Why don’t we learn our lesson?

I’m not often hung over (although the last time wasn’t that long ago).  Perhaps, that’s why when I am, I tend to be especially filled with regret.  The experience is unpleasant enough (even when relatively mild) that when it’s happening, it’s very hard to pretend that it’s not happening.  You might try to distract yourself, or just hide in bed where the nasty pointy light can’t reach you, but in the end you mostly just sit there experiencing your hangover.

Today, I am hung over.  Meh.

What bothers me, though, isn’t only the physical discomfort (though, admittedly, that part really bothers me), but rather the very certain awareness that this absolutely did not need to happen.  A hangover is not, at least for me, the inevitable price for an evening of drunken fun.  I can get completely blasted and feel fine the next morning; in fact, I tend to wake up earlier and more completely the night after I’ve been drinking.

No, a hangover for me represents that one drink (or more) too many.  I’ll be having a great time, thoroughly sloshed, and then have a drink that I absolutely do not need to have, and that will be my hangover the next morning.  I can usually look back and clearly see the moment I went too far, when I had one-too-many of the blue drink of which  am so fond, an extra drink that was completely pointless, given how I was already nicely drunk, already with drinks in my belly that would likely keep putting alcohol into my system for hours to come regardless of adding any more.  That last drink probably won’t even hit me until I’m asleep, when it’s good for literally nothing except bizarre dreams and a hangover the next morning.

To which, I’m sure most people would reply, “Well, duh.”

Yes, the flaw in my drinking pattern is obvious.  But, that’s my point: it is obvious.  Really obvious.  So obvious that when I’m drunk and continuing to drink, I still know it.  And yet, how many times in my life have I stopped, thought about the obvious and well-observed flaw in my drinking habits, and acted accordingly to prevent una mañana terrible?

Not once.  Ever.

Now, it would be remarkably convenient if I could blame it on the juice.  If this were just a drinking thing, maybe I could get away with that.  But, this isn’t about drinking, this is about excess, and similar stuff happens when I’m stone-cold sober.  I’ve written before about my unhealthy willingness to procrastinate.  And, just the same, I know better but simply don’t do what is clearly in my best interests.  I’ll stay up all night playing video games, even though I know I need to sleep, and that the games will be waiting for me the next day anyway.  It’s probably a really good thing I never get heartburn or stomach aches, because if I did I’d sure as hell regret my immoderate eating habits.  This isn’t even an issue of enjoyment — I’ll exercise until I’m purple and know perfectly well that the next day I’ll barely be able to move, and I hate exercising.  I don’t just do it when I don’t even want to do it; I do too much of it when I don’t even want to do it.  What the hell?

But, on some level, there has to be some sort of instant gratification involved in staying the course, even if what you are doing is unpleasant or potentially destructive.

I have a theory: people hate change.

“Well, duh, again.”

And, yes, on the level of life changes, this is something that we figured out a long time ago.  People stay at jobs they hate when no other job could possibly be worse.  People cling to romantic partners long after they have grown apart, and when they finally break free they cling to a rebound partner long after that relationship has lost its value.  People wear ugly clothes with holes in them for no good reason, rather than just go buy a nicer shirt with underarms that are the same colour as the rest of it.

But, I think it’s worse than that.  I think we’re even lazier than that.  We like momentum so much (or, perhaps hate changing direction so much) that once we decide on a course, we stick with it until life does the work for us.  If a relationship isn’t working, and we decide to stick with it, we’ll stick with it until someone is in jail or moves away.  If a shirt is looking a little threadbare, we’ll decide if we want to throw it out, and if we don’t, it stays until it falls apart.  And, if we’re drinking, we’ll decide (usually fairly early in the evening) if we want to stop at a pleasant buzz or go for full-on bender.  And, once that bender is declared, nothing will stop us, even if the bender is achieved and then some.  We know better than this, but we do it anyway.  Why?

There are two ways to look at this.  Either, we are great about making a decision and following it through (and the glass is half-full), or we are so desperately afraid of change that we’ll keep doing something painful just for the sake of not deciding to do something else (and the glass is half-empty).  I lean towards the latter, but I have to admit that the first perspective does have its appeal.  I’m not hung over today because I’m an idiot; I’m hung over because I’m a man of action who makes a plan and follows through!

So, there you are, man of action.

Man of action with a headache and a funny tummy.

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One Comment on “Why don’t we learn our lesson?”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I hope you’re not hung over again tomorrow!

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