TANSTAAFLAddicts don’t do waiting well.  It’s not natural for us to wait.  We’re used to looking ahead to the next drink, drug, romantic encounter, twinkie, sale, thrill or what have you, and we want it right now!

The culture we live in doesn’t help.  It encourages us to take the easy route to — whatever.  We are told that the next easy, fun, fulfilling, better experience is just around the corner, if only we spend, read the next quick fix book by the current guru, try the latest designer beer, buy that Rolex.  We come to believe that life would be just great if we had that new car, pair of shoes, tried out that new restaurant, could get a date with that…you get the idea.

No wonder we find it hard to recover; the quick fix is the Western Way, not just the American Way!  As soon as we emerge from one addiction, the world offers us another via press, radio, TV, Internet, the mall and the more-right-now behavior of our former peers and co-addicts.

An addict’s satisfactions are momentary, transient, and there is always the quest for more.

In recovery we learn to face reality.  Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you.  The good news is, it rarely kills us or even damages us much.  We change our world view.  After lives of looking for the quick fix, we develop patience, perseverance, and the understanding that it’s best to put off the fun until the work is done so we can enjoy it without guilt.  We learn to look for life’s rewards in us, instead of outside ourselves where we can only borrow it — not keep it.

With the clarity of true sobriety (not just abstinence) we learn to appreciate the value of what we have, and to enjoy the pleasures and benefits that come from a balanced life that is — finally — fruitful with the things that count.

The great science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, had an acronym he used in many of his books, TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  Sooner or later, we always pay for what we get.  That’s especially true of the things we thought we got for free.  Nature, if not other people, demands its due.  The things that we work for are ours to keep.

1 thought on “TANSTAAFL

  1. myworldshattered

    I really enjoyed reading this post. This is a great sentence: “We learn to look for life’s rewards in us, instead of outside ourselves where we can only borrow it — not keep it.” I’m praying my husband will get to where you are.


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