“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc, Anglo-French writer and historian (1870-1953)
If we sometimes feel as though we live in rather constrained circumstances or have a limited access to the world around us, it’s completely understandable. Many who enter recovery feel this way at first. It takes time and a growing awareness that recovery is a process we work at for us to realize that getting out there and interacting with and seeing the world around us is a positive step for our life in sobriety.
How often have we found ourselves doing something just to keep nagging thoughts or cravings at bay? We may not really enjoy what we involve ourselves in, but we do it anyway because we need something effective to help us maintain our sobriety. How about doing an activity or pursuing an endeavor purely for the joy it brings us? Isn’t this also an effective way to keep our minds occupied in a constructive activity? Maybe we haven’t thought about it this way, but it sure beats depriving ourselves of joy in the daily pursuit of staying clean and sober.
After all, life in recovery is more than just avoiding temptation and doing repetitive chores and tasks, items which, we do admit, help us stay on the right side of sobriety. Without finding something new and stimulating and, yes, pleasurable, however, duty may soon turn to dread and we may find ourselves either shirking our recovery-oriented responsibilities or only go through the motions. In either case, we’re not likely to get as much out of them as we could.
Where we once sought the rush and euphoria associated with our drug of choice, today we know that other lifestyle activities can bring us a sense of peace and fulfillment. The difficulty we often face, though, may be in trying to determine which ones are best for us to pursue and which we should steer clear of.
Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. If something is going to broaden our horizons, help increase our overall sense of accomplishment, bolster our self-esteem and add to our list of effective skills, by all means this is something to look into and pursue. It will likely mean we’ll have to step outside of our comfort zone, to venture beyond the clearly-defined boundaries we’ve allocated for ourselves in recovery. This can be scary and we may be reluctant to continue beyond the first steps.
But what will we lose if we keep going, at least to the point where we know for a fact that this is either something we want to keep doing or it isn’t right for us at all – or, perhaps, it is something we want to do and may intend to do but cannot continue at the present time?
Now, let’s take the example of a physical trip to a location. It can be a weekend trip, a family vacation or as simple as a daytime excursion by car to visit a restaurant, park, sporting event, scenic attraction or other activity location. We look forward to the trip, plan out our route of travel, get started on the outing, and evaluate the results. If it enhanced our quality of living, we feel refreshed, satisfied and productive. If it did not, we know we’ll weigh and balance doing this kind of activity the next time we have the opportunity. Maybe we’ll do it again but take a different route, or maybe we’ll change the people we go with or invite to accompany us, or do it at a different time of day or year.
Keep in mind that we need variety to help maintain our motivation, keep up our spirits and contribute to an overall sense of fulfillment in life. That we choose to live in sobriety takes nothing from our innate need for new and different experiences, pursued, of course, with a healthy outlook and desire to share meaningful ones with others. To whet our appetite, why not seek out a travel venue and plan a trip to see something new in this world. There’s so much to discover that we’ll never run out of opportunities.