The dragon chaser

Years ago some mates and I were hanging around Gastown in Vancouver one warm, drizzly afternoon. Walking along the old cobblestone, we passed by an ancient chowder house and went in for a bowl. This place was renowned for its cheap but delicious fare, so attracted an eclectic bunch, from blue-collars to businessmen to bums. We walked in, sat at the bar bench, ordered, and waited in impatient anticipation. I started people-watching and noticed this bedraggled guy, long disheveled hair sticking out from under an abused weathered toque, sitting in apparent religious meditation over his nutriment. After a minute, looking lost in the aether, he promptly plunked down face-first into his bowl of seafood chowder, then shot back up, bobbled a bit, twitched once or twice, eyelashes blinking chowder, clams and squid easing their way down his face and back into the bowl… and proceeded to chow down with absolutely zero self-consciousness…

…yeah …you know those toy glass birds that you saw in old Bugs Bunny cartoons? They sort of filled up with water while “drinking”, their heads down in the drinking glass on the rim of which they were perched; then when filled with water, gravity popped them back up, drained the water, then dunked their heads back down into the glass again. Kinda genius actually…

…anyway, this guy sorta looked like one of those birds… but a broken one.    ;D

~This floating in and out of consciousness is called “nodding” or going “on the nod”. This state is the junky’s ideal, the ultimate in escape, the dreaming back into mother’s womb… and one that you want to avoid if your motive is simply relief from refractory chronic depression.

This is important to consider, because when naive people talk about the “living hell” that is addiction, they are innocently referring to the aforementioned state. People don’t understand that, though daily dosing with any amount will leave one with a pet monkey, there is a profound difference between someone taking O for depression therapy and a “dragon chaser”, one who tries to recapture a coveted state from back in time when an addict first met the Poppy Goddess, the siren who let him ride her serpent to heaven…

…sadly, brain chemistry and biomechanics dictate that an addict’s first flight to paradise is his last… this must be accepted gracefully, yet despite that over time the euphoria will be less and less with each subsequent dose, people are stubborn. Overdose in livingrooms and on urine-soaked mattresses in back alleys is achieved in two ways: either by mixing substances, or taking ever higher doses of one substance, one day being roasted chasing a winged ophidian that deep inside the junky knows would never again be caught.

~From my experience, the difference between a user searching for answers and a dragon chaser is not levels of addiction, nor even the dependence/addiction attitudes, but one of head space… a user’s therapeutic intentions are good because he is desperately clinging to life and doing what he perceives as truly the best thing for his life in this particular case, as in every other, while a dragon chaser is conscious of what he’s doing, riding a one way train to that filthy back alley, yet paradoxically in a state of hopeful denial. The therapeutic user maintains his life as his highest value, so his life remains his reference point if he is forced to kick the habit or make a painful change. The dragon chaser is irrational, makes the drug a value higher than self, and gives up on self the moment he makes his choice and takes that first hit.

The reasons for being rational about this are obvious; there is no need to make a list. But we should always keep in mind that the body is in a state of homeostasis. It is always trying to maintain equilibrium, so it’s in our best interest as users to keep tolerance as low as possible, understanding that it is imperative to keep unnatural synaptic plasticity and other forced biological states to a minimum. The rational user knows that the nod, even an almost unnoticeable nod at lunchtime, is not a normal state and anything that feels this good can’t be good for us. If we don’t educate ourselves and try to understand as much as possible about what we’re doing to our brain chemistry, biomechanics and bodies in general, and do our best through diet, motion and stress reduction to mitigate potential harm to our shrines, we may find ourselves in much the same predicament as the dragon chaser; maybe not on a urine-soaked mattress in an alley, but on a sweat-soaked mattress in a hospital.

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