Why do writers drink?
I don’t know, but I can tell you why I drink. I drink in order to pass the time when not writing. Because life is full of interesting things to do but undignified ways in which to achieve them, selfish people with whom to share them, and rewards that slowly drain the spirit of any animate, sentient being.
A smile from a loved one, for example, is never free, nor without chafe. It stands on the foundation of conflict and tension, compromise and surrender, which we have to go through without end in order to obtain a positive result. A shared experience is never really shared, only co-opted. Rare are the occasions when we truly appreciate the essence of what the other has experienced, forging bonds tempered in spiritual steel. And an adventure to the end of the world is seldom truly fulfilling or enjoyable. It is spent either in abject solitude, wishing we had some company to share it with, or in plenty of company, wishing we were left alone to appreciate it in peace.
We value these wondrous-in-theory but marring-in-reality processes only when looking back. We remember them with fondness, maybe even revere them with a combination of melancholy and quickening. Having returned from the edge, contemplating the past from the comfort of now, we’re thankful for the pleasure they provide. A pocketed experience is a rewarding, if not empowering, delight. It adds oomph to life, giving it meaning, opening up the future.
Yet, despite its uplifting qualities, this delight falls short, failing to negate the fact that everything we do is derivative and circumstantial. Life’s joys are dependent on having to go out there and derive pleasure from having endured the indignity of experiencing a true miracle in a less-than-awesome way. The wonder comes later, maki in retrospect, on a level far removed from its true potential; in quaint reflection and among like-minded, 20/20 hindsight sufferers-cum-revellers, whose purpose is to ascribe meaning to a life sold terrifyingly short and down the river, an outcome for which they’re responsible, if not complicit.
We argue that the true potential of life (or of anything, for that matter) can never be known, or even intimated, deeming the point moot. I disagree. Just look back on those few and precious moments in our lives when things were just perfect – a party where everyone laughed their heads off from start to end, a job where everyone came together to perform something astounding – a perfect night in with a lover, a perfect day out with the family – and we remember that true potential is out there, fleeting and rare, and seldom reached, waiting to be attained.
Why do I drink? Certainly not to attain true potential, I know better than that. No, I drink to make the interim periods between writing more bearable and the shame of living a wonderful life in a less-than-wonderful and unpotentiated manner more dignified; the presence of half-hearted connections, background noise and hellacious distractions more manageable; the process of getting lost down other people’s dead ends less frustrating and more challenging, and the whole endeavor of drifting through dreadfully thin or insufferably thick consciousness less drudging and more tolerable, perhaps even rewarding, in its own way. Or maybe even unmemorable, total erasure, should the occasion demand it. I drink and imbibe in order to make it through the grueling, hellish process of having to traverse a wasted and waste-laid heaven daily. Because this is what happens. We lay everything to waste in plain sight, all the while pretending we aren’t. It makes my flesh crawl. So I drink. I socialize. I mingle and talk, nod and smile, observe, note, laugh on occasion, maybe even play the fool like a good social being, then turn around, flip the bird and return to my writing, for which I need no aid whatsoever other than the knowledge I carry over from a life collectively less extraordinary, yet always potentially awesome and boundless.
But that’s just me.
On why other writers drink, click here for a very interesting article. It’s a long but damn good read.