“The Beloved has gone completely wild—He has poured Himself into me! I am blissful and drunk and overflowing.” —Hafiz

I grew up in a family that worshipped the great spirit alcohol. And I did my best to devote myself to its essence.

I drank cases of Coors in high school and gallons of margaritas in college. Then I embarked on a promising gin-and-tonic practice, enhanced with cocaine use.

My calling was cut short, when in a brief succession in my mid-20s, I lost three loved ones. My stepfather drank too much scotch, crashed his helicopter on our family ranch and died, one of my best friends downed too many beers, left my house and died in a one-car accident, and my sister, on the way home from a bar, was killed by a drunk driver.

Once my pain subsided, I realized my devotion was misplaced and I needed a new God.

I found one, and the One found me. As Rumi says, “What you seek is seeking you.”

Of course, none of my loved ones really died. They just headed off on their next adventure in what my spiritual teacher, Sri Gary Olsen, calls the great Foreverness. But, at the time, I didn’t know that.

My family’s passion for alcohol was, of course, my passion. I would not have manifested this particular dream of a life if I weren’t invested in its pay-offs. My mind likes to use alcohol to celebrate and to placate, but most of all, to experience its greatest love—freedom.

Recently, after I completed my last travel column in an eight-year stint for New Mexico Magazine, I wanted to celebrate. I felt the age-old pull to party—to call a friend and head out for a night of rich food, red wine and chocolate. But I paused with my hand on the phone and asked the Divine, “How would you have me celebrate?”

Immediately my whole body filled with glowing radiance. All thought, all planning suspended and I was suddenly in a complete state of celebration, better than any wine, any party, and any love that I could find in the material plane.

It is a sparkly sense of complete freedom, as though the whole world glows with love, and I am that love. More and more I am blessed to live from this place, and you know what? It is the wildest, most Divinely raucous party in all existence.

Best of all, it causes no harm.

I didn’t have wine that day. I could have, and I may again. But I never need to rely on it for my freedom. When I am in soul, I am in constant celebration.

This is such a complex subject that I will present it in two parts. Stay tuned to my next post for the 3 Steps to Finding Your Inner Wine.

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