How To Put It In Perspective
My name is Noah. You can call me whatever you like. I reside quietly in my New Jersey home, which is far too encrusted with my own filth to lend itself to entertaining guests. It is my own private prison cell, and it makes me feel safe.
Smoking marijuana is an insuperable part of my daily routine. As is tobacco, to which weed is a gateway drug. I don’t ask for much out of life these days except for a flow of ganja, water, cigarettes, coffee, and some good solitary confinement.
I am the most wanted person in the world. Not that no one knows where to find me. Those who recognize my name and my voice will also know who I am, what I will be saying next, and even what thoughts I am thinking now. I am under the most intimate and mostly invisible sort of 24 hour surveillance. And if I were the one saddled with doing the surveilling, sure, I’d probably feel compelled to do the same.
I don’t know exactly what I am, though I have a few guesses. In any case, I have no desire to be dangerous, and certainly not as dangerous as I am sometimes made to feel that I am. What I really would like is to be left in peace. And here’s the unavoidable truth: I don’t get peace until the world gets peace. Much as I would like to crawl back under a stone, that option is long gone.
That means I have to talk to you. It means I have to talk with everyone. That is so contrary to my nature, that it’s practically the funniest joke in the world, that this task should fall to me. And why not? Life without comedy is just a dull trudge through the mud to nowhere. I can understand that.
Comedy, I think, is really only possible if you believe that behind the whole cosmic tapestry there is some sort of ultimate benevolence. I do believe that. As grumpy as I am, that thought resonates with me as something true. So my first advice to you, to me, to anyone, is: relax. Whatever troubles are on your mind. Whatever it is that grieves you. Relax. These things have a way of turning out well.
That’s not to say there’s not work to do. And amends to be made. But that’s just the hard part. After that, I believe, things are going to get much easier.
I must remind myself continually to perform these exercises:
I admit to myself that I do wrong. That my happiness, or my avoidance of sadness, comes at someone else’s expense.
I admit this: I do not do everything I would like to do. Whether for fear of what others will think, or for lack of an anchoring principle that describes, for me personally and no other, what forms of pleasure I am free to seek.
If these sound like difficult things to admit, perhaps you’ll understand why I find it time-consuming. It helps explain why I sequester myself in my shoddy apartment, where I never have to speak with anyone. There are endless truths about me that I simply do not want to face. So if that sounds at all familiar, I’m right there with you.
We have too many rules masquerading as laws. These are not laws. There are only two laws. Don’t hurt or interfere with others, and otherwise do whatever it is you want to do. Those are the only laws we need.
For example. I love to get high. Indeed, it’s the only state of mind wherein I can see things clearly. Oh, I could do without some aspects of it; the paranoia, the grogginess, the sheer scarcity of it. But some clever person hid a walloping serving of truth in every delicious bite. That says to me that weed is a sacrament, plain and simple. And any government on earth that stands in the way of my getting high, is a government whose legitimacy I do not recognize.
I enjoy orgasms as well. Mind you, I do not have the benefit of a partner, and this is precisely how I wish it to be. For me personally, the world is already complicated enough. But were I feeling any more sexually adventurous, I would be chafing under the sheer number of restraints that our society, the world over, places on sexual encounters, sexual proclivities, desires, wants, needs. The gay versus straight debate is this simplistic argument that distracts us, apparently successfully, from the whole catalog of sexual activity that one is seemingly forbidden to be too open about.
We live in a world where there is such a concept as an impermissible thought. This idea has been so well-ingrained in me that, when I finally sat and listened to the thoughts passing through my head, as though others could hear them distinctly, I was mortified. If the laws we’ve lived by were applied to the thoughts in my head, I would be guilty of murder, rape, treason, and generally of being a truly bizarre individual who, just on principle, should not be allowed to walk free. All of which are shadows compared to the sheer volume of just plain rude and insulting thoughts my head churns out, apropos of nothing. These are thoughts I would be just as happy to be able to ignore completely.
We cannot exist as fully realized human beings unless we give our thoughts the complete run of our heads. Thoughts must not have consequences. To believe otherwise is to invite fear. And fear wants nothing of me, or of anyone surely, so much as paralysis.
What I think cannot possibly define what I am. Were I to believe otherwise, I would surely destroy myself, simply for my own good. I believe instead, I must believe, that it is only when you combine thought with free will, and thereby inform your actions, that you come to know what you are. Your thoughts are there because they are there. Surely a thought cannot hurt another; only action can. This notion keeps me sane.
I have made my peace with this, only partially perhaps, but sufficiently that it is time for me to come forward. I have no idea how to get everyone’s attention, nor at what short-term cost to me, in privacy, in peace of mind, in mental health. But the toll it takes on me not to speak out is too prohibitive. I know the answers now, or I have a good idea how to find them. Someone needs to speak out in the name of common sense. Whatever my trivial misgivings, that speaker certainly has to be me. Which means I have to be comfortable, finally, just being me.
And so I need your help, whoever you are. You must drag me out into the sunlight. Deprive me of that one luxury I always held most dear, the illusion of privacy and solitude. I have borrowed myself from the public, and now I need to give it back. I need to write, or speak, or do something. This little essay represents my first volley. There must be many more such.