I've made mentions of the issues I have with people around me and their problems with alcohol briefly here and there, mostly in relation to why I won't play pubs, and although I don't have to deal with that these days, I still have to deal with people around me and their unconscious drinking. So I felt I could go into my thoughts and feelings on alcohol in more detail here.
Growing up in Scotland, alcohol has always been around me. From family parties when I was a young child to watching football matches as a teenager, to going out pubbing and clubbing in my late teens and early 20s, alcohol seems to be part of every social event if you grow up in Britain. I've been told this story many times by my Dad... When I was about 5 yrs old we were having a family party and I was just running around as I usually would do when I spotted my Dad's whisky glass on the table, went over to it, picked it up and downed it in a oner. My Dad got the fright of his life as my face turned purple! I had thought it was lemonade but abruptly experienced my first taste of whisky!
I never got into whisky properly until my early 20s, when I found I enjoyed single malts and used to like trying out different ones. Later, as I was getting into Jamaican music, I went through a similar but shorter phase with rum. Mostly, when I went out I stuck to lager, Guinness or Jack Daniels & Coke. My pub/club drinking phase started when I was 17 and ended in my early 20s. I still went to the pub up until the age of 27 but not so much Friday and Saturday nights, more for a few drinks during the day when meeting up with people. From my mid-20s onwards we preferred staying in at the weekends with a bottle of wine or something. By this point, we had come to accept we were unlikely to find like-minded people to hang out with in pubs. Without realising it, we were growing more into spirituality and that world was becoming old to us, we had outgrown it. After the age of 27, you might still find me in the pub now and again but I'd be more likely to be drinking a coffee whilst those around me continued with alcohol.
I say all of this to get across that I know what it's like to go out drinking, getting pissed, being a bit silly, having fun this way. So I'm not trying to come across as preachy with anything I say here. I understand that culture and I know why people feel they need to drink. I used to like the way my inhibitions would loosen and I'd be less shy whilst drinking. What I will say in my defence is I don't think I was ever obnoxious or really out of order on alcohol. I could always handle it, bar the odd time I would be sick when overdoing it. I could never endlessly drink pints anyway, I'd have to stop cos I'd get full up before I got to the point of getting out of control. I had some fun in those days and behaved silly at times but deep down I knew it wasn't really fun. Even then I could sense "this is not it", whatever "it" was. Still, there was nothing else going on around me, I knew no spiritual people or alternative ways of living, everyone I knew drank alcohol, when watching football matches, when socialising, over a meal, practically anytime a few adults got together to do anything, alcohol was involved, so I just went with it.
Kate and I often used to speak of being bored of it, like it wasn't really fulfilling us anymore and so it was inevitable we moved on from it. Those around us kept going and so this was one of the areas we could see a division forming. We were being drawn more to cafe's cos we preferred the vibe. I'd meet in a pub but drink coffee just to please those around me because they weren't so comfortable in cafe's but even when not drinking alcohol in a pub, I often still felt the lower vibrations from all the others who were, so as much as possible, I'd choose the cafe over a pub.
It's not so much the alcohol itself, its what it represents, what it tends to bring out in people. In recent years, I've definitely noticed more people seem to be unable to handle alcohol than back when I was drinking. I've also noticed a certain mindset seems to come with it - basically being stuck in the past. Its this combination of people being stuck in the past, being dark, being stupid or obnoxious and just generally carrying a heavy, low vibration that repels me. There were odd occasions when it was just Kate and I, and we'd get a few beers in or a bottle of wine or whatever and have a bit of a drinking session and it could be enjoyable as a one-off because we didn't allow ourselves to fall into lower vibrations. Unfortunately, its rare to find people who can drink and stay conscious of themselves.
Being confronted by this unstable, unbalanced behaviour in recent years both where I've lived and outside busking made me realise it's nothing new. It's been following me around most of my life. When I was at high school, a guy befriended me who wasn't into sports (rare for me at that time) but was into computers and he developed a drinking problem when we were 15. He started bringing cans of Budweiser to school, drinking them at lunch-time, and bringing them with him on a Friday afternoon when he came back to my place after school. This caused the end of our friendship. My parents weren't strict with alcohol so it was no problem for me to have a can or two of beer when I was 14 or 15 and so I never really felt the need to rebel and bring it to school or stand around drinking on street corners. Alcohol just wasn't a big deal to me. With this friend, he suddenly changed and I didn't like being around him once he got onto alcohol so we gradually lost touch. In my early 20s, the guitarist guy at my workplace who befriended me was also quite into the drinking scene, his father had a bit of an alcohol problem, so I began to see this problem was always there but it has still been very disturbing for me in recent years watching more and more people turn to alcohol to escape the reality of this world.
I've tried again and again to steer people away from it towards other more balanced ways of spending time together but like a magnet they seem to get sucked back to alcohol and want to pull me there with them. There came a point where I had to put all my energy to keeping myself stable with all the madness around me that I had to let go of even trying to help others and simply look after myself. This, sadly, has resulted in more division because Consciousness is the most important thing to me but not to most people I have to deal with. If you don't have that Self-Awareness, if you're not present with yourself, then everything else isn't worth much in this world, so anything that I feel is pulling me towards unconsciousness I stay away from. That is at the core of my dislike of alcohol. Can we not enjoy ourselves without getting out of it on alcohol? The saddest thing is when I observe these people they don't even look like they are genuinely enjoying themselves, there is always regret and remorse the next day.
It was very telling in SoulJahm that on every occasion when people joined up with Kate and I as we were travelling around, alcohol seemed to be at the forefront of their minds, more important to those around us than what we were doing, which left us in disbelief. Here are two people trying to explore better ways to live, filling our lives with Music and travel and with all these possibilities and nobody around us is interested, all they want to do is get pissed and stay loyal to the same miserable existence they've always known. This was something I saw early on with people, when I was still at school. The way people in this world complain and complain about life but never take any action to change things. They are in love with their misery and that seems to be the eternal tragedy of humans. This was one of the reasons I tried so hard to remain in continental Europe after Kate's death, because I knew what was waiting for me back in the UK and I knew it wasn't going to work. Like putting me back into a world I'd long outgrown. The last 9 years have been the most miserable time in my lifetime on this planet. Not miserable within myself, but miserable in terms of having to live amongst so many unconscious people who don't listen, have no motivation to change and just watching them all descend further into insanity, madness and chaos. I've tried again and again to find more highly evolved souls who could break away with me and create something of our own, a higher way of living, but even when I feel I've found some who potentially could, I watch as they too get pulled towards that unconsciousness.
Some in spiritual circles say this is the time of Kali Yuga, where civilisation crumbles, everything and everyone falls into chaos, madness and total debauchery before there is a rebirth into a new Golden Age. That may or may not be true but I can only talk from my own experience and I just do not feel this way and never have. What I was trying for in the SoulJahm years (2010 - 2014) I still feel is totally possible, although I'm realistic enough to see it's not looking likely the way things are going. I see only a bright future and I see it here and now. There is no outside agency that is insisting the world has to be this broken mess, ultimately its people doing it, and all it requires is people stop doing it and start moving towards more uplifting, higher ways of living. If there is some truth to the Kali Yuga idea then it surely must be like a season? We have cycles of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Our behaviour doesn't drastically fall into chaos as we enter Winter so why should it with Kali Yuga? Yet, I have come to accept it does look like people want everything to break down like this and to fall into despair and insanity but I just don't feel that way. Or rather I should say, yes, the old system does need to crumble but at the same time a new world is potentially ready to emerge. All it takes is a bunch of more highly evolved humans to say no to the old ways and put their resources together, move away from the madness and start creating and building the world we would like to see as a reality.