Giving things up to find out if you really liked them, or: a year without drinking coke

We went on holidays a year ago. The plan was to go to a far away place, disconnect and rest.

A voluntary part of the scheme was giving up alcohol and caffeine during the stay, and optionally two weeks before the holidays, to let the body go through any withdrawal symptom it wanted to go through beforehand.

I don’t normally drink a lot of alcohol, so that seemed easy. But not drinking coffee!?

I embraced the challenge anyway.

I only had a minor headache for a couple of days, and I wasn’t even sure if it was due to the stormy weather. I just had to be conscious of what I was doing, instead of automatically reaching for the coffee grinder in the mornings, or heading to a cafe on the afternoon.

When we arrived to the holiday place, I didn’t really miss coffee. I was too busy observing nature, reading, drawing… and sleeping… a lot of sleeping… I don’t think I had slept as much in years!

Back in London, I still kept for a couple weeks of no coffee.

Eventually, I drank a good coffee.

It was sublime. I enjoyed every bit of it: the inviting scent of the cafe as soon as you stepped through its door, the beans on display, the golden lights tinting it all;  the steam coming out of the cup and bringing out the aromas,  the thick layer of creamy foam, the first taste when it’s all a mix of sour and fruity depths, and the final moment when it’s over, and you’re really satisfied that you had it.

If coffee and coffee culture such as preparation, beautiful cafes, neatly arranged cups, etc make me happy, there’s no point in giving them up, unless I want to pass as a First World Martyr.

When on holidays, I had no need to go to a cafe to have some personal time. I was having that all the time! But back in the city, going to a cafe or preparing my own coffee is an intentional permission from myself to treat myself nicely and give myself a break.

In contrast, I did not drink Coke during this whole year.

I used to occasionally grab one from the office fridge at lunch time, or maybe if it was really hot outside, or instead of an alcoholic drink when everyone else is having it and having “just water” is a sort of shame.

Reflecting about it, consciously, I do not like its flavour: the acid aftertaste, the gas, the eventual tummy upsetting… And if I had any doubt, I just need to read the label in the can to think: I am NOT getting THAT into my body!

There was another interesting realisation: I drink a lot more water than before. Somehow, it felt as if drinking coke removed your sense of thirst. Was my body thirsty all this time?

I found the idea of stepping away from things you think you like in order to decide if that’s actually the case very interesting.

Maybe you like the thing. Or maybe you just like aspects of the thing, or at some times and in some places only. Or maybe you don’t like it at all, and would rather do something else instead.

It’s healthy to question ourselves and ask why do we do what we do, but sometimes we examine behaviours that are so commonly encouraged, that even questioning them seems silly.

Temporary withdrawal is a resource to help us take a step back and decide. Use it! 😀