Read CHAPTER VII: More Time for Other Things of The Old Game A Retrospect after Three and a Half Years on the Water-wagon , free online book, by Samuel G. Blythe, on

And there is this great advantage: Your resources for the entertainment of yourself are vastly developed when you do not drink. When you do drink, about all you do is drink that is, the usual formula, day by day, is to get through work and then go somewhere where there are fellows of your kind and have a few. Now when you do not drink you find there are other things that occur to you as worth while. It is not necessary to hurry to the club or elsewhere to meet the crowd and listen to the newest story, or hear the comment on the day’s doings, punctuated by the regular tapping of the bell for the waiter and the pleasing: “What’ll it be, boys?” You do that now and then, but you do not do it every day.

After mature consideration of the subject I have concluded that the greatest, the most satisfactory, the finest attribute of a non-alcoholic life is the time it gives you to do non-alcoholic things. Time! That is the largest benefit time to read, to think, to get out-of-doors, to see pictures, to go to plays, to meet and mingle with new people, to do your own work in. A man who has the convivial-drinking habit is put to it on occasions to find time for anything but conviviality aside from his regular occupation. It seems imperative to him that he shall get where the crowd is, and stay there. He might miss something a drink maybe, or two, or a laugh, or a yarn, or the pleasures of association with folks he likes. These are important when visualized alcoholically. They make up the most of that kind of a life.

Do not understand that I am deprecating these pleasures. I am not. I have already explained how strenuously I worked out a program that enables me to enjoy them now and then; but the fact that I have quit drinking makes them incidental to the general scheme instead of the whole scheme. It gives me an opportunity to pick and choose a bit. It relieves me of the necessity of being at the same places at the same time every afternoon or evening. Whereas I used to be the boss and John Barleycorn the foreman, I have now discharged John and am both boss and foreman; and I run the game to suit myself and have time for other things.

Let me impress that on you the glory and gladness of time! It requires rather persistent application to be a good fellow. One cannot do much else. However, when a man has arrived at that stage where he can retain at least a portion of his good fellowship and also can be two or three of the other kinds of a worth-while fellow to himself, at least he has gained on the old gang by about a hundred per cent.

As it is now, no chums come shouting in to urge me to go and have one; nobody drops round at five o’clock in the afternoon to hurry me along to the favorite table at the club; nobody suggests about seven o’clock that we all ’phone home and stay down and have dinner together; the old plan of having a luncheon that lasts an hour and a half or two hours in the best part of the day is rarely broached. There are few telephone calls after dinner urging an immediate descent on a gathering where there is something coming off all these things are left to my choice and are not taken as a matter of usual procedure, predicated on the circumstances of the plan of living.

A non-drinking man is the master of his own time. If he wants sociability he can go and get it, up to such limits as he personally can attain for himself in his water-consuming capacity. A drinking man is not master of his time. He may think he is, but he is not. He is the creature of a habit that may be harmless, but which surely is insistent; and the habit dictates what he shall do with his leisure.

Time! Why, such new vistas of what can be done with time that was wasted in former years have opened before me that time seems to me the greatest luxury in the world time that was formerly wasted and now is used! I hope that does not sound priggish. I have tried to show that I value highly the privilege of associating with my fellows, and that I like their ways and their talk and their company. What I mean by this pæan to time is that I can have company in a modified measure, if I choose; and that I can and do have other things that no man who has a daily drinking habit can or does have.