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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sobriety and Sentimentalism

Sobriety is grounded in an unswerving adherence to reality, no matter how unpleasant it can be from time to time.  The truth be told, reality is not that bad if you can survive it.  Even the worst situations are temporary blips in the overall space of life.

Addiction comes when the person seeks to escape life, and this escape has varying degrees.  We can escape the present through drugs and alcohol or some other activity.  Most 'normal' people will occasionally get drunk or over-indulge in some other way for a brief 'break' from the rigors of the present.

One of the most common escapes for people is neither drugs nor alcohol, but sentimentality.  Sentimentalism is the 'auto-erotica' of the emotions.  It is a flight of fantasy where we engage the imagination to take on on a whirlwind of emotional climax that is utterly illusory.  We fantasize about half-truths (reality is usually a little too dirty for such work, and so our minds scrub out the inconvenient truths so we can have pure perfection) so as to have a cheap yet powerful sensation.

Here's a pretty good article I ran across on the topic:

I pulled this great quote that we all should keep in mind:

Similarly, the Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote, “Rhetoric is fooling others. Sentimentality is fooling yourself.”

Sentimentality is a real drug, and it is a danger wherever it appears.  In religion, it creates a fantasy of perfection that drives people to either utopian dreams that end in tragedy or the utter abandonment of faith. In politics, it marches countless people off to death or oppression.  In families, it leads to abuse or abandonment.

Sentimentality is dangerous because, once the orgasm of emotion has subsided, we return to a less-than-perfect reality and our fantasy is turned to vapor.  It is not real, and our reality begins to look less and less appealing.  It ruins our ability to be grateful for what we have in the present.

This destruction of gratitude is brought about by a number of factors, most especially Pride.  After all, you cannot engage in sentimentality unless you think you deserve it.  Pride ruins our ability to be grateful, but sentimentality stomps out what little chance we have to appreciate reality.  The blinding white light of sentimentality's perfect fantasy world shows up ll the more the stains of the present.

However, those stains and blotches of well-worn use ought all the more to be treasured than a reality devoid of imperfections.  After all, the annoyances of the present are signs of the victories we have achieved.  We are survivors, and have been given the crown of life!

You look and see that what someone else has is better, but did you ever think that perhaps the humble life you have will lead to greater happiness?  After all, even the fastest car on the road will end up getting door dings and being replaced by faster models, new houses will get dingy, and young bodies will get sick and sag.

The sober addict must come to grips with the truth: his reality can be even better than his fantasies, if he can open his eyes and see what he has been given that he does not deserve.

If we can truly appreciate the present, then we have no need for sentimentality.

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