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Alcoholic blackouts: the cheat’s guide to LIVING IN THE NOW

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Just being in the moment – like, being in the moment – without your critical mind wittering on about future or past concerns (or providing a running commentary of the moment: “this is nice, isn’t it?”), is a simple concept that’s the bedrock of much new agery and ancient philosophy… but it’s fiendishly hard to achieve.

Unless you’re one of those drinkers to whom blackouts come naturally.

Here we have a state of mind that perfectly encapsulates living in the now. The word ‘blackout’ is misleading. It suggests a limbic paintbrush obliterating your night’s doings, a blight that could be reversed with time and patience, but in actual fact it refers to something more phenomenal.

According to The Alcoholic Blackout: Walking, Talking, Unconscious and Lethal, by Donal F Sweeney, when in a blackout you cannot form even short-term memories, due to a neuroreceptor in your hippocampus being rendered useless by sheer volume of grog and failing to pass on information. Drink too fast, too hard, too soon, on too little, and you’re trying to spark a Zippo with no gas. Connections are not made; you are literally living in the now. A person in a blackout could be wandering along train tracks and notice a train is coming, but lack the subsequent thought processes needed to put two and two together. Like a goldfish, you’d notice again two seconds later, then forget.

No amount of brow furrowing, piecing together of likelihoods, second-person accounts, injured silences from loved ones, or cops standing with folded arms is going to miraculously summon forth memories you never made in the first place. But at least – for one inglorious night – true enlightenment has been yours. Take that, Tolle!

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