Sunday, July 3, 2011

Simple Vs. Easy

Simple Vs. Easy

For most people, tying one's shoelaces is a simple thing. Most people don’t really give it a second thought, and many are even able to look the other way while tying a perfect knot. The truly gifted can even tie their shoes as they talk about the weather or discuss a movie they watched the night before, while simultaneously thinking about filling out next year’s tax form. If you’re one of those people, congratulations! You are an elite member of the Talented Shoe Tying Society and I bow at your feet.

I belong to a different organization. It’s called the Tying Rehabilitative Intervention Program, or T.R.I.P. for short. While the rest of you are off enjoying your morning run on the jogging trail, I’m still struggling to tie my shoes without drooling on myself. Shoelaces have always been a thorn in my side. While other kids on the school playground stopped, dropped, and tied a loose shoelace in seconds, I just didn’t get it and spent the entire day tripping over myself. My older sister finally taught me a rudimentary technique involving doubling each lace separately, carefully laying each bow on top of one another, and slowly wrapping one around the other to form a knot. It’s a technique I still use today, fifty years later.

You might be wondering how something so simple could be so difficult. I mean, come on, what could possibly be easier than tying a shoelace? While it might seem easy now, it wasn’t always that way. At some point, each of us had to learn how to tie our own shoes without anyone’s help. It only became simple after we observed someone else, listened carefully, practiced tying knots over and over, and finally mastered the skill. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. There is a difference between simple and easy.

Addiction recovery is a little like learning to tie our shoelaces. Although there are some simple steps we can follow to overcome addiction, applying those simple steps is anything but easy. It’s hard work, especially in the beginning. Addicts are notorious at complicating even the simplest things in life. Many practicing addicts even go out of their way to complicate things, because it gives us an excuse to drink or get high. Instead of embracing the simple recovery concepts we’re taught at face value, we like to over analyze, convolute, and challenge them. We could screw up the recipe for ice cubes. Concepts like surrender, acceptance, and gratitude are simple enough for any child to learn. In fact, we could learn a lot just by watching them run and play. Yet, most of us focus only on turning a simple task into a difficult one.

How do we make recovery an easier process? Simple. We do it by closing our mouths and opening our ears. We practice each step of our recovery program step by step, one at a time. Make a list of priorities and write them down on a sheet of paper. Pick the one that’s most important for you today and make it your priority. Stick with it until you’ve completed it, before moving on to the next. Don’t analyze it. If gratitude is on your list of the day, for example, don’t spend hours defining the word and 1,000 ways it can be applied. Just be grateful for the food on your table, the roof above your head, or grateful that all four of your limbs are intact. And be grateful you’re not shoelace challenged, like some of us. Keep it simple. Simple is good.

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