The six months I smoked marijuana potentiated my keen interest in my own greatness and manifested itself in ways I never thought possible, including a serious, but brief run for President.
After the stout cowgirl sent me packing to Lori, I took a short hiatus from weed. When I started to smoke again, I was more attune to the potential I had to alarm both friend and stranger alike. I began to connect with my own supplier and didn’t seek out smoke companions with the zealousness that I once had. I also changed my venue some and began to smoke in the ManCave where I explored the relationship between tools and THC.
Though I had found my own locale, I continued to be drawn by a youngish, musical couple I had gotten to know in town who I liked enormously and who played a folk mass once a month for us at my Bisbee Church. Lynn and Tommy were well known musicians who had some regional success. Lynn mastered the keyboard effortlessly and played requests on Wednesday nights in town. She looked up the lyrics on her tablet, dabbled briefly to find the key, and then managed to play and sing the tune entirely from ear. She had the nice habit of publicly welcoming me to her gig on the occasions I attended request night. That affirmation helped me ride a little more easily inside my skin, meeting new people and making acquaintances with what we call in the business, the ‘unchurched.’
Lynn and Tommy and I met off and on to discuss music for church. After we talked about hymns, we then talked about herb. I shared with them my history with pot and the reasons I shunned its use, stating that a return to the substance would have serious consequences. They understood but did express their sense that getting high together would be a fun undertaking. I agreed but remained strong in my abstinence. They, more than anyone else, drew me into my own use not by any pressure to join them but because I coveted their lives. Attractive, creative, not burdened by heavy responsibilities (or so I thought), they played music, laughed and partied with friends, and slept late.
Lynn, I came to learn, has serious health problems including Lupus. She required dialysis three days a week. The whole time I knew she and Tommy, I had no idea about the severity of her condition and that she was living on borrowed time. The couple rarely spoke about her condition. They liked the way I preached and handled myself as a priest, but when I tried to offer pastoral care and support, they weren’t really interested.
It gladdened me that they were in my life and part of my church, however tangentially. The connection I had with them helped me feel more hip and relevant to more than just the grey and mostly Anglo demographic that I served. I hoped that my smoking would lead to opportunities to smoke with them. Those never really came and that disappointed me. In fact, as much as they suggested that smoke might do me some good, when I did start to partake, they didn’t seem to take much notice. I had become a stoner to hang out with the cool kids, but soon found out the cool kids were flaky and hard to find.
One evening, after my brief break, I sought them out and others and suggested that all my new smoke pals rendezvous to join me for a “Dead Poets Society,” gathering at a weird Bisbee spot on Tombstone Canyon. Just where the road widens and turns up the canyon, below a stone formation known as Castle Rock, there was an undeveloped piece of property that, at the time, was adorned with a bed, a faux fire place, a night stand, and some other accouterments. The place always aroused my curiosity and I very much wanted to gather with my new friends, and read poetry, talk politics, solve (or contribute) to the world’s problems, and smoke dope. I put out the invitation to Tommy and Lynn and a host of others.
Nobody showed up.
This saddened me and would have sobered me but I was already well on my way to a uber-high. Tommy and Lynn-the only ones to respond to my text, did, even though they stayed put that night, put two joints in their mailbox that I availed myself of quickly. Lynn, because of her illnesses, had access to medical marijuana. At fifty-one years of age, with my wife and daughter increasingly anxious about my extended, nocturnal absences, I sat on the corner of a ridiculous bed wondering where my friends were.
With nothing to do but smoke and ponder my environs, the night grew crisp and my joint grew smaller. I found the Pegasus nearby and took comfort inside the cab. Several months after my first night out with Adam, I was back on the Bisbee’s main drag with my trusty steed. It became clear to me, as everything took on a blue, fuzzy hue, that I had no business driving. Recognizing that, I saved what little remained of the joint I’d nearly consumed, and hoped I would sober up enough to get me home.
I did get home safely that early morning but not before I did some serious travel. The potent pot I smoked transported me into my mind’s deep recesses and deeper longings, to an encounter with heroes and my own destiny. Even though I stopped puffing on the magic stick, my high increased and I began to think on that which I often think on: What role will I play in history and what changes might I affect to save the country?
Parked on the dark asphalt on the downside of midnight, I could see the fake bedroom where my party didn’t happen. Everything a fuzzy blue aura, I believed that my long wait to know my role in the coming revolution was finally over. I absolutely believed that my phone would ring from an anonymous caller. Upon answering , I would receive instructions from an X-Files stranger, who would give me directions I needed that were necessary for my historical trajectory.
The phone call never came.
Not dissuaded, I interpreted the silent cell to mean that I misunderstood the Universe’s encrypted message. The cellphone would not ring. The cellphone didn’t need to ring because the entities ready to launch me onto the world stay certainly didn’t need a ringing cellphone to get to me. It became clear to me that they simply wanted me to pick up the phone, speak into it, and that would suffice to activate their instructions.
I received no instructions even after answering the silent phone several times, wondering a little bit more each time, why David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren’t on the other end.
I discerned that the secret forces who knew they needed my intellect and talent, changed their minds about how to make contact with me. Too easy to trace a phone call, even if the phone call was a hallucination wrought by high-octane weed, the secret agents would come to me in person. Specifically they would come to me in automobiles-probably black and long- and carry me off to a helluva adventure. Into the wee hours of the new day, I looked up Tombstone Canyon where I could see the Iron Man statue, the chain link fence where I had my Advent quandary, and the Art Deco courthouse where they prosecuted people for drug crimes. No vehicles approached. Nothing flowed, up or down, Bisbee’s main artery. Then the headlights appeared. Driving slowly, as if searching for a hero, the lights and the vehicle they guided came into better view. This was it, I told myself. This is the moment for my launch. I’ll go with them and let it all begin. I could detect the vehicle slowing, almost to a crawl as it neared. I wondered if they would be dressed in black, like Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. I prepared myself. Would weed be allowed as part of my training? The vehicle –I couldn’t identify make and model. It didn’t matter.
The vehicle didn’t stop.
None of the cars stopped. Every now and again, a car descended slowly, headlights full and directed to me. Once stopped, I imagined the driver and his/her companion would exit their vehicle and make themselves known. I was prepared to go with them, into my uncharted path, cognizant that my time to make a difference had finally come. Another car came, moving very slowly. I sensed it slowed. The lights pointed directly at me. I prepared myself to exit the cab when summoned. The car did not stop.
How I could be so clear about what was to transpire but so wrong? No phone call. No visitors. No directions. Nothing. I sat in the Pegasus, deflated, questioning my life’s mission to be of influence and reform. I decided to finish the joint I’d began that evening. That proved fruitful. The Universe did affirm my path and my directions, though not terribly specific, guidance did come.
I had a vision.
Four of my heroes visited me, their presence in my mind erased any doubt I had that I might, one day, do the kind of things they did. Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Billy Bob Thornton-all heroes of mine, all possessing their own charisms and abilities, gathered together around me. They spoke not to me nor to one another, very much like Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader (before he went dark) and Yoda, glowed about, pouring out their support on Luke Skywalker in the great tree house civilization of those adorable fuzzy bear creatures. Granted, Luke had pretty much turned things around for the good by then a couple of times. I had yet to rescue any princesses or frozen friends or destroy any Death Stars. But the presence of my blue hazy pantheon signaled to me that I belonged to their cadre and my moment would come.
Elated that the Universe had made contact, even if it was 2 am, I decided to call Jonathan, my personal coach, and share with him my discovery. I thought that the news would interest him given that for the two years I talked to him, depending on his guidance and counsel as I dealt with my work and family responsibilities, I had mentioned my curiosity about my role in history. He was a Buddhist master and lived on the East Coast. I liked him very much and I think he liked me. He didn’t know about my smoking as I chose not to solicit his input my marijuana use but I continued to have our regular sessions and he tried to help me juggle my work and family commitments and my nascent interest in writing.
I dialed his number, expecting he would share my excitement for my vision.
“Jonathan. It’s Seth. I’m stoned. Really Stoned.”
“What? Seth? What time is it?” I had woken him up
“Yeah I know it’s late. I’ve been smoking.” I began to get nervous. “I hope it’s okay that I called.”
“No, this is not okay, Seth. This is completely inappropriate. It’s four in the fucking morning!”
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you about this vis….”
“You’re sorry? Well, I’m pissed.” I determined the call was not going well and remembered being yelled at by the Tombstone gal at the Cowboy show. “I didn’t know who this was. I thought something happened to my daughter.”
“You’re sorry? Good. I’m glad you’re sorry. You should be sorry.”
“I’m hanging up. We have session today. I’ll talk to you then.”
Humbled and slightly humiliated, I drove the Pegasus home. Later that day, as I considered the evening behind me, I began to wonder if maybe I had then and had been smoking too much. I picked up the phone believing that someone would be on the line. I expected the cars that I identified to actually turn, park beside me, and cart me off to a great adventure. Jonathan’s wake-up call helped me see the error of my ways.
I decided that I would give up marijuana for Lent and see how that worked out. I took abstinence from weed and saying the ‘F’ word. I did much better with not smoking than not swearing. I followed through with my commitment, but returned to smoke after that fast. The severity of my hallucination would increase once I left for my sabbatical. My delusions put me at serious physical risk, in jeopardy with law enforcement, and frightened my wife so badly that she took our daughter and moved out of our home. Billy Bob Thornton’s presence in my personal pantheon that night was there by no accident.