Lent is a Christian observance that is supposed to represent the 40 days that Christ spent fasting in the desert. During this time, many people will perform what is called a Lenten sacrifice, where they will abstain from some sort of pleasure or luxury of their choosing. Many choose to give up alcohol, some may choose to refrain from meat, and others may take their Lenten fast incredibly seriously, eating as little as possible while resisting the temptation of the delicious foods that surround us everywhere in modern times. This year the season will begin on Wednesday March 2nd and finish on April 14th1.

The opening paragraph outlines the basic concept of Lent not because I've been re-engaging with my religious studies, but because I've chosen to begin the observance early. On February 15th I drank my last alcoholic beverages for two months. This was a decision that was made around lunchtime on the 16th, though I've since thought it through a little more and decided to wait until mid-April before thinking about picking up another can of Kirin チュウハイ2. Not only will this give my body some time to adjust to being alcohol-free for the first time in … a long time, but it will allow me to see whether I am actually addicted to the stuff rather than just "enjoying it at the end of a long day". Given that I went almost five years in Vancouver without drinking and well over nine in Japan without touching the stuff, one would think this isn't a sacrifice at all. However, since moving out of the classroom many years ago, I've found myself consuming more and more every few months. As it stands, I have no problem consuming two litres of 9%-alcohol チュウハイ in a single day and maintaining the appearance of being normal, albeit happier3. Based on what I've read about alcoholism, all signs point to me being in denial … so two months sober ought to confirm if this is the case or not.

More than this, though, I have been feeling the need to act on something. I don't know what that something is, but there's an unmistakable prodding from within to stand up and get things done in areas that I am not at all knowledgeable about4. There is a desire to become an active participant in a community. There is also a thirst for a better understanding of topics that I thought I knew. While there is no requirement to give anything up to accomplish any of these objectives, not clouding the mind will open up an extra hour or two per day for reading, reflection, learning, and sharing. Given that we all have a limited number of hours on any given day, freeing up one or two is nothing to balk at.

Yesterday I wrote about feeling incomplete and isolated from the world. This is still true today. However, over the last couple of months I've been working on pulling myself out of the same old rut in order to do something that can benefit others and myself. God willing, this teetotaling observance will bring me one step closer to understanding what it is that I need to do going forward.

  1. Though Lent is a 40-day event, this year there are six Sundays between the start and end of the observance. Sundays, the Sabbath, are holy days in Christianity and a time for rejoicing rather than penance. Some people will consider Sundays to be "cheat days", where they can enjoy whatever luxury or pleasure they've elected to give up for the 40 days of Lent. Depending on which denomination of Christianity a person follows, this is allowed.

  2. Chuuhai – a Japanese mixed vodka drink.

  3. I tell myself that "I feel human again" after a can or two of Kirin.

  4. The last time I really had this feeling was in the weeks leading up to my move from Southern Ontario to Vancouver. Given the responsibilities I have today, I highly doubt there will be another 4,800km move in front of me anytime soon. That said, given the opportunity, I would like to visit Israel for a couple of months.