We can’t escape suffering. It’s the first truth of Buddhism. The second is that suffering comes from desire, but I’ve never been able to get that far in the list.
We imagine we want lives without suffering, but how would we know what “good” was without “bad”? A life unmarred by trouble would not be as meaningful—or whatever other platitude you want to insert here.
In the wake of natural disasters, neighbors are forced to rely on each other for their very survival. As weird as it may seem, many people report feeling happier and more fulfilled following harrowing community experiences. Maybe it’s because they have to act together and subsequently find a place in their community that they didn’t even know they had.
I’ve always contended that Albuquerque is cursed with good weather. The lack of tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes has made us complacent and isolated from each other. It’s been my suspicion that we’re only one good thunderstorm away from holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.”
Well now we’re all trapped inside and taking part in a global natural disaster. It seems my theory is a bust. It would have been beautiful if people had taken this opportunity to get closer to their fellow humans, but I don’t know how that could happen, all things being what they are. Being trapped behind masks and fraternizing through our computers leaves a dead taste in our mouths and probably causes all sorts of psychological damage that we won’t be aware of for years to come.
Luckily a recent University of New Mexico study found that cannabis use can have an immediate effect on symptoms associated with depression. According to the researchers, cannabis users were likely to report experiencing positive side effects within moments of consuming marijuana, including feeling happy, optimistic, peaceful and relaxed. Remember those feelings?
Marijuana may well be our only means of true escape these days. As we’re grinded to dust under the weight of our collective depression and our rafts drift further into the waters of isolation, we can at least roll a joint to find a few minutes of solace.
But I implore you: Don’t forget that you’re not actually alone—despite what it feels like—and there are other people out there experiencing the same existential dread as you do when they crawl out of bed every morning. One boon of weed that’s often forgotten is its ability to promote what psychologists call “openness.”
Openness is a personality trait associated with open-mindedness, curiosity, imagination and empathy. People with high levels of openness are more receptive to new ideas and to others’ experiences. People with low levels of openness are closed-minded, need routines and have trouble seeing things from another’s perspective.
And that’s why you’ve been crying when you watch dog videos on YouTube.
Why does this matter—especially today? Because your friends and neighbors are still out there and they need your love. Considering the statistics they probably haven’t been smoking much cannabis—meaning their level of openness is dropping like a stone. So when the doors open and we can finally talk again, you might literally be the only person on your block who’s ready to connect.
So keep getting high and keep watching dog videos. The very fabric of our society might depend on it.