Thursday, May 26, 2011

Give up alcohol forever?

Sitting around with some friends over drinks a hypothetical question came up of whether I would give up alcohol (meaning any and all alcoholic beverages) for the rest of my life for $1 million. I didn't take me long to answer no. Many were surprised. Don't get me wrong, $1 million is a lot of money. If I used that to pay off the mortgage, student loans, etc. that would leave great deal of disposable income that could go a long way to increasing my standard of living.

However, the thought of doing so put feelings of emptiness and disconnect in my head (no, I'm not an alcoholic - just read on).

I guess it depends on the person, but the act of drinking to me is not just about the consumption of alcohol and getting a good buzz or even the occasional spins. It's more about the collective experience drinking plays within our culture. Other than the occasional after-work beer or martini that I make at home, when I'm drinking I'm with friends and/or family, as well as have opportunities to get to know some fascinating strangers. It would be giving up an aspect of one's culture that allows you to interact with people on so many levels. Sharing a bottle of wine with people isn't just about the physical effect the wine has on you, it's deeper than that. It's about sharing that moment, combining it with food and conversation experiencing something together and growing friendships.

Yes, yes to all the people who are thinking "life would be just fine without alcohol and you can still go to bars and other occasions without drinking." But to me, being the odd-ball-out who is drinking cranberry juice with friends at the bar or at a friend's BBQ would just make me feel awkward like the vegan at Thanksgiving sitting there on the periphery of the experience with their quinoa.

It's not a question about whether I could live without alcohol. Of course I could. It's a question about whether you would give up something that connects you to the people around you - giving up a part of your culture - something that on certain occasions unites you with others. Maybe I'm over-thinking this. Call me crazy. The money could go a long way but would you give up something that is a significant part of your culture, your family, your social life, your life-adventures...for $1 million? Would you give up dancing or listening to music for that amount of money?

Remember, the question was for $1 million. And if you're like me, I guess the next question is: "What's your price?"

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