The following is a guest article written by one of our token crew Josh about his journey in 2017, with a look at how in April; everything changed…
So April ended on a high; I was unemployed, homeless and about 16 000 kilometres away from my girlfriend. Destitute is a strong word, but I can comfortably say that I had seen brighter days. The one positive thing out of all this was at least I was warm and could enjoy the sun, unlike the German winter I had recently experienced. Months on end of dreary greyness and wearing the same puffy jacket gets very stale, very quickly.
But I digress and to adequately explain my experience of the 101 Beer Token Challenge and as to how I ended up in this situation, let’s begin at the start of April…
The Beer Token experiment up to the beginning of April had been a breeze, with only 8 tokens out of a possible 101 used thus far. For those who are counting, that’s not a lot of booze. Not only was I tracking how often I drank, I was also counting how much cash I spent and this measure was most surprising to me. When I looked back at my spending, the median amount spent so far was $10. There was one night where I blew a whole $40. Compared to the usual blowouts that I had come to expect, this was just outrageous.
Now I could put this almost complete abnegation of alcohol down to full immersion in the challenge or to some higher calling for teetotalism but in reality, the truth was more mundane. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, I had been living in Germany and the weather is not very conducive to party.
Secondly, I didn’t really know many people in Frankfurt and so the pressure to have a drink was gone. I have realised that I could happily never drink again if it wasn’t for my mates, god bless them. The main reason why I do drink is because of social expectations, the desire to enjoy the company of others and to share an experience together. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cold beer after a fun surf, I love a glass of wine with my girl and I love the taste of a quality rum- but I also enjoy a nice cup of tea too. I have literally had more belters than I can remember and they have been some of the most amazing experience of my life. Without these experiences, and the booze that accompanied them, I would not be the same person I am today. The third reason why my drink count was so low for the front end of 2017 was because I spent a few months working in India.
Booze is not as readily available there as in other countries and at the risk of sounding like a Bondi Hispter-cum-gap yah wanker, I really didn’t feel the need to drink. I was eating clean (figuratively that is, I probably ingested a fair amount of actual faeces), my exercise regimen was in full swing, I was practising yoga, I was engaged with my work and exploring the culture. Who needs beer when there is delicious chai on every corner for only 10c a cup? The whole time I was in India, I only used two tokens: one when I was peer-pressured by a bunch of 18 year old students and another when I was invited to a colleagues apartment for dinner.
I must admit, the latter was delicious. Sitting on the balcony enjoying an ice-cold longy on a sweaty Indian afternoon, watching the beautiful chaos below was a token well spent. Lastly, and perhaps most poignantly, I didn’t really want to drink. The last few years I had noticed my keenness to go out abate and my tolerance to being hungover had reached absolute zero.
My goal from the beginning of this challenge was to get more out of life. I have so much I want to do and to achieve that I don’t have the time to be hungover all weekend. When Benny opened up the Token movement this year I knew I had to jump in.
By late April I was feeling pretty chuffed with the month so far: I had used shit-all tokens; I hadn’t been hungover yet; I submitted a manuscript of the research I had done to a scientific journal; got to explore coastline of Portugal from the back of a campervan; even managed a quick weekend jaunt to Hamburg. However, all of this sobriety and wholesomeness was set to change once I landed back in Australia…
Due to a combination of jetlag, excitement, partying, travel and a filthy bucks weekend, I managed to survive on 0–4 hours sleep each night for the ensuing 8 days. Anzac Day was a token well spent, even though I forgot to play two-up and felt like a walking zombie (Europe to Australia flight is long!). And the bucks weekend was a ripper; the guy at the bottle shop was slightly taken aback though when I stacked up 360 cans of VB on the counter. We barely managed to fit it all in the car but where there is a will, there is a way. If there is ever a golden opportunity to use a Token then Beer Olympics is definitely up there.
Despite doubling my token count in the 14 days since I have been home, it has been well worth it so far. It was great to see all my friends again and get a little loose although there was a twinge of sadness to see the decline in quality of nightlife in Sydney. There are 24 hours in a day and just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean that life should cease to function outside of Netflix and chill or stare mind-numbingly at a phone. It really does pain me to say it, but in regards to a well-rounded nightlife, Sydney is the most boring capital city I know. We can argue about the nuances later but it is without question that Sydney has lost its nighttime vibrancy.
Now that the welcome-home buzz has worn off, I am curious to see how my Token count progresses. It is one thing to be working in a foreign land and hold back on the beers but it is a whole other story with your mates on a Saturday night at the pub; there are only so many fire engines you can drink before it gets weird. The problem is that we (my friends and I) have reinforced our drinking behaviours over such a long time that it has now become cultural. Everything we do seems to be improved by booze. Want to go kick a footy down the park? Yeah sure, lets take some beers down. Want to come over and play Fifa? Yeah man, I’ll bring a carton. Even something as innocuous as having a conversation is hard to have without there being some frothy glasses of the golden nectar between us. I am talking on behalf of my friends here however I do believe we represent a microcosm of modern-day society.
Alcohol undoubtedly has its place and I definitely don’t plan on renouncing alcohol completely any time soon. In fact, I just finished infusing a bottle of gin with green tea. Alcohol can be incredibly fun, tasty, relaxing, warming, cooling, engaging and just plain enjoyable. But there has to be a balance. I want to get more out of life and to do so requires me to be more mindful of my drinking habits. Here is to hoping that my inner force stays strong and I can continue my hot streak for the rest of the year.
Tokens used in 2017: 20
Tokens used in April: 8
Money spent: $420
Tokens remaining: 80
% yay’s: 100%