Two recent cravings occurred.

Last night, someone posted a picture of an “Ale and Pie” tasting platter, with 3 different types of pies and three different glasses of ales. I found myself remembering the over-hopped scent and taste of a real ale, the relaxed feeling that hits your body with a first glass. And a vision was created, of a holiday filled with adventure and curiosity – trying out new meals, enjoying conversation and relaxing – not bound by the rules of common society … blah blah blah.

Then again this morning, when I was stirring the stew that we’ll have for dinner tonight, I found myself thinking it needed a bottle of ale thrown in for flavour, moisture and tenderising purposes. And that thought quickly segued into one of sipping a cool ale myself in the evening time, or in the upcoming Summer holidays. And I was hit a little by a feeling of loss, or absence, or … ?

It’s a myth. But it’s a strong and potent one. My brain just went “Really, never?” and “Really, nothing?” as I wondered if there was really no benefit whatsoever to alcohol in my life. This is the tricksiness of it. It’s five weeks since I’ve had any alcohol, and that’s been long enough that I’ve conveniently forgotten all the downsides, and yet I am glorifying the image of some perceived upsides.

Let’s really think about what that tasting platter would be like.

For me.

It would arrive, and my focus would probably no longer be on the subtle tastes and sensations of the ales and how they combine with the pies. Despite an initial intent to just allow a little taste of the ale over lunch – to accompany the pies, of course – I would soon feel “deprived” if I couldn’t have a full pint as well as the tasting platter – 2 or three in fact if I’m in “holiday mode”. And what was intended to be a curious exploration of tastes, would end up in a sleepy overfull me who wouldn’t me any good for much else for the rest of the day.

Suppose I did keep it to the tasting platter. Suppose I’m “all better” and beer no longer sets off a landslide thought of “more more more!” in my head. I mean, that’s happened. I’ve had days like that. And certainly when I was much younger, that was the way things went for me. So suppose it’s just a matter of tolerance, or something like that? What about if I just left it for long enough that the three small beers on the tasting platter would be “enough”. What then?

I feel like it’s just rife with problems in and of itself. First of all, what’s this notion of “enough” when it comes to a drug? What am I even talking about?! If I started smoking again, maybe 2 or 3 cigarettes might feel like “enough” at the beginning, but we all know where it’s going to lead. If heroin were my drug of choice, a conversation about a “small enough dose” would just sound crazy. But because I’m so accustomed to thinking about alcohol as “different” as not a “real” drug, then I seem to have these feelings inside of me that (a) it’s what “normal” people do, (b) sticking to “small” doses is okay, and (c) I’m missing out on “life” by not having this drug in my life.

My words and thoughts feel a bit jumbled around this. I’m trying my best to be open and honest and not write like I believe something that I don’t. I feel aware that there’s a danger here – that I might write down a whole bunch of thoughts that I think I should believe, whilst all the time, deep inside I haven’t addressed some true beliefs and those will just come out one day and side-swipe me.

I think I currently hold both beliefs inside me. Through long habit and conditioning, there is a belief that taking alcohol adds something to my life, and that life might be somehow lacking without it. I want to reject that belief, but I fear the rebound, so I think it’s important to acknowledge that the seed of that belief still exists in me.

The new way of thinking, the one I want to nurture and turn into a habit, is more in my head than in my heart, and I sometimes need to take the time to remind myself of it. I don’t need any drug to enhance my life. In fact, alcohol just removes me from the actual experience of my life.

My holidays, my relaxed time, my curious exploration of the world. All of this can only be enhanced by living it in the raw present moment of each instant.

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