Drinking is one of those activities I did not take part in for a long time. In college, it took four years before I finally picked up the habit. Wine of any kind is my favorite without question. Vodka is the worst by far.
But in drinking I have made many observations about how people act, how I act and how those actions differ from when we aren’t holding a glass.
One of those observations, possibly the scariest, is the lack of accountability we seem to hold to each other when drunk. Socially there is a taboo about bringing up past actions as though they never happened or are not important.
This is troubling because drinking brings out the truth. Within all of us there is a certain amount of anger, loneliness and joy, and when those elements surface it’s healthy to address them. But alcohol today is an excuse and an escape.
This strategy works all too often. I don’t have to be sorry for my actions because I was drunk. Don’t they cancel each other out?
Not really. In fact it’s a testament to our culture. Alcohol is the reason we are excused from being ourselves. Many ancient cultures used it as a way to make a deeper personal and spiritual connection. Now we just want to get wasted and forget the experience ever happened.
I had my own personal encounter with this Tuesday evening. Nothing felt better the next morning and it only felt good for a little while that night. But I knew what I was getting into and still made the decision to tank the night away.
When I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror, and I had to ask myself some serious questions. As a journalist the most pressing is always this: why? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why did I believe she would like me any more because I was drunk? The answers are all but non-existent. This may be college and we might feel a little too free at times, but actions still come with responsibility.
Another observation is the reasons for drinking and the amount of. The old times of drinking for one’s own benefit are gone. Now it seems to be a purely social occasion. At least that is what we tell ourselves. I like to drink with people. A community of light-headed buddies is always a good time.
Taking part in one of humanity’s oldest traditions should always come with company. But we have to ask ourselves when do we stop drinking with our friends and start doing it for them?
If you find yourself unable to answer that principle question it may be time to take a look in the mirror. You are more than welcome to share mine, I have no problem stepping over a bit.