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I like being useful.
I've been reading a bit of the Alcoholics Anonymous book lately... no, I don't have a drinking problem or anything like one. But, after reading "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace I became interested in the organisation, and then I read Gregory Bateson's essay "The Cybernetics of Self: A Theory of Alcoholism" and became even more interested, and then I was at a book fair at uni and saw it for cheap so I bought it. So. I've been reading a bit of it, and it's a very interesting book... but one of the things I really liked about it was that part of the program is helping other alcoholics, not because this is somehow morally better than not helping, but because it actually helps the helper as much as or more than than the helped. Sometimes the only thing that allows the alcoholic to cope is to speak to another recovering alcoholic... without anyone to help, they would be unable to resist the temptation to drink.
I just like that particular example of this... phenomenon because it shows just how deep and powerful it is. How much... power there is being helpful. Hmm. I thought I'd have more to say, but I don't... I just had a chance to be helpful to someone today, one of those rare chances where all you need to do is spend a bit of time talking to someone, no effort or inconvenience involved, and yet, you make a difference to them... I love those experiences. I like feeling generous and... stuff. Yeah. Because if you're in that kind of mode of... you know, every man for himself, what's in it for me, that kind of thing, then it doesn't really... you know, it doesn't make you happy even when you're winning. I think maybe... speaking of alcoholism, actually, I think maybe part of what AA does is it gives people an opportunity to be and to feel generous, and... this helps to supply the same need that drinking did, because when you're drunk... well, it's different for everyone, but when I'm drunk I feel generous, indulgent, unhurried and unworried, magnanimous, open-hearted... it allows me to escape from the sense of myself being mean or small or petty. Um.
"Ever since you walked right in the circle's been complete
I've said goodbye to haunted rooms and faces in the street
To the courtyard of the jester which is hidden from the sun
I love you more than ever and I haven't yet begun
You breathed on me and made my life a richer one to live
When I was deep in poverty you taught me how to give
Dried the tears up from my dreams and pulled me from the hole
Quenched my thirst and satisfied the burning in my soul" - Bob Dylan
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