A Burning Desire

Alcohol is not controllable for me like the fireplace fire contained in a box.
Alcohol for me is a raging forest fire. If I drink again it may start slowly, it may begin to burn in a straight line that looks like it will follow a predictable path but inevitably it will become an all consuming frenzy that destroys everything.

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I have always loved a raging fire. Bonfires, beach fires, fires in the fireplace, candle flames… I find flames hypnotic and inspiring. Fire is visual music to me.

In Portugal, forest fires are part of the late summer landscape. Sometimes a carelessly thrown cigarette butt will light up a eucalyptus grove and sometimes the fires are started intentionally. The weather map on the news in August is always followed by a map of the country with little flames representing the daily burn. Fire is expected here.

There are sometimes fatalities and property damage. Sometimes there are so many fires burning that ash falls from the sky like snow. When it finally does rain in September or October the water mixes the ash and oil from cars on the streets into rivers of soapy bubbles.

Fire is unpredictable and all-consuming. It’s gentle dance becomes an awe-inspiring frenzy if it’s not contained. And I was thinking about that this weekend as I remembered what it was like to be consumed by alcohol. I’ve heard that fire is a healthy part of the life of a forest. Like we hear that a few drinks a week is healthy for our heart or keeps our blood sugar down.

I’ve often built fires as the center of a social gathering. My bonfires at the beach are the biggest, warmest, and most welcoming to not only my family and friends but strangers walking by. Roaring fireplace fires are at the center of every Christmas party or family T.V. night. I’ve sung around campfires with a group and sat alone, introspectively watching the flames for hours.

In so many ways these contained, controlled, monitored fires have had the same sort of place in my life that drinking did until it consumed me.

And it did consume me.

With all of the ferocity of a raging forest fire.

That is something that I can never forget. I cannot control alcohol like a fireplace fire contained in a box.

Alcohol for me is a raging forest fire. If I drink again it may start slowly, it may begin to burn in a straight line that looks like it will follow a predictable path but inevitably it will become an all consuming frenzy that destroys everything.

So I chose to not have that one glass of champagne to celebrate, or that one glass of wine to relax, or that one gin and tonic on a hot day.

“The man takes a drink

The drink takes a drink

The drink takes the Man “

It might have been written by George Bernard Shaw… or maybe it’s ancient eastern wisdom… but it is exactly where I was when I read it. I had been taken. But I got myself back!

If that quote describes you or described you please remember… just do the next right thing… don’t drink today… and day by day stuff’ll fall into place. You might feel a bit lost or bored now and than because drinking is an activity that needs to be replaced with something else …. BUT … if you chose to do something other than drink… one day at a time… you’ll never regret it .


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person playing with fire, just like people play with alcohol