'What Are You Drinking' graphic provided by  Joshua Luke Smith
‘What Are You Drinking’ graphic provided by Joshua Luke Smith


What are you drinking?

That’s the question Joshua Luke Smith asks in his latest song Headlights and the question I in turn am asking you today.

One sentence summary: “Trying to find my hope, in somebody else’s broken bones. Water don’t satisfy my soul: no more.”Joshua Luke Smith

Let’s get to it.

Our Drinking Habits In 2017

The Guardian reports that young people between the ages of 11-18 drink a full bathtub* of sugary drinks every year.

*With the standard bath being 80 litres.

But before you judge them, take a look at these stats too:

In a year the average person in the UK drinks…

  • 876 cups of tea = 2 bath tubs
  • 67.2 litres of beer + 24.6 litres of wine = over 1 bath tub
  • 40.6 litres of water = half a bath.

That’s a lot of drinking.

But what else have we been using the last year to try and quench our thirst?

More than just a thirst for liquid

Throughout the bible, other religious texts and classical writings, thirst has always been a term used to describe the deep longing of the soul.

“Personally, I quite like the term and think that comparing the dissatisfied feelings we feel with thirst is a great way to frame it.”

In our modern world (and indeed throughout history) we have tried a wide variety of mediums and methods in an attempt to quench this thirst.

We build up habits based on these practices that quickly become a part of our lives – ‘watering holes’ as such – that we return to (often daily) to drink from.

Here are a few common ‘watering holes…’

1. Pornography

Lust + pornography aren’t some modern invention, but the mass scale of it has indeed become a unique challenge and poses lots of important questions to our society.

Forbes + Fight The New Drug report that one website alone received 81 million visits.


This year I’ll be publishing my first book on the topic of pornography and my own story… so you can expect to hear a lot more from me on this topic, but for the sake of this article I just wanted to point out the sheer scale of it…

And how so many people look to porn to quench their thirst.

2. Dream-chasing and goal-hunting

Many of us are thirsty to achieve our goals, make an impact and see our dreams become a reality.

The pursuit of this can be purposeful and life-giving.

3. Social media

The term newsfeed is another term I think is brilliantly named because we end up consuming and feeding on whatever the complex algorithm serves up to us (based on our previous tastes.)

In fact our timelines can reveal a lot about ourselves, including who and what we care about.

This is thanks to an insane amount of data being harvested from us, like how many seconds we spend looking at a particular image, how many times we click on a link or simply how frequently we like our friend’s updates.

In 2017 daily social media use hit an all time high as predicted now surpassing the 2 hour mark on average.

4. Other people

In one way or another, ‘other people’ fuel all of the above areas.

This can include our nearest and dearest: our friends and family.

The company of those who love us and we love energises us and adds value to our lives unlike anything else.

Even if you are an introvert like me, there is no doubt about the fact that we are social beings who thrive best in community.

But do these things satisfy?

Are they enough?

Here’s a few thoughts, some my own, some from much greater wordsmiths. 

  1. Pornography:  “No matter how much pornography we consume, we are always left with a hunger for more… both in terms of content quantity and variety.”

  2. Dream-chasing: “Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.” – Socrates

  3. Social media: “Our little thumbs are never tired no matter how many miles they scroll.”

  4. Other people: “Never, never pin your whole faith on any human being: not if he is the best and wisest in the whole world. There are lots of nice things you can do with sand: but do not try building your house on it.” – C.S. Lewis

What are you drinking? Headlights by Joshua Luke Smith

Joshua Luke Smith (from Bath in England) has been one of my absolute favourite poets + musicians growing up.

His work has – and still does – inspire and motivate me in my own creative journey.

In December he released a new single called ‘Headlights’ which you can listen to below.

Throughout the song he repeatedly asks the question: what are you drinking?

For me the song is about where we seek our affirmation and validation from.

“It’s about how easy it can be to ‘chase likes’ or pursue what other people think about us/our work.”

How we seek to quench our thirst from wells that are only drilled surface deep.

Check out the chorus:  “Trying to find my hope, in somebody else’s broken bones. Water don’t satisfy my soul: no more.”

When I listen to the song it conjures up images and principles C.S. Lewis touched upon, especially his potentially most famous quote:

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis (taken from Mere Christianity.)

Headlights by Joshua Luke Smith may ask the simple question ‘what are you drinking?’ but the answer taps into a much more significant concept that we all must wrestle with.

Where do we go to try and satisfy our souls longing?

  • Other people?

  • Fading pleasures?

  • Work/Dreams?

  • Social media metrics?*

*As a writer I need to face this question daily. Why do I write? Do I write for the amount of views, website clicks, social media shares or do I write to change my life and the lives of those who read my work?

It’s an issue of identity more than anything else and I respect/appreciate Joshua Luke Smith’s honesty + vulnerability in bringing this question to light in a new and fresh way.

Because this matters.

The woman at the well

One of the most poignant characters in the bible has got to be ‘the woman at the well.’

We don’t know her name. We don’t know what she looks like.

But we do know that she was thirsty for something more than water and and went through a series of multiple partners to try and quench her dissatisfaction.

Yet the thirst in her soul remained.

She was a Samaritan – an enemy of the Jews.
She was an Adulterer – an outcast to the religious institutions of the day.

Yet she had an encounter with Jesus that has rippled throughout history.

It was in conversation with this woman beside a well that Jesus said these famous words:

“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” John 4:13-15

What are you drinking in 2018?

Perhaps some of us set New Years resolutions to:

  • drink less coffee

  • drink less alcohol

  • drink less fizzy drinks/soda

  • drink more water

But what else are we going to drink this year?

Will we be satisfied by what we’ve been drinking before?

“My goal for this year is to retrain where I go to in times of rest/stress (my watering holes) and choose to drink from what is life-giving rather than what is draining and dissatisfactory. ”

For me that means spending less time online, more time with God, escaping into nature, being with my family more and going ‘off-the-grid.’

How about you?

– What needs to be swapped out of your current habits?
– What wells/watering holes do you need to close off?
– Where do you need to go to quench your thirst?

But most of all: what are you drinking?

More from Matthew Thompson

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Thanks so much for reading and until next time,

All the best. 

– Matthew Thompson

Books used:
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Further reading:
Delta Airlines Paid For Our Groupon Wedding
2 Years Ago My Friend Got Shot: Here’s What I Learned
How An Ancient Greek Strongman Can Help You Achieve Goals

P.S. Check out Joshua Luke Smith’s Ted Talk. It’s one of the best ways to invest 20 minutes in yourself this month.

(Affiliate disclaimer: When possible I always try to use affiliate links to Amazon as a means of generating some income from the blog. I receive a percentage of any sales made through them. Thank you for your support.)