I've never been drunk. At least, I don't think so. Except one time after acupuncture when I drank cider and felt like I was on the moon. And sometimes I feel giddy after a Sunday roast.
But, we all have our vices, especially this post-Methodist boy from a non-practising Catholic family. What's mine? Cake. And not just cake, but pastries, cheesecake, polenta cake, gluten-free bullshit levels of cake. If it is flaky and buttery with a sweet edge, I will take it. However since it's Dry January, I thought I'd rise to the challenge of avoiding any kind of sugar plum. I have a will of iron. So, no problem, right?
F is for
I've always wanted to be that cool guy...the hedonist, the rebel with the eager hand to receive any goodies on a night out with friends. He has a lovely colouring and wears flipflops even in Winter. But I'm a geek. Well, a more refined one - a pseudo academic, maybe. And with that comes with the self-consciousness that allows such keen observation. So while the likeable cool guys are swanning around on the back of speedboats or hitchhiking across Patagonia, I'm usually to be found in my native habitat, perched on a chair in front of a screen or listening to a philosophy podcast. Thinking.
The Academic doesn't do drugs. At least not in my story. He summons an inventory from the cloisters of his mind about why it's implausible that he should. He tries to justify it with neuron ping pong yet in reality he simply can't bear the smell of weed nor the sight of people who have overindulged. His nose is tilted in the air so he couldn't possibly put anything up it. And labs are for rats, regrettably, not the playground for the invention of chemicals to be ingested while flailing around to 90s remixes. He can do that in the privacy of his home with his saluki. Wait, this may be The Snob.
Alas this stiffness is too stifling after a while. So he reaches for some kind of chemical stimulation under the papery exterior and foil innard, pops a square of that innocent-looking glossy liquorice brown.... like a tiny photographic still... on to his tongue. And the popping continues until the entire moving picture is over. And then, the fun begins with all guise of civilisation in shreds on the floor with his clothes.
A friend is very open about his indulgence of carnal desires, different to mine, and yet his admissions leave him at the end of waggling fingers that spell A D D I C T, a word that has become ingrained in our every day vocabulary. So addicted to smashed avo on toast. So addicted to Netflix. Maybe he just likes it a lot.
Michael Pollan has a lot of curious things to say about the power of plants to transform consciousness. And not just the ones that your middle class friends go to see an Amazonian shaman for or that your dodgier friends whazz a text to the anonymous number on their phone for, but the ones you are probably digesting right now - the daily coffee, the afternoon piece of cake, the hot chocolate after that cold walk, the flapjack when we break from a long cycle. Apart from some of the obvious nutritional commentary on blood sugar dips and the like, what are those foods doing to our consciousness, our mood, our being...and do we really need them? Are we addicted? Or do we just like the feeling a lot?
It's Not Me, It's You
Screeching the wheels of dryness to a halt, the calendar has told us all that now is 1st February so contemplating the month reveals a bit of a train wreck. I see a notable decline in my humour, with seriousness bubbling up with all the grubby stench of ancient lecture theatres. January has been my angriest month, the most emotional, the most of everything... even more than when I first discovered journaling at 8 and thought all I should note is when my sister had unnecessarily but intentionally provoked me. I've once again felt torn from profound injustices even if my train was 6 minutes late. January was just too bloody much. And although I'm not solely pointing the angry cakeless finger at the Dryness, it hasn't escaped my attention. Cake. Such a great word.
I've attempted to be zen about the rainbow of emotions. I've studied and read about feelings, resilience, the transience, the importance of detachment. The semi Buddhist way. I have tended my spiritual garden. But it's been tough. And although I haven't craved the sweetness or frothed at the mouth when the person on the bus sits next to me eating a florentine, I've definitely craved the feeling it brings on its white wings. Baked goods are a 5 minute luxury spa break.
I made a pact with myself last year to slow down, to allow myself the time to act according to my intuition, to be more authentic with friends and family. But I seem to have opened Pandora's box because I have this bloated uncompromising idealism that the world can't meet, that I can't. And I'm not sure how to transform that except to float away on a toffee cloud.
A TED talk on addiction stuck in my mind, too and namely that addiction is the opposite to connection. Mindful of that, I am figuring out what am I not connecting to when I feel that stressed. And that's really tough. That makes me want to ride more toffee clouds and make the discomfort go away. But then comes to mind the mammal who eats lichen because he feels so good. So good that he eats it until all his teeth are gone and he dies quickly from hunger. Gulp. That'll learn him.