I remember growing up in Sacramento, California and being immersed in the underground music scene there. There, we thrived on late night heavy metal shows – all made up of teenagers and early 20-somethings, all bopping around holding regular shows in various little underground music venues. Every kid had their own “rebellious” style whether trying to look like a punk rocker from the 80’s or an understated “scene kid” wearing nondescript sneakers and plain white t-shirts but with the giveaway eyebrow or lip piercing, or colorful artsy tattoo carved into their arm. Bands made up fast music with heavy breakdowns and lots of screaming – and the word “mosh pit” was an understatement. You would think with all of this rabble-rousing that the scene would also be full of drugs and alcohol. And you would then, be shocked at how wrong you were.
A phenomenon that I was not impressed by at the time, but later on in life look back on it and think, “Wow, that was really interesting…!” – this crowd thrived on a group mentality called “Straight Edge”, or in other words – sober. No alcohol, no drugs. In fact, drugs and alcohol were almost looked at as “uncool”, and if you did drink, you were kind of not in the club. There were “Crews” formed around this way of living and often being a vegan was added to the list of this righteousness. Ironically, this lifestyle is a tradition in some ancient faiths during times of fasting – but these kids were doing it all on their own.
I’ve felt a wave coming back lately of I guess what I would call “cool sobriety”. A state of living where you get some kind of trendy social cred for being someone who “doesn’t drink”. Of course, thats not why I quit. But I would love to see this become a thing. Why? Because it would save lives, and potentially souls!
We would all make better decisions.
We would all make decisions from a place of clarity. A place where our vision is clouded with one less thing. And man, that ONE thing felt so full of ‘spirits’.
Drinking can be a cultural thing…drinking can be a safe thing! Drinking can completely be a consequence-less, innocent, non-problematic thing. But the problem is that, for many people, its not.
For me, a substance became the easiest thing to reach for when I felt uncomfortable. The easiest thing to reach for when I was bored. The easiest thing to reach for when I felt like I needed some “inspiration”. The easiest thing to reach for when I felt like I was grieving something. The easiest thing to numb myself with or shut my brain off with something that no one would ever bat an eyelash at because it is simply the most socially acceptable drug that we have here in America. And it is SO easy to abuse.
Even if you just abuse it for a little while – it is so easy to abuse.
It takes all the pain away if you’re going through a rough period. It helps you to feel more inspired and uplifted – for a moment. It takes away inhibitions and can help you feel more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.
But what if you’re in a situation that you shouldn’t be in? And you’re using alchohol to make yourself feel more comfortable there? While simultaneously disarming your natural intuition which may be causing your discomfort because in fact – this isn’t where you’re supposed to be?
I wouldn’t apply this analogy to things like public speaking – but rather, life situations that seem to stretch out over time, or events where you are seeing and doing things that you actually feel uncomfortable seeing and doing. Some would say you need to challenge yourself to push through those uncomfortable feelings and “do it anyway”. But this is where it gets tricky. How do you tell the difference between a situation that is there to help you grow and a situation that is straight up, 100% wrong for you?
Well, this is where alcohol will trip you up, backwards, sideways and potentially off the cliff if you’re not careful (although hopefully if you do fall you will be caught!).
It is near impossible to tell whether you are making the right decision or the wrong decision if your life is in any way clouded by alcohol. And I’m not talking about people who drink occasionally or sometimes socially.
When the “alcohol mindset”, (a state of being and perspective you end up living from that is clouded by a layer of distortion that changes how you see things and how you feel about them, and also numbs any red flags that go off in potentially dangerous situations or simply situations that are wrong for you) – which you can absolutely possess even if you haven’t drank a drop all day long – has its lens over your brainwaves and thinking…
you can be assured that your decision making will be more from a place that is not exactly what I would call the sharp as a tack jet pilot. More like, the 90 year old woman with glasses on as thick as 2 windowpanes hunched over the wheel of her giant Buick, squinting as she attempts her route to the grocery store. I.E., this view is more from a place that is not you…
More from a place that just wants everything to be ok. More from a place that is willing to compromise. Willing to lie to itself. And seeing things not as they are, but rather, how you want them to be.
This is a place that I lived in many times. A place where I was so afraid of the alternative, that I refused to see reality. And alcohol helped me to stay there – over, and over, and over again. There were certain times and certain situations I found myself in where this surely could have killed me. But it didn’t.
I’m just not willing to risk it anymore. I don’t have time for that. I had blinders on for too long to ever consider taking the chance of them re-appearing on my face without my permission.
Alchohol has hands of fire that reach out for you and stroke the back of your neck, and beckon you from afar with a fiery come hither finger. Once you’ve let it control you in any capacity, it tries to come back for you, and it does not want you to leave it. If you’ve ever had a problem with alcohol, you have to view it as a psychopathic ex who simply will use every tactic it knows to manipulate you or lure you back in.
And you have to say no. You have to cut it off, go no contact, and never look back.
Without it, your clarity returns. You will know, for a fact, that EVERY decision you make is one coming from a place of complete, unclouded clarity. That while you do have to deal with life much more head-on, and you don’t get to just ignore the things that don’t feel right – you are living a REAL life. And making different choices than you may have made otherwise (can you imagine that?).
And then one day, it will have been a really long time…
You’ll look up at the sky on a sunny day. You’ll be walking down the street with the breeze in your hair, and think to yourself –
Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.
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“Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.”
Doesn’t it, though?