A Confession | Life Altering Experiences
I have a confession to make. It may or it may not be the hardest thing I have ever done but nevertheless, through the story I am about to tell I feel that I can contribute, to some extent, for a change that many of us desire.
The past year has been the most overwhelming, frustrating, painful, crushing, mind-boggling, paralyzing and earth shattering year of my life. I may have left school many years ago yet I have learned more lessons and gathered more experience than all the academic hours combined. It truly was a time when I appreciated the privilege of learning, a privilege that many of us take for granted. Whether it was about deepening into things I already knew or learning something unfamiliar I have become a better version of myself, I have held myself (and will always have) to high standards thus demonstrating to the best of my ability, the imperative evolution of the human kind. I have walked on new trails, crossed new roads, met new people and made new mistakes. I can honestly say I have more experience than your average twenty-six year old yet the need to learn more and more has never been more important. What I CANNOT say is, that I have rarely pushed myself outside my comfort zone, outside my own world and that has to change. At the end of the day I want to think of myself being useful to the society I live in and that cannot be accomplished by isolating myself from everyone around and building walls around myself. Those walls must come down. There won’t be a do over. I have this one try.
I love stories, the ones you tell over a hot coup of tea, the ones with rare complexity or unique simplicity, ones with important lessons, the heartwarming ones, the eye opening, earth shattering, mind blowing ones, sometimes intimate, told with utmost sincerity and trust. Stories that makes you hold the interest of others before your very own. Ones that teach you what sacrifice is all about.
While the recent past spanning over several years holds a decent number of life defining experiences there is one in particular that I want to tell.
A lot has happened prior to my twenty-sixth birthday, first time I ever applied for a visa to visit the United States, first transatlantic flight, first visit to cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, first time driving across in what felt like the longest yet scariest trip ever, first chef job without prior cooking experience, learning the American culture by experiencing the first Fourth of July fireworks or celebrating the Labor day, and these are just a few highlights I hope to get into perhaps in future posts ’cause each and every one of them holds an important lesson for anyone who wants to learn.
Three weeks into my work and travel American endeavor the time has come to acknowledge that things have come full circle on yet another challenging yet worthwhile year of my life, it was time to blow the candles on yet another birthday cake. It was far from home, far from people I have come to know and love, far from the city that has become my home and missed dearly but nevertheless I was surrounded by people who were to willing to offer new experiences and contribute with new life lessons. Throughout years I have come to think that we should experience different things from difference lifestyles to become aware of how complex a human life can be and how different we all are. You can never be too understanding or too tolerant, these are the things you learn and for some it comes more difficult than for others and that day, July 6th, was the day I experienced something I’ve been reluctant and genuinely scared to try, mainly because a large portion of the modern society (the operative word being “modern”) thinks it’s not OK and that it can be damaging and harmful to your well-being.
While I have done some basic shopping in advance as almost every birthday event requires to, there was a secret ingredient I have not thought of and while it’s not customary it can make any event for that matter, not exclusive for birthdays, an event (to try) to remember and no, it was not alcohol. For decades it has been outlawed, considered harmful and usually associated with a certain part of society, in recent history, with new generations emerging the culture surrounding this particular element has come to know considerable change. While mostly older generations individuals argue that it creates addiction, harms your health, portray users as unmotivated, low class, degenerate and mostly failures, I, as a member of a younger generation, come to tell you that the anti-legalization arguments against it are complete and utter bullshit and this is why I think that.
Never having tried marijuana before I was scared and have wondered about the consequences it may have on me in the short and of course the long run. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know how I may feel and certainly didn’t know how I may be perceived once it kicks in. If you haven’t been aware, for various reasons, no two experiences are alike, while they may share commonalities they couldn’t be more different, for some it kicks in instantly while for others it can take up to thirty or so minutes to feel to full extent. I should mention that on any other day if you had the opportunity to meet me you most likely would conclude that among many things I may be intense, very low-key, painfully shy, all to myself kinda person. Well once it kicked in I started loosening up, I started laughing more, smiling more, telling more stories, forgetting the bad memories I usually hold on so much, for those few hours I managed to let go and just enjoy myself. What hasn’t changed was the way I was perceiving the content, the conversations, the way I would laugh at a joke on any other day of the week. I was myself only I wasn’t carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders as much as I would usually do.
Many anti-legalization supporters argue that it is a gateway drug to heavier drugs like cocaine and heroin but in fact the only things marijuana leads to are large amounts of food and heavy giggling. One personal advantage you may draw from it is that it offers you the opportunity to loosen up and see things differently. It may offer you the chance to acknowledge as to who you really are and maybe change yourself for the better, if necessary. At the end of the day it was a much needed education and yet again, for the millionth time I am better for it, I made the choice for myself to learn something, chose to see the good part, it will help me understand people better. I can’t stress it enough, trying it out it doesn’t really change you, in terms of traits and behaviors, it only shows you who you really are as a person, in a very ironic kinda way it helps you see clearly.
And for those would argue that there are many cases in which people become addicted to heavier drugs as a result of using marijuana I would argue that there underlying causes and marijuana has never been the problem in the first place. What they really need is help, but steel bars. Ever since that very first experience it reoccurred just a few times, last time being in September of last year, so there goes out the window once more the argument that it creates addiction. I have a higher chance of becoming addicted to pizza, cola drinks or chocolate cakes but from a very young age I have taught myself that everything needs to be in moderation. If anyone would be quick to blame marijuana for someone’s shortcoming think first as to how anyone of us, as parents, friends or simply strangers have contributed to shaping who your typical potheads really are. There would be less heavy drug users and hey, maybe marijuana users as well if it would be treated as a public health issue as Portugal does, a country where all drugs have been decriminalized and anyone who wants can receive professional medical help and no one’s life will be ruined by spending decades in prison, something no one really recovers from. I find it repugnant, outrageous and outright heartbreaking to see young people paying such a heavy price for such a stupid mistake and if anyone who thinks prison terms are the answer they should really think as to how much a human life is of value to them.
In the end I would like to conclude that before we judge we need to make sure we understand, make sure we are aware, make sure we can actually help and not refer it to the justice system to solve it for us. Also, at the end of the day none of us have the right to tell anyone how they should live their lives. If we don’t have anything to contribute with for anyone’s well-being then we should focus on our individual lives, that we are happy, that our children are happy without invading their individuality. When it comes to me the argument that “I gave you life I can take you out” just won’t fly. If someday so it happens that my child becomes addicted to a heavy drug or simply behaves less than expected of him I will admit my part of blame, I will assume my part of responsibility and I will instantly switch into helping mode, if so many others turned their life around it only goes to say that with help anyone else is able to do just that as well.
What’s your stance on this issue? What do you think of the “war on drugs”? Is it really effective? What success story, if there is one, would you apply to the American society? Also, what’s your personal experience, of course if wanna share it.