I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people tell me that they would live a sober life, but “it’s not as much fun.” After a beginning like that, it’s difficult for me to decide where to go next.
First off, these admissions never come about from my having asked someone about their state of sobriety…or the lack thereof. I don’t do that, for no other reason than that no one else’s sobriety is of concern to me. I can manage my sobriety; to expect more of me than that would be too much. If someone asks for some help I’ll give it, I don’t push my way of life on others.
No, this almost always comes when people learn that I don’t drink. It’s like my sobriety puts them on the defensive, and they have to answer to me for not living in similar fashion. “I could live sober, but it’s not as much fun.” Then there are the ones who want to explain themselves and downgrade my lifestyle choice at the same time: “I could quit drinking, if I didn’t want to have any fun.” Note the need to be funny that is often comingled with problem drinking, which is something I know all too well from my drinking life.
The rub is that “fun” is a subjective word, which is based on perspective. It would not be fun at all for me to go out to a bar and get drunk. Even if I was with my favorite people in the whole world, being in a bar and drinking would not be fun for me, and it would have so many negative aspects that it would taint any good time I might have with those people.
As I mentioned, the notion of fun is subjective. The OED defines “fun” as “light-hearted pleasure, enjoyment, or amusement; boisterous joviality or merrymaking; entertainment.” I don’t take that to mean that something must contain all of those qualities to be fun. Something can contain some of them and still be fun, I think, but a personal definition for fun must contain enjoyment for most people. “Pleasure” also stands out. Something fun is probably enjoyable and pleasurable for most people. I think it is less requisite that something fun be light-hearted, amusing, boisterous, jovial, merry, or entertaining.
But, again, “fun” is something that each of us defines for him or herself.
As such, I don’t fault people who have fun in such fashion or who find going out to bars and getting drunk, or just getting drunk in general, as fun. It is fun for those people. In fact, it was once fun for me. It was fun for me for many years or my life, and folks who knew me in my drinking days know that I had a lot of fun in that life. It wasn’t all fun–it never is, is it–but much of the time I spent in bars with friends was actually enjoyable and pleasurable. But then you had the downside.
Fun being so subjective, I think enjoyment is a better standard to use here. Fun is rather binary; something is either fun or it isn’t. Enjoyment flushes things about a bit more.
I looked up some synonyms for enjoyment. Here’s a list that fit what I’m getting at here:
If drinking and bars could be just those things for me, I’d start drinking again in a minute. The nature of that life isn’t one-sided for me, however, and I doubt it is for many people who consider the drinking life “fun.”
There’s a downside, so I also looked up some antonyms for “enjoyment,” curious as what I would find. Here’s a list of some of those words:
And there’s the rub. I associated every one of those feelings and emotions with my drinking life at times, but I almost never have to deal with any of them in my life these days. Is my life as “fun” as it was back in my drinking days, in the merrymaking, celebratory sense? No, it isn’t. But I don’t have the downside either. And that’s more fun in the enjoyable sense.
I do enjoy my life more these days, very much so, and I think all of those people who tell me they would quit drinking if they didn’t mind giving up the fun just haven’t realized that there are other ways to have fun.
I’m glad I’ve found mine, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.