Living Life as a Human Being by Mr. O.
High in the Psychesphere and What it is that Gets Me Here
These rare reflections by a police officer provide insights into modern ritual of use involving music and the spoken word as adjuncts to the experience itself, and suggests that skill in marihuana use may develop the promise of this special tool. Surprising and delightful, it provides a fresh perspective on the local constabulary.
“I am a 25-year-old male living in a large city of the United States. I’ve been using marijuana casually for about 8 years, and in the past 4 years the experience has taken on increased significance to my life. I consider marijuana use to be an important aid in my spiritual/psychological development – a journey of which I greatly value. It’s unfortunate that my employer doesn’t approve of this, for I work for the city police department.”
I love being a stoner. Oh, how I would thoroughly enjoy a life of minimal responsibility. Living in someone’s basement, waking up at noon, sparking up, watching “Gilligan’s Island”, and maybe working part time at a convenience store. But smoking a lot of marijuana has, in fact, not succeeded in enabling me to be content with a lifestyle of adolescent oblivion. Laughing my way through those “Gilligan’s Island” episodes while taking bong hits sure is a lot of fun, but things start to change as my mind becomes engaged in the vast array before it. The hysterics shift to thoughtful analysis of the show (often begetting more hysterics). Then thoughts on other matters come about, from philosophic, to cultural, political, personal, cosmic, and spiritual. I take pen to paper and write with great fluency and at great length, unlike anything I’m able to do while not high on marijuana. Like others who subsequently read what they’ve written while high, I have found my thoughts to meander and traverse paths that they would not have followed otherwise. This isn’t to say that the ideas don’t hold up upon “sober” reexamination, rather that they come from a different but entirely valid point of reference. It’s as if we have this filtering mechanism that dissuades our normal mindset from reaching into territory that it deems not relevant to its proximate physical circumstances and inclination toward normality. With marijuana as a tool, I have learned to lift this veil and allow my mental functions to operate somewhat independently of the stifling influence of our social consensus reality. What a wonderful gift it is to be able to take a step up and perceive from a higher perspective.
However, such cognitive enhancement does not come about without effort. I find the best analogy for marijuana is that of a tool with which, in order to achieve proficiency, one must develop skill. My early experiences of smoking marijuana were that of being presented with an experience of limited potential, for I would just feel pleasantly light-headed. It took a great deal of experimentation to realize that with this hammer I could do more than randomly pound in nails. I could actually build something. Or that given this shovel, I could do more than hold it, I could actually take it by the handle and do some digging and uncover buried treasure. Or given this spectrometer, I could…do spectroscopy.
Getting high continues to be a learning process that is complemented by other means of study and development. As such, I think it was no coincidence that my marijuana experiences became significantly more profound around the same time I was discovering psilocybin mushrooms, meditation, yoga, and an overall increased interest in academic studies. In fact, my grades in college actually improved in correlation with my use of marijuana. I don’t mean to imply that I found it useful to be high when I took exams or wrote research papers, but rather being high had the carryover effect of strengthening my capacity to concentrate and fostering my interest in the subject at hand. By no means has marijuana ever been a “problem drug” for me, but rather one that aids my overall sense of balance and peace of being, something that reinforces holistic healthy living and an active engagement in the world. As Abbie Hoffman said, “I experimented with drugs in college, and the experiment was a great success!” The success of marijuana for me is not in that it offers an “escape” but rather that it provides a balance to my job responsibilities and the mindset that is required of being a police officer. The great amount of practical, political, legalistic “thinking in the box”, and the hyper-alertness to my physical surroundings that is the nature of police work would be destructive to my mind and body if I didn’t let go of it when I came home. Marijuana consistently provides an opportunity for my mind to relax and operate in ways that it is deprived of during the course of my work. Additionally, I have sometimes been prone to a moderate degree of insomnia, which is alleviated by marijuana more effectively and without the morning after sense of feeling “drugged” (isn’t that ironic) of the over the counter sleep medications.
The act of smoking marijuana has become an important ritual for my spiritual/psychological development. I find it helpful to follow basically the same set of actions each time so as to be able to best navigate the pathway to the frontier of the psychesphere, inner space. My ritual begins by lighting incense and putting a William Burroughs spoken word CD on shuffle play. I take out my bong and fill the bowl with marijuana. I then slide ice cubes down the cylinder of the bong and fill it to the right point with water. I turn off all lights except for a soft red light. In front of the stereo, on the oriental carpet, I gather the bong, the sacred lighter, a jug of spring water and a notebook and pen. I take a slow deep breath, put in a Jesus & Mary Chain CD on shuffle play and spark up. The Jesus & Mary Chain is a band that resonates so particularly well with me in my state of being high, that I listen to them every time I get high inside my apartment, and only when I am high. The music is the centerpiece of my marijuana ritual and of truly sacred significance. I inhale as the brilliant guitar chords emit their distinctive distorted reverberation and I am taken up to a beautiful blissful space, turned on to the sensuous light-footed peace of being, emerging with a youthful sense of energy and life force. I credit these vivid peaks of the experience to be the result of having had a number of spectacular mushroom trips that have sensitized me to the mild psychedelic effects of marijuana. The nature and complexities of the psychedelic experience are beyond the scope of this essay so it will suffice to say that the marijuana experience induces a mindset in which fruitful reflection and analysis of psychedelic experiences can be conducted.
The gift of insight to my mushroom adventures alone would be reason enough to use marijuana, but there is much more. All that which is meaningful and stimulating is enhanced while high. Often I will feel compelled to write down the cascade of thoughts that present themselves to me. I will also add the stimuli of changing CDs to the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno or others. Physical sensations are heightened and I will masturbate, or have sex if in the presence of a compatible partner. Cognition is enhanced and I take great interest in watching documentary videos by such late and great visionary thinkers as Terrence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Carl Sagan, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, all of whom credit marijuana with inspiring their work. I also enjoy long conversations with friends, as the sense of relating is enhanced. I love my drug buddies. Good company applies not only to humans for I also love to get high with cats, while they get high on catnip or just carry about in their normal and peculiar way.
But just as life is not only lived indoors, getting high should not be done exclusively indoors. Oh the wonder of being high in a natural setting! It’s amazing what wise teachers are the trees, the sky, the grass, the birds, and the ponds. The balanced, beautiful speed of nature envelops me and I’m brought back to memories of how I’ve always loved the Robin Red Breast. This is how it all was before industrial civilization became the dominant influence on how we as human beings experience our lives. This is how it was before we as children were socialized into incorporating the adult world limitations into our mindset, before the cell phones, the cars, and the deadlines. What a freeing, uniting feeling it is to let go of our bank accounts, job titles, ego dysfunctions, wrist watches, and just be the way we were before we can remember, together with the land and air, the animals, and the other human beings. In fact, only true love, perhaps, can compete with the wonder of the marijuana high.
As you see, I become very sentimental and glorify the experience of being high. But of course we can’t physically be under the influence of marijuana all the time. For many of us, physical world responsibilities (like having a career or raising a family) are important and take up a great amount of our time and energy. And for all of us, to one extent or another we must be careful of the LAW. What an awful thing it is, that in this nation that supposedly values freedom and the pursuit of happiness, it is illegal to possess one of the great means of achieving such freedom and happiness. Had I known in high school or early in college the extent to which marijuana would play a role in my life, I don’t think I would have chosen to become a police officer. But as it is, I’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and effort to make my police career a reality, so I’m not about to let go of it at this point. While the job certainly has its moments, I do find a good deal of satisfaction in it. Furthermore, if I was not doing the job, someone else would be, and they might not exercise their discretion such as I would, especially with the enforcement of drug laws. So I’d like to think that I’m helping in small ways to subvert the drug war from within. However, living this “double life” of sorts brings with it a fair amount of tension with the tightrope I must constantly navigate to avoid detection. I want to live my life as a human being and keep my police career, although I realize that this amounts to having my cake and eating it, too. I’m aware of the precariousness of the situation, and take reasonable steps to ensure not being found out, including long periods of abstaining from marijuana use in anticipation of drug tests. But if it comes down to having to make a decision (or the decision being made for me) I’m mentally prepared to accept a change in careers and life circumstances. First and foremost my priority is to live as a human being, inclusive of the marijuana that helps to achieve and enhance my human experiences. But life isn’t about getting high. Getting high is all about living life.