Back From a Brief Vacation

After 15 months of Covid lockdown, preceded by 8 months of knee surgery immobility, I was able to travel for the first time in what seems like forever. I am sure you know the feeling.

In some ways it feels like it did that first decade in Alaska when the ice went out on the rivers, daylight was endless, and life shifted from being hunkered down against the cold to life returning in an avalanche of flowering, leafing and nesting.

Once again, in May, the sno-go went up on blocks and the river boat came down. Life’s gaze moved from the mountains to the river and mobility from prospectors’ fading trails to the river as super highway. Hunting shifted to fishing and the winter of survival became the summer of celebration.

So too has the past 10 days felt. Flying east to Judy’s daughter’s where she spent a week enjoying her grandchildren while I drove east to Yellow Springs, Ohio for a book signing and visits with college friends and then on to Sharpsville, PA for more visits with high school friends and cousins.

Okay – so much for the travelogue and trip down memory lane. Surely there is a point here?

There is, and it’s not all that obscure, once I state it.

John Steinbeck wrote about “The winter of Our Discontent” and we have all been coming out of one of those seasons. I’ve come out of many, as I am sure most of you have too. That’s the first point.

The second is that emerging from a self-inflicted alcohol infused “winter” isn’t much different.

The difference is that emerging from a Covid lockdown or an Alaskan winter is a matter of waiting each of these out. Escaping an alcohol “winter” is a matter of choice – yes, you get to decide when to welcome spring back into your life.

There was a time when I welcomed the arrival of winter on the Yukon and the chance to relax after 5 months of incessant activity. 7 months later I welcomed summer and a return to life. The same as I once welcomed vodka as an escape from unbearable personal tragedy and 5 years later welcomed a return to a much altered life.

The analogy does continue – life after Covid, tragedy, or even winter in the Arctic, will never be the same again. Nor will life after years of self-medicating. Many of us prefer to continue the misery because we prefer the “security of familiar misery” to the fear of unknown changes, or because we feel hopeless about ever regaining the joy we felt before whatever drove us under.

One thing is true – life will not be the same. But “not the same” is not necessarily worse, though it is necessarily different.

Again – the key to all of this is choice. Those of you who have been clients in the past know that I often state, “What have you got to lose? If a new life is unsatisfactory, you can always go back to drinking.” And I do mean that. But why not find out and then make a decision?

We’re big on stressing your ability to make informed decisions. Our oft repeated maxim, “no one can make an informed decision if they don’t know where they stand medically, legally and financially,” could be supplemented by “and if you don’t try you’ll never know.”

I will add that out of hundreds of clients over the past 15 years only a handful have decided that they preferred alcohol to living and that is how they died. But they did make the effort and did make an informed decision even if it was regrettable one.

What‘s your choice? I would hope it would be to at least try on a summery life outside of an alcohol induced winter.

Think about it? Please?