I have had a difficult time getting my body clock back to this time zone but I am grateful that I have finally managed to sleep through the night.
(Cue: Hallelujah chorus)
I went out Saturday with a friend and a couple of drinks turned into the entire evening. It was great to see her. We spent the afternoon searching for particular pieces of street art and while it was largely unsuccessful, we did stumble upon this hot piece by the artist, Irony:
I am grateful that I had an evening out with my friend. It was impromptu, and we both have had a difficult time of it lately. It was nice to spend some time together and let our hair down.
And yet, when I paid my share of the bar tab, which really burned a hole (let’s be clear: incinerated) my weekly budget, I thought: “what a colossal waste of money”. On my way home, I came to a conclusion: I don’t want to do this anymore. It is no reflection on the company with whom I spent the evening, just the activity. When I lived in Canada and in New York, I didn’t drink at all. I remember my doctor asking me how much I drank and I answered her:
Me: “Oh, maybe one or two drinks”
Doctor: “Per day? Per week?”
Me: “Per year.”
I’m not judging anyone who drinks. I have one or two drinks with friends and enjoy it or even a glass of wine at home, occasionally. For most of my life in the UK, I haven’t participated in the recreational drinking that goes with socializing in this country.
Although I am an introvert, a part of me has desired a more vibrant social life and opportunities to connect. I’ve had a great summer, partying with interesting people – and that has largely not involved drinking a lot, on my part. I don’t need alcohol as a social lubricant and I am far more entertaining, witty, charming, vibrant, sexy, and fun without alcohol. I can see clearly now that it actually impedes my happiness. It increases my fatigue, and the sugar highs and the sugar lows lead to post alcohol depression as the organs work overtime to rid my body of the toxin. And, financially, it takes its toll and prevents me from being able to do other enjoyable activities by burning a hole in my pocket.
Yet, I have missed opportunities to connect with people who really stimulate me, intellectually. Whenever I have had more than my two drink limit, I have found myself fighting my own brain and not being as witty or charming as I am, normally. I couldn’t be myself, and, I like myself. If I don’t bring myself to the party, then what good is a party and an opportunity to connect?
I could regret the time lost in fatigue and the money spent, but there is no point. I consider it to be a kind of burning away of residual doubts. In the east, monks wear orange to signify the burning of the samskaras and the purification through fire. One burns with the pain of one’s attachments and desires until one has suffered enough to drop them and attach to something positive (like bliss, godhead, or whatever you want to call it). There is a reason that First Nations people, with a tradition of using hallucinogens in sacred ceremonies, supposedly labelled alcohol as “Fire-water”.
As I examine the present and make goals for the future, I am very aware of how we all just waste our lives by wasting our time. I attended a course hosted by my professional association a couple of days ago and one of our tasks was to do a life review.
One of the things under review was my love life.
I have been involved with a man for several months now. He is close to my age, a professional, attractive and shares similar interests. But as I looked at this relationship this week, I really found it to be, on balance, not adding anything positive to my life. He didn’t value me in the way I feel I should be valued. At best, we were just passing time. In reality, it was squandering my time.
I lit a match to the relationship today. I am grateful that I had the mixed experience of knowing him, of being my authentic self in relationship to him, of valuing myself and because I value myself, of moving on. Don’t feel sad for me. I have made room for something better, and I have great men in my life; friends. I am grateful to Kt-, the Gov, Pn-, Ao- G- and Lk- for their friendship and the gift of their masculine energies.
This informal life review has helped me gain clarity on where I am in my life and I do not wish to waste any more time, energy or money. I am grateful for the focus and direction that my life review has given to my tendency to be introspective.
I’ve had many small moments of Oneness this week with strangers and friends, but the one that stands out happened while I was on my own in Camden, taking some photographs. As I walked down the high street I saw a man (probably a bit down on his luck) stand and shout in the face of a panhandler. The panhandler had olive skin and appeared not to be of Anglo Saxon or Viking ethnicity. The man shouted for the panhandler to go back to his own country; to go home!
It took a few minutes to register what I was seeing. We all have our own views on panhandling, and there are laws around it in some places. However, there is often a difference between what is legal and what is morally right. Regardless of whether it is legal to panhandle, we don’t know this man’s story. We don’t know what hardships he might have had to face. All we can see is that he is willing to lower himself to panhandling, whether it is to buy his children food, to feed his addiction or to simply ““scam the compassionate. We just don’t know. And, whatever his story may be, there is no justification for intimidation and abuse.
By the time I was able to act, the abuser was gone. I was moved by compassion and although I had blown my budget for the week on a single night out, I found a couple of pounds at the bottom of my handbag and gave it to the man who had been abused and I reminded him that not everyone is like the abuser. I gave him a blessing and moved on. I was surprised to find that as I walked on, I was crying in the street. And even as I wiped the tears from my face, I thought: I am grateful that my heart is open enough to shed tears of compassion for this man.
Service has been delivered in small ways: helping keep children safe from falling from an open window, trying to help a friend get home safely, forgiving bitchy behaviour and lending an ear where needed. I also let someone off the hook for a promise they had made to me but now seem unable to keep. None of this is earth shattering but every pebble in a pond makes ripples.
While I was on the night-out with my friend, she slipped off to the ladies room, and a remix of a song to which I used to dance in my youth came on. I was not dressed for dancing. I was dressed for photography – trainers, leggings, and a rucksack. But, the music took me back to a happy time and I remembered my independent self dancing alone in nightclubs (incidentally….without alcohol).
I brought myself – solo and (by then) sober – to the party and I danced with Joy.
And so, I ask you:
For what are you grateful, this week?