Saturday, January 7, 2017

Clean and Sober, Part Two

Dear (eventual) grandstickies and great-grandstickies,

To review, part one was an encapsulated version of my adventures as a twenty-something. I revealed that yes, Virginia, Poppa did smoke dope regularly during his extended callowyute era.

Now, I'm neither proud or ashamed of this period of my life, but I was extremely lucky. In retrospect (hindsight is indeed 20/20) I wish I had moved on much sooner than I did, or that I had the same reaction to weed as I did to alcohol -- I discovered early on that I didn't much care for it.

As to lucky, I didn't start smoking weed until I was twenty. Science tells us that drinking or doing drugs by adolescents can lead to permanent neural rewiring and many scientists suspect this increases the chance of addiction in adulthood. Also, while the area of the brain that governs pleasure seeking develops early, the area of the brain that governs decision making and judgment may not be done developing until the mid-twenties. Getting baked as a teenager before your brain has finished baking naturally may cause permanent damage.

I set out to get royally drunk one night when I was 18, and already living in my own apartment. I succeeded but didn't enjoy the results. I had a similar reaction to when I had tried cigarettes many years earlier. This is stupid, I don't like this, I'm not going to do this. So you see, not smoking cigarettes and not drinking requires no discipline or muscular virtue on my part. Lucky.

[Speaking of cigarettes, science tells us that nicotine, which personally I regard as a drug with effects that are even milder than those resulting from moderate caffeine consumption, is a highly addictive substance. My personal experience tends to confirm this. Your parental units have both been trying to quit smoking for at least ten years that I know of and haven't made it, yet. I'm cautiously optimistic because ya'll are one of the most important reasons they keep trying, and they're very good parents who just spent too much money on your Christmas presents, as usual (GRIN). It would seem I'm not the only lucky one.

Please don't get hooked on nicotine, or anything else for that matter. And yeah, I know, vaping is better for you, but addiction is addiction. When my mom was in a nursing home and wheezing from emphysema and only one year older than I am now, 64 40, she was cursing her children for refusing to smuggle in her beloved unfiltered Kools.]

...and we're back. Where was I? Oh yeah, lucky. As I mentioned in part one, my nefarious activities never led to any legal difficulties, that is, I never got caught by anyone with a badge. I realize that pointing this out to you may be equivalent to one of my grandparents telling me about using alcohol when it was briefly, and disastrously, prohibited to do so. At the moment it looks like weed will soon be legal everywhere, assuming The Gubmint doesn't step in. However, I'm not talking about what should have been, but what was, the past tense of not what should be, but what is (GRIN).

[At this point in my writing, my muse, imaginary gentlereader, and imaginary grandsticky all looked up from an intense game of Monopoly and looked around at each other, puzzled. Before anyone spoke up I quickly threw a, "I got this, relax, play your game, all will soon be clear" at 'em and they returned to arguing over the subtle, legal ramifications of one of the rules.]

See, had I been caught by the wrong person in the wrong jurisdiction I could've been locked up for quite some time (many were) for the heinous crime of participating in one of mankind's (personkind's?) oldest rituals, the pursuit of a good buzz. Perfectly legally and sanctioned by the powers that be were. That's the not what should have been but what was, referenced above. The land of the free was/is not always as free as one might like.


I mentioned early on that I'm neither proud or ashamed of this period of my life. I am, however, regretful. During my extended callowyute phase I, like most twenty-somethings, many thirty-somethings, a disturbingly high (and rising I think) percentage of forty and even fifty-somethings -- thought I was bullet proof, ten feet tall, and would live forever.

[My fellow baby boomers, who, demographically speaking, range in age from 53 to 71 as this is being written, require an entire column or two to analyze because while many have discarded their rose colored glasses, many have not and are members in good standing of the not what is, but what should be club. Some of them are even counting on living forever via having themselves uploaded to a machine. Sounds boring to me, living forever I mean, please forgive the digression.]

Just as many old farts never tired of pointing out to me, just as no shortage of old farts, occasionally including me, never tire of pointing out to you -- you're gonna' wake up one day a couple of years from now and you will be, chronologically speaking, old. You will personally know several dead people even if you're fortunate enough to have managed to get through your life minimally affected by war.

I understood this intellectually long before I understood this in reality, in my heart. I hope the same is true for you. I hope that you operate under the illusion of immortality and happy endings for everyone for as long as possible.

However, I devoutly wish that someone had told me, as a young man, or that I had somehow stumbled upon, the following.

If you want to save the world, or someone, and/or
If you think that grups are boring and more dead than alive and/or
If you choose to party now and worry about so-called real life later and/or
If you've found someone/something for whom/which you can't wait to get out of bed for and/or
If you're religiously/spiritually/enlightenmentally inclined, traditional or unconventional path, and/or
___________________________________________________ . (This space intentionally left blank.)

Reality  still  rules.

Some folks can't/shouldn't "party," ever. They're called addicts. You need to constantly monitor and be brutally honest with, yourself. Question one. Am I doing this for some occasional fun or do I have to do this to deal. Question two. Is this interfering with other aspects of my life? Incidentally, I don't know what the experts advise, these two questions are what I advise.

And while we're at it:

The need for food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare is, and will remain, omnipresent.

Pay your own way if at all possible and everyone will like you more, especially you.

You are never going to wake up one day and be Happy, it just doesn't work that way. Some days you'll be happy, some days you will be miserable, most days will be a mixture of both.

Forget happiness, pursue contentment. Contentment is someone to love that loves you back (pets are perfectly acceptable) and interesting work. Getting paid to do interesting work is rare. Getting paid for doing a job and doing your work for free, um, works. Your work is anything that makes you happy just by the doing of it well, It doesn't matter what it is. Rabid sports fan, rocket scientist, or something in between. "Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work." -Gustave Flaubert                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
If you're lucky you will often be bored. As you age you will learn this is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly given the many unpleasant alternatives available.

Goals are necessary, and good, but success at anything requires flexibility and the wisdom to spot a better path. There are an infinite number of paths and yours is probably no better than theirs, just different. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.