I have recently mentioned here that as a teen, and for a while into my twenties, I took a variety of drugs. I took hard drugs. But I don't mean it in the conventional use of that description. Hard drugs usually is intended to refer to something about the strength and danger of the drugs in question. What I mean by hard drugs has to do with difficulty. I took drugs that were extremely difficult. Drugs that challenged one's notion of oneself. Drugs that made me uncomfortable. Drugs that launched assaults on the edges of my consciousness, on my notions of what being human is, and on my very sanity.
They were interesting, but they were not well suited to me.
When I was 16, 17, 18, I took LSD, mushrooms, peyote. I smoked pot too, but rarely actually found it fun. I remember one moment of insight, some weekend with the boys in Todd's house, taking LSD while his parents were away, finding my way to the hall bathroom where Todd was doing something with his face in the mirror, and saying to him "But this is how I always am."
Fly high? Do not seek the sun. Fly low? Do not touch the water. Sociable, confident? Don't drink alcohol. Energetic, high revving? You do not need caffeine. Spacey, musing, thoughtful? Avoid marijuana. Lucid, anxious? Eschew the hallucinogens.
I don't think drugs are essential. I don't need to be on drugs. But the right ones can be nice too. I drink alcohol moderately on occasion. It's especially helpful in social situations. I have caffeine daily. I love the drink, but to have a flush of energy and vividness once or twice a day is lovely too. These are the right drugs for me. Not because they are legal, I don't believe drugs should be illegal, and of course marijuana and acid are vastly less dangerous than alcohol, but because they suit me, because they are easy, not hard.
A very small story I am prone to tell is this one I have told you, that I took the wrong drugs as a teenager. And it is true that I would have done much better in that time with a little alcohol softening uncomfortableness and caffeine to show me something about restless energy. But none of it would have solved the deeper problems running through my life at that time. And of all the things I have had to survive in my life, I feel a little pride at surviving LSD and Peyote and the like. They were a little like surviving myself.