man lunch. Or just go see Inception for God’s sake.
I’ll finish in the words of Nick Avery, a young man who at the age of fourteen truly knew the value of life and how to live it, “Dive Deep.”
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