“Be always drunken.
Nothing else matters:
that is the only question.
If you would not feel
the horrible burden of Time
weighing on your shoulders
and crushing you to the earth,
be drunken continually.
Drunken with what?
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.
But be drunken.
And if sometimes,
on the stairs of a palace,
or on the green side of a ditch,
or in the dreary solitude of your own room,
you should awaken
and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you,
ask of the wind,
or of the wave,
or of the star,
or of the bird,
or of the clock,
of whatever flies,
ask what hour it is;
and the wind,
clock will answer you:
“It is the hour to be drunken!”
Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen, 1864
If Baudelaire’s “Be Always Drunken” is one of your favorite poems, basically, ever, what do you do when you quit drinking?
If you’ve spent the last 10 years as something of a cocktail & spirits expert and a bartender, what do you do, if you don’t drink?
I mean, for more than 5 years, the cocktails of the Savoy Cocktail Book were a fairly single minded obsession for me. Getting (or making) the ingredients, making the drinks, photographing the drinks, writing the SavoyStomp.com Blog, hosting Savoy Nights at Alembic, etc.
Daniel Hyatt was prescient, saying a long time ago, “If you ever finish this thing, you are going to have some serious post-partum depression.”
Seriously, even leaving aside the drinking part, that’s a lot of effort & time I was spending over Savoy Cocktails, that is now free.
Well, the obvious thing, is to find something else to do, other than drink & write about drinking.
I guess that is the whole plan of AA. You have to go to at least a meeting every day. You meet with your sponsor. You drink lots of coffee. You smoke. You hang out with your new AA buddies. You’ve got badges and buttons to earn. Pretty clearly, you’re replacing the time you spent drinking and hanging out with your drinking buddies and those rewards, with the time spent fulfilling your responsibilities to the AA organization.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe in a higher power, nor do I have any desire to hang out in church basements drinking coffee.
So, to set myself up for success, in this whole “not drinking” experiment, I’m going to have to find something to occupy my time.
Prior to my obsession with cocktails, my enthusiastic hobbies have included, in no particular order, Reading, Botany, Gardening, Computer Games, Music, Playing Music…
Oh, huh, I still have that clarinet I bought when I was just out of college.
Well, learning to play the clarinet is certainly something that can take up a lot of time and attention.
Performing music was really my first addiction and enthusiasm.
I started performing music in the children’s choir at church and continued to sing and perform in pretty much every possible way through high school: Band, Jazz Band, Choir, Musicals, and yes, even, horror of horrors, Madrigal.
Stopped performing when I went off to college and started drinking.
Is it possible that every other addiction, or enthusiasm, in my adult life has just been a substitute for the buzz of performing music?
Now that is something to think about.
…and I doubt Mr Baudelaire would disagree that it is possible to be drunken with song…