And but so – I have to admit I’m drinking now as I write, but – there is a history, a long story, of which I’m going to shorten in the interest of attention.
My first published piece
The first piece I wrote that was published (it might not have been the first?) was in my local, real community newspaper: The Canyon Courier, the paper of record of Evergreen, Colorado (a mountain, commuter community of Denver.) That was March 16, 1994 and titled “Thinking Of Drinking” (see below). It was, and is, good – worthy of publication – and was well received at the time (at which, ironically, I was bartending).
Rewarded behavior will be repeated
I am a bartender. I have been making a living at it for over 20 years. I am also a father, grandfather, friend, husband, son and student. I have made my share of mistakes, as well as been hurt by the mistakes of others. This letter is about a mistake a lot of us have made, and how to stop it. This mistake is drinking to excess. I have lost dear friends to this disease, some violently, others from slow decay. It is my belief that we over-drink to escape the pain and discomfort of living. This is ironic because excessive drinking causes pain and discomfort – always. There are not events in this world that “always” applies to, this is one.
I have heard the argument that, “It’s my life and I can do as I please with it.” That is true. And you may think that you are hurting no one but yourself, and that is not true. No one lives in a vacuum. There are friends and co-workers, family, and strangers, who depend and interact with us. What we do and say does have an impact. If we choose to ease our own pain by mood-altering with alcohol, can we be sure in our altered state, that we will not injure another by careless words or deeds?
Pat Riley (the New York Knicks’ basketball coach says, “Think when you drink.” My question is, “How can you, Pat?” Drinking dulls the mind. That is its intention; to relax one’s inhibitions, to help in “putting down your defenses.” It works all too well. We can’t “think” when we drink. All too often, the altered state takes on a life of its own, and we are no longer on control of our life … for a moment, a few hours, a lifetime.
I say, “think before you drink.” Know that you will only have one drink, or two, depending on the time set aside. Let each drink have its impact before having another (usually 35 to 40 minutes). If we can’t control our consumption, then we must stop drinking altogether. If this seems impossible, ask for help. We are all in this together.
When I wrote that piece I was recently divorced and struggling to make sense of the why? I had not yet gone back to college but was soon to. Nothing made sense to me. My (former) wife, and mother of my son, had once accused me of being an alcoholic. And but so I stopped drinking, which didn’t matter with regard to our marriage. For seventeen years I stopped drinking and followed the advice of my published piece. … And then … this, that, and the other thing happened … and I figured some things out. Everything I say in that piece is true, mostly. And, it is great insight and writing. But, things have changed, with regard to me. You? The world? I can’t say.
Cheers, skol, salud, prost, saliste, aloha.
If this in any way resonates? Check out http://markjabbour.com or contact me via email or facebook for a signed copy.