September 14, 2010
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Bill Watterson’s modern classic comic about a boy and his tiger, Calvin and Hobbes, has been a favorite of mine since the early days of my sobriety. I discovered Calvin when I still felt unsettled and self conscious about my plight as an alcoholic. The bookstore coffee shop was a safe refuge where I could get out of the house without getting into temptation and burn the dangerous, free time away.
I’ll bet I read every Calvin book they had on the shelf at least three times, I liked them all. From Scientific Progress Goes “Boink” to Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat; I believe it was here that I learned to laugh again. Not a forced or polite titter, but the soul healing irrepressible laughter that makes you look around to make sure nobody is sizing you up for a straight jacket. However it wasn’t until much later in my recovery that I learned another valuable life-lesson even though it was drawn out for me in those very pages.
“That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world! Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!” ~Calvin
Now I am sure it is perfectly healthy for a five-year old with a talented stuffed tiger to expect this out of life, but for an addict or an alcoholic it’s just plain dangerous. Why? Well because Calvin would go out and build a transmogrifier and push the limits of his imagination to attain his goals while an addict will instead seek a magic pill and withdraw into his own little fantasy world. I began thinking about this phrase since I read Erin’s post on relapse in which she didn’t so much fall off the wagon as she allowed her thought pattern to slip back into their old routines. I know the feeling, you heard me say it before, it’s thinking like an alcoholic. It’s taking the benadryl because I deserve a “deeper” sleep or leaving a perfectly good job because I am “worth more” even though it means unemployment. Calvin may have been a day dreamer, but just as soon as he could imagine a scenario he would be out in the front yard building it out of snow, getting out the shovel and digging it up, or making it out cardboard boxes.
It’s alright to demand wonderful things from life, but in a healthy recovery you have to be prepared to go out there and make it happen.