This is a guest post by my mate Mikey Walker, a Primary school teacher in Leeds, on his recent 70 days ‘sans lager’…
Sometimes I think Homer Simpson* wasn’t far off with his dystopian conclusion of beer’s place in society. I say this as my 2nd ever “beer fast” reaches it 70th Day.
70 days of exile
70 days since I leaned back in my chair after a slightly overdone roast dinner and exclaimed over a glass of Chateau de Chambord, “That was delicious Mum”. 70 days since a slight whiff of Marston’s Best carried my staunch, yet flawed defence of Liverpool’s Premier League record.
This is a self-imposed exile so it is not sympathy I court or desire. Nor do I believe that admiration or favour should be mine. I do, however, aspire to be Edu-taining in my musings, so I hope you feel enlightened by sharing a brief moment of my journey with me.
I guess the first thing we should cover is, why? Well, in my fledgling days as a NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) I wanted to eradicate a form of escapism in the shape of the obligatory “after work pint”. The so called “I’ve worked for this/I’ve had a hard day” brigade.
Instead I wanted to invest the same evading tendencies into other areas of my life, with the aim of hopefully enriching my world. In preparation for this event I was consoled by looking forward to the inherent detoxifying benefits and strengthened in my resolve by the recent decision of a friend to give up drinking altogether.
So how has it been? Well not bad actually. As a Primary School teacher, it can often be hard working with such immature, noisy and crass individuals. The kids on the other hand, have been a joy. One particular exchange between two boys in my class particularly warmed the cockles of my soul:
“Have you have Eczema, Joe?”
“I haven’t got Eczema, but I have got a Playstation”
Encounters like this have, in some small way, helped me along the academic year so far.
Then there’s the inevitable temptation to go Kudos-Hunting or “seeking acclaim or praise for exceptional achievement” In conversation dropping the “..well you know I’m not drinking now…” or “…let’s look at that in the context of me fasting from alcohol” and receiving the inevitable ‘oohs’ of acclamation that follow.
Of course I know people who haven’t drunk for 5-6 even 7 years. (Not the kids I teach, though I hope this to be the case) The achievement of those brave few helps to put my simple quest into perspective. 70 days is after all roughly just .24% of my life. In this time I have developed a sense of perspective on my relationship with alcohol.
Creating time and space
Yes, I miss it but I haven’t missed it. Far from feeling the absence of something, I have felt the substance of nothing in it’s place.
I have created time and space to reflect on some of the biggest questions I still have to answer in life: Who am I? What is God’s Plan for my life? What actually is in that cup in the corner of my room?
I would encourage anyone to create that space for themselves in their hectic, often un-relenting day. Who knows what we could achieve if we substitute vices in times of crisis?
I started with a quote and shall end with one. As Shakespeare wrote:
“O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!”
He’s obviously been to Leeds then!