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Swing Low, Sweet Chariot of Melancholy

Another hectic summer nears its close. My two college kids head back over the next ten days; my two youngest are back in high school sports.

This time of year always brings the sweet melancholy, much like the time right around high school graduation. You know the feeling, "Ah, dang. I'm clocking through life quickly." Which then leads to, "Ah, dang. Is this all my life is?" Which leads to, "Ah, dang. I'm gonna have a drink and savor it."

I'm a bit wagon-ny these days. Even on vacation last week, I only drank heavily one evening. Part of it is my fight with weight. Part of it is that middle-aged thing: drinking is hard, and it gets harder as you get older. The costs are deceptively huge: the price of the alcohol, which you have to recuperate from some source; the time spent inebriated; and the time spent recovering.

It's that last one that has gotten tough over the past couple of years. The hangovers don't "hurt more than they used to" (Hank Williams, Jr.), but the tired feeling is more intense, leaving me lagging for an entire day afterwards, which is resented as my time in this vale of tears wanes. And then there are the health problems that have to be addressed, from flare ups of skin eczema to dehydration.

And all that, of course, reminds me that I'm clocking through life quickly. Sweet melancholy. Dang.

Oh well. I still believe drinking is a great good. The best things in life might be free, but most things worthwhile have their costs. I'd encourage all of us to bear those costs and unwind this evening with a few drinks and the first smells of autumn.

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