Yesterday one of my Buddhist recovery group members brought in a reading from Pema Chödrön about loneliness. There’s tons to unpack in the article, which is about how we experience loneliness. But what really stuck out for me in the bit we discussed was Chödrön’s claim that “as human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution.”
By resolution, I think she means we want the comfort of feeling like we’ve nailed down all our struggles, that we can control our environments, anticipate what’s coming, and repair or conquer anything that doesn’t please us. I read philosophy here and there — particularly the kind that tries to make sense of the mental and physical activity we seem to need to do as part of our essential nature. We’re a scheme-y bunch. We try to problem solve, fix, create, destroy and change our worlds. We pretty much suck at sitting still, and accepting the things in life that hurt us, even when this may be the better thing to do. because dammit we deserve control! We deserve certainty!
But do we in fact deserve these things? This was the part yesterday that gave me pause. Because yeah. I DO think I deserve certainty. Which is just… not true. I’ve identified self-pity as the main driver of my drinking behaviour. At heart the rationale goes like this: “My life sucks, so I deserve to drink. If only I could get everything to go right… etc. etc.”
If your definition of a good life is certainty and security — certainly these are things that I crave constantly — you can be pretty sure that your life is always going to suck, because things are always going to be changing. There is no big-R Resolution. This leaves one — well okay me — with a dilemma: keep pouring beer and wine into bottomless place of feeling uncertain, or figure out how to make peace with uncertainty.