Being intoxicated is usually seen as a pleasant state in which our sorrows are removed away, and exchanged for courage and an extraordinary ability to be cheerful and happy. Yes, alcohol relaxes the inhibitions, dissolves our fears, and makes us leave our problems – a minimum of for a long time. But it also moistens the senses, reduces our mental abilities, impairs our motor skills, and essentially helps us to design fools of ourselves. Moreover, intoxication often ends up in violence, and the trap of alcoholism has been destroying innumerable lives.
Thus, we would like the risky joy of drinking, but the debilitating consequences of doing so prevent us from truly immersing ourselves in the valuable gift that the cosmos has given to us: Life.
So, rather than avoiding the experience of life, altogether its rawness, with all its emotional highs and lows, its joys and hardships, can’t we just enjoy life because it comes, soberly, the maximum amount as we enjoy the state of drunkenness? or just put: how can we get drunk on life?
Now, years ago I heard a Taoist tale about Lao Tzu, meeting up with Confucius and Buddha, in a very tea house. After they were sitting together at a table, the waiter offered them a special drink called ‘the juice of life. Immediately, Buddha rejected this, saying that birth, death, and life are all suffering which a drink called ‘the juice of life is definitely not worth taking. As a matter of fact: his enlightenment meant freedom from the wheel of suffering. So why should he masochistically administer the pain that he wanted to escape?
Confucius, then, said that he couldn’t judge the drink before he tasted it. He took a sip but didn’t just like the taste at all. “Buddha, you’re right!” he said. “It’s foul, it’s bitter, it’s miserable, it’s not worth drinking.”
Then, Lao Tzu took the bottle and drank it in one go. After that, he got up and commenced to bop, and dance, dance, while screaming sort of a madman. After ages, he stopped and returned to his seat. Buddha and Confucius had become curious and asked: “so, how was it?” Lao Tzu answered: “I’m not visiting say a word because there’s nothing be said.”
He explained that Buddha was too quick to judge, and Confucius based his judgment on a little sip. In theory, they may be right: that life isn’t definitely worth the suffering. And supported their doctrines, it would be better to avoid certain elements of life so as to avoid suffering. But within the story, they refuse to experience life. And 1,000,000 words aren’t enough to describe what it really is to be alive.
Hence: “there’s nothing to be said.” And to essentially judge life, one has to fully experience it. Now, to not discredit Buddha or Confucius and their traditions, which (needless to say) contain profound wisdom, the story offers two important messages.
The primary one is ‘not to require religions or ideologies too seriously so they block us from experiencing life’.
When the foundations we impose on ourselves are too rigid and inflexible, it’s difficult to maneuver together with existence which is always in flux. As Lao Tzu wrote within the Tao Te Ching, and I quote: “Those who are stiff and rigid are the disciples of death. those that are soft and yielding are the disciples of life.”
The other is that to experience life we should drink it directly and just… dance’. We’re likely inclined to bop after drinking a lot of alcoholic beverages. Without a doubt, drunkenness by substances is an experience that a lot of people repute a joie de vivre. But, paradoxically, the idea for this joy lies in closing ourselves far away from life.
Perhaps the maximum amount, or perhaps more, as those rigid individuals that are clenched to their spiritual pursuit. What’s to experience when our senses are numb? Enjoying life more, by experiencing it less, is nothing over an escape. It implies that we cannot handle our fears or our emotions generally. When we’re sad, we drink. When we’re happy, we drink. When we’re anxious, we drink.
So, this sort of drunkenness may be a rejection of life by an embrace of a mind-altering substance. Now, getting drunk on life may be a pursuit in the wrong way. Instead of blocking what overwhelms us, we embrace the total spectrum. See, when people drink they often seek to embark on a proverbial rollercoaster ride, without concern. they need adventure, they require joyful interactions, they want to encounter someone attractive. And by reducing fear, they often experience that it’s indeed easier to form this stuff happen. while fear is uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It implies that the body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered.
So, it’s a side-effect of entering unknown territory, which passes once we experience a way of safety. It’s a price we obtain getting out of our comfort zone. But the reward is priceless: it’s this lucid involvement with elements of life that are new to us; it’s the elation of overcoming boundaries and fears. Didn’t Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once say that anxiety is that the dizziness of freedom?
Being drunk on life means we are able to fully and consciously enjoy what life, all told its ordinariness, needs to offer. and also the undeniable fact that we seek substances or activities to numb ourselves is already proof that the experience of life is incredibly intense.
Sometimes, it seems too intense to handle. And that’s where we discover the key to getting drunk on life: by riding the waves, regardless of how big, while rejoicing when the ocean is calm. By not clinging to its highs or lows, but not to its flatness either. It’s the deep sadness, and grief when were dumped, the tears of joy after we meet with honey we haven’t seen for a protracted time. But it’s also the shivers once we do something we fear, the delight of playing time in nature, the contentment of not needing anything more, and the flourishing by the pursuit of virtue sort of a Stoic.
It’s not rigidly standing on the sidelines of our experience, but establishing ourselves within the present, without the denial of what’s already there. Thus, we replace our resistance to those inevitable parts of life, with a welcoming curiosity to them.
So, how will we get drunk on life? Well, by drinking it. and therefore the paradox is that we will only enjoy life fully once we don’t numb the senses as we do once we get drunk. Life itself is already drunk enough. the sole thing we’ve got to try to do is ‘open up to it’, without resistance and without attaching ourselves an excessive amount to our judgments of right and wrong, and transcend the ideas of what we should always and shouldn’t.
Life is just what’s. It’s an endless show, that we all have a part in. At the tip of the day, it doesn’t always have to be enjoyed, nor does it always must be suffered. It simply must be lived.