Altered states of consciousness, at their best, are a return to a place best described as “home”: that home of the mind, of the soul, that place where we know that we’re here on this planet at this time as the result of billions of years of … something.
This “something” may be specifically ordered by some universal architect, a god-consciousness,or the confluence of more events of chance than could possibly be tracked or noted. Yet the result is the same: (1) A universe that produced a galaxy that produced a planet capable of supporting life as we define it; and (2) A path for our species to develop in a fashion that allowed our brains to become the guide to a journey, not only physical journeys but internal ones, journeys of the mind.
Some of these mental journeys are collective: the dreams that we as humans have dreamed together to make the world what it is today. Sometimes the journey is the individual journey, the path to personal fulfillment that each of us walks alone.
Cannabis developed right here with us over immeasurable time, from the muck and slop of our planet, a child of earth and sun and water and wind, just like us, a plant guide with its own lessons to teach.
That home, for me, is grounded on a physical place from my childhood, a stand of white pines that were located near the boundary of a property that my family rented when I was between the ages of 4 and 6 years old. The falling of the long, thin, flexible needles created a cushion on the floor beneath them that was as soft and comfortable as any mattress I’ve ever laid on.
Afternoons, when the bus dropped me off from my half-day kindergarten, I would make my way under those pines and spend hours on the earth, breezes wafting fragrant terpene scents, splintered sunlight through the whispering branches, the sun’s warmth on my skin, my senses engaged, my mind free.
I’d stay there for hours, letting my mind travel where it may. It was the dawn of my imagination, the place where I took the parts and pieces of my experience and added elements fabricated in my mind’s eye; and there, anything was possible. I could substitute myself into the roles of those I saw and knew and create a story to play out for my own entertainment. I could use the things I was learning every day in school to build new unfamiliar worlds, places that were scary and exciting but with the built-in comfort of the understanding that I could open my eyes at any time and look around at the familiar landscape: the meadow, the forest beyond it, the little house with my mother inside.
This is the place that cannabis takes me. Life slows down around me, my breathing slows, my mind slows and I am free from the rushes and pressures of modern life; no taxes, no deadlines, no demands. Just me, another creation of the universe, part of the weave that is everything around us, everything we feel, hear, smell, touch and see. I breathe in the smoke, I breathe out, I am … And I breathe.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]