Why Sober? I want to open an inquiry into the lexicography of the word “sober.” A sobering event is like a slap in the face when all we want to do is be cradled in warmth and comfort. The problem is, we seek warmth and comfort from substances, whether liquid, pill form, or other. I suppose it is a false comfort, a dangerous longing that takes us closer to the grave. However, when one must remake one’s own life, the word sober sounds daunting.
When the warmth and comfort of a familiar high wears off, we are left with the sobering effects of something akin to being plunged into a bath of ice water. There’s that word “sober” again. No wonder so many people are afraid to go sober. I am sure many who need sobriety are thinking along these lines. The thing is, the word sober doesn’t sound like the reawakening that it should be.
Sober reminds me of somber, which reminds me of the saying, “I’m as serious as a heart attack.” We’d all like to avoid that. Therefore, sober also reminds me of a funeral. It seems, to some, to be somewhat of a death. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s better to be oblivious or wasted. It’s just, so many have a hard time leaving that behind. So, how do I convince someone close to me that it’s better to be sober?
Alcoholism runs rampant in my family. I have seen my own father suffer from it, and recover. Of course, it was a serious matter. Our talks, when he went through recovery were very insightful and soul-searching. No gray cloud took over his personality. He can be just as self-centered and yet, just as encouraging. He enjoys the outdoors, exercise, work, and his recovery community. The process was truly a reawakening for him, and the things he says now just make more sense than they did in my youth. He recovered when I was at the tender age of twenty-one.
Maybe it’s just me, but I far prefer the words ” being of ‘sound’ mind” to the word “sober.” I associate sound with music. If you are of sound mind, then all is working in harmony. Music is life. There is no death, but rather an ongoing growth and evolution. Being of sound mind means dealing with crisis, with mediocrity, and with ecstasy with all of your faculties. Awake. Aware. Free from the influence of a substance. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like a change of words, please.
For the record, here is the etymology of the word, sober: from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sober Sober- “sedate, serious-minded person” is recorded from 1705. late 14c., “reduce to a quiet condition” (transitive), from sober (adj.). Meaning “render grave or serious” is from 1726. Intransitive sense of “become sober” (since 1847 often with up) is from 1820.
I want to be an example to young people and to the ones I love. Yet, I often want to be more than “sedate, or serious.” I want to live with laughter, music, and imagination. Let my mind operate with the sound of harmony, a sound mind with the mellifluous ability to know my surroundings, to take in the beauty and music of life, and to continue without a confounding, tempting influence. Therefore, I shall choose another word.