Pot: Not Just a Phase by D.S.
D.S. is a university guidance counselor in Colorado and holds a Master’s degree in political science. Now in his thirties, he sings in a semi-professional choir and commutes to work by bicycle. D.S. suggests methods of cannabis use that contributed to his 4.0 GPA, his empathic understanding, and his responsible celebration of the world.
It saddens me that so many people who have tried pot did it as a teenager, experienced it in stupid teenage ways, and now think of pot as an adolescent “phase” they went through. Millions of Americans have tried pot, but have missed out on its many levels of enjoyment.
Because of this fact, I am thankful that I got a late start with pot; I didn’t try it until I was 22 and had finished my bachelor’s degree. I didn’t get high until my 3rd attempt with pot, but when it kicked in, it did so with a bang. I was deliriously happy, my face and hands were tingling, and I laughed harder than I have ever laughed before. Being totally unfamiliar with its effects on short term memory, I found myself hilariously inarticulate, as my attempts to tell a story would keep digressing and digressing, until I couldn’t remember where the story started. But it felt magical.
I enjoyed my experience so much that, being filled with anti-drug propaganda, I decided I would avoid getting addicted to pot by making a rule that I would have to let 6 months go by after smoking it before I could do it again. At the time, I didn’t know many people who smoked pot, so I did it about once a year, enjoying it immensely every time. I had also met a few “cautionary tales,” folks who were always stoned and appeared to be going nowhere in life, and they used pot as a part of their nowhere lifestyle.
A few years later, I went to graduate school, and was surprised that several of the smartest geniuses who were cruising through the PhD program were smoking pot on a daily basis. That’s when I learned to stop fearing pot; it would not turn me into a loser. The loser stoners I had met were losers first, stoners second. Smart, healthy people who smoked pot continued to be smart, healthy people who had a better ability to think outside the box.
These fellow students introduced me to magic mushrooms (wonderfully spiritual) and LSD (too nihilistic and long-lasting). I still try to do shrooms every year.
My last problem with pot was smoking. I hate smoke, I hate how it hurts my lungs (regardless of the pipe or bong used), and as a singer I hate how it hurts my voice. One lucky day, I wandered into a magazine store and discovered a magazine called Cannabis Culture which had an advertisement for a vaporizer, which I immediately ordered. That made my experience sooooo much better, and now I can forego the only truly unhealthy aspect of pot, which is the smoke.
So why do I vaporize pot? What does it do for me?
Everyone says that laughter is proven to have many different health benefits. It improves your immune system, it decreases stress, and it’s just damn enjoyable. Pot helps me find even more things funny than I normally do, which is quite an achievement.
Many here have written about music, so I’ll just add this. I had gotten into a bad habit of always listening to music while doing other things (reading, eating, surfing the web, playing a computer game, or all of these at once), that I didn’t realize how much more there was to get out of music when it is the sole focus of attention. Pot helps me settle down and listen to music while doing nothing else. (And, it reveals to me which musicians are on drugs, as their music sounds amazingly different when I listen stoned.)
3. Empathy and understanding
Although I am a moral person, I have never been great at social norms/social graces; I have had to learn them. Here is a basic example. A friend and I would inspire some pot (it’s not smoking, so I like the term “inspire” to indicate taking it into my spirit/lungs), and after a few minutes, I would realize that I’m thirsty. Then I would realize that my friend is also likely thirsty, so I would get up and pour us both some water. Although this example is elementary, I have since started applying this empathy to more and more things. It’s interesting how many tasks are less onerous to do for someone else than for oneself.
For me, spirituality is a sense of awe about the world; I don’t personify it at all. (Unfortunately, the term “atheist” is widely misunderstood and maligned.) Pot has done wonders to invigorate my sense of awe, in an ongoing way. Take trees, for example. They are these gigantic, amazing things that are all around us and we hardly notice them. Nowadays I find them to be incredible gentle giants who give me great solace, and it makes me happy to be surrounded by so much other life.
Lately, I have been in greater awe of the stereophonic, surround-sound experience of birds’ songs. This used to be mostly background noise to me.
5. Sense of place
I often like to go for long walks and bike rides, stoned or sober. But when I’m sober, I tend to stick to the beaten path, and find myself following the same routes out of habit. But when I’m stoned, I am constantly amazed at how effortlessly I travel different paths and find nooks and crannies in my neighborhood that I’ve never seen before.
Not long ago, I visited Vancouver, where pot is tolerated in certain cafes (although it’s BYOB). I found a place which was a nonsmoking place that sold art, vaporizers, other paraphernilia, and had a cafe where you could use their Volcano Vaporizers for your pot. I was amazed at how much better my high was, and how much better it felt in my lungs and how much better it tasted, even though I had been using a cheap vaporizer at home in recent years. And socializing with other people like me, in a public cafe, allowed me to taste the wonder of what a great social community pot can create if it is allowed out of the closet. I ended up buying their expensive-but-amazing vaporizer, which I figured was a long term investment, and now I dream about this amazing place.
Clearly, I don’t worry about my frequency of inspiring pot anymore, but I still have rules for a healthy, balanced life. My #1 rule is that I only get high when there’s nothing else that I have to get done that day. Not only does this prevent me from being irresponsible, but it keeps me enjoying pot as a celebration, rather than a routine that I could take for granted.
Lately, this has the added benefit of encouraging me to get all of my tasks for the day done so that I can get my vaporizer going. On a related note, although I am now proficient doing most things while high (although I would never drive high, because I am only willing to endanger myself, not others), I find it extremely difficult to read while high.Interestingly, this has encouraged me to read more, and to get my reading done earlier in the day so that I can enjoy it before I turn on the vaporizer.
I have always loved learning, but now I’m doing more learning now than ever before. Pot feeds my intellectual curiosity, my desire to learn everything, and my attempts to get the most out of life.
Pot has also been a part of my transformation from someone who “questions authority” to someone who now has contempt for most of it. I continue to become more and more amazed at how many mainstream, accepted, normal things are completely insane.
Needless to say, pot has helped me develop an independent morality that is less infected with societal propaganda than ever before.