Sunday, 3 August 2014

13 things I have learned

I seem to have fallen into the habit of ticking each month sober off with a blog post. This time around a list of the good things and a list of the bad things.

Good things:

1. I am being slightly more productive. Just. With one less thing to think about and one less drain on my time, I am getting more stuff done. For a freelancer, this is a positive.

2. I have a bit more cash kicking around.  Before this year I'd maybe go out locally one or two nights a month, and up to town once a month. That could add up to £100 quite easily. A hundred extra quid in the kitty per month, and lo, suddenly I have more tech everywhere.

3. I don't just drink for the sake of it. I used to do a lot of this. Have a drink because I'm offered it. Have a drink because there's a cold one in the fridge. Have a drink because it's been a long, long day and I deserve it.

4. I must be healthier. I don't feel it. I haven't lost any weight. I don't feel any more energetic. But there are no physical benefits to taking alcohol, so I must be going through some kind of mild detox.

5. I am doing some reading around the subject and forming a reasonably coherent position on psychoactive drugs. Alcohol is far more damaging than some of the illegal ones. There's an inconsistency there that needs to be addressed. In the long term I think that means making access to alcohol more difficult and legalising some of the other psychoactive drugs. Big change in our culture, but it makes sense.

6. Once you stop using alcohol as a way getting through an occasion, you find other ways to enjoy it. That can mean gravitating towards other people who aren't drinking much/anything and making new friends and connections.

7. Getting home after a night out is an easy, stress-free process.

8. Your mental editor never goes awol, leaving you less likely to type/say something stupid.

Bad things:

1. I'm enjoying music much less. The sort of music I like goes well with alcohol. I'm not sure what good "dry" music is.

2. I do like sitting around and chewing the fat with like-minded people down the pub. I've tried that sober a couple of times this year. It's not the same.

3. The anticipation of seeing good friends and (as my former housemate used to say) "feeling boozy" is sometimes as much, if not more fun than the actual drinking and socialising itself. That's gone.

4. I don't really have an off switch, or a hobby that is so absorbing I can just focus on it and forget everything else. Alcohol is a very good off switch and its capacity to destroy the awareness of time allows you to live, briefly, in the moment. There's a price to pay for that, but sometimes it's worth it.

5. Living outside of the alcohol bubble for a moment does reshape your views. I am always happy to learn, but when you see what alcohol is, the way it's pushed and the way we have welcomed a destructive and insidious substance into our culture it makes you think twice about the wisdom of drinking. Now, knowing what I know, I'm not sure how comfortable I should feel about giving alcohol as a gift or letting my children drink before they're 18. I'm sure when this is over I will remember how to enjoy a cheeky pint, but for a while it will be tempered by knowing that the brief period of release is more than compensated for by the damage it is doing to you both physically and psychologically. At the moment I feel like having a drink is an act of conscious stupidity, not something someone my age should be doing.

That said, we're all going to die anyway, so I'm not going to get too hung up about it.

Happy Christmas!

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