Trying and doing since 2001
for 13 June 2006.
My friend Greg Veen visited me
a few months ago. After a night
out he leaned with uncertainty
against a wall for support. Clad
in pajamas, a coffee cup at the
ready, and his beverage sloshing
with the vibrations of his shaky
hand he shared with me the secrets
of surviving a hangover. A hangover
he said has many steps.
At first he said there is a sense
that "I'm not going to make it."
This is a most treacherous time.
The many expectations of life,
the over-stimulus of choices presented,
and interactions with other people
are all too taxing for the mind
of the Hungover. Provided during
this time is a new perspective
on everyday things. Grocery stores
and their hundreds of consumer
choices are now a dizzying and
terrifying blur of competing demands
for limited attention. Pleasantries
demanded when being served or
when paying a clerk are presented
as intimidating and awkward.
What to say? How much information
should be revealed? Perhaps there
is an ulterior motive at work,
forcing such a chipper attitude
under such dire and wretched circumstances?
There is no way to answer these
questions with any certainty when
wrestling with the fundamental
issues of staying vertical and
not feeling sick.
Greg continued, saying, "After
a while, there are little bursts
of hope. Maybe it will be OK."
These moments are fleeting but
for the Hungover can be windows
into a world beyond the horror
of hopelessness. Confidence is
restored, although temporarily.
Tasks are manageable, the day
may be saved. The previous impulse
to run back to bed and hide under
the covers is mitigated, even
becomes absurd given the simplicity
of the day's events.
Greg reveled that the "application
of pork products can be a great
ally in the restoration of hope."
An anchor on the seas of chaos,
pork in any form but preferably
bacon can assist the delectate
hungover mind and allow new focus
Greg kept secret the final stages
and strategies of surviving a
hangover. Perhaps he realized
that he had revealed too much.
Maybe he was caught by the undertow
of another wave of nausea. What
ever the reason he shared only
one other insight before becoming
silent, "being hungover gives
another view on the world, one
that can be learned from." Wiser
words were never spoken. From
hellish uncertainty a fresh perspective
can be gained. The things that
average people take for granted
are revealed through the task
of making sense through hungover
Most obvious at first is the large
amount of thought and consideration
that is needed to negotiate the
most basic aspects of daily living.
In the post-industrial society
the everyday chores of life are
mechanized through a vast infrastructure
of information processing and
collection. "Paper or plastic"
is a basic example of this new
way of living through choices.
Peter Drucker discussed in his
book Concept of the Corporation
that in the 1800's the familial
unit stood tall, alone on a plane
representing organizational complexity.
A higher position on this plane
demonstrates greater organizational
depth and manpower. In the 1940's,
the time that Drucker was writing,
he stated that the familial unit
was dwarfed by Himalaya-like peaks
standing in for the institutions
of the day such as hospitals,
universities, and of course, governments.
Sixty years later the family on
this plane is even more crowded,
caught at sea-level at the base
of a staggering number of towering
The people alive today, being
so far removed from the days that
did not include these institutions
find it difficult to appreciate
the idea that they at one time
did not exist or at least were
not essential. Greg's stated
conundrum of navigating the world
defined by these groups when under
duress, gives an opportunity to
rediscover the experience of acutely
feeling the presence and influence
of large organizations.
Greg's insight continues to bear
fruit through to the second stage
of a hangover, bursts of hope.
When faced with such a significant
reduction in the stock price of
the individual it can be hard
to find room for hope. This is
especially true for Americans
who place a huge premium on the
value of the individual. The
collective unconscious of the
nation is quietly aware of the
unstated fact that although media
tells us that we are all special
and unique there is significant
pressure to iron flat the whole
population into predicable, homogeneous
consumers of all things mass produced.
The predictable consumer is a
In return for this unarmed submission
big business offers cheap goods
and ready-made identity. Happy
shoppers are we all. Some of
us are edgy in Hot Topic tees,
some ambitions and determined
Nike wearers, some green-conscious
eco-friendly Volkswagon drivers.
For some this is not enough, they
seek to reclaim the lost frontier
of autonomy. They find it in
the warm cacoon of a McMansion
surrounded by a nuclear family
and the spoils of their conquests.
They find it in the association
with a political party and a talking
head that speaks the truth. They
find in it church every Sunday.
Americans are searching for their
anchor, their pork product that
will carry them through the dark
uncertainty of industrial living.
They reject ready made personas
and struggle silently through
the quagmire of mitigated, homogenized
individual decision making. What
form this mental bacon takes is
currently an individual's choice
but the battle is already being
fought to establish the national
replacement for the security lost
with the rise of organizational
complexity. America is trusting
in God and rejoining lost community
organizations. During this time
of turmoil there is one thing
for certain however, we all could
benefit from a few drinks.
courtesy of John Winters