Long years ago, though it feels like yesterday, I gave up alcohol when I discovered I was pregnant with the full intention that once the baby was born I would go back to it. Between babies, there were two, I did drink though far more reduced but once again gave it up completely for the second pregnancy. After the second baby was born though I had lost the taste for alcohol. In the years since I remembered how much I enjoyed Champagne and regained the taste for it though even that in a much more reduced fashion.
Now I’m sure you’re not all that interested in my drinking habits so I’ll get to the point. Lent and Easter has just past and I was chatting with my friend in Jamaica, Gina, a few days later. She had given up a lot of things for lent including sugar, dairy, and alcohol. That’s what I thought at first anyway, but it turns out that Gina was doing a 30-day cleanse and had incorporated it into the Lenten season. Easter is a huge holiday in Jamaica and despite the religious significance it is a time known for it’s parties, food, and lots and lots of alcohol.
This idea and practice of not drinking alcohol for such an extended period of time was new for Gina and she asked me if I noticed that when people are drinking if they are different - "are they tiresome" were her exact words. I really had to stop and think about that. Overall it was not really my experience but I could certainly point to some instances where the alcohol wasn’t helping a person’s disposition. To Gina I said that I thought when people have had a few drinks they relax, let things slide, and maybe don't worry so much about being perfect or at least projecting perfection. The buzz feels good and it's an easy way to get the buzz and at the same time allow their facade to drop. It’s much harder to drop that facade and just be who you really are all the time without worrying about what others think of you.
The question, however, has continued to percolate in my brain. It could be that the company Gina had that day really was tiresome because in an inebriated state what they had to say was of little value, and of no interest to the sober Gina. What if, however, we look at the experience as a mirror – this is an idea that is hard for most of us to accept. When I see ‘good, bad, or tiresome’ in other people maybe it’s a mirror of my own self. If I see tiresome in my company maybe it’s because I see in myself something that is tiresome but not wanting to admit that about myself I project it onto someone else. Ack…that doesn't feel good when I use the word tiresome does it? Try beautiful, talented, or charitable and it feels so much better!
All this goes back to the idea that there is no separation between us. We may look different, act in different ways, but at the highest level we are one. We have one mind and one heart. When we say that person over there is ‘whatever’ we are talking about ourselves. Alcohol, or lack of it, has no bearing. On a day-to-day basis what we need to do for each other is see the good, the beautiful and the charitable, because then we will see it in ourselves. Easy enough to do for someone you get along with, it’s the person you don’t like that stretches you, moves you out of your comfort zone, and helps you grow in ways you never thought possible.
Are you up for the challenge?