One of my daily rituals used to be lighting a joint when I got home from work, and riding off the weed for the rest of the evening. It was the only thing that could relax me; otherwise, I was tense and uptight. I couldn’t just sit and watch a movie, read a book, listen to an album without it because I felt too guilty, as if I wasn’t getting enough done.
For the first year that I quit, I missed it terribly. Not because I couldn’t sleep, not because food became bland, not because music didn’t sound as good, but because I couldn’t calm down. I was always trying to get things done, constantly depriving myself of pleasure to accomplish things without an end.
Following Taoism has changed that. Taoists value becoming as a child. Having no extraneous thoughts, and living in the now.
Unless stopped by adults, children live life to the full, whereas for most adults existence seems more of a near-life experience where we resemble actors rehearsing for a play that never quite begins, instead of playing fully, as children do, in a performance that has no beginning or end.
—Mark Forstater, The Tao
In doing so, I’ve begun to live every day as if it was my last. I don’t worry about running out of my good tea anymore, and just drink it. I don’t feel guilty about doing nothing, about letting my mind wander. I do what I feel like, when I feel like it. I’ve been able to let go. I stopped sweating the small stuff, and started enjoying life.
An ex-smoker once told me that the part he missed the most about smoking was the ritual. The early-morning-coffee or the after-dinner smoke. He felt a lot better after quitting, but if he found out the world was going to end in a week, the first thing he would do is go to the corner store and buy a pack of smokes. I used to think that I’d do the same with weed. Not so, anymore.
Not that I don’t miss it every now and then. There are certain things that can only be experienced through mind-tripping highs. It’s something I’d like to keep for special occasions. When I go to see Darren, or when John comes down, but even those seldom times aren’t worth it anymore. I know I’ll never do it again, but I don’t mind because I know I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it already. The important part is that I’m not dependent on it.
Taoist hedonism has set me free.