On Fermentation, Distillation, and Sobriety

Justin E. H. Smith in Berfrois:

On the evening of December 2, 2020, around 10pm, I swallowed the last of what must have been multiple lifetimes’ worth of mouthsful of red wine. Unlike the partisans of AA, I am confident in saying that I will never again in my life consume alcohol. There are things I just don’t do anymore. I am no less morally certain, for example, that I will never go sky-diving. The version of me that believed a good life is constituted from such “fun” diversions as this died a long time ago. Far from having a “bucket list”, I now understand that the proper conduct of the second half of life is to approach something like what the Tibetan Buddhists call tukdam, to do less and less, but only to sit and meditate, and to breathe once every century or so, so that by the time you actually die there will be scarcely any change to register. I can picture a future not so far from now when, to the question, “Is he alive or dead?”, the only fitting response will be: “Who can say?” You might be able to jolt me into some new movement, like a fly removed from its long sleep in a jar of talc that flicks its wing in reluctant palingenesis (the phenomenon of being “born again”, which by the law of nomen est omen has long tricked me into thinking that Sarah Palin must be destined for a comeback); then again you might not. So, yeah, sky-diving’s out, along with drinking. The version of me that drank died two years ago. We’re coming up on the two-year anniversary of his death.

More here.