Well, happy February 2008! To those that know me, I used January to detox, i.e., not drink. Not a single drop (I’m talking CH2
OH here). My last drink before tonight was new year’s toast, a strike after midnight January 1.
I did this for a lot of reasons, but primarily because December was the month of lushness. My birthday was the first week of December; with the many holidays thereafter, parties, etc., the drinking was progressing at an accelerated rate. I hadn’t had any major problems or any single catalyst to decide I was going to take January off, just the simple notion of taking a break.
What a great break it was. Luckily, it was a lot easier to abstain than I ever thought (and being of German and French lineage, this was a good thing). The interesting thing was I never had a real compulsion to drink, even amongst the merriment of margarita friday and other merry gatherings with my friends. I have good friends, so they were supportive of my decision and never thought twice about it (they even congratulated me on my sticking to my personal goal).
I really never thought anything of it. Until January 11. All the sudden, it hit me. Where was I getting all this energy? Why wasn’t I suffering from the usual mid-afternoon coma during the week? Why was my mental acuity on high alert and why was I able to focus on tasks so easily? Why did I have energy levels I hadn’t had since adolescence? BAM! It hit me. No booze! Wow. It never really occurred to me how profound a simple decision would be in terms of its effect. I cannot possibly overstate how much not drinking for a month improved my sleep, increased my energy, elevated my mood, and dozens of other positive side effects.
A myriad of other benefits resulted from my abstinence. I took back up with vigor hobbies I hadn’t paid adequate attention to, namely musical composition and cooking. My creativity flourished. I also had the energy and focus to follow up on many projects I had promised to get done for many months. This blog was one of those projects. I finally finished the web application for scoring and tracking scores for my parents’ bridge league, which I promised to get done a year earlier. Additionally, my business partner, Philip, joined me in abstaining which allowed us collectively to begin 2008 on a good note. Given the fact that I dissolved my previous business relationship and lost a huge amount of momentum in 2007, this is a good thing indeed. The other main benefit is not spending ridiculous amounts of $$$$ on booze. On average, during the last 3 years, I could have financed an Aston Martin or a new plane with bar tabs – this is no joke. It certainly makes you reevaluate your priorities.
In any case, I “celebrated” my making it through January with a couple of beers during happy hour and a glass of wine with dinner tonight. That compares to my typical 2007 Friday happy hour imbibing margaritas, consuming about a fifth of tequila in the process (that’s just happy hour, mind you). The good thing is I probably won’t have another drink for a week or two. I really don’t have any desire to at this point.
In the end, I found that booze was getting between me and the goals I had set for myself. It was costing me lots of money (exacerbated by the opportunity cost incurred by alternate projects for which that money could have been used), energy, and generally was keeping me from being at the top of my game.
I would say to anyone who’s feeling malaise or feeling they’re not achieving the goals that they’ve set for themselves (or just wonder where the hell a thousand bucks or more disappears ever few weeks) they may want to try getting off the sauce for a month. Make it a personal challenge. If you can do it, you can do anything; you’ll feel like you can do anything. If your friends give you shit about it or try to influence you with peer pressure, tell them to screw off; they’re not really your friends.
I certainly have no prejudice against drinking or those who drink; I’ve faced alcoholism front and center in my family on more than one occasion – it is an insidious disease. I hope this will be construed to be a positive message; that is my intent. I bid you adieu for the time being, since I’ve got an 8:30 tee time tomorrow morning, where I hope to pursue another one of my hobbies with vigor, clarity of purpose, and joy.