I quit all of the below things all at once:
Alcohol (light drinking 3 nights/wk)
Sugar (desserts after dinner + morning pastries, etc)
Caffeine (espresso or strong coffee every morning)
Weed (Once a week, strong joint or bowl)
Cigarettes (only occasionally- 1 per week before I got hooked… I said f this)
This decision occurred at the end of February. It is now almost June. I’m 90 days with NO VICES of any kind. The only thing I ritualistically enjoy now is an apple- I shit you not.
To further add to the ridiculousness- it happens that I am a musician/composer/writer. As the stereotype goes, we are among those groups who typically rely on a steady combination of such things. I decided to make this shift based on an idea (probably while high) that my reward system was comprised of little pick-me-ups throughout the day/week that was messing with my passion and my desire to work hard at it. “If you get the dopamine, what’s the difference” kind of trickery.
So, what have I learned so far? Hmm… I really enjoy a joint once in a while to put things in perspective and to help come up with new, inspiring, creative ideas vital to my work. Not to mention detaching from my ego, which puts me in immediate touch with my emotions and my relationships with my closest people. I’ve devised a theory that you can “get there” without the use of the drug. Okay- but I haven’t yet. Haven’t found the patience to sit still and meditate and fully open my mind with all the might and patience and creative technique that one needs to employ in ORDER to get there.
Moving on- my most difficult vice to eliminate was my use of caffeine: espressos every day to set my mind running wildly and enthusiastically to my heart’s desire. (By the way, I am also a part-time barista at a third wave coffee shop- no kidding.) Leaving the temptation aspect aside- no big deal, I’m determined- Having no morning reward to look forward to is like having almost no reason to get out of bed. I used to be a morning person, now I snooze that shit right two or three times before I get up. Then it’s two hours of manually waking up while I go about my day. This process is no joke, it is a battle to get physiologically prepped to handle any form of elevated/creative thinking without the coffee. I miss it. But there is SOMETHING without it…
Alcohol and sugar are both no big deal comparatively. For drinks, I always feel when I get a little too comfortable having a beer or two and not feeling drunk. When that point is realized, I take a week or so off. I watched my father battle alcoholism when I was in high school, so perhaps I’m extra cautious in the first place. Nevertheless.. What the fuck is there to do on a Friday night in LA that doesn’t involve having a drink or some wine?? For that matter- what are dates with my girlfriend anymore? We go eat, we see movies, we DON’T have sugar/tea of any kind- we are forced to be with each other in a completely sober state: not bad at all, we keep each other entertained- but why not have a drink, or at least a slice of chocolate cake with ice cream to share on a bench somewhere? No…And yet there is SOMETHING.
The CIGARETTES part was interesting for me. This may have been the icing on the cake that prompted my whole shift… I never smoked a cigarette until one afternoon I walked into a smoke shop and bought a pack of clove cigarettes. I sat outside my studio, took one out of the package, examined it, and lit it. The first smoke wasn’t what got me. But the second one a few days later— holy mother of shit! As I was smoking this (cloves are stronger btw) and feeling one hell of a collected rush, a voice in my head which spilled out into my speech was saying “now I see why this stuff is so addictive… Omg omg. Okay… So I’d better throw the rest of them away.” And I did. To return five minutes later and retrieve a few from the trash can. Oh the justification… “For a rainy day.”
I may have smoked two or three more over the course of the next month. I got sick of cloves and decided to buy a pack of regular ones. Smoked one and wrote some cool music stuff “okay I’ll wait a week for the next one” but then that day couldn’t come soon enough. I started thinking about it all week. I smoked one more, and when the next week came and it was my cig day, I sat in my car looking at the pack and then made a hard decision to throw them all away instead of smoking one. That was my last cigarette, three months ago. I still fondly remember the feeling and idea of relaxing for a smoke…
So here is that SOMETHING that comes when you are free of your vices… Balance.
I am balanced. I am left to my own natural abilities and motivations. And it’s not impossible. Here I am, at a major crossroad in my life where I can choose my direction, focus and act toward my goals in the same state every day. Powerful.
In this life, there are short term pleasures, easy fixes… And there is real pleasure that comes from hard work. “You get what you put into something” It’s easy to brew a cup of coffee, or fill a glass with booze, or light a bowl or a cigarette, or eat an m&m. You’ll feel satisfied and happy. In some cases VERY happy. I never seem to feel very happy these days. Just times spent with my girlfriend when she makes me laugh, the buzz after a good workout, or the electricity that comes listening back to my work. Watching a sunset and not thinking “wow a beer would go perfectly with this view”.
I still think that way sometimes, and often I am not glad that I’ve made this decision. I miss these things dearly.
On the other hand, that SOMETHING… That subtle something I notice only sometimes beckons me to continue on this path. Where will I be in 3 years? 10 years? There is something to be said about the present and being happy and indulging your vices — it is in this spirit that we have arrived at our present situation on this planet.
Thoughts from a kid who landed on this outlet to share my story and hopes there might be others out there like me.
I used to rely on any of these vices to guide me at any given time- now I am fully responsible for everything I do and finding my passion, energy, motivation, and happiness is a heavy order every time.