“Drugs have taught an entire generation of American kids the metric system” -P.J. O’Rourke
When Winston Churchill suffered a really bad fall in his childhood, his nurse brought him heroin--then legal--to rub on his face. He smoked and drank his whole life, and still managed to be instrumental in the defeat of the Nazis. Sigmund Freud smoked opium and snorted cocaine: Thanks to Dr. Freud for the concepts of ego and id, and a differentiation between the conscious and subconscious mind. William James experimented with psychotropic drugs, and Ernest Hemmingway invented a cocktail out of Absinthe and Champagne which he called Suicide at Sunset. The canon of Catholic saints is chock-full of people who had hallucinations that were brought on either by drugs or mental illness. An iconic picture of FDR has him smoking a cigarette out of a holder, and how many business moguls do we regularly see chomping on cigars or drinking scotch? Don’t even get me started on the Beatles.
Oh, and Harvard: you can thank Adderall for all of those high test scores.
It’s not my intent to make some kind of political point about the war on drugs (which is silly, and a waste of resources): I’m just saying that throughout history, we as a species have been looking for--and finding--ways to alter our perception of reality, stay on task, and generally get our groove on. It’s hardwired into our brains at this point, and once you answer that call, it becomes harder to imagine a world without your drug of choice.
Which is why I was disturbed this morning to find our coffee maker not working. Daily operations at Troxell ranch are highly ritualized and fast paced. Waking up in a world without coffee is my bourgeois version of a Twilight Zone episode. In all honesty, I’d prefer the episode where I wake up to a world full of pig-faced people. At least then I’d have something to dip my blueberry scone in.
Some would say that oil is the engine of our Democracy, but I would disagree. It is caffeine. And I am all-American in my drug of choice. It’s caffeine that gives me the energy to pursue my particular American dream so relentlessly, and it is caffeine that is going to help fuel all of my activities in this promising new year. Unfortunately, it is also brewing coffee that I did not smell this morning as I got out of bed.
But America is a land of opportunity: There’s a Starbucks not ten minutes away from my house.