Getting Sober
OMTimes Magazine| OMTimes Magazine December A 2017 Edition

I recently learned of the death of a musician I admire.

Alan Cohen

Ruud was a trombonist in André Rieu’s orchestra. Besides being a talented musician, he was something of a comic spark plug, performing clever antics in skits the orchestra wove into their performances. I enjoyed watching Ruud on YouTube for years. He died suddenly at a relatively young age.

I was surprised at how moved I was at the news of Ruud’s passing. I found the incident sobering. We usually use the word “sober” as the antithesis of being drunk. When an event sobers us, it dashes cold water on our face to extricate us from the drunkenness of the meaningless activities we often engage in. We are awakened from the addictive behaviors we use to distract ourselves from our pain. The list of our addictions, hard and soft, is substantial: Drinking, drugging, email, Internet, smartphone, gaming, anxious eating, overworking, compulsive shopping, disconnected sex, neurotic cleaning, mindless babbling, arguing, continual drama, and on and on and on—all tricks we play on ourselves to stay hypnotized by emptiness. We each have our preferred escape.

Then something happens that forces us to face ourselves and our lives. A death, divorce, accident, business setback, health issue, legal problem, or weather disaster. Some crisis or emergency. Then we have to think about what is really important and what our priorities are. While such challenges are painful, they are also liberating. They jolt us to dig into our soul rather than hang out at the shallow surface of our lives. When we go through such difficulties, we resist and curse them. After we graduate from the lessons they bring us, we find deep gratitude.

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