To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tao of Moderation

I have been pulled up by a couple of people very close to me who have had some things to say about my latest round of total abstinence from alcohol (as per this post).

"You're just repeating the pattern," was the call from both, "of going hard-at-it, then abstaining." And they both went on to predict that I would just "go hard" again once I begin allowing myself to drink again.*

So I asked myself the question "Have I made the ZenBest decision in setting a period of abstinence or should I be putting my efforts into learning to be more moderate?" The answer seemed clear. Moderation is my goal so why torture myself with three dry months of beerless misery ;)

It was my girlfriend (an effortlessly moderate drinker herself) who pointed out that she always has to put up with me either roaring drunk and refusing to leave the party until the last beer is gone and the sun is nearly up, or she has to put up with me refusing any drinks whatsoever and then sitting there looking glum and whining to go home by 9:30pm. I can see her point: not a lot of middle ground there!

So last night I changed the plan somewhat and began to practise moderation.

Frankly, it wasn't entirely as successful as I had hoped, but then again it was a step in the right direction. I set out to drink only three stubbies, smoke no ciggies, and share one joint (given I hadn't enjoyed one in over a week). In actuality I drank one long neck in the late afternoon sun - I ordered the beer off a waitress/friend who innocently enough figured I'd rather be "super-sized" for no extra charge. Ah, the price of popularity ;) Then I took a break until our guests came for dinner around 7:30pm. Over the course of the evening, interspersed by glasses of water, I drank three and 1/2 stubbies, shared two joints and smoked no ciggies. The cigarettes are not really a problem any more as long as I don't get smashed; I find them unappealing until then.

Those who don't drink would probably think that is a lot of beers; those who like a few would understand that what I consumed barely even "touched the sides", as the saying goes.

What you might not understand is what it feels like for someone like me who has long been a borderline alcoholic*. Once I work up a thirst for beer, it (to drink) becomes an extreme compulsion. It's a bit like having an itch that you just have to scratch, one of those itches that the more you scratch it the itchier it gets. So for me to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n while I am drinking, and to stop at a healthy point in time and just leave those remaining beers in the fridge, drink some more water and settle down for the evening, is really quite an effort.

But I did leave those two last beers in the fridge, and I don't have a hangover today. You can tell this because I am actually writing. Wish me luck on my continuing foray into the land of moderation; I am going to a BBQ tonight. It is a Sunday, and I have a big week of work ahead. I think it would be best for me to only drink those two stubbies I have left tonight, and smoke nothing. I am sure you will be waiting breathlessly for my report tomorrow morning ;)

*Let me qualify something here - or at least try as this is a very subjective scenario: I am not an full-blown alcoholic :) or at least I don't believe so. I am aware that dyed-in-the-wool AA converts would probably say I am, but frankly, I don't buy the whole alcoholism-as-disease model as it is so liberally applied by AA types. Maybe if I was a gutter-bum swigging from the turps bottle all day everyday, but I'm not. In fact by Aussie standards I am not even a particularly hard drinker (anymore). I would however say I am alcoholically inclined, and that it's fortunate I am strong enough to not let this potential problem get the better of me. So given that I am pretty much okay, it just becomes a matter of what I consider acceptable behaviour for myself. And let me define that: A few drinks here and there = acceptable; Drinking until pissed enough to give me a rotten hangover = unacceptable (expect maybe on rare occasions). So this is my yardstick; and no I am not one of those people who wakes up shaking until I have my first drink, although I have been there, but that was years ago. That kind of extreme behaviour I find easy enough to discard, it's the finer tweaking of my actions that has proved a little harder to maintain.

Especially in this fine, wide, brown land of ours, where the brews just seem to...

Flow Like Water...

Update: I looked in the fridge later that day and realised that I had in fact only consumed two and a half beers that evening, for what it is worth. *sigh* guess if I am going to count my drinks I had better learn to count first! Didn't go to the BBQ. Drank one beer at home (with company, like a sane person).

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Blogger dougcb68 said...

Moderation in all things -- including moderation!

Abdication is the antithesis of moderation, and it is not immoderate to abstain from addictive behavior. Only good sense.

Whether addiction is a disease or not, the statistics over the long term indicate that, worldwide, about 10 % of the population has to struggle with problems caused in their life by their inability to control their use of substances that cause no difficulty for the other 90%. For this group there is a strong case to be made for being moderate in their moderation.

8:38 pm

Blogger twh said...

Enjoyed the read. Having left home to become a corperate drone (thank god it didn't stick) I find myself going back home to be with friends. Your idea of moderation is excellent. I think I will give it a try.

2:11 am

Blogger Seamus "Moose" Anthony said...

thanks for the comments guys. I don't get a lot of comments here despite a reasonably healthy readership base, but it is always interesting to me to notice that when I write about my "flaws" rather than my strengths that it gets more of a reaction from people. Guess it strikes more of a chord to read somebody being real than it does when (a writer) just sounds like another wanne-be self help guru (as someone once described me!)

6:33 am

Blogger "James" said...

I am a firm believer of the middle path. I guess being a Buddhist that isn't a surprise, eh? Anyway, good on ya for the moderation. I am convinced that extremes are dangerous places to roam around in.

8:57 am

Blogger Seamus "Moose" Anthony said...

thanks james. the great moderation experiment has been going very well too which is a blessing

12:09 pm


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