Addiction and Habit

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So I’m addicted to food.  I can’t live without it, my life seems empty if it’s not there.  The flavours, the textures, the sensations of eating and then of being full fill me with pleasure.  Oh Thai food is the most evil habit I picked up.  Luxurious and complex flavours arriving in a cascade of triumphant wonder.  The first layer hits your tastebuds and the ride begins, the chilli is sharp and dominates at first, but gives way to the sweet coconut milk and ginger.  The spices are bringing up the rear, spreading the flavour to all corners of the taste universe, carrying their banners, they plant them in every place they visit to guarantee their return.  The rice balances and evens out the flavour tidal wave and the aftertaste is smooth, sweet and filled with smells and hints of the blends of spices and fresh ingredients. A flash of Kaffir lime.  A buzz of clove.  A spark of cinnamon.  Oh the experience is wonderfully sensual and I can barely wait for the next mouthful.

You can spend a lifetime discovering different styles of food from around the world.  Learning to prepare and cook them is like a meditation on this sensuality.  You prepare yourself for the experience as you prepare the experience for yourself.  Even the stages of the preparation are a source of further pleasure with my pet Thai food.  The smell of dry spices being ground together in the pestle and mortar.  The smell of the paste being prepared.  Each step builds another piece of the puzzle until the final form becomes clear as you devour the dish.

Sure you can go without for a few days if you choose to, longer if you want to make a point.  After a few weeks you will surely die…well make that a couple of months in my case.  Eating is a habit, but one necessary for staying alive.  Food is one of the most basic joys in life, eating for pleasure rather than survival is one of the signs of a robust society…and often one of the signs of a robust person.  Everybody eats, not everyone knows the deeper joys of eating.

So I’m addicted to beer.  I feel like it’s such a baseline part of my lifestyle that not having it there would feel like a part of me is missing.  A honey wheat beer on a hot summer day in Australia is unbeatable.  A hefty stout on a cold, wet winter day anywhere lifts you to a higher place.  At either time the feeling of warm happiness as you get your shine on is what draws you back over and over again.  Sure, when you’re younger you have too much and just get drunk.  Then something changes, you begin to see the flavour is important.  The quality of the drink will determine how you feel the next day.  Absorbing a lot of a good beer is no problem, but even a small amount of a poor one leaves you feeling washed out with a headache.

The styles, flavours and potency of beers are so varied you can spend a lifetime exploring them.  Those monks in Europe spent so much time in the middle ages perfecting so many styles to help them enjoy their lives; so now you can benefit from their studies.  Even today more new blends and ideas are being explored and manufactured.  With the advent of microbreweries we see a new age of the common man being able to lend his particular creativity to create his desires in liquid form.

Sure you can go without for a few days, weeks or months…..but why would you?  The relaxation and removal of those daily inhibitions and masks comes as a relief.  Leave your work personality behind.  The true ability for enjoyment comes when you can see that you’ve entered beer acquisition mode on a night and start finishing half a pint because you already want the next one.  It only takes an hour for that desire to go away, the trick is conquering it in the moment.  It’s a matter of forming the right habits.  The joy in drinking comes from having the shine, not shining your vomit stained shoes.

So I’m addicted to cigarettes.  I feel like there’s a monkey on my back pushing me towards the shop to get another packet.  I resent thinking of a smoke every time a beer or two passes my lips.  Sure, at first it was a huge rush.  The feeling of warm satisfaction with yourself is calming.  Now it’s just a habit, part of drinking time.  It feels like something is missing when that smoke isn’t available.  You can’t really enjoy it past the first one or two, but stopping there is almost impossible.  Smoking cigars a few times a year was so much better, enjoying the flavour and letting the sensation flow over you – especially when accompanied by a good port.  Smoking a few Indonesian clove cigarettes when you’ve already got your shine on feels great too.

You can’t enjoy the flavours of cigarettes.  It’s shades of grey on the same thing.  It’s not about enjoying the experience.  It’s about the nicotine receptors in your brain screaming for attention like a little baby.  MORE!  MORE!  Where’s my bottle!!!  You certainly can’t make them yourself in most places.  If you could, it’s be all about cigars again, enjoying the flavour.

Sure you’ve lived without them for a significant part of your life, why are they so omnipresent now?  You tell yourself it’s a social thing while travelling, that you can stop anytime, but choose not to, that it still feels good.  Then you wake up coughing, feeling like your lung is trying to turn itself inside out to rid itself of the vile toxin.  Every morning you swear it will never happen again, but it does.

I blame the Russian government, it was there that this crossed into the world of habit, binding itself to the beer like a strangler fig.  When I don’t drink, I don’t smoke.  Simple as that.  So do I throw both away to break the combined habit?  It’s the only logical approach.  Beer can come back by itself later, without it’s ginger stepson.

But right now, I’m just going to finish this beer with one more smoke.  Just one more.

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4 comments to Addiction and Habit

  • Alex the Siberian

    So did you actually quit? Beer came back again yet?

  • Alex the Siberian

    So did you actually quit? Beer came back again yet?

  • dhugalf

    Didn’t quit at the time, but currently down to a couple of beers every few days and 1 cigarette with them… Actually feeling a lot better and am starting to find more time in my day for better things to do.. like writing stories, drinking coffee and enjoying life in Indonesia…

  • dhugalf

    Didn’t quit at the time, but currently down to a couple of beers every few days and 1 cigarette with them… Actually feeling a lot better and am starting to find more time in my day for better things to do.. like writing stories, drinking coffee and enjoying life in Indonesia…

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