Ennui and the Fallacy of Drugs
I was sitting in the ar with my friend Eric one afternoon a few months ago. Eric's a big drinker, and at 4:00 he was well on his way to being three sheets to the wind. I'm a big drinker too, but not as far as he goes.
I love Eric: he's one of the funniest and most jaded people I know. Like me, he mines his own life for stories which have no moral, but ring long and loud like a bell.
Here's a great story he told me. For a couple of years, he'd been dating this girl Amy, another big drinker. Amy's a sweet girl, a bit on the needy side and with some self-esteem issues and a tendency to hysteria, but wonderful nonetheless. She and Eric made a good couple, for a couple of lushes. However, after about two years, the relationship hit the skids, and Amy moved out. She left behind piles of clothing and possessions at Eric's place, and after about a year of trying to get her to pick them up, Eric finally gave her an ultimatum: "Pick up your shit, or it's going in the trash." Not very nice perhaps, but reasonable enough: I know Amy, and she's got a LOT of stuff. If even half of her crap was floating around Eric's place, it was probably all he could do to find a vacant spot to sit down.
By this time Amy was dating Dave, also a big drinker. By the time Amy got Eric's message about her stuff, she'd been drinking all day and promptly freaked out. She went crying to Dave, who had also been drinking all day and was shitfaced. Between his alcoholic haze and Amy's alcoholic hysterics, Dave came to the not unreasonable conclusion that Eric needed a good thumping. So off he went to find Eric.
Dave found Eric at a dive somewhere in South Philly. With a bang, he kicked open the door, and spying Eric, pointed a shaking and hand and growled "YOU." Eric knew that face: it was the face of a man pushed too far, and he began to back up with his hands in the air. "Dave, I don't know what's gotten into you but.." as Dave moved in for the kill, his fist clenched.
Just as Dave had Eric cornered, raising his hand to belt him in the face, someone leaped out of nowhere, and sucker-punched Dave in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground.
"HEY!," yelled Eric, "That's my friend! What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Then he clocked the guy, helped Dave to his feet and got the hell out of there.
So it goes...
So Eric and I were sitting in this bar at 4:00 PM drinking beers (Eric was chasing his with Irish whiskey). It was late summer, the sun was shining in through the murk, and the door was half-open letting in some fresh air
"Why aren't you guys outside?" said the bartender. "It's gorgeous out there." Eric looked at me, I looked at him. We glanced outside through the half-drawn blinds, and in unison said "Ehh?"
"Not to be negative," said Eric, "but what's to see that I haven't seen before?"
"My feelings exactly," I said. "I mean, yeah it's a beautful day outside. But so what? Yesterday was beautiful too, and tomorrow will be as well. And if it isn't what's going to happen, other than it might be coudy or maybe it'll rain."
"The way I see it," Eric added, "it's like Jesus said. 'There's nothing new under the sun.' I'm uhh.. uh, 37 years old now. The same things happen every year."
"I know it. The birds always sing. The sun always comes up in the East and sets in the West. In a few months, the leaves will turn colors and fall from the trees, like they've done... well, pretty much every year since I've been born."
"You guys are a couple of downers," said the bartender.
"No. No, we're not," said Eric.
"Just realistic," I added. "Could I have another beer?"
"You know," Eric went on, "not that I'm suicidal, but if I died today--"
"... It wouldn't make much difference in the long run. I feel the same way. And it's the same for everything I've been noticing," I said. "Things that used to get me all excited.. I don't know anymore. Like when I think about women, you know, they all do the same things anyway. I mean, sure some will do different things than others, some will let you do it in the ass, others want to dress up funny, but at the heart of it, it's the same act, different body. And once the body loses its novelty, it's rare that you find one you want to spend all your time with."
"You got lucky," Eric said. I nodded my head in agreement, sucking down my beer.
"I guess we both have a good case of ennui," I said.
"Is that what it is? Ennui? Existential boredom? You know, I never thought of it that way, but I guess you're right." He took a deep gurgle of beer and threw back his chaser. "Thank God for drugs and alcohol."
"Amen to that. Hey hon, could you grab me another beer? Lager this time I guess, I'm running out of cash."
It was back in July or August when we had this conversation, and while I still feel the same way about alcohol (Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy as the sage said), I've changed my mind about drugs. Drugs, especially marijuana, are a fallacy. It has taken me 20 years to realize this.
It's no secret that I've smokeda lot of pot in my day. I used to joke in college that I was going to leave my lungs to my children so they could scrape them for resin. For as long as I can remember, smoking pot has been my way of relaxing, social lubrication, and dealing with boredom. But it's a lie.
I've been trying, with varying degrees of success to get off the weed. This year has been a toughie for me: my girlfriend and my son live in Canada, and I rarely get to see them; I've been unemployed for the better part of a year, despite a solid resume; I find that everything is to some extent in stasis. And at every opportunity I've reached for the weed. On tour with UncleFucker, I would be smoking joints fromt he minute I got in the van to the minute we got off stage. In Holland last year, I would wake up, walk to the coffeehouse, and have a cup of joe and a bowl of hashish for breakfast.
Lately though, I've been observing a number of things about my behavior: I don't get anywhere near as high as I used to get; in fact, I don't get high at all; weed exacerbates any feelings of depression or unhappiness I feel; and when I start smoking weed, I can't stop.
Yet I find that when I'm bored,the first thing I want is to smoke pot. I'm bored as hell right now, and I find myself craving just a hit, just one little hit. But I know I can't do that: it won't cure the boredom at all. I'll just be sedated and bored. I know this from experience: earlier this week, I backslided and had a toke. I felt awful. My head began to spin, and my brain felt like a hive of bees, buzzy buzzy buzzy. I was unable to think straight, and my depression, which had been at bay, surged forward.
The same is true of cocaine: empty promises, all of them. Drugs are a fallacy. I wish I'd never tried them, because now I have to train my mind to dismiss them as an option when I feel bored or need somethign to do. And believe me, I need somethign to do.
I was discussing this with my friend's ex-girlfriend just yesterday. I had been in the house all day, as I have been today, and finally decided to take a bike ride to releive the boredom. I'd gone less than a block on my bike when I began to wonder why I'd left the house to begin with. I'm just as bored, but now I'm outside, I thought.
Alcohol has it's own problems and ill-effects, but it does relieve bordeom if only by putting you to sleep.
And that's all I have to say about that for now.