“Cheers!” You lift your bulbous glass filled with golden liquid, peaked by a touch of foam at the top. Everyone smiles mischievously as an orchestra of “clink” resonates through the air. You close your eyes and take a sip. It tastes oddly delicious. Bitter, yet accented with a potpourri of unique, subtle flavors. Your lips gently smack together a few times as you bask in the primal enjoyment of taste. You’ve come a long way since the first time you tried it, re-living when you almost lost your lunch after glugging that unanticipated, surprising smack of intense harshness.
You get that familiar warm and fuzzy feeling as the substance slithers into your bloodstream. It’s like being comforted by a seductive muse. You smile, laugh and enjoy yourself, but they are shadows of their genuine counterparts. She has you… And you brush your true essence aside for a deep dive into her delusory bliss.
Oh alcohol, the ever-present fun poison. It pervades our culture, to the extent that its presence is demanded at every social event.
As a teenager, I would indulge in “the fun poison” to shed my inhibitions. It was a double-edged sword I used to cut through my social anxieties. And because “everyone was doing it” it helped me to fit in more and seem cool.
Thankfully, I didn’t completely depend on alcohol for building social skills and confidence. I developed confidence through more intrinsic means as well (health, fitness, meditation, skill acquisition, writing, reading a lot…etc). But once I became socially confident in most situations, I found myself using alcohol for other reasons…
One being the random spontaneity that alcohol tends to beget, and the other was to relate to as many people as possible. Regarding random spontaneity, most everyone would agree that you get into all kinds of “random adventures” when intoxicated. Much more than your “paralyzed-with-fear-and-conditioning” day-to-day self. And with relating to as many people as possible, it’s difficult for many unique-thinking-introverts to interact within a culture that glorifies extroversion and disingenuous small-talk.
This is why alcohol is a profound indicator of the insidious predicaments of our culture and collective psychology.
Let’s dive into some of these:
Though escapism has not driven my alcohol consumption, it’s the case with many people. Life is difficult for so many, and alcohol, like any conscious-altering substance, provides a temporary refuge from the pain. It’s a short-sighted way of forgetting about problems (And will, in fact, exacerbate problems in the long-run). We all know that there are far more beneficial ways to address this issue (that’s another tangent) but alcohol’s omnipresence in society makes it all too accessible. Combine that with a society based on fear and limitation, and we have fertile ground for escapism.
The overwhelming majority of people don’t effectively express themselves (myself included sometimes). There is deep-seated, fear-programming that keeps us in an ego-driven state of comparison, feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-love. Most people go about life in a rigid, fearful and overly stoic state. But give them a few drinks, and they start expressing. You see them sing, dance and reveal things you would never have imagined if you saw them a few hours beforehand. Why does everyone have social anxiety? Why don’t we express ourselves like we know we should? Why is it so difficult to just be ourselves? Why can’t we sing and dance our hearts whenever the feeling arises? Why can’t we be random and spontaneous without drinking? These are the deeper questions we must ask ourselves.
Relating to the Masses
The philosopher/writer/speaker Alan Watts was a brilliantly unique man. He dove into the depths of human consciousness and shared profound insights on literally everything. But what people rarely mention is that he was an alcoholic. Watts would be invited to give presentations in front of large crowds, and noticed that he could relate to his audience more when he had a few martinis prior to speaking. This also applied to the after parties that often accompanied the events. Watts was a deep-thinker, who probably found it excruciating to engage in meaningless small-talk. He used alcohol as a crutch to make talking about the weather less cringe-worthy and as a bridge to discussions about deep, meaningful subjects. I’ve found this to be the case with myself and several other “deep-thinkers” I know as well. We must learn how to incorporate meaningful conversation and connection without compromising the health of our mind, body and spirit in doing so.
We need to ask ourselves some important questions… Why do we choose to indulge in this toxic substance? And are there more beneficial alternatives to give us the same “results” that alcohol produces? (like shedding inhibition, openly expressing ourselves…etc.)
Starting today, I choose not to consume alcohol. For how long, I don’t know yet. But I also aim to be freely expressive, socially fearless, ridiculous and unabashedly myself at all times. I started a habit on the app Lift called “Alcohol-Free and More Fun.” I welcome anyone else to participate there and join me in this challenge, especially if what I said resonates with you.
Life is a party , you just have to make the decision to step in the door (and not destroy the house while you’re at it).
Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.