(links and images still need to prettify’d, but the text is set)

see mailing list verion here


Matt Brown

Mind the Pint

The warm weather and longer daylight provides our best chance to enjoy the time honored tradition most of us left behind in college or our most recent vacation: day drinking. This is truly a wonderful hobby, one that takes in and appreciates the smaller, simpler things in life. Having a beer in the middle of the afternoon is the perfect setting for appreciating the many good fortunes bestowed upon us, at present and from past moments. Stop over at a bar of your preference after its lunch hour scramble. The energy in the room is beginning to dissipate, along with the departing work crowd, lagging a bit in the warmth and sunlight. I like to go for a seat at the corner of the bar or settle in a booth, preferably out of the direct light of the sun but close enough to the window to take in some people watching.

I prefer a bar with no televisions as well or at the very least with them turned off (if nothing else barkeep, put the tube on mute). The point of day drinking should be to take in the experience and be present. Television is an abomination and trivial diversion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Arguments_for_the_Elimination_of_Television) , same goes for your smart phone. I don’t care if you are reading this on one of them, if you are at a bar: put. the. damn. thing. down. And just be. Jeez, kids these days. What, you’re not a child? I guess technically not if they let you in the pub, but then what accounts for this behavior?

Just be. Take in the present. Feel the light. I know I know, I have us sitting out of the way. So what, get up and walk over to the window. Feel that sunlight on your skin. Close your eyes and allow your other senses to rise in perceptiveness. The dark red interiors of your closed eyes providing a blanket from distractions.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/schmilblick/ schmilblick Day drinking is about appreciating the opportunity and taking in the experience. With the sun in its arc, whether it be summer or winter, the change in time is less noticeable than at either end of the day. The shadows are less present and many things appear more still as a result. I recommend taking this as a cue and slowing down your thirst accordingly. There is no such thing as closing time when you are day drinking. There is no last call. You and your pint inhabit a moment of infinite duration. On either end of you is an uninterrupted stretch. Take a moment to let the individual elements, often passed over, taken for granted, and assumed at, register fully. Your pint is as good a place as any to begin.

What is the appearance of the glass, the beer itself? Does any of the sunlight get captured by the glass? Perhaps the corner of the bar receives a bit of sunshine. Should you be sitting in that area no doubt some of the warm rays are deflected through the drinking vessel and diffracted into its spectral parts. The beer, if it is of a lighter color, should allow for even more appreciation of this light, granting the foam has settled away, allowing you to peer down through the top.

Next up is the feel of the glass and its weight. Depending on the weather and central cooling of where you are, or lack thereof, there may also be small bits of condensation on the outside. Additionally the beer is cold now but gradually it will warm. This doesn’t matter as much to the touch but it will have an impact on taste. One of the many charms of taking your time and paying attention is in appreciating the many beers in one glass.


Go, go, go…

Get up, go to work, finish the project, work late, catch the train, catch up with friends, catch up on some sleep, skip sleep, catch a show, binge on the show, two shows, binge on ice cream, get up, take a shower, stuff your face, stuff your smart phone, get packed into a stuffed train, miss a connection, take the bus, skip the bus, take the street, see a cab, hail it, inhale a cigarette, inhale a slice of pizza, get another drink, tell a joke, laugh at one that’s not funny… hold the fuck up.

Did you remember to breathe. Of course not. The only reason you are still alive, still breathing, is because so much is not under your control. For once be grateful for that. If you had to worry about breathing as well it would only be a matter of minutes before you got distracted, forgot to breathe, and died (https://youtu.be/ULJSacYFzzQ?t=118) .

So many distractions, and more coming every day, until you get blindsided by an event that stops you dead in your tracks, warps the perception of time you were experiencing by default, taking for granted, and rattles your perception enough to remind you, however briefly, that this is it. This, right now, and only now, is life. Far too often these blind siding exogenous events are of the “bad” variety, though occasionally it is something positive and unaccountable like falling in love. Yet we do not need to be reliant on these external influences in order to be more aware and present of our experience. This reframing can come from us as well and why wouldn’t you bring these perceptions to the fore of your consciousness?

Hardly the spiritual occasion, or is it? Haven’t our ancestors used mind altering substances in order to reach another plane, breaking down barriers within themselves and the community, opening the doors of perception (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors_of_Perception) ? Day drinking offers at least an opportunity to take things slower and pay closer attention to the present moment. Unencumbered by deadlines or a pressing schedule, the occasion to take in a little day drinking is a minor, but absolutely not insignificant, moment of celebration.

Be grateful for the respite and temporary break from the ordinary. Take the chance to look around and within, receiving the inputs as they come, without judgment and with no desire to hold onto any of them. Allow your thoughts to be just like the passersby on the other side of the window walking the street or jettisoning along in their cars and cabs. Put your thoughts onto the shoulders of these pedestrians and watch them walk away together. A new person will come by soon enough to occupy your frame of vision and you can pair them with a thought as well.

The sounds around you from the scant patrons and stay-busy staff comes and goes, even if rarely changing in volume. The impact that this noise has on us is inconsistent and dependent on our focus/attention. What about the air? Did you even notice it before I asked and now that you have that in mind what was the last sound you remember hearing? So much is happening all of the time around and within us. We are inescapably tuned out so much of the time that it may be a shock to be made aware of it.

No need to beat yourself up over what ultimately seems to be part of being human. We are lost in thought constantly. Sometimes these thoughts may lead to negative feelings of anxiety, depression, or anger depending out what we are hung up on. Other times we may be lead down the trail of thoughts to a happy state. Daydreaming about good outcomes and revisiting cherished memories are two immediate causes of more positive frames of mind. We get lost in thought. Admit it, acknowledge it, and adapt. If you aim to stay present bringing your attention back to the moment is the whole point. Each time you catch yourself mentally wandering off, simply reset your focus. That is the exercise, that is the practice, and that is one more successful repetition. It is a rep, just like when you hit the gym. Each rep reinforces and strengthens the practice (https://youtu.be/S4utkb6vSyQ?t=9661) .

The day will eventually come to a close. The present moment will have gone through an unnoticeable change, from a time of playful freedom and light irresponsibility into one pregnant with external concerns that were for a time pushed away and forgotten. This too is reality and an uncomfortable reminder of deeper truths. Pain, displeasure, and general suffering cannot be thought away (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/magazine/the-muddied-meaning-of-mindfulness.html?_r=0) and definitely not drunk away.

Once refreshed it is time to get back to the practical everyday practice of doing and living (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Practice_of_Everyday_Life) . Hopefully you have a renewed appreciation and perspective plus some added energy to tackle the troubles coming your way. I wish you the best and hope you well in pulling through. The world is tough but you must be pretty damn lucky to be in a position to be reading this right now, even on (especially on) your smart phone. Act like it. https://www.flickr.com/photos/clubsodaguide/ Club Soda Guide