While growing up, I was never in serious trouble. There were a few childish capers, a few lies, a few dangerous chances taken, but no harm was directed at others, only at myself. Once I was old enough, almost all of these mindless adventures included the consumption of alcohol. Why this would be so is not entirely clear. I never witnessed excessive use as a child, unless we deem excessive any use at all. My father drank one beer every evening after his long hard work day, and my mother drank much less. But, as the story goes, I was still in my very early childhood when I was occasionally given a sip from my father’s glass. I remember it well, I remember liking the taste, and I remember my innocent enjoyment bringing a smile to the faces of others. It’s possible this latter form of acceptance and encouragement was a contributing factor later on. Along with what became an increasing need to compete and perform, this might have been the only combination needed. Society, though, must also have played a part. The Sixties were wild, permissive days; the Seventies were too, with an added note of anger and desperation. Fortunately, beyond alcohol, drugs were never of interest to me. I wasn’t that foolish; I was just foolish enough. Be that as it may, I drank well into adulthood, mostly imitating my father’s habit, and sometimes a bit more, with attempted escapes into excess during difficult times, which were only made more difficult by alcohol’s effects and proved not to be escapes at all. Finally, when I understood myself well enough, and understood what even one drink could do to my outlook as well as my innards, I lost my taste for anything that contained alcohol. There was no struggle. I didn’t quit. It quit me. Now, it’s been many years since I’ve had so much as a sip of beer. No one thinks a thing of it, and people still accept me with a smile. Or they don’t. With my writing it’s very much the same. What else have I learned? Perhaps this: Back then, there were two kinds of future. One I longed for, the other I feared. I’m thankful that neither exists.
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Tags: Acceptance, Alcohol, Be Here Now, Beer, Child and Man, Childhood, Competition, Drugs, Fear, Foolishness, Habit, Longing, Memory, My Father, My Mother, Society, The Seventies, The Sixties, Understanding, Writing