Dear Mom and Dad… by Rob
From college forward, Rob reevokes the familiar themes of aural and visual enhancement and leads us into a desert journey, where we share with friends moments of connectedness with the wild places, recognizing then the necessity for harmony with our fragile environment.
Dear Mom and Dad,
The publication of a number of articles I’ve written recently regarding the medical marijuana movement and other cannabis issues will cause you to wonder if I smoke pot, a drug that you and millions of other Americans consider harmful, destructive, and addictive. These myths about marijuana are founded on the uninformed, prejudiced opinions of the controlling forces of the status quo and do not reflect at all my own positive experiences with pot.
I know this may upset or shock you both, but I have been smoking pot recreationally for over three years. In this letter, I intend to explain my reasons for using marijuana in order to dispel various myths about the drug and help you place this natural pharmacological wonder into proper perspective.
I first became curious to try pot during those bodacious days known as college. In my reading during my junior year, I came across a number of fictional and technical accounts of marijuana which indicated that pot was quite innocuous compared to hard drugs and alcohol; personal accounts from pot-smoking friends and acquaintances confirmed the idea that pot, though powerful, has little deleterious effect and actually can help enhance the balance of mind, body, and spirit.
A few days after expressing a desire to try pot, a friend invited me to his apartment in the city to smoke with him and a couple of friends. Four of us gathered, playing a dice game which entitled each player to one bong hit (a drag from a water pipe) for every 100 points scored. Graced with beginner’s luck, I won the game by being the first player to score 1,000 points. I was also fortunate in that I got high that night, as many reefer virgins report not getting high the first time they smoke.
An amazing understanding came to me while walking home. As I strolled along the tree-lined sidewalk carrying on a conversation with a friend, I felt an awkward stiffness in my stride, realizing with each step a timid rigidity. I have since altered my manner of walking to a confident, open gait of long strides and silent footsteps. Getting high that night allowed me to comprehend and appreciate a better way of communicating with my physical self, foreshadowing future discoveries of more enriching approaches to life, the next of which occurred weeks later in my apartment. My roommates at the time didn’t get high, so after they went to bed I would smoke outside on my fire escape, then retire to the living room to listen to music, mostly the rock’n’roll of your generation -pleasurable to listen to while high and purported to be partially inspired by the artists’ marijuana use. For as Woody Allen remarked in Annie Hall, “marijuana is the illusion that makes a white woman more like Billie Holiday.”
One night I lay in the dark listening to the Beatles’ “Abbey Road”. While I was familiar with the album from listening to your vinyl copy as a teenager and my own CD, I had never before experienced its depth of sound and richness of rhythm. Smoking pot increases my aural awareness, helping me to find rhythmic order in complex musical forms and ambient sounds whereas my otherwise tone- deaf ears would hear only the music’s silhouette, devoid of its melody. Pot eases the psychic trauma of never becoming a musical performer by helping me to relate to the music as a careful listener.
Pot’s enhancement of my rhythmic awareness also extends to poetry. After I write a poem I revise it numerous times, then follow the example of comedian George Carlin by reading the poem again after getting high to “punch it up”, carefully perusing the words to ensure that each syllable is consistent with the poem’s intended meaning and construction.
Although I often smoke alone when pursuing introspective brainstorming or when revising prose and poetry, I enjoy smoking the most when in the company of good friends. The social aspects of pot smoking often enhance the drug’s personal effects in a culture of sharing.
One night toward the end of my undergraduate days, I went to a bar alone and bumped into a couple of guys I met through an ex-girlfriend. Though we didn’t know each other all that well, they invited me to come to an after-hours party at a restaurant to celebrate the birthday of a girl they knew who worked there. I went, imbibed in a few local microbrews, and had a good time. Afterward, the party moved to someone’s house where two joints were passed around. After a long night of beers and bars, it was relaxing and comforting to be part of a circle of guys and girls sitting on the floor toking a joint and passing it along. I recognized a feeling of peace emanating from our circle that night, a pleasant harmony which has been repeated when smoking with other friends. An instance of this sort occurred during the time I lived at the Grand Canyon. Because marijuana is outlawed by our current system, moving to a place where you don’t know anyone presents challenges to scoring weed. Once when two friends and I secured a reliable connection, we each purchased one ounce – a fairly sizable amount. We three smokers, each with plastic baggy full of pot in hand, smiled goofily at each other until we simultaneously decided it was time to sample the goods. Each of us was more than happy to donate some of his fresh green tea to roll a joint for everyone, exemplifying that hallowed stereotype of indigenous peoples passing peace pipes in a spirit of good will.
Besides the community of kind brothers and sisters I encountered in Arizona’s high desert, I also discovered its dramatic natural landscape. The raw beauty of that rugged terrain is something Teddy Roosevelt believed every American should see. I not only lived in this inspiring place, I also explored its depths through countless hours of hiking. I would often smoke pot during breaks on the trail to increase my awareness of the surrounding environment, attempting to reestablish the connection humans once held with nature before we forgot how to live in ecological harmony.
More than once, a marijuana-fueled midnight stroll with a friend mutated into a marathon walk along the canyon’s edge until dawn. The darkness of the void, enhanced by night’s serenity and the effects of the drug, emphasized for me the inexplicable and humbling power of nature’s cycle, allowing me to fathom how unnoticed minuscule erosion over a period of millennia can cut such a monstrous gorge in ancient rock.
Days before I left the Grand Canyon for further exploration of the American West, I set out on a three-day hiking excursion that would lead from the canyon’s rim, across its desert trails, down to the mighty river below, and back up to the rim. On the first night of the trip, I set up camp in a sandy, rocky flat surrounded by exotic desert flora. After pitching my tent, eating dinner and washing up. I prepared for the lonesome starlit night by packing my pipe. To light it, I used matches I’d borrowed earlier that day from two college students hiking out on the same trail.
The matchbook looked familiar. It bore the insignia of my favorite smoke shop in Flagstaff, making me notice the beauty of coincidence and the generosity of my fellow hiker-smoker compadres, for even in this perilous desert I was connected to the cannabis community I’ve joined. Pondering the charity of my borrowed matches, I sparked my pipe, inhaled, then filled my tent with sweet smoke. I watched insects outside through the screen window in my tent, appreciating the delicate balance of desert life, fortunate to experience its continued survival.
Months later, high atop Mt. Meldron in Yellowstone National Park at an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level, I shared a joint with two fellow hikers, gazing down at a pristine alpine lake surrounded by millions of acres of undeveloped wilderness. It was an awe-inspiring moment of tranquility, a moment in which I understood the utter necessity of protecting wild places and an example of pot helping me to climb new heights to see the big picture of environmental conservation and the absolute need for all the earth’s inhabitants to reestablish a harmonious relationship with the land.
I carried this ecological commitment with me when I moved back to the city; I was happy to find this attitude shared by our cousin who returned from school down south. When he and I hang out, we usually hit a bar or sit around and smoke pot, but this isn’t the sort of abusive partying one might expect.
When Cousin and I smoke together, we exchange ideas in a productive and honest way. It’s been during our smoke sessions that we’ve drawn up plans for country houses in the mountains, counseled each other’s romantic quandaries, and talked frankly and positively about the family’s idiosyncratic functionality and unabashed comedy.
As you can see, pot has played a positive role in my life and has been an avenue to uncovering my intellectual capacity, my artistic imagination, my self-image, and my relationships with people and the world around me. I wish this testimony to serve as an invitation to critically examine marijuana, its documented benefits, and its apocryphal mythology. An open mind, I’ve learned, is one’s most valuable organ and the most reliable defense against the evils of ignorance.
Peace and love,