Column Steven: Dry January – my 1776

It can be done. No alcohol for a month. Partying sober is even funny.

My innards and cognitive ability to make decisions are developing a relationship of increasing trust. My intestines, liver and muscles sigh with relief. It is Dry January, edition 3. But the good relationship will be brief, as Wet February follows Dry January.

I am dancing in Loburg amidst fuzzy people. Stone-cold sober at two in the morning. At a Drum & Bass party, no less. And that, with just a few sandwiches. Alcohol helps me get in a loose and upbeat mood more easily. It soothes the uncomfortably sharp edges of my soul. Or, as The Maassen described: ‘Going through life sober is like riding a bike while continuously applying the brakes a little.’ Despite the brakes, I enjoy a sober existence more with each edition of Dry January.

Alcohol soothes the uncomfortably sharp edges of my soul

I did some missionary work last year, and now, more people in my environment have joined Dry January. Jesus changed water into wine, and I change wine into water. During a fun night out, I sat with a four-person Team Dry opposite a two-person Team Wet. No problem. We had fun, joked, caught up, and played some games. Still, I am convinced the mood would have been slightly better if Team Dry had capitulated. Like a pinch of salt improves a good but somewhat bland dish.

So, why Dry January? We, society, have a collective dependency on alcohol. Doing without for one month a year is my declaration of independence. My very own 1776 (or 1581). My chief motivation for joining Dry January may be an unexpected one, namely that it enables me to drink guilt-free for the remainder of the year. Preposterous? Perhaps. But I prove to myself that I can dance and have fun without alcohol, that I am just as able to have a decent conversation and fun. And that benefits my self-confidence. So, I push myself through January on sheer willpower and brown bread. And, by opening a can of alcohol-free beer, I open a can of memories and associations. The placebo effect is strong, and I benefit from it.

By opening a can of alcohol-free beer, I open a can of memories and associations

Getting out of bed is easier this month. I feel fitter, and my innards have some time for rest and recuperation. The Drum & Bass party was fun. Observing everyone’s antics while sober is also fun. A great month, really, January.

Steven is doing a Master’s degree in Economics and Policy and enjoys hitting the squash court. He is always up for a game of squash and a good conversation. You can email him here.

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