I wrote in my post Caution, content may offend about my reluctance and discomfort about being at a local bar. A friend of mine suggested we go to a couple of alternatives, I turned them down, Both were safer places for me, they require membership however I just don’t like being in bars.
Last Friday night I sat there and watched a few people around me at the local bar. There was no buzz, a long weekend people had things to do and people to see. I sat and watched as the sank their bevvys and poked money into the automated betting machine. I make no judgement on people who enjoy this as recreation but what I saw was an overwhelming sadness.
There were a few men there, talking, the usual bullshit fuelled by alcohol and bravado, friends perhaps, they sat together. the scene was just like one of those soap operas, they are on every day, I don’t watch them but every now and then, sometimes years apart I will see one and nothing has changed, same tired people, tired story lines and tired desperation, they keep on being watched and that tells me that there is something deeply wrong with our society (or perhaps me).
There used to be a time where you would catch me watching the self-same soap operas and even “escaping” to the self-same bars,good friends of mine will tell you that I am capable of speaking the self-same nonsense that you find in these places if I over indulge in the self-same lubricants too much.
I try to save my energy for the realities of life and my recreation for things that I really enjoy. Right now my time is precious and I need to spend it well and integrity is important to me. I don’t want to support, justify or in any other way be associated with those places anymore. I am embarrassed as I remember the things that alcohol has enabled me to say, and the few occasions where I am truly not proud of my behaviour. I am so aware of my own behaviour these days and my thoughts that at times it seems like hyper-vigilance I am practicing on myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a tea-totaller in any shape or form but I am really aware of the effects that alcohol and other drugs has on myself, others and society.
One of the effects that I have seen is how alcohol loosens inhibitions, now sometimes this can be a pleasant thing and sometimes not. One of the inhibitions alcohol can effect is violence. I have been in very few fights in my life, a couple of school yard scraps, a couple of incidents where I have protected someone else, either known or unknown to me, and I have on one occasion dished out some rough justice to a person whom hurt one of my children. I have been sorely tempted on occasion to resort to violence to “protect” my good name.
What an oxy-moron, myself and my good name, I despair when people tell me I am a good person, when I do what is right and just, I despair that such actions seem to be increasingly rare in society and I despair because I know what is in my heart. I have been sorely tested these last few days on a couple of occasions where my “good name” has been besmirched. On the last occasion I just wanted to invite the person involved to step outside and sort it out. I caught myself real quick, I have learnt that it is necessary sometimes not only to sit on your hands when you just want to slap seven kinds of stupid out of people but it is also necessary to sit on your tongue at times. Both can be just as bad, however it is not easy, nodding your head being pleasant and non-confrontational is difficult for me when I am accused of things that strike to my integrity. As I have shared before that if I have nothing left in my world but my integrity then I feel that should be enough. On both occasions I was offered, unwanted, ill-informed, ignorant advice. I stress the ignorance, as I don’t believe there was malice involved. I know that alcohol was definitely in one occasion.
The thing that upsets me the most in all that is the limited ability I have to express my hurt, frustration and devastation. To do so will give it wings, admit a place in my life for it to eat at me and consume me. It strikes at the heart of who I am, doing what I should in the expectation of receiving nothing in return, doing these things because they are right, proper. The problem with words is that they are like the wind or trying to catch a rainbow, once released they are very difficult to retrieve. One would think that I should have learnt my lesson by now, that no good deed goes unpunished. That by wearing my heart on my sleeve I leave myself open to these situations.
The only one thing worse for me than having my integrity called into question is withdrawing into an empty shell where I stand for nothing, living the glorious golden mean, seeking the comfort and acclamation of this world, immune from the barbs and stings of ignorant but probably well meaning people. Such a life would be like sitting at my computer playing games, sitting at a bar, pondering yet another glass of amber liquid, sitting there fiddling while Rome burns as it where. Not for me you see, rather that I would not exist at all than to lead a life of such irrelevance, so I have no choice. They say sticks and stones will break our bones but names will never hurt, they are wrong, however hurts heal eventually, new narratives appear and somewhere, sometime there is always hope, and behind that is integrity. Sometimes internal integrity just has to be enough.