From grade 8 at 15 years old, peaking sophomore year in high school at 17 years old, and slowly dwindling off and on till freshman year in college, I was a stoner: big hair, half-ass development in anything I tried, barely seen by the public, and high in school and every free hour of the day.
My favorite place to be when I was stoned was in the “black hole” of my friends’ houses that we would smoke at. We would watch movies, play video games (favoring guitar hero), listen or play music, and skateboard. Looking back at these atmospheres, they were controlled, safe, and entertaining. They felt safe from teenage embarrassment in school situations, police situations, and our parent’s judgments and scoldings from our drug use. This umbrella of safety gave us the time and energy to entertain ourselves with whatever we had. The best part was that weed made the entertainment more joyful because of the effect it has on the mind. Weed clouds whatever else is going on inside and makes whatever is going on, stimulating our mind, conflict free.
To this day, I still have nostalgia thoughts of going back to being a vegetable. I have thoughts of going back to the “black hole” and playing video games for hours and hours with bong rip after bong rip trying to stay high without coming down. Honestly though, what I miss about the event is that short, quick spurt of joy that I can still find with vegging on the couch and watching a marathon of a TV series or getting drunk at any sort of event. The issue with the good feeling is that it only lasts until the high is over and a real need (usually external because most people can “rationalize” away the internal needs), like eating or going to work or school, comes up and that joy (like any other feeling we have) goes away.
This is just like sex for me (and most men AND women I have met throughout my life-span). When libido thoughts arise in my head, I feel the huge desire to get that short, quick spurt of good feeling and try to pursue it. This will happen even though my innocence is gone and I know that the aftermath of the experience is a void inside that is still unfulfilled. I then look to fill that void up with more good feeling events, since in that moment of feeling I feel complete. The point ultimately boils down to the fact that these “good feeling events” are ADDICTING from the aftermath of lack of fulfillment.
Now, if I just understand and be aware that these “good feeling events” will not last for more than a few hours in my entire life span, then maybe I would spend my time filling my needs, potentials, and responsibilities that would consequence in satisfaction and growth lasting up to the moment of my last breath on my death bed; unlike physical attractiveness, sex, and short spurts of joy that will quickly float away as I am closer and closer to death.
If we are focused all too seriously on the external control of our pleasures and pains, and if we entertain away our internal minds and emotions with thoughtless TV shows, movies, small-talk, and drinking/smoking/mind-numbing substance, then as we are in our last years of life (since we are all going to die at some point) we will be filled with loss and terror. Loss because our physical looks will fade and our feelings from events in the past will leave like they always have throughout our lives. Terror because our lives were spent entertaining our thoughts and not understanding who we really are, can be, and change to be; who others are, can be, and change to be; what the world is, can be, and how it changes; and now, we are confused and scared because we thought we were filling that void all along with those “fun” experiences, and will be saying, “Hold up, I am not done yet!”
What we can see though, is that clarity from understanding ourselves, other people, and everything the world offers will help us observe what we need to do to make a lasting impression in our own lives and in the world outside of our heads, and consequently filling this void. This growth internally and externally in our lives is what is going to be there when we die, not our looks, feelings from the sex we had in the last year, or the black-out drunken nights we had with our friends in college. Those feeling oriented events, just like the feeling we get when we have the flu, will soon pass and create a void that we have habitually tried to fill with more and more entertainment. If this is the unconscious and addictive path that we are going to follow the rest of our life-span, then when we die the void will still be there, just like it has been this whole time.
Jim James and My Morning Jacket say parts of this in “Outta My System:
“I had to get it out and make the deals and learn to know how it feels, but that it ain’t real. Outta my system, wooaah, outta my system.”
“If you don’t live now, you ain’t even trying, and then your on your way to a mid-life crisis, livin’ it out anyway you feel. You can feel it in your bones, but try to deny it. Wipe it off your face, but your eyes won’t hide it. You knew it all along, but never made it clear.”