Why papa drinks

Dear Hannah,

People drink because they want to feel things they otherwise wouldn't, and to me this makes drinking strange.  It isn't just the numbness of a buzz that gets us guzzling; it's that drinking makes us like things we wouldn't otherwise like, have talks we might have missed, ignore things we might otherwise have feared, and celebrate people who most of the time bore us.  It makes us care about things we don't care about and give things away when we would otherwise keep them.  Some people even drink to be more comfortable with an aspect of themselves that they hate.  It adds a certain humanity we'd been missing all along.  Some people say that drinking allows us to live a life we wouldn't otherwise have lived.   Others phrase it more honestly, and say that drinking allows us to be somebody we wouldn't have been. 

What drinking does somewhat, ecstasy does far more.  Profess your love for a friend after a few drinks, and you'll profess your love for a complete stranger after a couple of pills.  And it's even stranger than this to think that if you drink and do ecstasy too much, it does the opposite for you the rest of the time you're not on them.  A man who's had a couple of drinks every couple of weeks could be much better company than someone who doesn't; but the man who has too many drinks too much of the time is a nuisance.  A hungover man does things differently, but he does things differently in the worst possible direction.  Instead of loving his neighbors, he despises them.  Instead of being more carefree, he's full of anxiety.  The little things he used to ignore become major annoyances; he celebrated people the night before, and just hours later he's ready to kick them off his couch and onto the street.

What exactly are we, that generosity, friendliness, and passions grow and shrink when we drink or snort things -- that chemistry determines whether you're an angel or an ass?  How much of us actually belongs to us, and how much of us is a lab experiment?  How much of us is beyond our control?  Speculation leaves too many questions, and it's probably better to ponder these things over a drink.

If you do decide to drink, my advice is that you pay special attention to how you feel the following days and week.  In other words make an experiment of yourself.  My experience has been that drinking too much has made me a worse person and my daily life more difficult, which has made me decide to drink as reasonably as possible without ending up entirely sober.  Three to four drinks on Sundays twice a month works for me, and I prefer drinking during the day so that I sober up before sleep -- but you may find a better method.  If doing good is our duty, then we can agree that whatever we can do to make goodness easier is our duty as well.  The same goes for eating, sleeping, and all the other things of life.  We do maintenance on our cars so that they can take us where we want to go.  We should maintain good chemistry so that we can do the things we really want to do.

Your father,