DAY 69 | Ghosts #3 (to relax and face)


Here are more of my high thoughts from the middle of last year:

“When I first started using medical weed, I’d get really paranoid at times.

“Fast, chaotic, troubling thoughts would flash out through my mind leaving trails of disturbing images.

“One day, I discovered the simple power of settling down instead of running around and being all anxious about whatever I was doing.

“I didn’t do anything specific or intentional to relax.

“I just sat still and got comfortable.

“It wasn’t that my irrational fears were answered one by one when I stopped moving.

“Rather, settling changed my state, and the paranoia left.

“It was easy.”

Another time, I got high and wrote:

“Honestly, nothing could make me as nervous as the situation I find myself in right now: I’m stuck high at work yet again with nowhere to go.

“Someone could walk in at any moment.

“This sucks.

“I need to get out of here.

“It feels like every day is an excuse for why I’m not quite doing what I know I should be yet.

“I repeat the same patterns over and over.

“All these scraps of recorded high thoughts seem so swollen now, like a mess jammed under a bed.

“It feels like it’s all about to burst out everywhere in explosions of unreached potential.

“I hate this so much.

“I hate being here right now.

“I hate being out with nothing to do.

“I hate driving around with nowhere to go, knowing I’m wasting my secret high time.

“Today I saw myself acting all tired, distant, and mean around my son.

“Poor kid.

“The last thing I want is for him to have to grow up seeing me like that.

“Though feeling responsible to others isn’t really a reliable source of personal accountability, I can say with full conviction that my son is my biggest motivation for wanting to change.

“When I first got my medical marijuana prescription back in February, 2011, I wrote this: ‘My son is my life project. That’s what real love would do. It has to be all about him.’

“He was two when I wrote that . . . then three . . . then four . . . then five . . . then six…

“After this, I’m with him.

“That’s it.

“To make our time together the best it could be is my most compelling, most important reason for wanting to change.”

When I next got high, I wrote:


“Have I honestly never realized that time, life, and experience are all the same thing?

“Your time is your life happening.

“Your experience is what your life is.

“The experience of addictions, compulsions, and limitations is the experience of your life and time being misspent and depleted.

“How can I relax and enjoy my experience if I feel like I’m wasting my time?

“How can I enjoy being high if all I’m thinking about is what I should be doing instead?

“A few days ago, I was on my way to the first rock concert I’d been to in years.

“Two of my favorite bands of all time were in town on tour together.

“Being high, I got lost a couple times trying to find the venue.

“I felt like my flaky, addicted state was literally keeping me from even reaching some of my biggest influences in life.

“When I’m not high these days, I’m not a very nice person to be around.

“I’m fixated only on how and when I can go do secret compulsive stuff.

“Then I sneak off, use some weed, and suddenly have a far deeper understanding of why I want to be friendly.

“In a way, relaxation can only come from having used time well.

“Only when you’ve done what you know you should can you comfortably take time to rest.

“I think I’ve just gotten used to the anxiety of knowing I’m not maximizing my time/experience/life after years of putting off plans while making excuses for giving in to compulsions ‘just a little more.’

“Following my convictions feels difficult and uncomfortable.

“I feel tired and always aware of so many other areas in which I’m still not measuring up.

“I want to strengthen and prepare myself; but how do I enjoy something difficult (but necessary) instead of falling to something easy (but destructive)?

“What I’ve come to see is that my long-embodied anxious state really does change once my values work themselves into my life enough.

“As your values establish themselves as ingrained components of your identity, you find yourself more and more able to relax and enjoy each moment.

“When you see your state improving, the obstacles you’ve yet to face appear to change as well.

“Addictions, compulsions, and limitations transform from malicious things that want to destroy you into the actual steps you take toward growth and achievement.

“Feelings of inadequacy morph into puzzles or challenges to solve so you can become even more efficient.

“The pain you feel changes from destructive to purposeful, like the pain of exercise rather than the pain of a wound.

“You always want to be moving forward faster.

“It’s paradoxical that the key is learning to relax—to relinquish all elements of force or pressure.

“Trust the process of going public with your experience as you see it working.

“Then you can relax in every moment of becoming who you want to be.

“During my years of addiction, I always felt like time was running out.

“Now I feel as though I’m much earlier in the game of life than I’d previously thought.

“I’m not old yet.

“I just want to enjoy and do what I love to do, and I want to do it as well as I can for as long as possible.

“In the gap between knowing who you want to be and being that person, change occurs whenever part of you reaches its own limit.

“The limit is your obstacle to grow through.

“Growth takes as long as it takes.

“You have to experience everything you experience in order to learn what you need to learn.

“You never stop learning; but you’re always right where you need to be.

“I feel like I can almost relate to Aaron Lewis’s lyrics from the Staind song, So Far Away, which say: ‘Now that we’re here, it’s so far away. All the struggle we thought was in vain. And all the mistakes, one life contained, they all finally start to go away. And now that we’re here, it’s so far away. I feel like I can face the day. And I can forgive, and I’m not ashamed to be the person that I am today.’

“I see a place like that looming just beyond another horizon.

“I’m close.”

A few days later, I got high again and wrote:

“I read a blog post by Seth Godin the other day, and decided to make it my desktop background.

“Seth’s timely words seemed to speak so directly to my current thoughts and circumstances.

“Here’s that entire post, called The Tension of Now:

“‘Later is the easiest way to relieve the tension that accompanies now. But later rarely leads to the action we seek and the change we need. When you encounter the tension of now, caused by the urgency of action, veer toward more tension, not less now.’

“When I saw the word ‘now’ repeated again at the end, something clicked.

“I had a sudden realization that seemed so obvious I laughed at myself for having ever missed it; it’s probably the clearest, simplest big picture summation of everything I’ve been telling myself all along about what my next step actually is: What I need to do NOW is to not buy anymore weed.

“That’s all.

“As soon as I write that, though, I hear a familiar slew of inward ghostly squeals like a herd of crazy pigs caught in a lightning storm.

“Their chaotic screeches all converge, demanding answers to anxious questions: ‘How long? How many weeks? Months? When will I need more? What will I need it for…?’

“I marvel at how freely I once would have leapt to fill in every detail, constructing diligent org charts and Venn diagrams (to throw on piles with the rest)—anything to appease my conscience while at the same time successfully putting off NOW for just another day.

“Just another day…

“Perhaps the silliest question I could ever ask myself is: ‘So, how exactly do I not buy weed?’

“My whole story comes together: So far, I’ve seen myself make right choices in moments based on my values, which is the basis of self-management.

“Not buying weed means truly facing my desire for what I’m addicted to; and facing desire is the culmination of self-management.

“So, ultimately what I’ve always had to learn to ‘do’ is . . . nothing.

“Does that mean instead of an action plan I need an inaction plan?

“But the idea of an inaction plan is ridiculous.

“When I starved myself back in 2010, all I ‘did’ was stay still and dream about food.

“Eventually, even the dreaming stopped.

“Facing desire has always been the conclusion.

“That’s what I’ve really been telling myself all along; it just took this long for me to realize.

“Here’s a silly acrostic for the word R-I-S-E that might make facing desire and self-management a little clearer:

R—Record: Put your experience together to share however is most natural for you.

“This makes it more and more difficult to ignore what you want and what must come next (now).

I—Immediate: Self-management comes from valuing your experience enough to make better decisions in the moment (now).

S—Success: Consider your history and what you’ve found works best for you in terms of working toward various goals.

“Where have you already been successful?

“What values do you see already working themselves out through your life (now)?

E—Enjoy: Relax.

“Don’t plan.

“Trust the process.

“Face your addiction while doing whatever comes next in your sequence (now).

“I don’t want the consequences of my addiction anymore.

“I want poetry, motion, beauty, visions…

“I want to get the most out of life I can get, and to be the best version of myself I can be.

“Going public with my experience has enabled me to believe in myself again.

“An old fire, long dormant, has been swept back ablaze in flames of passion and confidence I’d long since gotten used to living without.

“I see depletion, anxiety, and compromise falling away as I come back to life.

“I see good again…

“An anxious voice, now detached, slithers up beside me to softly whisper: ‘What if you’re not actually any better once you’re in control?’

“But I want to see.

“I want to see what I can be.

“The dull hiss responds: ‘But you might miss important high thoughts if you stop. What if you can never come back? What if the magic is gone forever?’

“Then I’ll find a new way to be.

“The voice continues, dancing in careful arcs between strings of obvious momentary excuses for why the unplannable uncertainty of facing desire can’t really be a conclusion.

“I hear myself say only: ‘Don’t buy weed, and watch what happens.’

“The voice’s final quiet words ring low: ‘How many times have you told yourself not to buy weed before? How will tomorrow be any different?’

I don’t know.”

It wasn’t different . . . but it was.

Weeks or months later, I found a tiny amount of weed in the garage.

I smoked, and wrote only:

“My life is beautiful.”

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