Today was a quiet, gray little day in St. Paul. On my chilled yet undramatic walk across campus to my car at the end of a muffled, uninteresting day at work, I started to get the feeling I was a ghost or something, just passing through this world, and this got me to thinking about how we're all just self-medicating ourselves before we die.
If you stop and think about it (a sentence which always leads to a fresh dose of despair in my world), almost every action we preform in our daily lives is some kind of attempt to dope ourselves into forgetting our own oblivion, both now and in the future, when we kick that old bucket. I'm not just talking about booze, drugs, sex, sports, TV, porn, the Internet, shopping, religion, work, or well-planned vacations. I'm talking about basically everything-even writing fiction, dangnabbit. We, as humans, claim superiority over the animal kingdom, yet when you come down to it there's not much difference between my cat staring at the wall all day and my downstairs neighbor ceaselessly watching TV every waking hour of his life (seriously, what the hell? Is he some kind of rich oil baron heir content to live in Midway shabbiness with a yappy moppet of a dog, so long as sweet, sweet TV constantly streams into his mind?).
Writing a slamming choral piece is doping yourself, running ten miles is doping yourself, building a vast city is doping yourself. Having a baby and raising a family is really, really doping yourself, as you will most likely have little chance to come up for air for about eighteen years. I suppose one could exchange the word doping for occupying, but they're pretty much the same thing when you take a god's-eye view of this world. Even someone in emotional pain, for whatever reason, is doping themselves as they sink deeper and deeper into the hurt-they're just getting off in a different way.
I'm not saying all this dope is necessarily a bad thing-what else would we do with ourselves? Stare at the wall like my cat? I simply suggest that, as we venture into 2012, we leave our arrogant, self-absorbed illusions of meaning behind and accept the simple fact that every physical act we engage in IS dope and we're all addicts. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to remember to rise above our various addictions now and again to look around the world with freshly peeled eyes, Zen-style, and truly witness the ghost world we're passing through.
Happy New Year.