Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness. – Seneca
What does that mean?
I think this is a great topic for the weekend, don’t you? We all have our issues and our troubles in life. For those who have an issue with substance abuse, that can be real trouble.
That said, a glass of wine with a meal probably isn’t going to lead to drunkenness, unless they insist on polishing off the bottle. Same with a beer, unless they insist on finishing the six-pack.
And the fall-down drunk is, in my opinion, what (and who) this quote is about. The drunk chose to take the first drink, and to keep drinking. They did so voluntarily.
If they can’t keep their consumption and inebriation to a sane level, that is a form of madness. Together, drinking to excess is, as the quote said going mad on purpose.
Why is moderation important?
There are people who, as a song said about the topic, “If I have one, I have thirteen; There ain’t no in-between.” For those people, even one may be too many. But most can be moderate in their consumption of drink. This is something which has plagued mankind for many centuries, and probably will for the foreseeable future.
Moderation, the Middle Path, the Golden Mean, and many other terms have been coined to describe living life between the extremes. Yes, sometimes you want to just blow it out, and have a great time. But what if you wake up with a board nailed to your foot? True story, a friend did that, stepped on a small board with a nail, didn’t notice, and crawled back in bed.
That’s not to say you have to be dull and boring (one extreme), just don’t be a fall-down drunk (the other extreme). Somewhere in-between is where most people will want to, and actually do live their lives. The only question is how often, and how deeply, do you plan to descend into the madness of drunkenness?
While alcohol can be addictive, there are other intoxicants which are far more addictive. At some point, becoming drunk or intoxicated ceases to be voluntary. That’s when you know that things are way out of line. And that’s why I believe moderation from the beginning is an excellent idea.
Where can I apply this in my life?
If getting drunk isn’t your problem, or you think you have it under control, take a moment and consider where else you have issues. When else do you flirt with madness? Where, when, or under what circumstances do you lose your sanity? What does it take to push you to the edge, or over it?
Do you ever road-rage (get so mad at other drivers that you consider using your car as a weapon)? Do you fly off the handle or yell a lot? When else do you allow strong emotions to overwhelm you, and send you into madness? By this definition, even depression or excessive crying, being other than sane, can be considered madness.
Have you considered what you can do to reduce these episodes? It is rare for such emotion to occur strictly at random. Usually there is a trigger, some action that reminds us of a time when the emotion might have been more appropriate, and we fall into an old, and less-than-useful pattern.
The first step in the process is to recognize that it is happening. Then we need to take the time to find the trigger. Once we know what triggers the reaction, we can start to figure out how to slow it down, and eventually stop the reaction altogether. But it starts with recognition and finding the trigger.
Of the times when you behave in a manner which could be termed less-than-sane, what got you there? Consider both the most recent time (the trigger), and why you felt that way in the distant past (the memory which invokes the strong emotion). These are both important things to know, if you are to diminish them, or even be free of them.
With those two events in mind, think of what you can do to minimize the trauma of the past event. Can you make the images less bright? Can you make them fuzzy or out of focus? Can you turn the loop of film into a couple of still pictures? Can you take the sound and make it muffled or more quiet? This exercise is to help make the reaction a bit more moderate.
The next thing to work on is the trigger. What goes through your head when these feelings are triggered? What can you do to avoid those situations entirely? If they can’t be avoided, what can you do to minimize their frequency? What can you do to make them less intense?
Can you come up with some other reason for the behavior of others, or do they obviously know what you want and are deliberately trying to thwart your efforts and make your life difficult? Your attitude could be part of the trigger, right?
Enjoy your life. Have some fun. But there are limits even to fun. Consider what you do, how often you do it, and what the consequences of your actions are. As long as you keep it sane, what business is it of mine?