We Have Ceased Fighting.
Taken to its reasonable conclusions, the program outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous is a highly ascetic, spiritual-type construct that fits in – in my mind – most closely with what westerners think of as “Buddhist”. It’s probably nothing like real Buddhism but it fits well with the pop-western uninvestigated version well enough. One of those similarities is the idea that suffering is caused by desires.
In AA, we often don’t name them desires, or suffering. But we say things like, our serenity is disrupted by having expectations, and lacking acceptance. One of the ways this is expressed comes from the discussion of step 10* in the book. The statement is, we have ceased fighting anyone and anything, even alcohol.
I like fighting. I like arguing and debating. Doesn’t matter what the topic is, I’m pretty sure I’m right and you’re wrong. The online world is designed to insert divisions in groups (not that humans needed a lot of help in the matter, but we got it anyway). Even groups that fundamentally agree on most things will align themselves against each other, behind barricades and fixing bayonets over minor semantics and points of argumentation.
It makes me sad. But I am learning to stop fighting. I do less of it than I used to. Largely through disassociation. I have eliminated more than three quarters of the people in my twitter feed, and set up filters so that I just don’t see most of the blowhards when they get riled up. But I shouldn’t fool myself: I am one of the blowhards. I regularly state opinions which people are free to disagree with, and then find myself annoyed when they do.
Truly ceasing fighting would probably be to finally actually follow through on my occasional dramatic outbursts and delete twitter and delete my blog and delete facebook and abandon social media and find myself in a smaller world with less strife and more time to simply be in my moment, present.
But then who would I brag to?
I’m not sure I have much to brag about these days. My career is in a slow building phase characterized by me not being very good at it. I need to learn a lot to be better, but I’m not sure I care about getting better at the things I’m not good at. I don’t value that work.
Maybe it’s time to admit I was wrong about the career ladder I’m currently pursuing. Maybe advancing up hospital management isn’t the right path for me. Maybe I need to write another grant, submit it, and look to return to primary research. That feels like returning to a career fraught with peril. Maybe I need to stop where I am, stop seeking higher responsibility. That feels like giving up.
Maybe I should give up. Maybe I should stop fighting to ascend and settle in. I am comfortable and I know how to make a good life out of what I have now. This should be enough for me. Stop and breathe. Accept my limitations: I am not well-suited to being a director, an administrator.
I don’t fight alcohol anymore. But I am constantly fighting in other aspects of my life. Easing back to recognizing where my serenity lies would be wise.
* “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”