Having fun is the first condition of creativity.
Alice Miller (1923-2010*
In order to teach effectively, a teacher needs to create a curriculum that stimulates student’s minds. The best ones think up exciting, fun projects that keep students interested, engaged and — yes — entertained. (Unfortunately, most of us know what the others do.)
Recovery requires work and sometimes pain, and can become drudgery. There has to be effort, and often we don’t want to deal with the things that come up, or want to minimize them. However, it does not have to be — and should not be — boring or tedious. If it is, someone is doing something wrong, and we need to take a good look at how we’re handling our program.
The discomfort of working our program, wherever we are in sobriety, has to be offset by fun. In a very real sense, we are creating a new personality for ourselves — not entirely, but by replacing the unskillful thinking and doing with more skillful alternatives. Ms. Miller knew what she was talking about: it’s impossible to be truly creative unless you enjoy life.
We can be our own good teachers, seeking out things to do with people in recovery and things we can do on our own. We need to learn that it is okay to do enjoyable things that are productive, but that it is also okay to play (have pointless fun). These things are rarely automatic for addicts. We are accustomed to being the odd one out, the one who doesn’t know how to do it, the one who believes that no one will like him. This often causes us to avoid that old pain that we’ve experienced for so long in favor of a bland, boring existence.
But we don’t have to experience that pain in recovery. Recovering people are happy to have us join in. All we need to do is get up the nerve to ask, “Anyone going for coffee after the meeting,” or to join in at the games and entertainment at the fellowship picnic, or say “I’m a birdwatcher; anyone want to go out this weekend?” Recovering people are into all sorts of things, because they’re no longer devoting all that time and effort to their addictions! So, if we’re bored, we need only reach out to get that first taste of what sobriety can be about — should be about — will be about.
If we reach far enough.
*Alice Miller was a pioneer in the area of Family Dynamics. Her book The Drama of the Gifted Child, based largely on her own experience as a child raised in the “poisonous pedagogy” of early-20th Century Switzerland, was the inspiration of many others, including the well-known John Bradshaw.