Put Some Margin into your Beer Life

OR Beer-soaked Life Syndrome

“What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.”

–Mignon McLaughlin

paperA couple of weeks back, I found myself sick of reading blogs. I noticed that I’d been reading more and more of them. And other beer-related miscellany on the computer. Checking out forums, formulating recipes, researching shank systems, checking my damn email, posting to my own blog. And whatnot. A lot of my spare time was going toward this fabulous and interesting pursuit. Too much time.

Some folks know that though I love beer, my family is actually a good deal more important to me. So it was time for me to take something of a sabbatical.

The piece of paper on which I was living was getting filled with superfluous crap. The handwriting was cramped and small, sloppy and extending well into the margins. In fact, the margins were filled with all sorts of little notes, ideas and, well, stuff. That space on the paper is very important and to make sure that my family didn’t get jacked up, that my kids didn’t start acting like criminals, I found it time to restore my margin and re-focus.

This margin idea actually comes from a Bible study I once attended. A group of us watched some videos that must have been based on books by Richard A. Swenson, MD. * The discussion and results of that time together must have paid off, since I noticed that I was goofing off on the computer on my own, rather than having someone point it out to me the day after bailing my kid out of jail.

The description for Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives says this:

Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience. It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things that matter most.

Margin offers seventy-five practical prescriptions for restoring margin in the essential areas of emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances. Margin restores what culture has taken away: time to listen, strength to care, space to love.

Beer zealots, like many of us are, certainly run the risk of screwing up in the emotional, physical, financial and time-related areas of our life.

Emotional: we burn ourselves and our loved ones out with our constant stewing about the next beer, the next seasonal, the next recipe, the next batch, the next event. The next time we put beer before family and friends.

Physical: we burn ourselves if and when we occasionally overdo it.

Financial: I, for one, can’t afford to drink all the beers I want to drink. Can you?

Time: What spurred my ruminations on this topic was my blog reading tendencies. But there are also these festivals we need to attend. All this beer we must brew. All this research. All this fun beery stuff.

I set out to become a good dad. A good husband. And a good brewer. A knowledgeable beer guy. Neat as it all is, the beer stuff must take a back seat. I don’t want my family (or me) to pay a price for any beer-related wants. I want a splash of beer in my life, not a splash of life in my beer. (Actually, I do want a splash of life in my beer, but you know what I mean.)

In any case, I haven’t suffered from checking my email less frequently. I haven’t suffered from reading a small rotating handful of blogs each day. I’ve built time in my life for wrestling with my boys, for talking with my wife, and for calling my mom. I’ve restored margin to my piece of paper, and it’s easier to read, easier to enjoy.


*I don’t claim to have read any of these books, so wouldn’t exactly call this a recommendation. My wife owns and has read Swenson’s The Overload Syndrome, so I’ve taken some of that in by osmosis. Every time she reads an interesting book, I hear aaaaaaaaaall about it. However, they do seem to have good ideas worth pondering and applying.


6 Responses to Put Some Margin into your Beer Life

  1. Bryan says:

    This is wonderful perspective and one I get a feeling will be discussed much. Here it’s a beautifully sunny day going up to around 40F. I have so much desk work to do, some podcasts to listen to, some writing to do, PBW to prepare for …..but thanks to your posting, it’s reminded me that today would also be a good day to go for a run and soak up the beautiful outdoors. I think that is what I shall do….Cheers!

  2. Excellent, and humbling, post my friend! Not that I’m encouraging you to do more internet stuff, of course, but feel free to repost this on the Aleuminati – I think we far too oft beer-obsessed folk could use a word like this from time to time. I know I can!

    Thanks for writing it.

  3. Dave says:

    Amen, brother!

  4. Bryan says:

    Thanks for encouraging me to get out for one of my very best runs in a long time. Now I can enjoy my Braumeister Pils tonight, knowing that I had a well-rounded day.

  5. The Dude says:

    I set out to become a good dad. A good husband. And a good brewer. A knowledgeable beer guy. Neat as it all is, the beer stuff must take a back seat. I don’t want my family (or me) to pay a price for any beer-related wants.

    Great piece. I’ve sort of reached the same point, though I lacked the gumption – and time recently – to put it into words as you did. Always good to read of someone who knows what really matters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: