The benefits of breaking the law (and the norms)
February 2021 – Unseriously Sincere Ideas Write-Up #06
Hello, you delightful dorks. How’s the weather where you are?
I know, I know, it’s like the 18th or whatever, but I’ve been moving house. I now live in an apartment with two bedrooms instead of one, which means we can have guests come and stay without having to go top and tail with us.
Small talk. Tick. Let’s get into the big talk, let’s talk psychedelics 🍄
1. “OKAY, LET’S TALK PSYCHEDELICS”
Just this week I published an article on my recent experience munching on some magic mushrooms. More specifically, my psychedelic experience going own the rabbit hole with psilocybin, which is the naturally occurring psychedelic substance found in fungus.
As Sam Harris has mentioned many times (and he does it again here on this very interesting podcast about psychedelics science), the “poverty of words” to describe such mind-altering experiences is a shame. And the fact that there are such unfathomable states of mind “lurking on the other side of a mushroom”, is nothing short of preposterous.
Of course I’ve tried to do my absolute best to pin together some words and paint a pretty picture of what exploring the outer edges of consciousness looked like for me. But honestly, I’m not sure it can ever be understood without a person unlocking this new landscape of their mind for themselves.
The important thing for you to know here is that while you don’t know if you are going to have a good or a bad time on a trip, all advocates will tell you both experiences can be transformative and positively life-changing. One friend of mine recently recounted his experience where it was tough for the first 1-2 hours; physically and emotionally heavy and unpleasant. But once he cracked that, he came to the other side of it able to work through it all again with a more light, insightful and euphoric lens. Bad trips can lead you to dark places where you’re forced to address some seriously suppressed personal issues. Good trips can lead you to ‘selfless’ states which come with great joy, calm, bliss, ecstasy and a total absence of fear/anxiety/shame/etc. Both experiences can be emotionally liberating.
Studies have been published showing that mindfulness, meditation and psilocybin have the same effect of decreasing activity in the part of the brain associated with our egos, which is part of the network widely associated with self-referential thinking.
For me, the idea of experiencing feelings and emotions I rarely get in touch with, and exploring the dark sides of my subconscious to understand and amend why I can be a dickhead sometimes, well, it is very appealing.
It sounds quite scary and horrendously uncomfortable. But in my opinion, most of the best things are.
To read my article, click right here.
2. THE BENEFITS OF BEING A PAIN IN THE NECK
Australian author, Timothy Conigrave died of AIDS-related illnesses when he was 34 and he’d be quite disappointed if you were mistaken in thinking it happened any other way. His story is shocking. Dramatic. Uncomfortable. Tragic. It oozes with honesty. So it’s just the way he’d like it.
Tim’s whole story can be absorbed and enjoyed in his critically acclaimed memoir, Holding the Man. It’s balanced beautifully with some solid reasons to laugh, but there are some seriously graphic recounts of his sexual encounters. Genitals fondly nuzzling up to other genitals kind of stuff.
Tim was a proud, and particularly loud, gay man. A joker and a performer; funny and a real buzz to be around if his knack for being a total asshole didn’t phase you. He was a professional actor and a gay rights activist, and could get right up in your grill with his opinions of not just about anything he cared about, but on the dismal state of the world too. (Tim was of course a 20-something year-old homosexual in the 80s; you can only imagine his opinions on the state of the world.)
When his family were leaving the hospital after he’d died of AIDS-related illnesses, they got stuck in an elevator and all roared with laughter because someone said it was Tim getting one last joke in. ‘Classic Tim,’ they thought, still being a dick.
Tim and his partner, John, went through some hardcore shit. John also died from AIDS-related illnesses. This was in 1992, two years before Tim. I do emphasise that they died from AIDS-related illnesses, not because there’s a common misunderstanding that it’s the AIDS that kills an infected person (as opposed to ‘opportunistic’ illnesses taking advantage of shot immune systems), but because there’s a shock factor to being explicit about death and AIDS, which I think Tim would quite enjoy.
He was the kind of person who said things you weren’t meant to say and did things you weren’t meant to do. In his inability to be anything but honest with himself and other people, he had great ability to make everyone around him tremendously uncomfortable. He didn’t give two hoots of a lamb’s tail if people judged him for being who he was. He loved being gay. He was confident. Intense. Totally outrageous in social settings. He was happy to challenge people because he liked to get them questioning their beliefs. To reconsider their shitty assumptions. And remember, being gay in the 80s was riddled with people’s shitty assumptions.
One time, Tim waved directly at some strangers who were indiscreetly looking at — an extremely ill — John, who was wearing a nasogastric tube and dying of cancer. What he wanted to say was, ‘This is what someone looks like when he’s dying.’ But instead he called, ‘Hi, I love your hair.’ Those people proceeded to fidget awkwardly in their seats. He was a master of sass, in my opinion.
Those close to him would say he was hard work but extremely love-able. What he valued most was truth and justice and squeezing the unfairness out of the world, for everybody. And that’s what he worked on throughout his life.
This is all to suggest that there are benefits to being an asshole; to making other people uncomfortable when you truly believe it’s for good reason. When it’s ethical.
Tim was very comfortable being himself. He was comfortable with being gay and he was comfortable with being sick. He was also comfortable with talking openly about his impending death. He just wished everyone else could be comfortable with it all too.
And so he didn’t apologise for irritating people’s feelings. And he did become an activist for gay rights. He was switched on to the fact that the more there is at stake, the more emotionally charged people become, so they’re super easy to upset anyway.
It’s hard to tell people things they don’t want to hear. Most people avoid it. But this is exactly why people like Tim – people who are comfortable with making themselves and others uncomfortable – are an important part of society. We need people who are willing to throw themselves on the line to stand up for other people and invite positive change. The gay community desperately needed voices like Tim’s to get it heading in the direction it is today.
I mentioned Tim’s book earlier and suggested it’s got the kind of rompy romp themes which might be a bit awkward to recommend for say, your parents (but there’s also a movie now!). I imagine Tim would say on the contrary, though. He would say this is the kind of thing your mum should read. And your dad. Your brother, your sister, your children. Your Uber Eats drivers. Your local church group leader.
Because why? Change happens from people getting out of their comfort zones.
Because why? Change happens from people getting out of their comfort zones.
3. A THINKLE
Okay, let’s wrap this up with something light.
One of my readers responded to my December newsletter which mentioned I wanted to attack my frown line with botox. She told me she calls her frown line a thinkle. How great is that.
Hmm, I typed the word thinkle for myself just now and I’ve become curious as to why it doesn’t have a squiggly red line planted underneath it. Surely it’s not a real word. I’ll need to check. One moment, please.
Stand by….beep boop beep boop
Okay, unless Urban Dictionary is now a credible source there’s nothing official for the word ‘thinkle’. But I can confirm that Urban Dic’s top definition for thinkle is the wrinkle you have while deep in thought. But I also like the lower-rated definition of it being a thought you have as you take a tinkle.
Speaking of thoughts. I’m going to go find more mushrooms.
That’s all from me today, over and out chicos.
Jess from Comfort is for Wimps
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