December 8 is Afflux, the 50th day of the Season of Aftermath, and the closest thing Discordians have to a Winter Solstice jamboree. Afflux marks the close of the calendar year — it’s a time to reflect on the relationship between destruction and creation, to examine the things that have come undone around us, and to figure out what we can do with the pieces.
And, according to most of the online sources I found, it’s an opportunity to get, like, irrevocably blitzed.
Alas, as I person in recovery, I will not be engaging in that last festivity. Although I did have a drinking dream last night, which I assume counts.
Drinking dreams are exactly what they sound like, and they’re not uncommon among recovering alcoholics, although they can be unsettling. The first time I had one, shortly after I’d gotten sober, I woke up convinced that I’d relapsed. I’ve had a few since then, and they always follow the same theme: Alcohol somehow gets into my system (one time it was raining wine; in another, I was making coffee at Deborah’s house and didn’t notice that her K-cups were full of rosé), and I spend the rest of the dream trying to rationalize that I’m Not That Drunk and therefore still in recovery.
In last night’s dream, I was meeting with a new therapist, who lived in my apartment complex for some reason. He offered to refill my anti-anxiety medication, then asked how long I’d been sober (I was wearing a T-shirt from a 12-Step event), at which point I realized I’d been doing shots before our appointment.
So I explained that I used to have a bad drinking problem, and that I’d gone without drinking for a number of years, but now I drank responsibly, hoping he couldn’t tell how buzzed I was.
And then he tried to pagansplain the history of Wicca to me, and I suddenly woke up, because not even Asleep Me wanted to deal with that conversation.
Drinking dreams used to really freak me out, but now they engender a sense of gratitude. I wake up relieved to be sober, and grateful that I’m no longer controlled by alcohol. So it’s kind of auspicious that I had a drinking dream the night before Afflux, because it gave me a chance to look back on the way my life used to be, and to think about how I want my life to continue improving.
Afflux is a day of putting things back together. For me, that means job hunting and working on patching up a friendship that fell by the wayside awhile back. Solving jigsaw puzzles (something I did a lot in early sobriety) would be a fun way to celebrate the Holyday, as would baking, if you think about it in terms of taking a bunch of random, unrelated substances and welding them together into a tasty, unified whole.
I am a terror in the kitchen, so personally, I’m going to stick with amends and finding sources of income. But if you can pull something out of the oven without setting off a fire alarm, then hey, knock yourself out, with my blessing.
If you have the materials on hand, kintsugi — the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer — would also be a meaningful way to commemorate Afflux. The philosophy behind kintsugi is that breakages are part of an object’s story: By using gold to fix the cracks, the damaged item becomes more beautiful for what it’s been through.
And if you don’t have any broken crockery lying around, feel free to smash a coffee mug or something, then glue it back together however you want. Build something entirely new out of it — turn it into an abstract sculpture, or a self-defense weapon, or even a ritual tool. Acknowledge how the breaks in your own past have made you stronger in the long run, and how they have allowed you to reinvent yourself.
Beam that same intention into the ceramic shards in front of you. And use them to make something beautiful.
And, of course, you also have the option of just getting plastered and gleefully demolishing things until you run out of steam. You can figure out what to do about all the carnage once the hangover passes. Because maybe the true Afflux is all the frangible stuff we destroyed along the way.
Ultimately, there’s no wrong way to observe Afflux, as there’s no wrong way to practice Discordianism. Just come up with something that’ll show Greyface you’re still alive and kicking despite his efforts, and do your best to give him an aneurism with mirth and reverence.
Then go get some Taco Bell. It’ll help with the hangover. Trust me on this. I speak from the experience of innumerable Affluxes past.