At the beginning of the summer, I thought I'd learned my lesson. Well, I'd learned a lesson, at least.
With the fifth Grave Precept traditionally being translated as having to do with avoiding, or at least not abusing, intoxicants, I discovered its reason to be the hard way. I kind of let myself go since there was no driving involved, but I was basically hung over for the whole weekend.
So being more mindful, and armed with the memory of experience, I watched myself Saturday night and enjoyed the drinks I had at a friend's party for their flavor while socializing. What I didn't realize, is the cumulative effect of alcohol over several hours even if you don't get drunk. I had slowly poisoned myself over almost six hours.
That by itself would have probably been enough of a pain to deal with, but out of generosity I'd also donated blood Friday afternoon. I had waited the twenty-four hours before consuming alcohol as told, but I think I went overboard starting at the twenty-eight hour mark.
So with a body low on vital fluids having consumed a rather substantial amount of alcohol, I woke up after a little less than six hours of sleep feeling not too bad, just a stopped up head. But as the day progressed, it all went downhill.
The sinus congestion was the icing on the cake, reducing my oxygen intake by making breathing a chore, which wore me out even more. But the heart of the matter was the body and stomach aches. It felt like the flu. We were out and about running errands, but I did my best to suck it and accept the consequences for what I'd done.
To describe any more would just be gratuitous whining about something I shouldn't have done in the first place so I'll stop with that. I'm still not at 100%, but I'm getting better. I just needed some juice and rest.
Have I learned my lesson? Well, I learned another lesson and I know that I've got even more to learn. Will I swear off alcohol? No, for the same reason I still eat meat. The Precepts aren't commandments and I'm ready to deal with whatever consequences arise from stepping outside of them. Culturally, consuming alcohol and meat are acceptable, if not expected behaviors.
Would I miss them if I stopped? Meat, hell yes, people are omnivores and to deny ourselves meat is going against evolution. While I respect others and their contrary view points, I also respect the efforts of all forms of life to live according to their natures. Alcohol, I wouldn't really miss it for it's intoxicating effects. They're nice but alcoholic beverages also taste good. I've never been a huge fan of how they make me feel, so I'd probably have a harder time giving up soda. As long as I keep the spirit of the Precepts in mind and that they exist for a reason, practicing moderation isn't an issue.