A Single Episode by Gentle Person

As a mature and infrequent user with a grown family aware of his periodic employment of cannabis, the author recognizes its spiritual qualities are not for everyone. After a 20-year period of abstinence, he begins to ritualize preparation of the herb, applying it in the appreciation of mundane activities and the observation of events rarely noticed. We stroll with him and his dog on the beach, considering our place in the world, the nature of love, and the gentle use of this special plant.

My introduction to cannabis was in 1968 while still in the US army. A friend and I were on a trip to Mexico and during a conversation I mentioned that I was curious about and would like to try marijuana. Well it seems that I certainly had spoken to the right person, as he had been, unknown to me, a user for some time. Soon I was spending weekends with him and his wife and cannabis became an important part of my life. However, after leaving the military, going to college, and eventually getting married I reached the point with our children that it became obvious that explaining this habit to them in the face of all the negative propaganda was not worth the effort. For over 20 years I did not smoke or for that matter drink alcohol.

My youngest of four children is now 20 and in college. About three years ago I made the decision to try marijuana again. It was everything and more that I remembered. Now I use it on a very occasional basis, once or twice a month at best, and only when circumstances are favorable, as smoking is a spiritual experience and one that should be approached only at the proper time. There is nothing I dislike more than to be put into any type of negative circumstances or environment when smoking and I go to great lengths to avoid interruptions and negativity when I decide to light up. Time is too short and this experience is too special to waste. As a side note, all of our children know and accept that I use this substance. I have smoked only in front of my oldest daughter and none of the others. While she tried it, it is not something that she likes. Also, my wife does not use marijuana, but she is accepting of my use. While I feel strongly that marijuana is medicine, physically and spiritually, it is not for everyone. It will take people to places where some simply do not want to go.

For the purpose of this essay, it seems that rather than trying to go into why or what or how this has affected me over the years that perhaps simply trying to describe a single episode might be helpful for those who are seeking to understand the attraction this substance has for me and many others. Rolling a joint is a ritual done very carefully and with great anticipation. I crush the leaves and buds between my fingers, as I do not want them to be overly fine. Also, I am careful to remove all stems and seeds from the mixture. Then, using two papers, I roll it into a joint. The most I will use at any time is one. Very often, half of a joint will be adequate. I find that an ounce of quality bud will easily last almost a year. It is impossible to say what I enjoy the most while smoking. In fact, whatever I am doing at the time I am smoking is what I enjoy the most. Thinking, music, food, television, conversation, walking, sex, and even doing chores around the house are all extremely enjoyable, as any activity is intensified and brought into clear focus, making it special at that time. Some of the most common and mundane activities take on an entirely different perspective and become new, exciting, and absolutely enjoyable after a smoke – doing the dishes, cutting the grass, preparing a meal all become fun and enjoyable. I have experienced at various times the complete range of emotions, from intense gut busting laughter, to utter awe of something beautiful and amazing, to appreciation and tears at taking down the Christmas tree or looking at family pictures and realizing how exquisite those memories and feelings are. Things that are normally ignored and not seen are illuminated and just become special.

This time, however, let’s take the dog for a walk. I live in Florida, within walking distance of the ocean and beach. Fortunately, there is enough open and uncrowded space that it is possible for me to walk and have a smoke without disturbing anyone or being disturbed. The dog loves these walks and gets very excited as I make my preparations. She knows. Leaving the house we go about a half of a mile to an open and unoccupied space. I light up. The first puff or two is full of anticipation. What will my experience be this time? What will be special and noteworthy? Well, best just to continue walking and I make a conscious decision – no worries. Plenty of time to consider the bothersome worries later.

It is really nice here. It is January, but the weather is clear and the temperature is mild. The sun is setting and it is slowly getting dark. Another puff. Hold it for a moment or two. Oh well, nothing seems different. Another couple of puffs. Almost finished, but surely I can get another hit or two. Well, there it is, another joint finished. This walk is so nice. The dog is really enjoying herself. I realize that I love walking. In fact, I love so many things. Can it be that the dog understands? Hard to determine, but she is responding to the lightest touch of the lead and seems to know exactly what I want her to do. We pass a golf course. It is so pleasant to see the greens and fairways trimmed so neatly and it really is a beautiful place. It is easy to understand why so many enjoy that game.

We are getting closer to the ocean. Dog is getting excited, as she loves the beach. This time of the year the beach is deserted. I sit on the boardwalk and the dog gets to run and explore. She is very lucky as she is able to just be what she is – a dog. I watch the waves roll in and think. How peaceful and beautiful and lovely this is. How fortunate and blessed I am to have this experience. The waves continue their rhythmic pounding with the white surf highlighted by the moon. It is unbelievably beautiful. This beauty is more than what I see and experience with my senses; I am a part of this picture. The surf, the sand, the dog, the sky with its stars and the moon are all part of me. Somehow, we are connected in subtle ways that are simply indescribable and unknowable to the rational mind. But in my heart, my emotions, I know that above this physical reality, we are connected. I have merely been given a glimpse of what can be.

Thoughts continue to roll. I think about my business and what this or that client needs or wants from me. I realize that my clients trust me and respect my judgment and how important it is for me to make every effort to help them achieve their goals. Then I start thinking about my wife and how much I love her. And my children. I realize that there is so much in this world that I love. In fact, that love is not separate from us. We are love. While each of us is the center of our personal universe, revolving around us like so many planets are the ones we love and care about. From the intensely personal to the ones who for whatever reasons are farther away. But still, our ultimate success in this life has to be measured by how much love can we give. And what we give always returns to us in magnified in ways both sublime and wonderful. We are created to love and every experience, both good and bad, ultimately is there to help us understand and comprehend this.

How long have we been here? It is time to return to the house. I call the dog and she comes willingly, hoping that I have a biscuit in my pocket. Lucky dog, I do. Well, I get up slowly and start walking home. It has been perhaps an hour and a half. Things are still nice, but the intensity is not what it was. I am relaxed and feel very comfortable. Mellow is the proper word. Walking back is special as we are now on a sidewalk with palm and pine trees with thick undergrowth on both sides. Like walking through a natural lofty cathedral with the moonlight – ah old friend, the moon – shining through the overhanging branches and spreading gentle light and shadows everywhere I look. Then an owl swoops overhead and gives both dog and me a very serious jolt of adrenaline. My God, what was that! How much do we miss by being under roof and protected by street lights so much of our lives? Then I realize that all of this is a gift from nature and that while there are other keys to unlock this door, cannabis also is a gift sent to help us gain an understanding and appreciation for all that life is and has to offer.

At the house, my wife is gone, taking a class at the local college. I decide to spend some time surfing the net and listening to some old music. Oh, perhaps a bite of that tapioca pudding. Does my wife know how good this is? Can anyone know how utterly delightful this is? I am not sure, but I know she will notice that it has disappeared and certainly will take the opportunity to tease me about it later. Naturally I will deny finishing it, but this is just one of the silly games we constantly play. Finally my wife returns and tells me about her class. This one is on genealogy. It is amazing who our ancestors are and what they had to do to survive. It is getting late and time to turn in. Even brushing my teeth feels great and I spend more time than usual flossing and brushing – it just feels good. Simple living and high thinking, what else is needed to find happiness? Contrary to what seems to be prevalent thought, real happiness comes from within each of us.

Well that is about it. For this type of activity, I and others like me are condemned by our government and by many in our society. It simply does not make sense. While I feel change is in the air, thanks largely to the Internet enabling more and more people to speak out, we have a very long way to go and it is a national disgrace that we have so many innocent and even ill people rotting in our jails and penitentiaries for using this substance.

4 Responses to “A Single Episode by Gentle Person”

  1. Nuck says:

    I really enjoyed this essay! Reading it slowly, it has prompted me to reexamine my cannabis use and to return to doing what I loved doing best in its company–exploring and connecting with nature. I can’t count how many nights I’ve used it out of boredom and been in a dull environment that makes it hard to appreciate the wonders just outside my door.

    I really enjoyed the part where you described sitting at the beach while you appreciate the interconnectedness of our universe and all that exists within. It was for experiences like this that I became a user of cannabis– I think it’s time to get back to appreciating the true value of the herb, rather than as something that simply accompanies my evenings while I zone out on the computer and demolish the junk food stash.

    Thank you for sharing,

  2. Steve Haag says:

    Very beautifully rendered.

    After reading this, it does make me wonder what could be the reason everyone doesn’t want this kind of experience, and why there is so much intention against it. Given the interconnectedness of all things, and the beauty that can be felt, then how curious and odd, this antagonism to these we find in non-gentle qualities, such as aggression and domination. It’s as thought these stronger forces don’t want to be gentled down.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Very nicely written essay. Thanks for sharing. My story is a little different. My husband uses marijuana for chronic pain and nausea. He was prescribed Marinol by our family physician, and insurance recently stopped paying for it. He is a disabled veteran who served in Asia during Vietnam. He was growing a few plants in the woods out back, and the chopper spotted them. He was arrested and now faces felony charges. I was able to bail him out of jail, but that took what was left of our savings. We meet with the public defender later this month. I was able to provide a note from the pharmacy and one from the doctor, but it is a shame that a sick veteran should have to deal with this type of legal issue. We are in Florida also, hoping for a compassionate judge.

  4. Ray Doherty says:

    A beautifully written essay. I haven’t smoked Pot since the ’80s, and most of those memories have disappeared with time, but I do remember that Pot and booze (beer in this case) were nicely synergistic. Try doing it after a beer or two. I remember that we (as a family) would all ‘smoke up’ together, then listen to Beethoven and gather around the coffee table to work on a huge puzzle. Fun!

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