tiistai 26. marraskuuta 2013

Day 359: The celebration illusion


At a wedding (2010).

I would like to share something I experienced a few days ago. I was spending time with a specific group of friends, celebrating the end of the year and enjoying each other's company. Most of the people present were drinking alcohol, and because of my recent re-commitment I had made the choice to not drink alcohol; even though I partially already made the decision when I left for the party without a bottle, the decision was solid only when I was at the party, thinking about what liquids to consume and choosing to fill my glass with water instead of asking others to share their wine with me. I drank water, I felt relaxed and awake, I was enjoying myself.

At one point we decided to walk to the local pub, which was a small place full of people and with a troubadour performing. When walking in I noticed myself thinking that I was “out of place” - that I was a “city beau” walking among “small town hicks” - and that I should have portrayed myself gracefully according to this image. I didn't, however, because I realized that my clothes were so mundane that I wouldn't have been able to pull off that show convincingly. (I realize that with this line of thinking I separate myself from others and attempt to compensate for my insecurity by elevating myself, but that is not the focus of this story as I did not act upon it this time around.)

What happened next was interesting. I had gotten myself a drink, I was listening to the troubadour and singing loud with my friends (simply out of the joy of knowing the lyrics, lol), and since I had had just a couple of sips of my gin and tonic I was fully sober. The troubadour started playing a familiar song that everyone knows the lyrics to, but which is a song I strongly resent. The lyrics are basically about sex, sleeping around, escapism and getting drunk. Everybody around me was singing the song, dancing in the cramped space and fully lost in the experience of the moment – whereas I stopped, I looked around and I saw everything that the song stands for (losing oneself in momentary escapism) in the actions of the people surrounding me. I stood breathing and stable inside a bar during the energy peak of the evening (the “party experience” chain of events) and I stopped participating. I stopped dancing, I stopped singing, I stopped smiling, I stopped drinking, and I just breathed. I put my glass down and left it there. I sat down and just watched everyone around me. All my will to participate in any of it had been drained out of me with the realization of what the culture of drinking stands for.

My reaction towards the song of course plays a part here, because I projected what I saw in the song on the people around me. Thus, I may have seen them in a more “negative light” because of the self-judgement that the song brought up. However, this doesn't negate the fact that at least a part of what I saw was actually there.

So, basically, what I learned was that the illusion of the “party experience” - the story of the party that one tells within one's mind before, during and after the actual events - is in fact an illusion that one can stop participating in. It was easy when I was sober and not influenced by any specific emotional energy, but I am guessing that it can be done even under the influence of alcohol when and as the emotional attachment to the “experience” is dissolved – in other words, when I step outside of the hamster wheel that I keep fueling by myself. I'm kinda tempted to get drunk just to test my theory, lol.

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