An Easier, Softer Way



If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.  – Henry David Thoreau

I remember this Thoreau quote from high school.  Thoreau was attractive to me in part because of his stance on civil disobedience.  As a professional iconoclast and practicing alcoholic from a very early age, a selective reading of Thoreau fit my needs for rebellion.  In recovery, the quote takes on a different meaning.  As a practicing addict, I had lots of castles in the air and lots of excuses on why I was kept from building the necessary foundations.  Until entering on the recovery road, I never considered my own shortcomings in the foundation building.  Today, I can take responsibility for building the foundation.

In recovery, the “easier, softer way” is often meant as taking short-cuts and not truly working a solid program.  I have come to view the “easier, softer way” in a different way – as taking responsibility and being accountability for my recovery and life decisions.  I believe this approach is easier because the only person whose actions I need to worry about are my own and the results are more predictable.  I do not need to manage all the actors on the stage.  Rather, I just need to worry about my performance.  The resulting foundations are perhaps more slowly built, but they are certainly a more sturdy support for castles.  Ultimately, this is the easier, softer way.  My life in recovery is much easier and softer than the constant tension, disappointment, and self-loathing of active addiction.

One thought on “An Easier, Softer Way

  1. You are the first person I’ve seen write on the topic of the “easier, softer way” and you handled it so gracefully here. The idea that not going to meetings or working formal steps is a less-than and somehow doomed approach to recovery rubs me the wrong way. The easier, softer approach isn’t actually easy, it’s maybe just a little simpler for me right now. Thank goodness it seems to work, at least for today. Thank you for this post.

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