February 3, 2013 by John Buckley
So it’s Sunday morning, nothing out of the ordinary is going down, I’m just sitting here on the train, heading into town for a day mixed with work, running, friends and social experiments. It’s been a month dry for me, and in many ways it’s been one of the most incredible months of my life. Don’t worry I’m not going to be preachy, it wasn’t all down to the absence of booze but some of it was.
Before writing this, I wanted to remind myself of what Hello Sunday Mornings was about, because if I’m honest, I kind of forgot for a bit. But to sum it up, it’s about seeing alcohol as something we enjoy, not as something we need. It’s not something we need to be confidant, to have fun, to socialize or to make ourselves feel better. But we do enjoy it, and I do enjoy it. But now I’m starting to see that I don’t need it.
The last month has been one filled with conversations around creating social change for me, due to work and other projects, and it got me pondering a question. “Why do you, John, want to see this world changed and improved? Why do you want it more equal and fair?” I was kind of stumped initially, but this morning when I said ‘hello’ to Sunday morning, I found the answer. “I, John Buckley, want the world to be different so that people can enjoy the one shot they get at life and so that they can navigate the bumps they definitely will encounter and move on positively from them”. So basically I want everyone to be able to engage with life and get some kind of enjoyment, not much to ask eh?
Anyway, that was just a question that I needed to address and I think it will help me through the rest of the six months I have to face. So what has the first month been like? Well here are a few words and phrases to describe it:
- Comfort zone
- Mental health
I better try and explain some of what I mean here. Firstly, smells. Boy I miss the smell of a really nice beer just cracked open. I do! And I’ve missed it in the context of sitting down with good mates over food or just for a chat. I enjoy it! But I’ve been able to have those conversation and experience those situations realising that I don’t need the beer.
Secondly I’ll take hell and comfort zone together! I competed in the Hell and Back 10km race. Basically it’s torture, which you voluntarily sign up for! It was way out of my comfort zone: Barbed wire, ice-cold rivers, mountains, 7ft walls, carrying sandbags and concrete blocks. And a former army ranger designed it, apparently. It was held on a Sunday morning, it was hell but to my surprise I finished 33rd out of 2,000 competitors! I’d like to think I’m fairly in tune with my body and I know that the absence of alcohol allowed me to push my body onto the next level of fitness. And I tell you something, that buzz finishing the race is better then ANY beer I’ve ever had in my life.
Thirdly is “the chats”. The fact that I’m off booze has been a conversation starter in a lot of ways. People want to know why and often are unsure of the reasons behind going dry, as I was at times. But the HSM project has been a catalyst for myself, and those around me, to think about our drinking. Not in a ‘jaysus lads we better have a good analysis of ourselves” way. But in a way that we actually are thinking about our own behaviours what we want to get out of nights out, Sunday mornings and life with alcohol involved in general.
Finally is mental health. Over the last few years I’ve had battles with my mental wellbeing. It’s said over and over again about alcohol’s impact on our minds but to be honest I never really heeded it entirely. I still had the big nights that were involved in leading to dark places. But I can genuinely say my mental health, during the month of January, has never been better. Yes I still have to proactively check in with myself and proactively do things to keep my head in a good place. But without booze my mind and soul feel a lot lighter, that’s the only way I describe it! There’s less to carry. I’m freer to engage in the things that keep it well.
What do Sunday mornings now mean to me now? Well Sunday mornings mean freedom! Selfishness is often seen and represented in a bad way. But selfishness is something that we all have to engage in. It’s important that we look after ourselves and take the time to care for who we are. Sunday mornings are that for me. There are mental and physical workouts, there’s learning new things about myself, and they’re re-engaging with life in a different way. All I can say is, bring on the next 5 months.