If you compare quitting alcohol with learning to swim, you can draw some interesting parallels. If you’re dropped in the middle of the ocean, you need to learn how to swim as soon as possible, but it’s far too late. If you’re warm and dry in your home, safely landlocked the lessons are less urgent, less essential. In some cases you could spend your entire life not getting in to a body of water big enough to swim in.
The best case scenario is getting in the pool or lake as young as possible and slowly increasing the exposure to the water until swimming is second nature. Children who have grown up swimming will likely hold on to those skills for life, but that doesn’t mean adults shouldn’t learn as well. This is how it relates to our relationship with alcohol; it’s never too late to learn to swim, especially if you’re drowning.
If you’re 88 years old, you might not see much point in quitting. You’ve made it this long so, why not keep on going? You could also think, I’ve only got a few years left what’s the point in trying to make my life better? You may feel safe and dry on land, but remember that circumstances change, and we can change our lives for the better regardless of age.
While you never expect to be in the middle of the water without a lifejacket, neither do we expect health issues that may need us to cut back our alcohol intake. We think we’re safely on the shore, but really we’ve been edging closer and closer to the waves, and now that we’re knee deep we might look back at the beach and consider how much effort it would be to simply walk back.
It’s true, the older we get the harder it might be to make your way back to the shore. Perhaps you didn’t wade out that far, and it’s only a few strokes between treading water and having the waves gently lapping at your ankles. The reality for some, is that they are barely keeping their head above the water. Their age may have them believe it’s better to just slip beneath the waves than swim.
Thankfully, this is not a metaphorical ocean that’s trying to drown you. This is your literal life, and you can make literal changes to it regardless of your age. How you change your life at 18 or 80 might be vastly different, but the ‘why’ should be the same. This is the one life we get, and it’s worth improving regardless of its tenure.
As the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today.