As with much of my life these days, I don’t plan many things that I used to. So, when I happened to feel the need to give up drinking right before I made my way to Nashville, I didn’t really think much of it. In the time leading up to my trip, I had discovered that my already light-weight drinking abilities had become even punier. I had literally gotten to the point that even half a glass of wine could make me feel like crap the following day. Not knowing if it was simply the quality of the wine or my increased sensitivity, I thought “it’ll be easy enough to just eliminate it all together.” HA! At the time of my weekend trip and following work conference in Nashville, I had been alcohol free for a few days. Back home my choice was a bit challenging, but overall no biggee and I was feeling pretty good about my commitment.
But then - enter the land of debauchery. I know it’s said that Las Vegas and perhaps some other cities are known for their free balling ways, but I would beg to differ. Two days into my trip, I developed a theory as to why people go buck wild in Nashville – the proliferation of good, live music. Since on my spiritual journey, I have witnessed and felt the divine connection between music, words and our energy. Music is something that can bring us to the heights of joy or to the depths of despair. In short, music can make people lose their shit. Hearing a song can literally change our mood in the matter of seconds, by reminding us of things we would long love to forget - unrequited love, a deceased loved one, or any other circumstance known to man. Words, chords and energy can drop us into an entirely new reality for the span of 3-5 minutes. In these moments, we are completely entrenched in feeling. For me, music is the thing that gives meaning to life many times. It has always been one of the things that allows me to get out of my head and into my heart, to switch from thinking to feeling. And if there’s one thing we’ve gotten good at in our society is ignoring our feelings. Isn’t it nice of little booze to help us all out?!
The first few days of my trip I was by myself, and as I like to do anyway, I began observing people while I was out and about. From early in the morning (ok, maybe not the morning) til late at night, I saw many a drunk person letting lose, screaming and yelling, dancing and gyrating, hugging and loving up on people, being belligerent and belittling -pretty much doing and saying things I can almost guarantee they would not be doing sober. People acting a fool and probably feeling justified in doing so because they could blame it on the alcohol.
My sober observations led me to a few findings:
1. It is really quite challenging to stop drinking even if you don’t have a serious problem. I consider myself to be someone who can stick with a decision and their choices fairly well, but I found myself wanting to numb out like everyone else and have a drink. I ran through all the reasons in my head why it wouldn’t hurt anything to have just one little drink. I mean, I’m not doing anything wrong and red wine is good for me, right?
2. Alcohol and other mind-altering substances allow us to be in spaces that we find difficult while we are sober. These substances help us to let our guard down, to be free and fun, to get up and dance, to live a little. I mean, it ain’t called liquid courage for nothing. Think of the times we used substances (liquid or otherwise) to escape from our reality. I know I’ve been guilty of it plenty of times in my life. The combo of emotion and lowering inhibitions can create quite a dangerous mixture. We can convince ourselves that some innocent glass of wine was to blame for our stupidity. Now that I’m not drinking booze, I’d like to act like a jackass and then blame it on the water I drank.
3. It is socially acceptable to be a complete jerk or mess while you’re inebriated. In fact, many times, it’s encouraged by our compadres. Have you ever witnessed someone trying to not drink and their friends peer-pressuring them to do so? It’s like some part of us knows we’re about to act a fool and we want all other involved parties to be in the same state. We forgive many actions stating, “oh, she/he was drunk they didn’t really mean it” (whatever IT was). It’s a state that provides some sort of safety net for lots of emotions and actions.
The other super fun part of my trip is the giant toothache I brought with me. See, I love to eat. In fact, one of my deciding factors of whether I love a vacation, or a trip is the food. From my last brief trip here, I remember that Nashville has good Southern food. However, the nerve pain left me feeling like I had Tourette’s every time I took a bite of food. The stream of obscenities that uttered my lips every time I tried to eat, left me avoiding the situation. My normal love of food turned into eating out of necessity’s sake (it also seems that I like to be alive and have energy). Struggling to eat my breakfast of banana and yogurt parfait, I had the realization God is really trying to make me pay attention to how I feel and where I feel it. For, it’s our other societal norm – having a bad day? Stuff yo face with a cheeseburger and fries and top it off with a beer, that’ll make EVERYTHING better!
No matter what our method: eating, drinking, shopping, religion, mediation, yoga if used as an avoidance, we are still numbing out. We all do it! This shit is not new. Denial is a powerful thing. As long as we can lie to ourselves and ignore something, we don’t have to face the repercussions of the truth. Personally, the other way I can numb or zone out from life is by being in my head or meditating. Both of these seemingly innocuous places allow me to stay out of my body, which is where we feel our emotions. This trip reminded me on so many levels that I still continue to check out via different methods. It made me question why I was doing so, what thoughts and feelings I was avoiding. I remembered that when I take a moment to be fully centered on myself and my body, allowing my thoughts, feelings and emotions to come, I can quickly see exactly what I’m running from. Dropping from my head space into my heart space gives me more truth than I could ever want. For, our hearts always know the answers, we just have to shut up long enough to hear them.