It probably makes me sound like an alcoholic to say it, but I like getting my drink on. Do I like the taste of beer? Bourbon? The occasional dirty martini, up with olives? Sure. I like the taste just fine, but what I really want is The Buzz. The Loosening. The Escape.
Yep. I dig getting tipsy.
Of course, the booze coin has two sides. Indulge a bit too much at night and the next morning, I’ve flipped over to the hungover and edgy side, usually from a headache and sleep deprivation. Alcohol almost always messes with my sleep schedule and nothing is going to affect my mood more than lack of rest. And this isn’t just with multiple drinks, it can be with as few as one.
Affected by one beer? Really? Getting old sucks.
Far and away the biggest reason I fixate on this is the little people I have living in my house. These little people (sometimes referred to as “kids”) require a lot of patience and energy. My kids have taught me time and time again that I have to support myself with healthy, wholesome practices. Things like exercise, meditation and a good diet. And: those things really work. When I’m running at 100% it’s usually because I’m taking care of myself. And when I’m taking care of myself, I’m a better father. And when I’m a better father, I feel proud of the job I’m doing.
But eating broccoli, going to bed at 10pm and saying “OM” over and over doesn’t hold the same appeal as pouring a tall Maker’s Mark over ice and melting into the couch until 1 in the morning. Even though I know the outcome will likely be somewhat unpleasant, the idea of the “before” picture is still tantalizing. Forget about the “after,” my brain says: have a drink. And when drink one begins to work its magic, I’m primed for two, three, and …
Uh-oh. No matter how good I feel while the drinks are going down, morning comes eventually. I’ve probably been tossing and turning for half of the night and just barely drifting into some real sleep when my wife’s iPhone begins its wake up call: Clock Tower. Ever hear that one?
BING BONG BING BONG, BING BONG BING BONG!!
Ugh. Time to get up? No. There must be some mistake. I need at least 4 more hours of sleep and a magical fairy godmother who can get the kids to school while I nurse myself back to health.
Sorry Prince Advil-- not gonna happen.
Since I’ve been through this cycle about 17,000 times, I finally decided I should take some corrective action. Make a change. So now, I live by THE CODE.
THE CODE is simple. If I have any parenting or work responsibilities the following day, I don’t drink. Period. It doesn’t matter if I can sleep in or there’s little on the work agenda: if I have to be a dad or am going to the studio: no drinking. And since parenting is pretty much a 24/7 kind of job, THE CODE has resulted in a drastic drop off of alcohol consumption.
The effect has been beautiful. 9 times out of 10 I wake up, rub the sleep out of my eyes and feel great. All systems go! Since entering my 40s, any time my body feels normal, that’s a win.
Wow. Today I don’t have that little crick in my neck. My knees feel good, too. It actually feels like I got some rest. I mean, by God, I feel like I’m living inside a SUPER ROBOT!!
As I’ve said in this blog before, one of my biggest current goals is to be creative on a regular basis. Write. Mix my podcast. Indulge in an art project. Fitting these things in with my job, being a dad and the miscellaneous duties of life isn’t easy. I have to remain motivated. Which is no small feat, given my proclivity towards napping.
I think of artists whom I admire, and marvel at how hard they work. How on Earth can they get so much done and be so consistently great? The answer is focus.
Then, I think of artists who made such an impact on me who have recently died: Lou Reed, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and just this week, Harold Ramis. I’m reminded that the ride doesn’t last forever. I may never match the caliber of work of these giants, but one thing is for sure. If I don’t even try to create my own art, it will never get done.
Just like booze can knock me off my parenting game, it can also easily torpedo my motivation to be creative.
So, to avoid regret, drinking must take a back seat. I don’t want to reach the end of my life and think: I really didn’t push myself hard enough. I don’t aspire to creative fame and fortune; obscurity is fine. I can’t, however, let myself off the hook about what I think I’m capable of. I’m trying to shake myself out of complacency, which is a nice place to visit, but I can’t allow myself live there.
Publishing this blog or posting a podcast is infinitely more rewarding than the temporary escape of The Buzz. But because it’s a different kind of high, I have to adjust my priorities and adapt. It feels very “grown up.”
At least I have my silly diversions like arcade games and buying old records. I refuse to let go of all my indulgences. And, to my knowledge, no one’s ever had a hangover from playing too much PacMan and cranking up the stereo.