Here are my last recorded high thoughts from the time of my marijuana addiction:
“One night back in college, I found some weed I’d forgotten about in an old guitar case. I just remember it making the drive home so much fun.
“But I’m struck by how long ago that night was—about four years now.
“What have I been doing since then?
“Well, for the first two years of my addiction (2011-2012), I mostly just collected ideas, made art, and generally tried to have as much fun as possible.
“By the end of 2012, I was bored with fun. I was starting to see more value in the ideas I’d been recording.
“For the second two years of my addiction (2013-2014), I mostly worked on developing those ideas.
“One of those ideas became this story.
“Writing and sharing this story is what eventually empowered me to face and overcome my addiction.
“I began this year (2015) almost completely in control…
“So, what have I learned over these last five years?
“It seems the state you’re in mostly determines your experience and thoughts. But behavior is perpetual; how you act both results from and contributes to your state.
“My addicted state was unbearable, so I spent years desperately searching for the right behaviors to change it.
“After almost half a decade, I realized the right ‘behavior’ for me had really always been to simply to not buy weed (for now). It took me that long to grasp that learning to face my desire for weed indefinitely was at the core of all my convictions.
“I first had to see that balance and control were even possible. Then I had to grow beyond my anxious need to understand and plan exactly how my journey would go.
“Again, the concept of facing desire is not something you can learn in four easy steps (despite the cheesy acrostic I half-jokingly shared yesterday). Facing desire is the culmination of self-management, which is learning to value your experience, which is maturity, which is your perspective changing as you grow through obstacles, which takes as long as it takes.
“When you can face your desire for anything, all questions of exactly how or how long become ironic and meaningless.
“When you can live completely in the current moment, all notions of manufactured futures based on skewed interpretations of fading pasts become textbook descriptions of the beauty of birdsong or arguments with rocks.
“How naïve I feel to have missed for so long the clear intent behind every plan, warning, final blowout…
“I thought the plan was always to change just after…
“The reality of time and life is that all you really have to work with in each moment are the freedoms you want, the values you prize, and the ways you currently believe your experience can be made best (and best be made use of) as it occurs.
“Time never stops, and you always have less of it left than you did.
“But you’re never perfect.
“When you can manage yourself and face desire, you never forget that you want what you’ve always wanted. You know that nothing you do or choose can ultimately keep you from being and becoming who you want to be.
“In every moment of decision, one value is chosen over another. Since you’re never perfect (and since you’ll never stop growing), I’d encourage you to try to enjoy whatever you end up choosing as much as you can. I see no reason for letting guilt (believing you could do better) be spun into shame (believing you’re the worst).
“Why not let yourself enjoy your experience as much as possible, even when you’ve chosen something you’ve told yourself to avoid?
“Just let the potential for an even better experience naturally motivate you to make better choices as you continue moving forward.
“You still exist only in the current moment after you’ve done what you’ve told yourself not to. You still want the same things you did before.
“This might sound weird, but my experience of addiction became sort of like a string of the best bad orgasms of all time.
“What do I mean by that?
“Whether I was getting high all day, forcing entertainment, distracting myself from silence, or putting off goals, I was making immature choices for short-term values because I didn’t believe in myself to choose long-term ones.
“But as I prepared to share my experience, I couldn’t keep ignoring what a good high could be. I began to have an inescapable sense of what stillness, and waiting, and time spent developing my potential could mean.
“Each misspent high or compulsive retreat felt like rushing into, and just missing, the full pleasure of an orgasm (while at the same time knowing I’m longer young enough to have plenty left to spare).”
The next day, I got high again and wrote:
“So, here we are at DAY 70 of my conversation with my high self.
“Am I still hearing echoes of those same desperate voices begging for specifics?
“When, how, where, why…?
“Imagine an amnesiac lawyer hearing a standup comedy routine and being certain it’s important testimony in a high profile case.
“Why argue with the inconvincible? Such can only be smiled at, hugged, and wished well from as close as they’ll allow.
“The frantic questions I’ve always heard come from every random direction except for one: No direction at all.
“Here . . . now . . . because…
“The focus shifts yet again, and I laugh at myself once more. But I’m not mocking. I love myself now.
“I’ve become a real person in the world.
“I’ve been kept from being me for long enough. The air has now been seeped from absolutely everywhere I might have once been able to comfortably stop living.
“What, after all, has this whole story really been about?
“While feeling out of control and stuck trying to make sense of ironic questions, I watched my state deteriorate.
“I also got so worried thinking about how bad, strange, ugly, and messed up my life must have looked to everyone else.
“People don’t seem to tell you exactly what they see when they look at you, do they?
“So I got used to voices that screamed at me to fix the blame for my anxious, helpless state on both myself and weed.
“But was it weed that made me feel so out of control, ugly, and uptight?
“I have a good friend I don’t see that often. One of the main reasons I don’t call or write to him more is I’d feel like I had to lie in order to impress him—like I’d have nothing honest to share that would be worth talking about.
“Was it weed that made me feel that way—ashamed of who I was?
“No. The anxiety, the voices, the shame . . . it all came from the same place: from seeing my addiction keeping me from being who I knew I could be, and from feeling powerless to change as time kept slipping by.
“The confusion I’ve felt all along is gone. Even the ghosts of anxieties past have ceased their whiney haunting. They’ve now been thoroughly cast out and run off.
“I see exactly where all notions about my life and state are coming from.
“Beneath it all, I see a life fighting for itself.
“Your best self is more powerful than whatever might try to keep you from it.
“This is your life. How to live the life you want is actually so simple you never need be told.
“So, that’s it. Time is happening, which means there’s no big goodbye.
“There’s no perfect moment or circumstance to force yourself to be something new.
“No one will tell you what they see when they look at you. But what do you see?”
P.S. Just something cool I thought I’d share here at the end: The last time I smoked weed during the period of my addiction, I happened to use only a single piece of paper and the top of a plastic bottle as a pipe. Somehow I didn’t melt the plastic or burn the paper at all.