Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rethinking the Lotus V

As ninth-graders go, Terry was a pretty typical kid. He had average grades, average athletic ability, average looks. For the most part, that is how Terry viewed himself: middle of the road, nothing special. His father had died when Terry was in the fifth grade, and the loss was especially difficult for his mother. While his mother increased her already heavy drinking to relieve the pain she was experiencing, Terry muddled his way through middle school. He had been largely unnoticed by his teachers. After all, he wasn’t exceptionally bad, nor was he exceptionally good. He was, well, somewhere in the middle.

If you had asked him what his interests and hobbies were, he probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you much. His heart was in pain, though on the outside it really wasn’t observable. One day, a new student arrived at his lunch table, bearing news of enticing lotus fruit. His name was Gordon, and he was what the teachers and administrators would refer to as a “problem child.” He was open about the fact that he frequently used marijuana and would share stories of being high with the others at the lunch table. Intrigued, Terry began spending more time around Gordon, eventually riding the bus to his house after school one day. It was there that Terry first experimented with pot. He and Gordon began riding their dirt bikes to the middle of the woods. There they would “light up” after school. His mother, in a haze of alcohol, would rarely say anything to Terry about not coming home from school until hours after it had already ended. He would spray down his clothes with deodorant to cover up the scent of the smoke.

For the greater part of his ninth-grade year, Terry would steal money from his mother’s wallet and buy dope from Gordon to satisfy his ever-growing cravings for the drug. This wasn’t his personality. He wasn’t really a thief. But his demeanor changed, he became apathetic toward his schoolwork, and his grades began to plummet. He cared little about his future and his life, for thought of getting high consumed his thoughts.

The parallel between the mythical lotus and substance abuse is a fairly easy one to draw. When Terry was high, the fact that he was average didn’t matter. The fact that his father was dead didn’t matter. The fact that his mother was an alcoholic didn’t matter. When he was high, the marijuana whispered softly that all was right in the world and that he didn’t need to worry about his cares. The wounds of his heart were still throbbing, but he was, in the words of Pink Floyd, “comfortably numb.”

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