My Love Affair with Mary Jane

I was just a teenager when we first met. Too young for the start of a life-long romance, I know… but sometimes love blossoms in the most unlikely places.

Like many teenagers, I was shy and socially awkward. My parents were recently divorced, and I was bouncing back and forth between two houses and living out of a duffel bag. And, like many teenagers, I was more than a little bit bitter about it.

I was depressed. I was a pessimist, a cynic, a jaded youth; and being unable to find any meaning, purpose, or joy in life, I had withdrawn into my own private darkness.

And then along came Mary Jane…

Okay, so it may be a stretch to say that cannabis cured me of depression and turned my life around, just like that. But honestly, in retrospect, it kinda seems like it. Getting high was an epiphany for me, a defining moment. I can divide my life neatly into B.C. (before cannabis) and A.W. (after weed).

In the years since that first toke, marijuana has been a constant companion, a friend and lover, teacher and guide who has unveiled to me the depth and beauty and mystery of the world… and myself.

I think it all started with music.

Before cannabis, music for me had been more of a social statement than anything else; a declaration of how angry and rebellious I was, a sign of what clique I belonged to. But after a few hits, every preconceived notion I had about music — what I liked, what I didn’t like, and why — all flew out the window.

For the first time, I was really listening, with rapt attention, and what I heard was a revelation. For the first time, I was really hearing every note, every silence, every movement. For the first time, I could really feel the emotions behind the song; I could feel the soul of the artist.

I embarked on an epic exploration of music, from cool jazz and doo-wop, to fusion and funk and psychedelic rock, to disco and electronica, country and pop. I wanted to hear it all, to swim through those vast universes of sound and soak up whatever secrets lie within.

And music was only the beginning…

Movies became a whole new phenomenon. Smoking a joint helped me to tune into the finer and more subtle elements of comedy, drama and storytelling; to really let go, and forget myself, and be transported to other worlds; to laugh with joyous abandon, and to be moved by emotions and longings so powerful they brought tears to my eyes.

Under the mind-expanding influence of cannabis, and the wise tutelage of my high school English teacher (thanks, Mrs. Negaard), I developed an appreciation and love of literature and poetry that is still one of my greatest joys in life. Shakespeare, Whitman, Emerson, Frost, Yeats, Thoreau, Melville and Hemingway, Steinbeck and Dostoevsky, Kerouac and Vonnegut, all suddenly came alive for me — in large part because of the curiosity, openness and insight of cannabis intoxication.

My first clumsy poems and essays were were written while stoned out of my mind, and so were many of my best since then. Marijuana helped me find my purpose, my path, the art that has become my career and livelihood.

If it weren’t for cannabis, I wouldn’t be writing today.

Getting high revealed to me what it means to be a writer, to be an artist. It showed me the power of words. It showed me what art is, what beauty is, and how art and creativity is one of the only things capable of fulfilling the deepest longings of the human spirit.

For the first time, I didn’t care about fitting in, being cool. My eyes had been opened to new possibilities, new frontiers. The world that had seemed so cruel and hopeless now shimmered with promise. There was beauty, and humor, and meaning, and joy to be found everywhere, if you knew how to look for it.

Cannabis showed me how to look for it.

It also showed me how to stop looking, stop worrying, stop trying so hard to get somewhere else, to be someone I’m not. It showed me how to relax, and be still, and just breathe, and enjoy the moment, and be myself. Cannabis helped me to realize who I am, deep down; beneath all the roles I play, and the masks I wear.

Like Marley said, “When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.”

Before cannabis, I was lost. Mary Jane opened my eyes, awakened my passions, inspired my creativity, and gave my life purpose and meaning and direction.

It’s been more than fifteen years since that first toke, and our love affair is still going strong. My longest relationship, by far.

She still brings out the best in me, my child-like playfulness and curiosity. I still turn to her for inspiration, guidance and relaxation; when I’m reading, or writing, or meditating.

And sometimes we just curl up on the couch and watch a movie together. I want nothing more than to grow old together, and live happily ever after.

That is, if I don’t get arrested. The love we share is still illegal in most places, so there’s always that risk…

But you know what?

She’s worth it.

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