There is an Answer, part 2 of 3: Inebriants (Coffee, Tolkien and Porcupine Tree)

If it is our distractions that serve to make us different, our grief is what serves to make us common.  We all desire admission to a team.  Whether it is a football team, the Starbucks team, the un-team team, whichever illusory distraction we choose, it is irrelevant because we all use it the same way, we all abuse it the same way, we all fall prey to it the same way: each distraction becomes an inebriant that possesses us and is only interrupted by the staccato ostinato of tragedy.

For the record, we’re all drunk out of our minds (for clarity, this is a quantitative, not qualitative, analysis).

For some of us it is power.  For others it is alcohol or weed.  For many it is sex.  As easily, I could say the list included: music, food, TV, sports, cars, shopping, exercising, money management, family, etc…

Music is one of my many vices.  If I hand you my iPod, just know that you will have to turn it down before you turn it on.  I’m not trying to be obnoxious, I love music and volume makes it better.  As an aside, I gauge the quality of a set of ear-phones by whether they make my sinuses feel like a resonance chamber.

I listened to a recording of David Crowder describing an associate who informed him that Blue Grass was the superior form of music.  I can respect the sentiment even though he was completely wrong.  As evidence, you will note that neither Bjork nor Porcupine Tree perform Blue Grass music, ergo its superiority must be questioned.  One might also reasonably argue that both the country music practitioner and consumer are living in a deluded state, but we’ll come back to that.

I can understand watching a football game.  I was raised in America, I get it.  But, I won’t miss an opportunity to heckle a friend who’ll start tailgating Friday for a Monday evening game.  Unfortunately, I’m not so different: my wife was 5 months pregnant when we sat on the floor at a movie theater for 4 hours waiting to see “The Return of the King.”

Many people have a huge problem with coffee.  Only a few syllables are required to order the perfect drink.  Well, that and your position on the globe must be accurate.  To begin the process, verify the validity of your location by determining if you are either: A. standing in my kitchen or B. standing in a Dunkin Donuts.  If speaking is necessary, say: “extra-large cup of black coffee.”  The only acceptable substitution here would be replacing the words “extra-large cup” with the more endearing term: “bucket.”

TV is another matter altogether.  I actually (not really) experienced a seizure while being forced to watch a dancing show.  And, my heart stopped (not really) when I saw a commercial for a show where deranged adults lived crooked lives vicariously through infants and force them to wear makeup and dance – which is weird because I thought that was illegal in most states (except for Alabama).  In the interest of full disclosure, we came late to the “X-Files” party.  Who knew, right?  We’d sit up to watch an episode (or 2, or 3, or 4…) late in the evening.  But, I promise it did NOT affect my work!  Even when we sat up all night and watched episode after episode and then went into the other room to act like adults and then watched more episodes and then noticed the sun came up…and I called in sick.

I said all that because I want you to consider how we categorize one another.  Even as you read through my opinions and deciphered what I find
interesting, you formed opinions about me.  We all have opinions about what we eat and drink, about what we watch and about what we do and even what we consider as “good.”  We are all militant about our opinions (including being militant about people being militant about their opinions).

My family has endured many of the common horrors:  infidelity, divorce, abandonment, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, physical disease, rape, death, and child molestation.  There are probably a few I’m missing but I’m not man enough to look deeper into this abyss.  The knowledge that I tread so close to that place, some days, is so overwhelming I can barely keep my feet.  We’re not special because we have endured these things.  Unfortunately, entrance into this “club” just makes us very common.  As I stated at the outset, if our distractions serve to make us different our grief demonstrates that we are identical.  The enigma, that I am grappling with, is the varied ways in which we all deal with the overwhelming things in life.  To cope with my own grief, I have tried to see how we are all similar, how we are different and if there is any convergence.

How are we different?  The minutia of our opinions, distractions, addictions and problems varies as widely as there are people on the planet.

How are we similar?  We all have perfectly insane opinions primarily about all of the things that carry no meaning and hold no significance.  The type and intensity of the opinion does vary a bit and sometimes (rarely) it can be changed.

Where is the convergence?  We all converge at exactly the same place: we squander our lives by attempting to escape the pain of common tragedy with fleeting inconsequential things that we hope will differentiate us from the source of our pain.  Now, don’t be foolish:  inconsequential does not include the “rest” that we all desperately need and get so little of.  Inconsequential does not include the hours of watching our children where nothing seems to happen.  For the sake of this argument, inconsequential won’t include the times we open a browser to check Facebook and think to ourselves, “Self, I already had Facebook opened, twice, and minimized,” and then we read an article we weren’t even interested in just because we were there (it should include this time-sink, but I will move on and grant a tiny reprieve on this point…actually, I included it so that it would niggle at your mind).

Most of us will speak of our inebriants like this, “It doesn’t hurt anyone” or “I am free to do as I please.”  Some will say, “I wait ‘til everyone’s asleep.”  Not a few us are guilty of creating enablers in our own families by getting our children and spouse involved in our addictions and distractions.  In some cases, we are annoying enough that our family supports our addiction to keep us at a safe distance.

Regardless of the type or intensity of the inebriant, we allow it to steal all of our “free time.”  Work might be going great, but we just filled our lunch hour pining for our “fix.”  Time with the kids was rewarding, but as soon as bedtime approached, our minds were pulled into our distractions.  Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but you can look at the date and time stamps along with content on a person’s Facebook page to see where their mind hides…well, it is not universal, but it is a starting point.

All of our distractions serve to waste us into uselessness.  Don’t argue with me, you can’t.  I don’t say that because I’m a mind reader or because I have some new philosophy.  I say it because I have seen the process repeated in everyone I have ever met.  I say it because it seems to be the inescapable trap.

All philosophy is equal or one philosophy is better.  You can’t both say all are equal but my opinion is better.  This is a logical fallacy because you defaulted to the second case and couched it in a misuse (abuse) of the first.  Context does not provide an answer, but removing context (or muddying it) removes “reason” which is the path you need for explanation of your position.

As I started with in part 1: Nihilism , everything is broken.  Even the things we believe to be redeeming or innocuous are broken by us in our pursuit of them.  We cannot lift ourselves above our neighbor.  We cannot justify our superiority.  Every breath we take sends us deeper into the abyss we try to escape.

There is no human construct that is redeemed or redeemable.

There is no measure of human inequality that is supportable.


3 thoughts on “There is an Answer, part 2 of 3: Inebriants (Coffee, Tolkien and Porcupine Tree)

  1. Pingback: Joy (Are You a Stripper or a Customer?) | Joseph Kiser

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  3. kimmith709

    Well said. I totally agree with you that “All of our distractions serve to waste us into uselessness.” Distractions, inebriants… You’ve gone a step further than I did in my post here. This is one dark abyss that you’ve confronted quite boldly! I look forward to reading more of your posts. 🙂

    I’ll take one bucket of coffee, please! Oh wait, it’s Lent… shoot. Rain check!

    God bless!


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