Day Twenty

My alarm has been set for 6AM for the past three weeks; it hasn’t gone off once. I suppose that’s what happens when you go to bed at 9 after falling asleep on the couch at 8:30. While never declaring myself as a morning person, many have identified me as such. I enjoy mornings. I find great pleasure in watching the sunrise, listening to the birds chirp and the roosters crow – if that’s in fact what you call what they do.

Three weeks ago this amazing splendor that nature provides did not shower me with the same sentiments. Rather, it filled me with feelings of discomfort, grogginess and a search for recollection of what time, that same morning, my head in fact did hit pillow.

When you wake up to a welcoming of assorted bottles and cans from the night before, a search for aspirin and reciprocal questions from your friends – à la The Hangover – about what had occurred exactly, the shining sun and robust roosters don’t give off the same sense of equilibrium.

This was the picture twenty days ago. Since that moment I have enjoyed every element the natural surroundings that encompass my life these days have to offer. Since the end of what the main three participants deemed ‘Jacó Week’ twenty days ago I have not had a single drop of alcohol. Nor have I eaten fast-food, had a burger or anything remotely unhealthy.

And you know what? I feel fantastic.

The idea of a cleanse is not a new or novel concept – least of all to me. I have cleansed before. I will cleanse again. Normally I am a one weeker to ten day cleanser. This time around I elected to do a twenty-one day cleanse – by far my longest yet – for no other reason than to test myself. Seven days is easy; you can do that almost by accident. Ten days gets harder because you might have two weekends involved, depending on when you start. Fourteen days a little harder yet. Twenty-one days, though, is a real test.

The purpose of a cleanse is to reboot. Nobody’s quitting anything. There are no claims made in the haste of naiveté that state no drink of an alcoholic nature will ever be had again; everyone knows that’s not true. The point of a cleanse is to clean out your body and start fresh – and test yourself in situations of temptation.

Over the course of the last twenty days I have been to two futbol/soccer parties to celebrate Costa Rica’s national team’s victories, the grand opening of a new discotheque – as a VIP quest -, a welcome party for the new students with the TESOL school, the beach (many times) in addition to other instances that would normally lead themselves to a drink or seven.

In each instance I always had a bottle of water in my hand – except for the time it was in a glass. Or that time I had coffee in the bar.

The idea of a cleanse isn’t to radically change anything; it’s simply a tool to shake a habit. Everyone goes through healthy and unhealthy phases. The healthy routine of a feria, casado and no fun diet that I’m currently on is just as unsustainable as the beer, tequila and 3AM heart-to-hearts on the balcony were three weeks ago. While I can’t go on eating nothing but carrots and rice, I also can’t go back too far across the meter, either.

A synonym for cleanse should be balance, as that’s what you find when you do one. Cleansing – at least for me – doesn’t help you discover new things but rather help you recall what you already know. That’s the beauty of what abstaining for a while does; it allows for old habits to become current ones. A couple beers here and there and a glass of wine with dinner never hurt anyone, or something like that.

I always set my alarm regardless of whether or not I need it as some sort of neurotic phobia. So the next time I find myself having to reach over to shut it off, I’ll already know where the water is.

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