The biggest thing about this month was not that I have less than 200 months “to go”, but that I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking THC on January 1st. I’m now the straightest and most sober I’ve been for about 324 months.
And it’s been incredibly easy.
I’ll give you some context. For roughly nine months leading up to the New Year, my evening intake was: two or three beers, a bottle (or more) of red wine, and a couple of joints. And that was when I was on my own. I’d drink from about 6pm or 7pm until about 1.30am. Not to get drunk – over that timescale, you’d need to drink a lot more to do that – just out of habit.
I’d begun to think that this was going to be permanent. That I was on the gentle but slippery slope towards being one of those people you see in bars, who are always there. Greeted, but not necessarily welcomed, by whoever was serving.
I didn’t like this possible future.
So, a short time ago, I decided to take at least January off. If I’ve been in a state of altered consciousness for over 25 years, my thinking went, it might be interesting to see what life was like with a clear head.
My kids seem to do OK.
I started reducing my intake, marginally, in the dying days of the year. Then had a couple of glasses, after midnight on January 1st, to celebrate 2016. And then I stopped.
There have only been a couple of wobbles. I did a very stressful day’s work about 10 days ago, on the Friday, and met the deadline with about 10 minutes to spare. I really deserved a drink. But I had a mug of herbal tea instead. The other wobble was last night, when I was round at a friend’s house for dinner. The others were drinking normally and I was on drinks from a can. After eating, I began to get anxious. So made my excuses and left. Thinking back now, maybe it was the sugar in the drink.
Although it’s been bizarrely easy to be off the booze, the subject has often been in my thoughts. I’ve read articles on drinking – and diagnosed myself as a problem drinker rather than an alcoholic. Which is a relief. And I’ve asked some former-drinker former colleagues what they drink instead. Their successful examples are an inspiration – it can be done.
I’ll try not to go on about it. But it’s a big deal for me. Or so I thought.
All tech-ed up
I’ve adopted some early 21st-Century technology in the form of a GPS device (for future readers, we used to use books of paper maps when driving cars to somewhere new – these are expensive, tear easily, do not show all the roads and go out of date quickly; a GPS device is currently a screen about the size of the palm of your hand, can be updated from your computer and even lights up at night – the letters stand for Global Positioning System and it uses satellites to tell you where you are, how fast you’re going and how long it’s going to be before you arrive – it’s a huge time saver). I also now have a tablet (touch-screen computer about the size of your two palms held next to each other that includes a camera and incredible range of software – it’s more of a toy than a tool; but, like the GPS, I can justify it for reasons I won’t go into here). I am one of the last people I know to have either of these things. It’s not an excuse – just an observation.
In other news, the English-speaking world has been rocked by the deaths of two monumental musicians and a truly epic actor. Current readers will know them to be Lemmy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Future readers will enjoy seeing and hearing their work. The achievements of Bowie during his 828 months of time on planet Earth are especially staggering. A genius, who changed the world for the better.
Locally to me, someone I have met occasionally had an avoidable accident that took him away from his wife and young children at the age of 516 months. A reminder that we never know how much time we have left.