Love. The verb.
The last time I spent any real time walking around Chiang Mai was in July, a few weeks after cannabis was decriminalized in Thailand. Before the drive up, I looked online for newly opened dispensaries. I found a couple, but only one that was open on Sundays. I went there with my wife and in-laws and bought a single gram of an indica hybrid that I'm still working my way through. One puff is enough to exhume the ghosts and knots I have hiding under the hood. It's not pleasure I'm after. It's discovery. A window into the world that goes on inside me when I'm not looking.
Four months later, it's much easier to find a cannabis dispensary in Chiang Mai. There were two immediately outside the hotel where my wife and I stayed last Friday. Sandwiched between them was a space under construction that my gut tells me will probably be another one. Walking around, I saw maybe three times more dispensaries than 7-Elevens, of which there are around 13,000 in the country, a few thousand fewer than the number of Starbucks in the US, a country that is roughly 1,800 percent larger than Thailand and eerily full of Starbucks.
Anyway, I bought a cannabis cookie on Friday and ate it (after stopping at a 7-Eleven) after dinner.
It's the second edible I've had since cannabis was legalized here. With the first one, a brownie, I exercised more caution, cutting it in half, and then cutting that half into smaller pieces that I shared with a couple of my in-laws. The effect that time was mostly one of deep relaxation.
As I was buying the cookie on Friday, I mentioned something to the man at the shop about how I was planning to eat only half. He seemed surprised by this, told me the THC dosage in their cookies is relatively low, and suggested that I eat the whole thing. So that's what I did.
It kicked in unusually fast. Within 30 minutes, I was feeling the effects, and the music I was listening to seemed to take on a range of new and beautiful frequencies. Within an hour, the intensity had increased. Knowing that that trajectory would probably continue for another few hours, I started to wonder what the rest of my night would hold. I quickly saw that line of wondering as a trap, though. Because wondering what the future will hold is a pretty perfect doorway to worrying what the future will hold. And worrying what the future will hold is just living in fear. I pulled myself out of the trap by just letting go. Breathing and accepting whatever each moment brought with it. Then I spent the next few hours falling back into and climbing back out of that same trap.
For most of the rest of the night, I found it extremely difficult to stay in the present. Everything in the present seemed to have bad vibes about it. So my mind would again drift to the future or the past, some tiny bothersome detail that I would get fixated on and make into a monster. But all the while, I kept returning to an awareness that the bad vibes were all coming from me. (It's like those horror movies where the maniac is calling someone from inside their house, except I was the maniac making the calls and the scared person receiving them and the police warning me "HE'S CALLING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!”) And I knew that if I still wanted to bust some of those ghosts and untie some of those knots, I'd have to get up close to them.
But then what?
I don't remember what prompted it, but something made me think of what Lex Fridman said about his recent conversation with Kanye West, and how he believes "in the power of tough, honest, empathetic conversation to increase the amount of love in the world." The conversational aspect of that aside, what really clicked with me in the moment was the point about increasing the amount of love in the world. It suddenly seemed so easy. My inner bad vibe factory would immediately be harmless if I just wrapped every rotten thing it spit out in love. This would also work on the bad vibes calling from outside the house, so to speak.
As soon as I thought this, it was as though I'd aligned the pieces of an ancient puzzle just so, and a lock somewhere came unlocked, and the weight of the universe lifted from my shoulders, then turned around and gave me a big thumbs up and a half-playful, half-joyful look, as if to say, "Duh, you stupid fucking idiot. Stop hitting yourself. Just love. Feel it. Do it. Put it into your actions and words. Write it on a toilet stall with your phone number and tell people to call you for it. Whatever. But fuck all the other noise. Love. The verb. That's your job. Stop forgetting it. Instead, try remembering it. If you don't, I get to come back and (playfully and joyfully and lovingly) call you a stupid fucking idiot again. Deal?"
"Deal," I said, in my head, more or less, to the weight of the universe.
Within an hour of this, I turned out the lights and waited for sleep. As I did, I felt oddly cold. My wife didn't understand why, and I didn't either. I've since learned that that's a pretty common side effect when ingesting THC. But it had never happened to me before, so at the time, I just thought it was strange. "I think I ate too much," I told her, worried that I might make her worry. But she didn't worry. "Next time eat half," she said, her arms wrapped around me to warm me. "Yes," I said. "Next time only half." And I meant it. But I also felt grateful to have made the acquaintance of my mistake.