Thursday, November 25, 2010

Distributed processing and Drugs

Realized my brain is functioning sometimes in a distributed processing kind of way. For a while I was trying to squeeze down into a yes or no what felt in my mind like a mixture of yes's and no's. A kind of spread out quantum probability field. Just recently I realized this was not a bad thing, it was just the way the universe thought, and since I was/am starting to share in that thinking, I have to learn to readjust. Which really just means not trying to make a cat bark, or more literally, not trying to get a straight yes or no when the universe hasn't finished deciding. Which happens when you think about the future.

Finished my scientific and philosophic survey of Drugs. I needed something from every category, and I am experienced to my satisfaction. Some of you may say, dammit Isaac, don't do drugs, drugs are bad. Well, to that I say, how do you know? Have you tried it for yourself, or are you just going on hearsay? Drugs are a very charged topic, and I would guess that most people are heavily biased about them, and not trustworthy to give objective information. Adults who care about your well-being or else were subject to governmental misinformation may be strongly biased against them, thus giving incorrect, boogy-monster information in an attempt to scare you away from them. People who use them a lot, abuse them, or sell them have motives for making you more prone to try drugs, and keep trying them. Either for profit, self-validation, or company.

So I decided I had to see for myself. Because even if you do get someone who is genuinely neutral, there is no substitute for experience. I'll give you an example of my findings.

Alcohol: In vino, veritas?

conclusion: no. and yes, sometimes.

experiment: It had been a long time since I'd been drunk, back when I was maybe twelve years old, off cheap Manishevitz wine at Passover. (The rule is you're supposed to drink for cups of wine by the end of the Seder, a requirement that is waved for the underage, but still many of the kids get fairly drunk, running around, sneaking drinks from half empty glasses of drunk and tired adults. Mainly because we weren't supposed to.) I couldn't remember clearly what that experience was like, except that I got loud and obnoxious, demanding that the leader of the prayers hurry up so we could eat. Most of my peers drink, and I really didn't understand why. I had my preconceived notions, imprinted onto me by my holier-than-thou spiritual upbringing, but I hated that snobbery, and wanted to be able to see things from the other perspective as well. So, I had dinner with a friend, and over some nice venison he'd caught, we had margaritas and then a few shots of tequila.

findings: there are at least two stages of drunk. First is the more common and more functional, "buzzed." This is a pleasant state of relaxation and lowering of inhibitions. It is easier in this state for uptight people who are afraid of what other people think of them, to just let go and express what's inside of them, and connect on a heart level. There is also an impairment in mental functioning, though not serious, and something that I was particularly interested in, an inability to shift into higher brain functioning. Transcendence as my peep's call it, Alpha, in neuroscience terms. The second stake is drunk. Here, there is less inhibition, and even stronger emotions (which can be nice if they are emotions of love and intimacy) mental functioning is way, way reduced. You're not really good for anything high order at this point. Physically your uncoordinated, and mentally your... it's hard to describe exactly (thus the experience) but your brain is definitely shut down to a large degree. I found this unpleasant. I like being able to think clearly. My intellect is my friend. It steers me towards the right direction. Without it, I feel defenseless. Drunk was fun in the same way that spinning around until I'm dizzy, in that it's fun to watch my brain be confused. Overall though, it's unpleasantness as regards not being able to think outweighed the positive lack of inhibitions. Buzzed on the other had, I can definitely understand. Most people are self-conscious and inhibited, and it is a blessing to have that removed.

Conclusions: It's good to understand where people are coming from. I finally at least understand why so many people drink. As for my personal conclusion, I'll stick with not drinking. I don't like the health effects, for one. Killing brain cells, degrading the liver, empty calories. I try not to dabble in addictive things, since I've got enough addictions. And my clarity and awareness are what opens up the incredible beauty of the world to me. I realize that if I don't do drugs I probably won't get laid for a while and that makes me cry tears of blood, but I'll just have to deal.

That, however is the one great lesson this has taught me. It showed me the difference between me and me without my inhibitions. Good God, that is a big difference. And frankly, that aspect of me is a lot better on drugs. Sorry, anti-drug people, but that is the veritas in vino. And in all the other drugs I've experienced. I'm reminded of the ethnobotany lesson on Kava, a mild drug in drink form that was passed around before tribal meetings. It put everyone in an open, happy mood, thought it was mild and didn't inhibit thinking. And that made meetings go much smoother. Smart people.

In my final analysis, I understand people who use drugs for fun, for social lubrication, even for spirituality. It's equally clear to me, that drugs are not a final solution. They cost money, they have limited time duration, they can have negative health effects, some have questionable legality, and they often impair mental clarity. (I'd like to add here, that if you've got an addiction, you've got an addiction and shame isn't going to help you get over that addiction, it will only feed it further. Find a twelve step or something that's proven itself universally helpful.)

The best answer I have, is to find something that will transform me permanently in the way drugs have transformed me temporarily. Minus the brain malfunctioning. What that basically means is overcoming my self-consciousness, my fear of what other people think of me, and my need for there affection, approval, and love. These fears and desires make me betray myself, keep me from being carefree and open and joyful. I'm too busy worrying what other people think of me, or how I need to act to get them to give me what I need, or how I'm going to fail. Drugs temporarily shut down those parts of the brain. I want to permanently rewire them.

I want all the benefits of drugs, with none of the repercussions. What that means is I get the benefits 24-7, free, legal, and healthful. What I give up is novelty (since the experience will become my normal, plus I don't think some of the more flashy trimmings of drugs can be permanently maintained.) and instant gratification. Since to culture this, what I need is patience. Changing the base state of the body-mind takes time, just like working out to create a bodacious bod takes time. The things I have going for me are
a) I already have experience with this base state change, so I know it is possible.
b) I've got all the time in the world, since I'm not dyeing when my body does.
c) I strongly suspect that fundamental changes in character carry over to future stories (lives), which means I've got additional incentive, because every step forward is the last time I'll have to take that step.
d) I am uncomfortable. As long as I'm uncomfortable, I'll keep moving.

Perhaps you don't believe me? I never asked you to. However, I now ask you to consider the possibility, at least of this first point; that you can change yourself, permanently, for the better. If you don't already know it's true, test it out for yourself.

One final note. I realize now, that if I had just trusted myself, and my own intuition and common sense, that I would have come to the same conclusion about drugs in a fraction the time. Though I wouldn't have had the compassion and understanding for those that are using drugs to try and grasp at that intuitively felt grace that we all know exists but can't quite seem to find.

So ultimately, the lesson I have learned is this:
Trust Yourself.
Never Judge Others. Have compassion , realizing that everyone is doing the best they can.
Try really hard to get the stick up your butt, out. Because if you don't it might drive you to drink. Also, because you would be fucking awesome, sans stick.

(for anyone not familiar with the expression "they've got a stick up there butt" it is a colorful expression referring to someone who is uptight, tense, uncomfortable in there own skin.)

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