In my very late teens and very early twenties I found myself having gradually fallen into a very depressive mindset. My reflective diagnosis of this state was that it had been caused by my inability to stop smoking marijuana in copious quantities and to stop throwing my life away. A life which had been happy and successful a mere 12-24 months before. On a completely random day, this period of my life came to a climax with a split second decision I made. It was a dare that had arisen from my subconscious. Drive through that stop sign. There was no way to see if cars were approaching from either direction. My inner voice started challenging me, encouraging me to put my life in the hands of fate, to relinquish control, to accept my own mortality. I did it. Fifty metres from the intersection I put my foot down and drove straight through it.
Ten years on and not only do I consider that single action to be far and away the most shameful and selfish thing I have ever done, but I feel horrified whenever I think about the potential danger into which I placed the innocent driver and occupants of the other car. As it turned out there was not a single car coming from either direction. For that I am eternally grateful.
After stopping the car immediately afterwards and going through the guilty aspects of what it would have done to my family, friends and the other people involved, I turned to reflect on exactly what on earth this meant for me. I had survived. I could just as easily have been dead. If I were dead this wouldn’t be happening right now. I continued to go forward in time. I wouldn’t eat dinner this evening, I would never again see the people I knew who loved me, I would never do all the things that I had wanted to do. It was then that I actually started to make some progress.
I thought about all the things I would have never experienced that I wanted to. I wanted to travel overseas. I wanted to fall in love. I wanted to have a family. All of a sudden I wanted to do everything from trying new foods to skydiving. I had freed myself. For a brief moment I no longer felt the despair of thinking how I was going to make all of this happen, I just concentrated on the fact that now I could. The ties of my normal day to day life could be severed, because if I had died at that moment, none of that would have happened anyway. Life would have gone on without me. I finally understood what it meant to be alive. I saw past the imaginary boundaries we allow society to place around us. I finally understood that I could do whatever the hell I wanted to with my life and that there is no right or wrong way to live.
I gave up smoking marijuana shortly afterwards. I have never blamed the drug, only ever myself. I have also never forgotten that moment and resolved that I was going to live a life that was worth living. Over the next 12 months I pulled myself out of it. I replaced getting high with getting fit. I set small manageable goals and worked towards them. It wasn’t easy, in fact it was hell, nightmares, hiding my withdrawal symptoms from my parents who were ignorant of drugs and had no idea how dark my world had become, cravings that led me to collapsing in the garage after punching boxing bags until I literally didn’t have the strength to stand. But I did it. I got through it. One day at a time. I did it alone and of that I am damn proud.
That single event changed my life. It changed the way I thought and how I live my life. What is most odd is that is was through smoking marijuana that I began to see myself from a third person perspective. To paraphrase Bob Marley, marijuana had introduced me to myself. It was then that I saw the vanity, the arrogance, the ignorance, and the uselessness of how I was leading my previous ‘happy and successful’ life. Initially it depressed me, but through that I have created a mind full of thought, a mind that craves the stimulus of education, a soul that craves culture and language, a heart that whilst scarred has the ability to love with all of itself.
I started to live my life with my new philosophy, my new outlook and over the past ten years I have been trying to refine it ever closer to my own personal meaning of life. I don’t imagine I’ll ever finish this work, but it’s a work in progress and it’s truly one where the journey will be better than the destination. This blog is a collection of the thoughts that were born from this moment and how I’ve tried to apply them to my life in order to continue my self appointed purpose of being the best human being I can be and the never ending, challenging choices that life places in my way. It is not easy being moral and good in this world, but isn’t that challenge part of what it’s all about?