Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Is happiness in the destination or the journey?

I've read a few blog entries from other bloggers in recovery talking about where they are in recovery/life/etc. at the moment and that plus other things have prompted me to come up with this post.

It is good every now and then to have a moment of reflection a look back.  The last few months have been a little bit turbulent for me.  The job I'm now in has been an interesting journey - I'm just over 9 months into it and now through my "probationary" period, which is in itself interesting since when I joined the department was in the middle of the third phase of a major departmental restructuring, my hiring was into a new position created as part of this restructure itself as part of the management team.  However it took longer than originally anticipated for the next phases to complete to I've continued to be in limbo longer than was originally hoped.  This was good from some points of view, I've had plenty of time to get to know various people and gain some understanding of the institution, my department and my responsibilities.  I've been getting used to the commuting, it isn't a bad commute compared with some about an hour and a half door to desk with about 50mins on the train, the rest walking to station etc.  Mrs F has been fantastic picking me up pretty much every evening on my journey home about half way back from the station.  However I do find it tiring the traveling everyday to be honest.  The organisation is very large, hugely complicated in structure and with many diverse missions and goals, people who have been in it for many years find it like that, you have to carve your niche and work within that you cannot try to encompass the breadth of it all.  Again I need to accept that of the organisation and myself and do what I can within those limits.

I've been a bit focused on the album musically, I made the decision probably around Christmas to get a second album out but I needed a few more tracks etc.  That meant making time for writing, practicing, recording etc. which has all had to be fitted in around other stuff.  I did have a start at a band project but I just had to let that slide a bit whilst getting the album done.  There was the tax scare that I'll not bore you with again...

However now looking back - I've worked on the issues around work.  Some I can change some I can't, of course I have this incredible ability to set myself a very high goal and feel I'm not perfect and doing as well as I could.  The imposter syndrome - I've done some looking into that recently - you know it isn't just me, lots of people suffer that!  Also recently a couple of people have given unsolicited feedback on my performance and commented that I've had a good start to the role I've got.  Again a new role, underlying department reorganisation, new governance structures as well and one of the people who was to hand some of his work over to me going on long term sickness (at least a year) almost within a couple of weeks of me starting.  And I still think I should have all the problems fixed for everyone in a few minutes!  I know I need to go easy on myself but I don't a lot of the time.

The tax thing was interesting how I dealt with that.  Ok when I opened the letter and saw an amount I thought was the helpline phone number then realised that they wanted that to be paid in a week I had a meltdown.  For a few minutes I was distraught.  But after an hour I'd spoken to the helpline told them there was a problem, with help from them figured out where the error was and put in place my complaint about the error.  I followed that up with letters and more calls, not getting angry and mad just working the issue.  One really bad sleepness night, a couple of minor ones then - "Let it go" I thought "I've done what I can now and when they reply I can take the following next steps".  And I just got on with it. Now that is progress in sobriety - "We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us" (AA big book Chapter 6).

The album I've written, rehearsed and recorded is out - I've sold internationally again!  (Thanks to those who know who they are, my gratitude is great).  I've got the download available which is very cheap £2 - blimey you can barely buy a coffee in the High Street for that these days!  Whatever I feel it is a success in terms of the growth in my song writing, my singing (still rubbish but there you go) and my playing and recording skills.  Next stop?  I would love to get more gigs but I don't think I'm pushy enough, I need a plan of action to address that. 

So I find myself actually quite happy with things.  I'd love the commute to be shorter, London to be less hectic and crowded, where I work to be simpler to understand and work in - it is big and complicated with more than its fair share of clever people!  I wish I could sing better, would love the CD to be selling like hot cakes and gigs to be flooding in so I could chuck in the day job and be a professional singer songwriter but let us face facts - that isn't going to happen.  So I continue to be happy on the journey feeling really that it is all generally in the right direction and that has to be a good thing.


  1. One of my father's stock sayings when he was feeling cheerful (he'd been a Japanese prisoner of war) was "no-one ever said we were put in this world to be happy".

    Don't keep saying you can't sing. The farthest one should go is what Robert Wyatt said on his album cover for Nothing Can Stop Us: "You may notice some technical inadequacies in some of my performances—a hesitant beat here, a dodgy note there—these are of course entirely deliberate and reproduced as evidence of my almost painful sincerity." :)

  2. Maybe being professional isn't round the corner, but keep plugging, and at least you'll have a very enjoyable, involving, stimulating "real life" to counterpose to the one at work.

  3. I remember a saying: "Success is the quality of the journey." While things have not been entirely smooth for you, I'd suggest our journey is quite successful at this point. Not only that, but you've been doing what I consider to be some very healthy reflection on your situation. Well done!

  4. not bad going really.... I find the tax people quite helpful, I got told I hadn't paid but, I squeaked into the phone, i have a receipt!! Sorted in the end but for a moment....

  5. Happiness very transitory. It ebbs and flows. A permanent, long-lasting happiness simply does not exist.

    I have a long commute as well. It can really grind you down. Find distractions to fill the empty hours. There are plenty to be had.

    Thank God almighty for your music, yes?

  6. That's a nicely upbeat, philosophical post! So you've got me all philosophical in return. Is happiness in the destination or in the journey... ? Well I'd say there are so many destinations, as soon as you reach one, nothing stays the same for long anyway and you're on your way to another. So it has to be in the journey. (I should add I'm speaking as someone without the recovery thing going on, so I appreciate that I can't talk about the goals you yourself may need to reach in connection with that. But I think most of us have equivalent places we want to get to, both physically and psychologically.) I agree with The Unbearable Banishment - a permanent, long-lasting happiness simply does not exist. The very expectation of one will actually end up being the source of one's unhappiness. Accepting that there isn't one makes the happy bits even better. (Oooh)

  7. I am not as familiar with the BB as I should be, but the part about "We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us" really struck me. There is this level, calm voice that chimes in these days, and it's a welcome novelty. I'm glad to hear your current report on things...you sound like you have had some real challenges and successes and that peace we are always after.

  8. Lovely to read this...glad all is right ( well mostly!) at the moment :-)

  9. I read somewhere recently that people sabotage their own ability to feel happy by focusing on the goal of being happy. They tend to say things like: "when I do this, all will be well" or "if only I could lose 5 pounds, then my life will fall into place."

    There's a lot wrong with that sort of thinking, not the least of which leads us to not notice what around us is good and working. Then there is the issue of people not really knowing what happiness is. Definitions get so screwed up and perhaps even specific so that we can't even recognize that we are happy.

    Anyway, I think the point is the journey. How boring life would be if we stopped trying to grow?

  10. All good stuff eh Furtheron? As soon as I got £2 in my paypal account (next weds) . . . I will download your album. I look forward to having that.
    I like what Rob Bear quoted "Success is the quality of the journey".
    Cohen and Dylan can't "sing" according to most . . . but it never stopped them, you're doing something that gives you a lot of pleasure, sounds like a good thing. And you wake up grateful, I did today too . . . So I know how good that feels ;-)

  11. I did have a very short career in my 20s....but then husband and kids etc....now I sing cos I just can't help it! I hope that you do really well...but even if not I'm glad to be a Graham Hunt follower!!
    Oh ..and both are correct I think...it's the journey and the destination...?

  12. Happiness, if there ever is any, is definitely part of some journey, not some destination. Well, if it is a destination, most people never get there!

    How do I downoad you? And I wish I could sing too. If I ever get any money, singing lessons is one of the first thing I will do. After very posh drug treatment and Japanese lessons/trip to Japan...

  13. Good for you!! My only addiction ever has been coffee, but it doesn't help, or delude me to believe it is helpful, when I feel stressed. Lack of sleep is how my body handles stress. I have finally learned to do exactly what you did here. I remind myself I have done all I can in this day to deal with the issue that is stressing me and that it is out of my hands, or that I will take the next steps as soon as I can, but that being stressed and worried doesn't do one thing to change or improve my situation. Weirdly, this has actually worked for me. It sounds simple, but it is a matter of changing my entire mindset! I am guessing addicts of any ki9nd must do something very similar to not return to old ways. YAY for you!

  14. This was a great post to read! Reflection and gratitude is always a good thing - and I took care of that link on my blog...

  15. Wow! so many comments. Thank you all...

    One thing I'm learning on my trudging the road to happy destiny (another big book quote sorry) is that actually "normal" people have all the issues that addicts have, the only difference is the default way that addicts deal with those feelings - KILL THEM! through some form of intoxication. That stunts addicts growing emotionally to cope with stuff, it is never easy but "normal" people learn over time and get more adept at control the panic, worry, anxiety etc. when addicts stop they are someway behind the rest of the world - I was in my early 40s for example when I had to learn to do this stuff without the anesthetic of booze

  16. there was a time when i was happily spinning in the professional hamster wheel -- chasing it, whatever that is. long hours, nicer suits, far too much 'work at home' when my children were young. for me? it was the combination of divorce, an empty nest, and a small dance with a cancer nugget in my breast that gave me the 'wake up'. i stopped running. stood back, admired the wheel, and left it empty while i started to explore the cage.

    i am a firm believer that it IS the journey. you have captured a beautiful reflection on a period of transition -- a potentially rough trek where you have several significant accomplishments! (the lack of melt-down over the tax issue is VERY significant, by the way). And i'm enjoying the CD very much -- always so amazed by thowe who can write, sing, record/master AND play!

    1. Partly I've ended up having to be in the hamster wheel, even though I now have little ambition or passion for it any more. But I do have one "child" still at university - 5 years courses suck costwise and another two years away from starting - so you have to face facts, I have to work to pay for all that - £9000 a year course fees don't fall from the skies.

      Glad you are enjoying the CD - I think my failing is the over self-reliance and it is too much me if that makes sense but working with others I often find hugely frustrating and too time consuming and emotion sapping so hence why it is just me on my own. Out of ten I'd say 6/10 for writing 4/10 singing 4/10 for recording/mastering 8/10 for playing