From some musings …

There’s an old expression, or maybe it’s just a line from a movie, where a bartender in a grimy, dusty saloon, says to a weary customer, “Name your poison.” The customer says whisky, since apparently there weren’t many choices then – they all seemed to drink whisky – and the bartender fills up his glass.

Today we have many things to choose from besides whisky, as we name our poisons. We have addictions of a breathtaking variety, from sex to nicotine to just about all the pleasures and pains our hearts can desire. You name it, we can become addicted to it. What we don’t often examine, though, is our own part in picking up that bottle, engaging in that repetitive, toxic behavior, ordering that poison. It’s much easier to see our addictions through the lens of a victim, to take up the mantle of “powerlessness” and surrender, not to freedom from the toxin, but to its presence in our lives

There are many reasons we name our poisons. Anger feels good. It gets the adrenaline going, it makes us feel righteous and … alive! For people who spend much of our time working, trudging, daydreaming because we would rather be in a world of our making than the one we inhabit, getting really, really angry reminds us we’re still here. Anger also has the effect of bringing us into the moment – a place where we spend very little time. When I’m furious, I’m in the now! I become aware of the instant I’m in. And anger is a much easier way to the instant than, say, meditation. Maybe it’s biological; maybe anger and fear are what helped us stay alive when something larger was waiting around the corner to eat us, and fury was a very necessary tool for survival. But now it is not. Now it is a tool for destruction: of ourselves and our communities. Anger is a quick and easy fix, a rush injected straight into the vein, but it’s poison, and I named it. I asked for it. I ordered a lifetime supply.

The first thing I need to do in addressing my poisons is to name them, and to take responsibility for them. What do I get out of this toxin, what part of me is it nurturing (tumors need nourishment, too!), what is the benefit to me – because there always is one. Naming my poisons and what I get from each of them is the first step in getting them out of my life, my system, my worldview. And now it’s your turn, pardner. Name your poison …

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