Yep, I pledged to myself (as I do most years) that I would remain alcohol-free in January, and that's been the case. Not that it's a big thing, or anything to make a fuss about - he notes as, ironically, he embarks on writing a post about it - but it does bring up some interesting stuff.
For instance, when it's cropped up in conversation with anyone, pretty much the standard reaction has been, "I wouldn't have the willpower to do that". Well, neither would I. If it was about willpower I don't think I would even consider it. The point is that I enjoy it, it's something to look forward to. When drinking has become so much part of the routine, in this case over Christmas, then the change in that routine is welcome (and, in turn, the prospect of drinking becomes a novelty again).
Nor have I felt tempted in any way to drink during this time: the bottles of whisky on top of my fridge seem to have blended (no pun intended) into the background; there's half a bottle of red wine in there as well which a friend brought round last night, having forgotten that I wouldn't be joining her in sampling it. I had no problem with her drinking it herself, and I'm not tantalized by the notion of pouring myself a helping from what remains.
If I'm painting myself as being completely and utterly (and sickeningly) virtuous with the words above, or like I'm trying too hard to prove a point, then I must admit that the prospect of a really good pint of a quality beer is a welcome one. I'm not sure whether the alcohol content is part of the equation, but I do miss the taste and texture of, say, a glass of Leffe or Theakston's Old Peculier, it seems warm and welcoming whereas I've not really given any other types of booze a second thought.
The most obvious benefit of this abstinence is the quality of sleep (saving money doesn't count, because what I save always ends up being spent on more music). The prospect of, say, a Friday night without booze - especially if I'm not planning on going out either - might initially seem a bit of a drag, but is always more than compensated for by waking up the following morning after a good, solid night's sleep, without even a hint of any after effects of alcohol.
I did have an odd couple of days where I felt like I was slurring my words: make of that what you will, I'll just put it down to tiredness and catching up on proper sleep.
The main thing which I tend to notice however is far more subtle. It's a fine line, but I end up feeling much calmer, more even, more self-possessed. It manifests itself in different ways but, for example, in situations where I might normally be clock-watching and willing the time to pass, I'm much more patient and able to sit back and just let it happen by itself: I'm much more tolerant towards things which otherwise seem like a chore. It gives rise to a certain stillness or quietness which seems to refresh me and give me renewed strength. There seems to be a sense of more time in which to think and to act. Worries subside; I'm less likely to avoid things.
Having said all that, then it seems pretty ludicrous that the chances are I'll be enjoying a couple of drinks at my local tomorrow night. But still it has to be said: the chances are I'll be enjoying a couple of drinks at my local tomorrow night. They serve Leffe by the pint, after all.