10 January, 2008


(This is a continuation of the discussion started in the previous entry titled "Hippie Ideals")

Hippies used drugs to expand their consciousness. It was a vital component of the whole intellectual revolution. Drugs let people step outside themselves, and helped them to feel the oneness of the universe. It mellowed them out, and gave them spiritual awakenings. I believe that drugs were an integral part of everything the hippie movement stood for. But that was also its downfall.

As sure as drugs can lift you up, they can also bring you down. And as the hippies were lifted up, they were soon brought down, hard. Adventure and experiment and expansion became addiction. Slavery of a whole other kind. Without drugs, I believe the movement wouldn't have been nearly as successful, or nearly as widespread. But the drugs destroyed the idealism of it all, in the end. The ideas behind the revolution were solid, and they would have stood strong on their own merits, but it was drugs that put so many people in the right state of mind to support it. This is the thing. I believe in a lot of the hippies' ideas, but from a purely non drug-influenced standpoint. So to me, personally, I feel the drugs are unnecessary. Though I understand that most people need them to get to this point.

Ah, drugs. I don't do drugs. Most people are surprised by that. I have long hair, and I sometimes dress like a hippie - which usually includes ripped jeans, tie-dye shirts, and round sunglasses. I'm a musician, I play guitar, and my favorite music is classic rock. I wear contacts a lot, which often irritate my eyes, causing them to become bloodshot. To a lot of people that don't know me very well, I am the stereotypical stoner.* But I already said that I don't do drugs. Not even casually. And it's not necessarily that I'm so against them that I don't think anybody should ever do them - it's just that I don't believe they're for me.

Here's where the tired rebuttal comes in - "but how do you know if you've never tried them?" Right, I've never tried drugs. I might have had maybe a sip or two of wine in my entire life (which tasted terrible, by the way), but I've never had a can of beer. I've never smoked a cigarette (frankly, I think they're disgusting). I've never smoked a joint, either. I've never taken a hit. I've never dropped acid. I've never taken pills, and I don't even like to take medicine for health purposes, unless the pain or discomfort becomes unbearable.

Now it's time to dig deep into my psyche. Why? Why not even a little try? It couldn't hurt, right? Sure, there's the fear of getting addicted, but I have enough faith in my self-discipline that I could at least try it without falling into an addiction. So, why not try?

I was good friends with a jam band in college. Their guitarist actually borrowed my guitar for their first real gig together at a Battle of the Bands in a local frat house. I've even sat in their 'circle' on occasion, but I've always passed up the chance to 'join in'. At one of their last shows before half the band (as well as myself) were to graduate, they did a round of shots in the bar they were playing in, before starting the show. They begged me to join, in celebration of all the times we'd had, but I refused. I feel bad about refusing, but I just wasn't about to take some alcohol. Especially not for the first time, in that kind of environment. But I was totally with them, just not on a chemical level.

The main reason I don't do drugs now is because I've resolved myself to avoid them. And part of the reason for that is that I've come so far without falling into that subculture. I feel like that's something unique, something that sets me apart from the average, and something that I shouldn't just throw away. But how did I come this far? A lot of it was the result of just not being a very social person. In high school, I never went to parties where people hung out and had beer and lots of fun. I wasn't part of that scene, or any scene, really. I didn't get into cigarettes because I was never one of those cool kids, or bad kids, that would try that. Nobody even really gave me the opportunity - but that's not to say I would have taken it, if they had.

Another part of my stance is just the whole image of that scene. I don't want to be part of the druggy scene, the stoner scene, or the drinker's scene. Going to bars and clubs is not for me. Furthermore, I've had some exposure to people on the influence of various kinds of drugs, and it doesn't impress me. Maybe it's really cool to be on their side of the portal. Maybe it feels great and all that. But from my side, it doesn't look so inviting. People that are high think that everything's so funny, and that everything's so deep and meaningful. But when you're talking to a clear-headed person, it's just a pain. It's like, yeah, okay, it's the drugs talking, you're not making any sense, and you just don't realize it because your head isn't clear. And drunks? Maybe they're funny sometimes, but I generally just think they're obnoxious. Slurred speech? I don't wanna exert extra effort just to understand what you're trying to say, especially when it doesn't mean a whole lot, anyway. Some drugs might make people more social, maybe even more friendly, but I don't want people to be paying lots of attention to me. I don't want them to be telling me funny stories that I have no interest in, when I'm preoccupied with something else. And I really don't want them to be hugging me and telling me how much they love me, especially when I don't even know who they are.

The key to it is that phrase, 'clear-headed'. I have a great amount of respect in truth, and I just don't believe, like some people might believe, that drugs get you closer to that truth. I feel that they just put more layers between you and that truth. So for me, what's the point? Maybe, if it made me feel good, then there might be some reason to try it. But what's the benefit in the long run? I don't want to deal with hangovers, or withdrawal, or hugging a toilet seat puking my brains out, or hacking up a lung, or anything like that. And maybe this is just the result of the perspective mainstream society has on (illegal) drugs, but I don't particularly want to deal with the types of people that peddle drugs, either.

I've thought about it, and if there was one drug that I would ever want to try, then I might consider trying acid, just from all the things I've heard about it. My one friend, who fantasizes about taking ecstasy by the way, always counters with stories of 'bad trips'. But does that mean there are no good trips? Anyhow, just the descriptions of the kind of experiences you can have on acid have made me curious, but get this straight, I'm not exactly looking for a source. I'm not about to give up the drug-free existence I currently have just for an experience like that. Yeah, some people say it can be life-changing. But again, I don't want my life to be changed by a surreal experience that occurred when my faculties were functioning on a whole different level than they normally do. I want to be wowed by something I can understand. Something I can reason about. Something that *I* can react to, not the drugs.

I'm the one steering this ride, and I'm not about to hand the controls over to someone else.

Still, I'm a lot more open about drug use than mainstream society is, and if you choose to take drugs, I have no problem with that. All you gotta understand is that I might decide not to hang around you as much. Depending on all kinds of factors. And that's all there is to it.

* On a somewhat lighter note, here are some experiences I've had where people have mistaken me for a druggy (and in some cases, a drug-dealer - no joke):

Back in college, when my best friend was just starting to get to know me, I had him over to my dorm room once. He must have got the impression, as many do, that I was a druggy, because, as he told me later, when I offered him some of my "special homemade brownies", he declined. I had no idea what the situation looked like at the time, because for me, I was just being a good host and offering some of the brownies my Grandma had made and sent to me. But now I look back on it and smile at the humorous misunderstanding. Luckily, that experience didn't hamper our developing friendship.

I was walking with that same friend once, heading back to our dorms after either shopping or eating at some place out on the main road (probably Wal-Mart), and a fazed-out dude walked up to us. I happened to be wearing a Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt - since, as you may know, Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands. Well, the dude asked me where he could score some drugs. I told him I didn't know, but he insisted that he could tell that I was the kind of person who would know. He didn't give up, so all I could think to do was send him off in the opposite direction. I directed him toward the Dunkin' Donuts way down the street. I told him to keep walking til he got to the main road and he'd see it. I was referring to the donuts, of course. Lucky for us, he bought the story and headed off. I was a little worried at what he might have done if I hadn't given him any kind of satisfactory answer. It's a good thing neither one of us ever saw him again.

I went to a movie by myself once, fairly recently, at the dollar cinema. The girl working at the box office looked like a high school student, total goth-type. She took one look at me and asked me if I was high. I told her no, and she was like "for real?" As she got me my ticket, she mentioned that she was gonna go smoke some pot as soon as she got off. She must have realized I was telling the truth about not being high, because as I was walking into the main part of the theatre, she quickly said, in a worried voice, "don't tell anybody, okay?" I said it was cool. I'm not gonna bust somebody on that. I'm no druggy, but I'm not a narc, either.

Not far removed in time from that experience (it may have even been the same day), I noticed some kids in the parking lot hanging out by a van playing hacky-sack, while I was walking into Border's. I happened to be wearing sandals, tight jeans, a tie-dye Led Zeppelin shirt, and my hippie sunglasses. They noticed me when I went into the store, but it was while I was walking back to my van when they decided to get my attention. They walked over nonchalantly at first. I tried to ignore them, just hoping that they didn't want anything to do with me. But they called to me, saying something about needing help getting a pickup. In my naivete, I thought they were talking about needing a ride. In my confusion, they got the impression that I wasn't who they were looking for. I don't know if they were being honest, or just trying to cover their mistake, but they said I actually looked like a guy they knew. In any case, they left me alone and I headed off. It was sort of awkward, but because they were pretty cool about it, it wasn't a big deal. But I figure it's only a matter of time before it happens again...


  1. Your view of things more or less fits mine here, though, ironically enough, we have diametrically opposing views on using and users.

    I'm not against trying some things (nothing major). Or if it's going to be a social occasion, I'm not against drinking (obviously), though it's not something I really want to be doing on my own. I've had alcohol, I smoked a celebratory cigar (once, I don't care to repeat the experience), but I've never been seriously drunk (I'm using Bucknell as a metric here), had a hangover, or gone off the deep end.

    I remember my first alcohol experience was drinking some really nice wine at Lina's, since her family's relatively high-class. It wasn't bad, especially with the turkey.

    On the other hand, I have a hard time dealing with people who do drugs (of any variety) regularly. I can't stand being around potheads, especially; they all say there's nothing wrong with pot, but after hanging around them for a while, it seems like pot enhances the areas in their brain predisposed toward stupidity. Or perhaps it's just the fact that they get high whenever they can, so they stop using their brain as much even when they're not high... or as yet another alternative, perhaps most of the potheads today are people who just don't care about being "real" or "intellectual".

    I dunno, drugs as escapism is just retarded. It's a waste of money and time.

    Actually, one of the people I wrote about in my post about friends... the pastor's son. When we were in high school, I actually reported him to the principal for having pot. It was a pretty asshole thing to do, I guess... I'm still divided about whether I'd do it or not again.

    He brought a small ziploc bag stuffed with marijuana to school and said he was going to sell it to some people there. On the one hand, I'm glad I reported him just because he was stupid enough to bring it to school. On the other, he was supposed to have been my friend, and I reported him to the authorities? I dunno, it's still a bit of a moral quandary for me. School for me is supposed to be like sacred ground for immortals in Highlander. That stuff just shouldn't be at school, period.

    I'd never try pot myself. It smells horrible.

  2. With all due respect, I don't think drugs ended the hippie dream. I mean, who knows for sure what happened, but I don't think drugs had anything to do with Altamont or the Manson slayings. Nor do I think drugs inspired people to become yuppies in the 70s. Maybe they did, I don't know.

    As far as them on weed not making sense... I have to tell you it's not true. Your clear mind clouds the judgment just as much as their drugged mind clouds the judgment. When me and Lady L (Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks) drop acid, I'm always boundlessly impressed by the way that I understand exactly why she does the strange things that to an outside observer would seem pointless. It truly makes very literal sense, it's just far beyond normal.

    Hangovers and unwanted side-effects aren't necessary. Leah has only gotten one hang-over in her entire life, and that's out of 100,000 nights of drinking (not an exaggeration). Also, the vast majority of people get no hang-over what-so-ever from Marijuana, and you don't need to hurt your lungs because you can bake it into something or simply make tea with it. LSD also doesn't hurt your lungs and side-effects are minimal. Bad trips are also uncommon these days because the market for LSD has expanded and the lowest common denominator becomes better, that is to say, it's purer and safer than it was in the 60s.

    I respect your choice to not do drugs. If anybody can understand the value of having any little thing that seperates you from the rest, it's me. For example, as much as it dissapoints me, I think the fact that I've never had a relationship, a date, or a kiss makes me somewhat interesting, and I'm proud of it. I'm sure there's a lot of people who are like me in that regard, but most of them are probably the kind of people who've never gone to hang out with people every night of the week for stretches of time like I have.

    But I have to say that your views on drugs seem very much skewed by the fact that you've never tried them. I mean, I was in the same position at one point. From an outsider's view it looks very dark and shady and gross, but that comes from the fact that you're not in on it. I'll be the first to admit that drugs aren't the greatest thing in the world. A lot of the reasons I love drugs are things which rely on my unique personality, and things that I know not everybody would appreciate. I've also never experienced any of the grandiose things that the media claims drugs can do to you. I wanna try more consecutive LSD hits to see maybe if it'll happen, but for example I've never hallucinated something that really wasn't there, the most that has happened is I'll let my mind wonder and I'll kind of fall asleep awake and I'll imagine something, but that's quite a different thing from actually hallucinating.

    Drugs aren't necessarily that great. That's the truth. But I feel like the scene, the attitudes, I feel like you're down on that stuff solely because you haven't been there to claim it for your own. It's like MySpace, it sounds dumb but once you're there then you realize. And yeah, stoned people, drunk people, they suck to hang out with sober. But if you're in the same state as them, they're great to be around. Changing your view of the scene probably isn't a good enough reason to try drugs, but I definetly think it would change your view. Maybe not just one try, though... I mean I used to hate alcohol because I associate it with wife beating southerners and yuppies. It took me more than one try to claim it for my own. Alcohol is, FYI, the worst drug you can ever do. At least from my perspective. I mean it is good and it has it's place, fo' sho'. But no other drug I've ever done has nearly half as bad a joy-to-pain ratio as alcohol. Alcohol is like a bad salvia trip, it doesn't make you feel good, it just makes you feel different. But then again... I mean I have had some fantastic times on alcohol. 3 of my best Penn State moments were on alcohol... so I guess you just have to use it right, and not expect too much.

    I think druggies are a great sect of society, but the one thing I do have a problem with is how we all try to get non-users to join in. I feel like it's more than just trying to share a good thing, I feel like we feel the need to validate ourselves by recruiting people, like a religion.

    In closing, drugs to me are a part of a very special segment of the universe, eternal youth to be exact. Also self-realization. But they're still not quite as good as they maybe ought to be or we were told they'd be, and there're fair enough precedents for not doing them.