Thursday, March 27, 2014

overthinking overfeeling

A cliche question, but what is it to be in love?  I understand caring about someone, I understand respect, I understand sentimentality, I understand attraction, I understand being a team, working towards a better life together.

I understand all these different components, but falling in love?  Being in love?  Terms for chemistry in our own minds.  Related to all of those other factors, but still just a chemical state.  An emotion that also depends on our own neurology, internal and external circumstances, and our capacity to feel such a thing.

Like taking an opiate, a rush that won't affect everyone the same way.  A rush that tends to be fleeting, in most people.  Something that probably shouldn't be pursued too directly, because it's just the byproduct of all these other factors.  It's a juvenile fantasy to think it's going to play out like a faerie tale, and might last forever, if only you could meet that perfectly fitting someone.

Like a junkie always chasing after the high of their initial experiences, a person only sabotages their relationships, if they insist on demanding that high.  Imagining the wide open possibilities, jumping from relationship to relationship.. of course this will lift your spirits for a while, but where does it lead?  It's an immature pursuit of novelty that's just going to leave us burned out and lonely.

If you care about someone, respect them, appreciate who they are, have fond memories together, but find romance itself fading, maybe it's because you're not doing it right.  Maybe it's something to be worked on, together.

Not something to be thrown away, to go looking for someone else, someone you don't know, someone who will be new and interesting for a while, only to leave you feeling the same way eventually.  Our emotions will still play out the same ways, as long as we don't understand ourselves, and the role we play in the process.  In the end, you will still be you.

As stubborn as you'll always be.  I'll miss you.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

addiction isn't about addiction

I've been reading a lot about drugs and addiction lately, for reasons I can't get into, but I've been finding it fascinating how much the mythology diverges from the reality of these issues.

How it's really all about underlying or co-occurring psychological factors, and not the effects of the drugs themselves.  How the vast majority of people who try even the most addictive of them, don't get addicted - but this isn't to downplay the severity of the addiction problem.  It's about understanding it better, to get to actually dealing with it, more effectively.

Even the biggest bogeymen of the drug world, like meth and crack, not even as harmful or disruptive to a person's life as alcohol.  We hear all these crazy anecdotes of the damage they do, but the reality is that these are worst case scenarios, involving people with severe problems, with only minimal aggravation caused by the drugs they take.

 Examples like "meth mouth" where the explanation is that meth dries out the mouth so much, it rots the teeth.  Well, lots of things cause dry mouth, but turns out, only people with longstanding abysmal oral hygiene get meth mouth.  Just so happens that meth is especially popular among impoverished cultures that tend to have abysmal oral hygiene and no dental care.  People with no scientific evidence then conflate the correlation with causation, and the anti-drug crusade latches onto anything they can, to drum up fear and hysteria.  Don't try it, not even once!  It's just an unremarkable amphetamine, not unlike what's prescribed to way too many children, for ADHD.  Addictive, with some side-effects people need to be careful of, but nothing like what the anti-drug crusaders would have us believe.

Does this mean I'm just rationalizing my longing to try meth?  First of all, fuck you for even thinking that.  I'm trying to have an intelligent conversation here.  Secondly, no, but not because I'm afraid to touch the stuff.  Not after everything I've read.  It has more to do with my lack of interest in amphetamines.  They just don't do much for me, and there's no reason to think meth would be much different than the ones I have tried.  What's interesting though is that before I read all this, I thought otherwise.  The effects tend to be so overblown, I thought the drug must be amazing in some way.  I was far more likely to try it, when I bought into the nonsense about what an epidemic it was.

Even heroin.  It's just a painkiller.  A variant of morphine, that's still basically just morphine.  Dangerous, certainly.  Painkillers can be deadly, 40,000 Americans die from prescription painkillers every year.. but so awesome that one taste, and you'll be a slave to it until it kills you?  No, that's not any more true than it is of morphine.  Again, not my cup of tea, but I used to think it must be pretty freakin amazing to effect people like that.  Some people do seem to enjoy these types of narcotics way too much, and they can be highly prone to addiction, but exaggerating those dangers isn't helping anyone.  It just creates mass confusion, where people make these problems worse, by trying to solve them in hysterical destructive ways.

The real epidemic in this country has more to do with mental health.  People are struggling, people are isolated, lonely, hopeless, aimless.  People need healthy ways to get out and be around other people, in a society that keeps moving further away from any sense of open welcoming community.  People don't like to talk about it or admit it, because we're taught that needing that sort of help is even more shameful than being an addict.. and what sort of help are we going to be offered?  A support group?  Therapy?  No, people need motivating options that help them feel normal, happy, productive.  Not marginalized.

I'm talking about the every day normal mental health issues, where people need a sense of purpose and socialization, where psychological stabilization is more of a side effect.  The overtly direct approach marginalizes the situation.  It can be helpful for some, but it's acutely limited, and unlikely to work in the long term, when there's a more serious void in a person's life.

We need more than that, but this is why I start to flounder.  I don't know what to do about it, specifically.  My own problems have a whole lot to do with a lifelong case of being especially terrible at this sort of thing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The 5th Precept

In Buddhism, there are five basic precepts, and while I balk at the mere concept of religious rules, especially given how obsolete they tend to be, I understand they're only intended as guidelines to practice. 

That is, they are not laws, there are no arbitrary make-believe penalties, but they tend to be considered fundamental advice, to making progress.  They're vows to abstain from violence, thievery, sexual excess, dishonesty, and lastly, from alcohol - worded quite specifically, fermented drink that impedes mindfulness.

I find it interesting, the way this fifth rule has changed, given cultural influence. Generally assumed that it's intended to refer to all intoxicants, all recreational drugs or "mind altering" substances. I've read that the wording is not at all ambiguous - of course that's what it means. Except yeah, it's not ambiguous, and that's not what it says.

Is it thought that they had no other drugs in those days?
Bhang has been used for well over a thousand years in India. Possibly well before Buddhism came along. Yet the flowers that expand mindfulness were never mentioned. Nor even any broad language that might include them. So why do we assume this is what was intended?

It wasn't until 1961, that the US manipulated the UN into pressuring the rest of the world into prohibition. India was given 25 years to rein in it's cannabis use, despite the fact that it was never a problem to begin with. This was the result of worldwide strongarming and propaganda. A worldwide failure, if you assume the real intent ever had anything to do with reducing drug use.

Brutally successful, if it had more to do with controlling markets - with the added bonus of being an effectively arbitrary tool for shackling and disenfranchising minority populations.  The US, the land of the free, has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Considering prison labor and the private prisons that make more money, the more packed full of non-violent drug offenders they are, it starts to look an awful lot like we've insidiously managed to bring back a form of slavery.

The Drug War  is an atrocity that history will not look well on.  It's gone on for so long, that it's become deeply entrenched in cultures around the world, yielding policies that serve only to create needless bloodshed and ruin millions of lives. Despite a marked absence of historical complaints or condemnations of this plant that grows naturally all over the planet, these days it pretty much goes without question, that cannabis is just an intoxicant. Even as people finally start to lean towards more tolerant views.

People make these assumptions, based on our modern culture of puritanical intolerance. More likely, it never occurred to those early Buddhists that other drugs would be heedlessly tossed into the same category as as a substance that does nothing but dull the mind and senses, while both poisoning and addicting the body. Drugs affect us in so many very different ways. It's absurd to suggest that they all impede mindfulness, just as alcohol does.

Not only that, but the very idea that the mind is at its best in its unaltered state is actually antithetical to Buddhism. This ridiculously broad condemnation of drug use is based on an imagined dichotomy between different ways that everything in life intersects to form the illusion of self.  It's based on categories of experience that have nothing to do with Buddhism, just the global influence of America's asinine drug war. The only untainted self is no-self.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

To hell with SWIM, this is me

Until recently, I've been smoking marijuana pretty regularly.  Not a lot of it at once, but just about every day ..except, I've run out, and I have no way of getting more.

I've been rationing it out for quite a while now, hence the decline in my blog quality and quantity.  Ever since the FBI's goons pillaged Silk Road.  Getting it any other way's been exceptionally difficult, because I've always been a social basket-case.  I don't know anyone, I don't have any friends, let alone know any dealers.

Late September of last year, the last time I was able to make a purchase decision, I made a bad choice too, adding insult to injury.  An indica strain, way too much CBD for my taste.   Best known for being the part which makes a user sleepy.  Also, may be the part that works for some types of pain.  At least, that's something I read recently, but I don't know.  It definitely makes me sleepy, though.  Best sleeping medication ever, but I have enough trouble staying awake, as it is.

Which is why I prefer a good sativa.  Higher in THC.  Known for being uplifting and boosting creativity.  Sativa strains tend to yield a more cerebral high, while the CBD still works in combination, to ease my obsessive anxiety.  Works better than any psychiatric prescription meds I've ever tried.  Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Klonopin, Ritalin, Effexor, Zoloft, Strattera..  I'm probably forgetting a few, but don't tell me I haven't tried.  Can't help but wonder if pharmaceutical companies fight tooth and nail to preserve prohibition, because the alternatives they peddle are garbage.

A single hit, though, and I can pull myself together, I can function, it helps me enjoy this seriously fucked up broken life I'm leading.  I can focus, for fuck's sake.  I can read the news, and actually pay attention to what it says.  Suffice to say, I normally have a huge problem with that.  If marijuana's a gateway drug, it's only been a gateway to me becoming a news junkie.

How is this anything like how weed's portrayed, though?  It just makes people stupid, forgetful. At best, maybe silly.  Right?  We've all tried it, and that about sums it up, kinda sorta, well enough?  That may be a negative way to spin it, but it's not entirely wrong?  There's still an argument to be made for wondering what's so bad about indulging in something like that, given all the time most people spend watching television, drinking booze, and everything else that makes them the rocket scientists they are.. but for me, there's more to it than that.

Seems like most people just get bored of it after a while, after they build a bit of a tolerance, they lose interest.  Most casual smokers I've known have gone this way.  Maybe their neurochemistry is such that it's not all the beneficial.  Whatever the reason, they move on.  They assume this is all cannabis does for anyone.  Maybe if it's ever legalized and properly studied, they'll understand why.  I'm going to guess it involves something a lot more interesting than mere tolerance, because this adjustment affects other people quite differently.

Some of its effects are definitely diminished after a while.  I haven't literally rolled around on the floor laughing in years.  I don't forget what I was saying, every other sentence.  As a matter of fact, I think I actually forget what I'm saying decidedly less than when I'm sober.  What I'm saying doesn't seem quite so likely to be the gibberish anymore, either - but you tell me;  I've just about typed this entire blog, all potted up on weed.  Because oh yeah, it also helps me feel motivated to do this sort of thing.  Create.  Express myself.  Not feel quite so paralyzed by whatever the hell's been paralyzing me, my whole life.

Must be a vicious circle then, huh?  Except no, I just started a few years ago.  I went the first thirty, pretty much without touching the stuff.  I tried it, but could literally count the number of times over two decades, on one hand.   Largely because I bought at least some of the bullshit about it.  I didn't condemn it anymore, the way I did as an obnoxiously straight-edge teenager, but it still struck me as somehow beneath me.  Something that rots your brain, like television or booze.  An unhealthy vice that was better avoided.

I'm still not big on that sort of thing. Over the years, I've eventually tried a lot of drugs, not the least of which being liquor, but I'm just not an addictive personality.  Adderal to Dilaudid, Xanax to Psilocybin, they all have their place, but I certainly don't want to be using them every day.

Marijuana, though.  Yes, more like coffee, my quality of life is dramatically improved by it.  Every day. I'd love to be the sort of person who has no use for caffeine, but I'm just not.  I've spent enough years trying to be, but come on.  I'm sick to death of being exhausted and miserable all the time.  I'm doing the best I can.  I'm being entirely judicious about it.  I am not diminishing myself, impairing myself, or even using it as an escape.  This is not like alcohol or opiates, it's not about numbing myself, or zoning out.  This is something that really helps me.  A crutch of sorts, but sometimes the wisest thing is to accept that maybe a crutch isn't really such a bad idea.

What happens when I stop using this dangerous schedule 1 substance, though?  When I run out?  Nothing.  It's depressing, but nothing.  I've smoked almost every day, for over a year, but abruptly stop cold turkey.. and no withdrawal whatsoever.  Do you have any idea how much it sucks if I attempt to stop drinking coffee like that?

I hate all the stigma, the idea that I should keep all this a secret, because some people won't understand.  Some might just think I'm some sort of idiot stoner.  I'm tired of it, but it's certainly never going to change, if people stay quiet about it.  Carl Sagan wrote about his love of cannabis, back in 1969, but under a pseudonym, lest it tank his career - regular use certainly didn't.  Good thing I don't have any sort of career to worry about, but tell me again how it's just a retard pill..

I'm even more tired of it being illegal, of course.  It's such bullshit.  In so many ways, that it's illegal is just nothing but pure evil bullshit.. but there's already plenty of info all over the internet about that.  I'm just trying to express what it does for me, personally.  As someone who may not technically have a medicinal need for it, but considers it pretty damn important, just the same.