Can’t imagine tonight’s episode of Cosmos, on radiometric dating and the age of the Earth, sat too well with creationists… on Easter Sunday, no less.
If you believe me to be a superfluous term in your equation, or if I’m the cause of inconsistency, I will respectfully martyr my feelings for the sake of your balance and beauty. Divide, multiply, add, subtract me away. But understand the calculus you’re dealing with, love, and be certain: I think you know how hard it would be to integrate me back into the equation with such a derivative heart.
I’ve never really discussed this with anyone, but here’s an interesting fact about me: believe it or not, I’ve never smoked anything or drank alcohol, or done any kind of drugs. Not even once. I’ll tell you why.
I don’t know what it was about me, but I always had this drive to be different, to stand from the crowd, but within a framework that is consistent with a fuzzy, partially understood true/deep self. I have no idea where it came from, but it was just there. Allegiance to that self came before friends/peers, for the most part. It still does to a large degree, though it is tempered by more pragmatism these days. Admittedly, it can be crippling sometimes, and it does me little favors with others (though not much harm either I think).
When I was younger, when the dominant narrative of my peers became about socializing through the frame of smoking, drinking, and doing drugs, I thought it more radical and rebellious to not do that. I thought they were just trading one pressure for another. I thought they were giving up and surrendering to something, being weak, being dragged along on puppet strings.
Maybe I didn’t give in to peer pressure; but I did give in to the pressure of adhering to my ideal self. There’s always a tradeoff in this world. I paid and am paying a price for not wanting or trying to belong, for playing the game my way, on a lonely field.
During that same time, I was around people in my family that both smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol. I always hated the choking, second-hand smoke. I could never understand why people would ever subject themselves to that. I internalized all the health problems I read about and witnessed and knew I would never start that shit. As for alcohol, my step-dad used to drink all the time. The way it changed his personality, made him aggressive and made things very uncomfortable and sometimes scary, was formative for me. That effect it has on some people always freaked me out. Call me crazy, but I value consistency, and that extends to thought, and I prefer not to do anything to compromise that.
Another thing I should mention is that addiction kind of runs in the family, so there’s that thought in the back of my mind with regards to all of this. I’ve had a few relatives or family friends die of cirrhosis of the liver, for instance. But I don’t know how much stock I should put into that observation, to be honest.
These days, my stance on all that has relaxed. While back then I perceived that people doing drugs was an uncritical caving-in to peer pressure and coolness, it’s now my perception and experience that people are using to mask legitimate physical and psychic pains, some of which cannot so readily and easily be addressed in other ways. I’m fine with all that, so long as you’re not hurting anyone else in the process physically, emotionally, mentally. (Although, you could make an argument that if you’re obtaining and using certain illegal drugs, people somewhere in the history of the transfer of ownership of that product are being exploited, hurt, or killed, in which case you should seriously reconsider. But if we’re talking about pot, and you live in a place where it’s legal (e.g. Colorado, Washington, or country X), or you’re getting it from a medical dispensary, or you’re growing it yourself, then more power to you.)
Even though I’ve been super clean/sober my whole life, I should say I’m not opposed to ever drinking or doing any kind of drug (with a few exceptions, like tobacco). Perhaps it’s not even accurate to say that, because I mean, there are plenty of other kinds of ‘drugs’ and ‘addictions’ out there that can harm yourself or your relationships by being ‘abused’ (food products, mobile phones/Internet, sex, gambling, etc. etc.) Anyway, I reserve the right to do so in the future, but I just don’t really have an urge right now. I don’t even like taking over-the-counter medication, if I can help it (I’ll take ibuprofen occasionally for headaches)! I’ve maybe had to fill one prescription in the last 10 years. I consider myself lucky so long as I don’t have to rely on them and any unavoidable, undesirable side-effects.