Again, these final four chapters will be all high thoughts recorded between July and September, last year.
I’ll let these high thoughts speak for themselves.
They represent some of the last lessons I had to learn during the time of my medical marijuana addiction:
“Before now, I’d been in control of my weed use for months.
“Was I just kidding myself all along?
“Was I never really in control?
“Am I stuck?
“Is this whole story just a bunch of wistful claims I’ll never be able to back up?
“What if I’m not meant to limit my weed use yet?
“What if not getting high means I miss out on some important experience or idea only weed could bring about?
“How would I know?
“Will the high thoughts that feel like crucial missing puzzle pieces simply cease one day?
“Will that be when I know it’s time to finally walk away from my addiction?
“But I think weed will always help me find perspective.
“And getting high addictively keeps me from what weed itself shows me I want.
“The same desire to use weed less has actually never left.
“But how can I believe in myself to follow that desire again since I’ve failed after doing so well for so long?
“I see my mind jumping as always to the easy immediacy of setting some arbitrary limit.
“But the driving force that pushes me to seek those official quantities and cut-off points has become so obvious.
“All my plans now reek of the fear they’re made of; at their core, I see only a primal and instinctive grasping for control.
“I put a little weed under a blanket yesterday, planning every detail for how and why I wouldn’t touch it for twelve weeks.
“Today I eagerly reminded myself that plans are stupid.
“I figured it would be better just to smoke my little hidden stash and be rid of it.
“As soon as I was high again, a comfortably familiar sense of intense disappointment became the backdrop to all my thoughts, sort of like some old sad tune to whistle to.
“As I’ve waded through these years of recorded experience, I’ve come across entire populations of such completely vacuous lines as: ‘start this Saturday,’ ‘only use twice this week,’ ‘don’t get high until Wednesday’…
“How could I have never seen the desperation and anxiety lurking at the base of all my faux-rational self-questions: ‘What day should I stop?’ ‘When will I need weed again, and for what?’
“But the fearful part of me that wants to jump to all but uncertainty doesn’t matter anymore.
“It’s only a ghost.
“It has no power.
“Nothing can undo my progress.
“I can’t help but see this current setback as a mere downward blip on an upward arcing graph.
“Nothing can keep me from my values.
“If I need weed for something, I’ll know.
“Whatever the next cut-off ends up being for, it will happen when it happens.
“I think the main reason I naturally stopped getting high so much last November was my art form.
“Stepping into your art form is like turning on a faucet and watching the current and temperature rise—the current being the appeal of your values surpassing the pull of all that keeps you from them; and the temperature being how much more you enjoy the experience of your life.
“Using weed compulsively again, I feel like I’ve been making less progress in my art form than I was.
“Echoes of my former conscience scream at me about missed potential; but its voice is actually that of the fear that no longer exists.
“It only haunts in hopes of resurrecting forms of its old chains, prompting me as always to bind myself to some all new perfect change-all-on-day-one.
“Those worn-out shame-and-fear dynamics now seem utterly ridiculous, unhelpful, immature…
“Instead of trying to force myself to limit how much weed I’m using, I’m simply returning my focus to the values I was already being empowered by, such as my art form.”
A few weeks later, I got high and wrote:
“As I return to taking steps toward my priorities in sequence, my compulsion for weed loses more and more of its power.
“I knew it would because that’s just how it happened before.
“I’ve felt discouraged lately, as though I was having to relearn lessons I’d already learned over a year ago.
“But I had to see the same truths in a new light before I could arrive at what’s become an exact opposite paradigm shift in my thinking.
“When I was about nineteen, I smoked some weed in a forest one day and had several important revelations about how I wanted to live.
“Unfortunately, I concluded that being high meant I couldn’t possibly be realizing anything of value.
“Yes, your addictions, compulsions, and limitations hinder you from reaching your potential; but the idea that you can’t start pursuing your potential until you first plan your way out of being hindered is completely backwards.
“Just focus on the values you see already wanting to exist more through you.
“Even let the consequences of whatever holds you back make those values all the more obvious and appealing.
“I made all sorts of progress toward my values while still addicted to weed.
“In terms of my art form, I wrote about 200,000 words’ worth of high thoughts, which split to story outlines, thoughts about facing addiction, and ideas for other projects; I also wrote and edited another story I’m finishing, and outlined the next one to follow.”
Sometime later, I got high and wrote:
“Plans are only scratches fixed in moments for how to become what you think you should be.
“But you can’t know yourself by brainstorming.
“New habits always come slowly.
“Perspectives can’t really be decided upon.
“In the song, He Went to Paris, Jimmy Buffet sings of a young, ambitious man who sets out in life looking for answers to troubling questions.
“The lyrics imply that, through a lifetime of both magic and tragedy, the man eventually discovers answers that could never be reduced to words.
“When you prepare to share your real experience, you see exactly where you’re at in what’s truly a lifelong sequence.
“You’re left with no options but to continue moving forward.
“There’s no twelve-week plan, even if your next phase of self-management happens to last twelve weeks.
“There’s only now.
“For years, I felt bad and wanted to live better.
“I also felt tired and grumpy.
“I wanted to relax.
“The notion of not getting high felt gloomy.
“Since the change I kept avoiding felt more and more impossible, putting it off another day always seemed forgivable.
“But now I can’t ignore the fact that I’ve really only ever wanted what I’ve been saying all along.
“It feels like my story and journey actually began long ago: long before I started to see myself in control of my addiction . . . before The Test (when I saw how valuable my high experiences could be when I had them less often) . . . before the Ten Times Plan (when I first saw the power of my own cumulative assessment)…
“My journey began when I was born—when I began to be and become myself.
“Why jump to some plan for another ‘Day One’ when the real Day One was the day of your birth?
“Seeing your experience as you share over time causes what you’ve always wanted to permeate the workings of your current mind.
“It keeps you from being able to go on denying or delaying the life you want.
“I don’t believe anything can stop me now from experiencing more of those things I’ve really always imagined, wished for, and shared about.
“This is what I want.
“My name is Andrew Knuon Finn, and I’m a…
“I guess this is the only way I can really be a person.
“Who are you?
“The question isn’t: ‘How or when should you quit what you’re addicted to?’ The question is: ‘How can you come more to life?’
“My nightmare would be to go through life forever almost being myself.
“You can’t really be you if you keep putting yourself off.
“Growth is never easy.
“Everything grows toward something, and everything grows through something.
“You grow toward values, and you grow through limitations and other obstacles.
“Growing through your particular obstacles is what gives you the strength and character you need to live by your values.
“Plans fail when they face the reality of an integrated combination (a being) evolving and growing in time.
“Self-management succeeds where plans fail because self-management is living more and more as the person you’ve always wanted to be.
“Going public with your experience is breaking ground—when that person you’ve always wanted to be comes to life somewhere real in the world.
“I mentioned not believing in myself to do what I’ve never done before; but that’s actually ridiculous.
“Of course I’ve never done what I’ve never done before.
“No one’s ever done what they haven’t done yet, right?
“I don’t know everything, but I know I’m ready to break ground.
“It might sound like I keep repeating myself, but to me something obvious has changed.
Days later, I got high and wrote:
“This week, I recognized a familiar pattern: I saw myself broaching the digging-around-the-garage-floor-for-old-scraps-of-weed phase of my addiction.
“When I was a teenager, I once got so mad at weed that I made a big show of destroying all my paraphernalia, throwing it all out in a loud huff.
“Today I cleaned out the garage, throwing away old pipes and empty baggies and canisters.
“But I wasn’t angry at all.
“I was about to throw away a few scattered buds I’d found on the floor in corners; but I stopped and decided to save it for a friend.
“I feel like I should write that what I’m experiencing right now are my best worst highs of all time.
“What do I mean by that?
“Just as the fearful part of my mind that craves certainty and control has become but a powerless ghost, the highs I’ve been having lately are like the ghost of whatever I was chasing (and losing myself to) in addiction.
“These highs are the ghost of Devil’s Lettuce.
“I don’t feel angry or desperate, just over the chaos of always needing satisfaction.
“I’m done with not feeling able to relax while high, and with sneaking off to smoke in secret instead of allowing myself time to rest, think, create, and do all those other good things I know I’d much rather be doing.
“What does what you’re addicted to help you with?
“What do you love about it?
“I know how weed fits with my values at this point in my life.
“So these last compulsive highs really feel like the best of the worst.
“And I know they’re the last.
“They’ve confirmed everything I’ve felt before.
“You don’t ever have to be perfect to be ready.
“Thinking you do is as ridiculous as thinking you’ll never be able to do something just because you’ve never done it before.”
About a week later, I got high and wrote:
“I’ve found so much joy this week in waiting to get high until after I finish working on projects.
“Even my high time has been completely filled with useful activities.
“Two nights ago, I smoked a joint and designed pictures for my website.
“I had plenty of weed left last night, but was completely happy not to get high.
“I’ve never not used weed before if I’ve had it, which I’m sure has been part of what’s kept me from my goal of using only as needed.
“But that’s precisely the change I’m seeing in myself.
“That’s why I’m no longer overwhelmed by compulsions to plan and control.
“I can be around weed now and not jump to it.
“Yes : )
“My perspective on magic has also changed.
“Beyond just how special my high experiences can be when I wait for them, using only by choice frees me of the guilt I’d always feel (as soon as I got high compulsively) for doing what I’d told myself not to.
“In short: The words I felt compelled to write while high about why I shouldn’t get high so much have led me back to a place beyond words.
“When I consider the consequences of my addiction, lack of magic is perhaps one of the least important and most selfish to focus on.
“But the magical beauty of a special high motivates me to keep moving and growing toward balance and control.
“That way, I can maximize all my other more important values.
“Yes, all your goals might ultimately be at least somewhat selfish; but consider how selfish addiction makes you . . . and then not even for your benefit.
“During my years of addiction, I’d always just go on using all night once I started.
“Right now, I have a little bit of weed left, but I think I’ll go to bed early and smoke the rest tomorrow night.
“That will free up my lunchtime tomorrow to work on projects (instead of having to race to a dispensary like some whacked out pinball).
“Going to bed early instead of smoking the clump of weed in front of me would have been completely unheard of a year ago.”
I didn’t end up smoking the next night.
About five days later, I got high again, and wrote:
“I went to a dispensary today and didn’t use this coupon I had for a free gram.
“I knew I’d use it sometime in the future.
“Somehow that felt like the most natural decision to make, though one I never would have been able to make a year ago.
“How was I so sure I wouldn’t fall back to using compulsively again like all the other times?
“Tonight after smoking, I looked at the TV for a minute.
“I found I had no desire at all to watch anything.
“I only wanted to come do this.
“I also saw a new batch of my wife’s special diet ice creams in the freezer.
“The first thought that came to me was: ‘But I wouldn’t even consider it now…’”
Tomorrow: how going public begins from a completely selfish place, but the destination is one of unprecedented caring and character.