There’s a character in one of my favourite books, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, called Raven. He’s like the ultimate baddass dude who cruises around with a miniaturised atomic bomb in his motorcycle sidecar. Raven has POOR IMPULSE CONTROL tattooed across his forehead.
While I don’t profess to be anywhere near as interesting or badass as Raven, I have extremely poor impulse control and this was one of the first things that helped me to identify as an alcoholic in my early AA meetings.
I was pretty raw when I first came into the rooms. I saw the word god on the wall and immediately saw it as an excuse to leave. I wanted to punch a sanctimonious catholic who offered me an instant coffee and a biscuit.
I went out and did some more research just to see if I really was an alcoholic – an ‘insider’ to this sociocultural milieu – so to speak. My alcoholism got worse, as my catholic friend had gently suggested it probably would.
I came back into the rooms of AA in 2014 broken and battered, licking my wounds and determined to find a secular (non-religious) version of the 12-step program that would work for me.
These days I don’t give in to the impulse to take a drink, but I do act in impulsive ways, particularly if I’m not going to enough AA meetings.
On a recent surf trip to a remote and uncrowded string of coral reefs, I decided that the main break was getting too busy during the height of the swell. Four people paddled out an hour after dawn – an hour after I had entered the water. I had a lightbulb moment! I grabbed a some water and a banana, and headed a few kilometres down the reef to a sketchier and hollower wave, which is inaccesible from land because of the cliffs. I proceeded to get tubed solo until the cramps set in and the tropical sun became a mermaid dancing in my peripheral vision.
One of the kiwi dudes got scalped out at relatively tame main break that mornign. With four people to help stabilise him, someone up at the resort saw him headbutt the reef and called the ambos. The guy survived, but will have some seriously fierce scars.
AA has these naff sayings, but the one I need to remember the most is ‘think, think, think’.