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March 14, 2019

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Right now, as witnessed on the InterNetWebs, young humans are in full debauch, a Bizzarro World Of Anti-Lent – SPRING BREAK.

In the fall semester of 1976 I may have been drunk every single night for about 3 months. I never drank alone, always, I intentionally, got drunk after hard work, and with great good friends. Every night. I began to look forward to it. That is when I stopped. At least every day. I cannot remember the last time I drank to get drunk, before we had children, before, I think, I understood things a little clearer.

But I have never, ever, gotten drunk and drunker every waking moment of every day for a week when not actively mating with other drunk people. Spring Break is at the same time as Lent, every year, but it is it’s apotheosis.

Lent is where some remove some things they value to get closer to something greater than themselves. Spring Break is where others double down on booze, weed, sex and whatever else changes the brain in a remove repository for vomit and bodily fluids. Both are willing human constructs. Both are rewarding in their own terms.

Those who I know who have done this week of hedonism extol it’s radical freak show. It is called “blowing off steam” – the steam that you created, of course. You become someone you cannot be at any other time and in another place. In Lent, in theory, you strive to become someone that fulfills God’s faith. It is impossible, but I do it anyway.

Spring Break is the full feeding of things that we know are wrong, but feel good. The Lizard Brain of Stimulus-Response with no thought – before, during or after any desired actively can exist in the womb of an island away from a life of academic focus. For most there on the beach, life is in a colder, fully formatted space, where others relentlessly grade you. In Spring Break you grade you.

But wait, you decided to go to college. I opted to go to the place where I got drunk about 100 nights in a row to deal with. No gang pressing under threat of law to force me into a college and frog march me into a class, and then be locked into a library for forced studying. Whether it was me in the bar, or those, right now at Spring Break we all wanted to be where we are fleeing from, and will return to.

I am not good at vacations. The idea I need anything is bothersome beyond doing what I need to do. What I want to do other than want I need to do comes down to desert. Whether Bourbon or ice cream, self expression of pleasure follows effort, it itself is not an effort. No Disneyland for me. Let alone Las Vegas.

I have been to Las Vegas to give talks at conventions that use the Land of Eternal Spring Break, 24/7/365,to be “bad”. It is sad. At least in New Orleans there is history, and beignets. In Las Vegas you, as adults, also do the things you want to forget later, but want to do Now. They feel good. They manifest that you, completely, can do what You want. Not what you are told to do. Not what you should do. But what you want to do.

But, ultimately, most of us want to leave and forget what our Lizard Brain wants. Something, some part of us, has regrets, perhaps even guilt. That human desire to be the best we can be in being who we are, to me means being what we were made to be. Every belessed one of us is the offspring of what made each of us, beauty and meaning: God. That truth, of greater meaning is painful to acknowledge, so we devote to it’s opposite: self-expression. So we go on Spring Break, we build Las Vegas, I get drunk as a daily ritual in 1976, and #MeToo becomes a revelation of the Lizard Brain’s consequences.

Self pollution is regular and knowing, although I have not had a Diet Coke in Lent, I know that the 3 or 4 I drink every other day is doing something to my liver. If they were there, I would have taken every steroid I could find to be a better football player in 1972 and my liver would have been treated to far worse than aspartame. I would know that it would hurt me later, but I wanted what I wanted, then and now.

If that weird Still Small Voice was not screaming in some part of our brain, we would sex and drug ourselves to death. So we compartmentalize our lives into a series of episodic Spring Breaks, where we Go For It and retreat back to safety in the confines of a reality we love and want to leave.

Refrigerators fully full of beer in South Carolina or Florida are replaced with leftover Chinese in Bloomington or Columbus

That split, that Yin Yang of doing right versus having fun is a false choice.

Both involve being graded and doing something we all incoherently accept – living a life of defendability based on the herd. I never drank alone. I am sure by many measures that I was a functioning alcoholic at 20. But the addiction was more fever than congenital. I saw, without having God in my life, that looking to be different from my life when I was a part of it meant that I had lost my life.

What I did not know, what few if any know on Spring Break, is that self-expression happens whether you project the hormones and anger at being controlled by something you created, or you are a silent monk in the wilderness alone. But the hardest truth is that none of us, now and in the end, are alone.

Of course your parents would not like you puking a in a trash can with your fly unzipped amid pizza crusts and beer bottles. But more, whether you invited him or not, or even know he is there, God is there, standing by. Being with what he created.

I would like to think he is smiling, even laughing when I act out, but I doubt it. Parents are not OK with the puking in a trash can thing. But I do something like that every day. We all do. The elation over some achievement or the relish over someone else’s misfortune, or the greed or guilt over getting or giving your version of judgement is everyday, and simply not the point.

”You are better than that!“ screamed the coach when I missed a tackle 48 years ago, But God does not scream. Even in Lent. Or Spring Break.

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