Sometimes I think that all I’m doing with my life is trying to stay high all the time.
That’s interesting. I’m surprised to hear you say that.
Well, I don’t mean that I always turn to a substance in order to get high. I do do that but substances can provide a certain kind of high. There are lots of highs, you know? There’s the high you get from good sex or the high you get from going some place you’ve never been before. Sometimes when I’m jamming in the studio I’ll find a melody or a pattern that I like and I’ll play it over and over again. Then I’ll drift away from it, improvising. And then I’ll come back to that original pattern again and repeat it. . . I guess that’s how I compose a lot of my songs. I’ll find a pattern that I like and then I’ll just keep playing it over and over again. That’ll be the hook. Then, I’ll start improvising and the music for the verse and for the breakdown will take shape. Then, I’ll find my way back to the hook. Anyway, there’s a high that I feel when I find that initial pattern that I like. I like it so much that it gives me a kind of buzz. I’ll keep playing it really because I want the buzz to last.
That’s an interesting way of describing your process. So, what you’re saying (and correct me if I’m misunderstanding) is that you’ll find a groove that gives you a creative high. Once you feel that high you’ll keep playing that one part and its primarily to keep the high going.
Yeah. That sounds about right. I feel like I do that with a lot of things. I’ll find something that feels really really good. Then I’ll do it over and over again until it doesn’t give me the same feeling. Then, I’ll put it down and go looking for something else that . . . gets me high.
I see. I sense that you see something wrong with that.
Well . . .I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel about it. I feel conflicted. I’ll use an example from my past to express to you what I’m feeling. When I was a senior in high school, some friends of mine invited me to go on a religious retreat. I said yeah. I thought it was just an excuse to go into the mountains and drink. But when I got there it was a legitimate religious retreat. There were bible studies and a lot of group and individual exercises focused on examining your beliefs. The last night we were at the retreat the counselors brought us to the main hall. All the lights were off and there was this giant cross in the middle of the floor and it was outlined in candle light. We all sat in a circle around the cross. One of the counselors spoke and invited each of us to come up to the cross individually and ask God’s forgiveness for something that we had been blaming him for. I recognized that I had been mad at God because my mom had had to work two jobs. I went up and I said what I had to say and as I was saying it I felt this rush. It felt like something ran right through me. I had never felt anything like it and I started crying. There was some initial embarrassment at crying in front of a room full of people (some of whom I’d met only a few days prior) but once that embarrassment went away I felt a high. I felt amazing for the next week or so. At the time I connected the high with God and, specifically, with Christianity. I started going to Church and going to bible study a lot after that. When people asked me why I was doing those things I often would say that I had had a “moment of enlightenment” and that I had “found God”. But in hindsight I think I was going to those places because I wanted that rush I felt when I was speaking in front of that cross. I wanted to be moved to tears again. Sometimes I think that all I was was a dude that had gotten a taste of something that he liked and now he was hooked. More socially acceptable than a crack-head or an alcoholic but still just a dude trying to get high.
I think I understand. You see something wrong with wanting to get high.
Well, no. Its not that I think that there’s something wrong with getting high. Its just that for a long time I have thought of that experience as this momentous occasion in my life. I don’t subscribe to a religion anymore but I always saw that experience as the point in which my awareness expanded. It seems far less significant when I equate it with smoking a plant.
You reference “smoking a plant” as if it’s a meaningless or immoral activity.
I wouldn’t say that. Its just not as big as that experience at the retreat.
Something I feel that you are not seeing here is that experiences have no inherent meaning or value. An event is only as big or as small as you decide it is. If you believe your experience at the retreat to be “bigger” than smoking a joint that’s fine but you should know that the significance of one event versus the other is determined in your mind. . . Let me ask you this: why does the experience at the retreat seem bigger than smoking with your friends?
. . .well, I guess its because . . .hmm . . .
I feel that its important for you to understand why one event is more significant to you than the other. I think its so important that its worth taking some time to really understand the answer before you respond to my question.
. . . that’s fair. I’ll do that. . .but the central point I was getting at when we started talking was that I feel that I’m always looking for a high. And I know what you’re going to say: “Whats wrong with that?”. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just . . .I don’t want to miss out on the really substantial aspects of being alive because I’m always looking for a fix.
Did you ever think that the best thing you can possibly do with your life is to try to experience all the highs that you can?
You mean just keep chasing one high after another?
What about doing something to make the world a better place? What about doing something to benefit other people? What about success in my music career? What about sharing deep interpersonal connections with other people? Shouldn’t I be focused on doing those things instead of getting high?
You don’t think you can get really great highs from doing each of those things?
. . .
I suggest that you stop thinking of “getting high” as something that happens when you drink, smoke, or digest something. Getting high simply means feeling good. And feeling good is how you know that you’re doing whats right for you. If doing something that feels good until it doesn’t feel good anymore and then looking for something else to make you feel good sounds crazy then life will always sound crazy to you. The truth is that there’s nothing crazy about that. If you clear your mind and really think about it there is nothing that could be more logical or sane.
. . .
Stop making it so complicated. If something feels good then do it. Do it until it doesn’t feel good and then stop doing it. Then look around you and you’ll see something else that will make you feel good. Then do that. Keep doing things this way until your heart stops beating. You’ll be amazed at how many of your concerns will disappear and how many of your questions will be answered if you do things this way.