There's been a philosophical battle of sorts going through my mind for much of this year. It may be partially to blame for the lack of posts or any creative output for that matter. Its the question of intoxication and what exactly the pros and cons of it are. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I often talk of the benefits of silence and meditation and searching for truth – and those are big parts of my life. However, another large part of my existence is my social life. I have a wonderful assortment of friends and trusted companions who I share this journey with. However I began to notice something – apart from a few rare exceptions, the majority of those relationship center around drinking – or at the very least the only time in which the relationships are experienced is in an environment where drinking is occurring.
I lived in Portland, Oregon for nearly a decade. It is beervana... more microbreweries than any other city in the world, and thus you did everything at a bar. Birthdays, networking events, Wednesdays... I even voted from the bar (Oregon has mail-in ballots). With that culture came a healthy attitude towards IPAs and tolerance (both in capacity and acceptance) for having five or more pints in a sitting and having those sessions multiple times a week.
You are, as they say, the average of the folks you spend the most time with – and most of my friends thus shared a similar lifestyle to mine. I worked for myself with my own business where I could make my own hours. Friends that didn't share in that lifestyle would join in on Fridays, but in general there was a community of folks that made this casual alcoholism seem commonplace. As I could never be late for work, or fired for performance — and didn't even own a car for the majority of my time in Portland — the consequences of that lifestyle through my late 20s and 30s was pretty minimal... or so I thought.
Which takes us back to the recent conundrum. Having moved to Maui three years ago my lifestyle hasn't changed much. While my options are far more limited and the number of friends to socialize dwindled when leaving a big city for a quiet island – I still managed to find great folks who just happen to enjoy cold pints. So after a brief hiatus upon arrival, many of my old habits returned. And it was great. Life on Maui has been spectacular to say the least. But that thought... that nagging thought.
And it goes something like this: There is a life far greater than the one I'm presently experiencing — available to me if I discover my true self.
I suspect this because I have tasted it in my own life, seen another close friend find it even deeper, and know of many on the other side who live in this space that I admire and see genuine peace and happiness within.
There are three things the present lifestyle of intoxication effects that would be radically altered if I was to give it up entirely. The first and simple one is finances. I tallied up all the $45 visits to the local microbrewery and various other pricey engagements on Maui — taking $25 from a $45 dinner here and there — and reached a total of $767.83 for the month of August. This might even be a tad low because it really only includes purchases made using a debit card — so we can say roughly $800 or so a month "hanging out". It's funny I'll walk away from a polo shirt in the store if its over $40, but I'll order up a handful of $6+ pints or $13 cocktails without blinking an eye. At nearly $800/month we're talking roughly $9600 a year in intoxication expenses. My trip to Japan when it was all said and done cost under $5000... so that is two amazing vacations a year I could be taking instead of getting intoxicated. That right there is probably reason alone to change my behavior.
The second obvious reason would be health. I am unfortunately back up to nearly 200 pounds. If you read the blog regularly you'll know that at one point I was at 215 — and I did the Whole30 last year and brought myself down to about 180. I was super proud and feeling great. But its hard to marry that lifestyle of eating healthy and running daily with a social lifestyle of binge drinking. Its hard to get up to run in the morning when you're hungover. Its pointless to eat a salad for lunch if you're going to have five beers later then order some crappy food at a bar. You can't live healthy half the time. I don't like being overweight. I don't like the way clothes fit on me. I don't like the knowledge that my life is getting shorter. There is absolutely no defense against the health argument that I can find.
The final area of my life is my potential. This is more of an abstract concept I suppose. But it stems from the notion that there are many things I could or could not do in this lifetime. I have been blessed to be extremely creative and to have been born in a time when one can share that creativity online. I really believe I have the potential to create amazing work and share it with the world. The only thing that holds me back from creating more videos and taking more photos and writing more stories and learning more things is time. I never seem to have enough. When I look at all those costs for the month of August above, I also realize that each of those $45 engagements is also many hours. It's the 4pm—7pm at the bar... but its also the rest of that night, when now because I'm intoxicated all I can do is watch TV or play a video game. If that is happening four or five nights a week, I am losing countless hours of potential. Hours where I could be creating new things and sharing with new people and learning and growing and discovering what I am capable of. I will never discover anything about myself at the bar – I have heard those stories and met those people.
So there it is. I'm burning through $10,000 year, ruining my health and wasting my time in the pursuit of intoxication. And what would be the positive impacts of an alternative lifestyle? Certainly I would lose weight. I eat rather healthy to begin with – so eliminating beer and bar foods would no doubt have a radical impact on my weight. The extra time and clean-living lifestyle would inevitably result in more exercise and likely new healthy activities. The extra money saved would no doubt be matched by increased earnings as a sober mind applied to my own business and new potential opportunities would no doubt create more revenue. Healthy activities and a healthy lifestyle would inevitably introduce healthy people into my life as well. It would also likely inspire close friends of mine to explore their potential.
While the argument for moderation is a strong one it would only lessen the negative effects of alcoholism and damper the potential outcomes of sobriety. A constant battle with myself to "be good" one day with the knowledge of rewards in the form of the very thing I'm looking to modify. The reward has to be the clarity, not the clouding. And if I'm going to be honest with myself, my present state is one of moderation... as liberal as it may be. Holding back hasn't and will not work.
It is not really an argument I suppose, but rather an inconvenient truth. I'm 38 years old. There are two lives that I could live throughout my 40s. One of the greatest gifts man has is the ability to predict the future. I'm not saying with pinpoint accuracy, but a mind capable of extracting truths and working out scenarios of potentials. There are various potentials in my late 40s associated with each lifestyle. There is ZERO doubt the sober path has the greater outcomes. The only question is can I start walking there before its too late.
I'm going to try.
"Know thyself. Long for wisdom."
— Delphic maxims