Up until recently, ale and bourbon.
But now I’m a fair bit towards teetotal. Which is a little odd for me. But I guess the logic behind that is still that the above are my poisons, just in a more literal sense.
It’s a hard step to realise that something you enjoy is doing you damage. And it’s true that a heck of a lot of things we enjoy do us damage. Some of these things, love springs to mind, are worth it. Others, amphetamines or heroin maybe, aren’t really worth the downside.
With booze, I simply found that the downside was getting worse while the upside was remaining steady (or falling rapidly, if you stop counting good times that you can’t remember).
So why are we drawn to poisons so much?
Why is it that deleterious effects are so much fun?
I don’t really have an answer for that, actually. I’m not quite sure.
I guess it’s to do with the mind. The fact that we live in it and from it, yet it is a chemical engine. There is no mystical force that drives us (at least not proveably) just a big, intricate sack of electricity, connections and chemicals.
So when we pump chemicals into us, it naturally has an effect.
There’s a power in that, knowing that you can change your world so simply. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.
You eat this cake, or drink this bottle, and it can make you huge or small. Our poisons change us directly.
And in the case of hallucinogens, you can change yourself utterly, at least from the inside, and that’s all we’ve got really.
It’s an interesting experience, and it’s no wonder it’s addictive. Lots of art and spirituality (and even advertising etc) is trying to do just that. Change your perception.
It’s no wonder we reach for the shortcuts.
And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that, despite the negative tone so far.
But you’ve got to get it in balance.
I’m currently preferring to experience my experiences more directly. I’ve spent most of my life living through barriers. Taking them down for a while has left me utterly present in my body. Hurt hurts more, but it’s easier to process. And all the good stuff feels incredible. Much like what I previously pursued through poisons.
I guess love is the other big poison. One which I imbibe readily and now with a general sense of just how dangerous it can be.
But that’s never going to stop me. The trouble is worth the joys. And the potential for goodness is normally on par with the potential for badness.
And we are optimists. And gamblers.
And that’s fine.
I’m finally starting to choose my poisons wisely. And with that decision, I think I may be getting even closer to wonderland.
So try it.
Try poisons, but warily. You’ll learn either way. And sometimes you’ll find something beautiful.
Illustration by Lucy. (Welcome back).