That guy is a genius. No, he’s more than a genius. He’s a force of nature. Tonight, I listened to most of Brian Koppelman’s The Moment podcast with Seth from July 7. I’ve read Seth’s stuff for years, but hearing him talk tonight inspired me to really think about whether I prefer to be an obscure blogger in a world of opportunity.
He also discussed one of the assignments for his current project (altMBA): The assignment is to write a short essay explaining why someone who disagrees with you on something foundational is correct. As Seth says, correct does not equal right. It’s a means of really delving into understanding the viewpoint of someone else. I mean, imagine if this became a widespread thing. What might be accomplished in racial understanding, understanding between political parties, anywhere where there are two sides which are diametrically opposed to each other. (Please hold while I go look up diametrically.) (OK, I’m back. I like etymology.)
As I think about writing an essay like he describes, I imagine that I would be Judgy McJudgerson right off the bat. But I thought I might give it a try with writing about imagining how someone who uses drugs is correct in their choices. My mind is sending waves of opposition toward even trying this. (Thank you, mind, for your opinion.)
To me, using drugs is a bad idea because it is illegal and it can completely ruin your life.
So I’m imagining someone who is young, who is unhappy with their life. Maybe they are depressed. Maybe they had some trauma in their childhood that is unresolved. Maybe they just want something more than they see most people experiencing. Maybe they like the idea of doing something that is dangerous or edgy. They probably try to find something that helps them feel better. Maybe legal drugs like anti-depressants. Maybe being involved in a sport, or something musical or dramatic. But one time they try a drug that someone offers them and it feels incredible.
Finally, they have found something that takes away the depression, or the trauma; something that feels dangerous, something that feels exciting and new and more than. Why would someone not keep doing that drug, or experiment with other drugs? Drugs make sense of their world by allowing them to leave it temporarily.
ANYTHING that temporarily distracts us from our pain can become an addiction. Anything that takes us from feeling even-keeled to feeling great can become an addiction. Let’s see: running, sex, alcohol, gambling, food, internet, video games, exercise. I’m sure there are more. As long as the pain is still there when the drug wears off, or when the “high” of the running or the internet or the alcohol or the sex wears off, a person is going to want to do the thing again.
Our world is full of beauty, but it is also full of pain, and depending on where you look, you can see more of one or the other. I love canoeing on a still lake in the early morning, feeling the air, seeing the beautiful sunrise, enjoying the peaceful quiet with the occasional loon call. Others may love playing video games where they shoot up people over and over and over again. For the video game lover, they would probably see even the violent games as having a kind of beauty because of the art and the story and the complexity. I would think a drug addict would at least start out thinking that each high is beautiful.
If a person is wracked by emotional pain, or experienced trauma as a young child, it will take some hard work to find their way through it to a place where they can embrace the experiences they have had. So, yeah, when a person has a lot of pain and then they discover drugs can make that pain go away for a little while, it makes all kinds of sense to keep using the drug.
I find it hard to actually say that using drugs to address pain could be correct, but I do recognize that millions of people use legal, prescribed drugs to address pain. I take an anti-depressant. Currently, I have to do this in order to keep myself from falling into a depression. I would actually like not to have to take it, and I’m definitely not addicted to it, but I do need it. To the addict, drugs are exciting, and take them out of the pain that often just gets worse and worse as a result of using drugs and getting into legal trouble, for example, but I can see why they keep taking them. Can you?