I’m an alcoholic. There. I’ve said it. I’m not ashamed because nine years ago I decided to quit. So whatever. It’s a choice and I’m stubborn enough to stick to it.
One day, a thirty hour journey brought me to the island country of Japan.
Beer, shochu, sake. Everywhere I look alcohol demands my attention. It never stops.
There appears to be no social stigma against drinking in Japan. There is no shame. There a mingling of pride. Drinking even manages to invade the workplace in the form of special parties called enkai or nomikai. And what happens at enkai stays at enkai. It is free reign to let loose, which can result in good and bad. And boy, there’s some loosening. That’s okay. Nothing wrong with that.
Aside from work functions, drinking is an activity. It’s a way for people to bond. I never understood that social aspect but then again, I have a problem. I drank a lot and over time it just bored me. Many say that drinking results in spontaneity and unpredictable actions but I disagree. A group of drunks is much easier to predict than a sober one. Members always know what’s going to happen and is part of the endearment. Everyone knows what to expect. It’s so boring and it has all been done before. But many are afraid of change.
Since quitting, I’ve discovered so many new ways to engage with new and old experiences. I feel in my heart of hearts that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my meager list of accomplishments.
I don’t drink, which causes many shared experiences to go out the window. Maybe if people thought I drank it would be different. But it is my decision. My own fault. It is my decision and others shouldn’t adapt to me. I have come to realize that I prefer not to consort while people are actively drinking, or rather, when drinking is the purpose.
After a collection of wandering thought experiments and otherwise unsuccessful yet fulfilling writing exercises trying to find a compelling way to explore drinking, I seem to have come full circle and can’t appear to say what I need to say. Nor have I determined any sort of answer. In fact, I don’t even know the question. It isn’t so much the topic as the frightening passion that flows from my body. It is what it is. There is no hate or shame. Just an admission of my own weakness.