‘This is not your first nor is it going to be your last. Now and sleep we will talk tomorrow’ a 17-year-old Sam was told by his mother. He stole a sly glance at his father and seeing his sullen face that moment he was more than glad to do just that. Late, lying in his bed he was a little surprised by his parents’ reaction to having caught their son drinking for the first time. Well, they may have known before but this was their first confrontation and what surprised him was the calmness in his parents’ stern attitude. ‘Not tonight, tomorrow is going to be the day for this’ he thought as intoxicated sleep fell upon him.

Next day after breakfast Sam and his parents sat down for a chat. Sam was first.

‘I expected a more violent outburst mimi. Didn’t expect you’d be so cool about it.’

Mother smiled and said ‘but didn’t you admit truthfully about being drunk? The guilt in your voice was enough for me, moreover I do not want you to lie again and by getting angry I will not prevent you from doing it, I will just give you a reason to hide it from me. I’d rather you tell me about it when you do it. As I said last night, it wasn’t your first and it won’t be your last but before you do, I want you to understand its implications on your body and spirit.’ Sam was looking down and nodded a guilty Yes. He looked up as he felt his father’s hand on his shoulder ‘Look Sam don’t be guilty to us just understand it’s implications. I’ll tell you my past experience because I too once was your age but I did not have anybody talk to me to make me understand a bigger picture about the role of intoxicant in our lives. What I am about to tell you is an extreme situation and by telling you this I do not imply that you will follow the same extreme. You might do it in moderation which is a great thing. It means you control it and not the other way round but son hear me out, after that the choice is yours’.

‘Sam, there are various intoxicants and psychotropic drugs in this world we know of. Natural or manmade they exist around us in sheer abundance and one life time is not enough to try out all of them and yet be alive. Of course, most people try to stay out of this myriad of intoxicants yet countless people get lured to it by its ability to transport their mind and body into a different dimension. Some take it for fun and others do it to forget their sadness. Intoxication lets people lead a life they are not capable of on an everyday existence. Their mundane and stressful lives need a getaway to a castle in the clouds where anything is possible. Like many others I too had fallen for this lure for the better part of my young adult life.’

‘It’s the feeling of elation not derived in everyday chores, the joy freedom of expression without caring (even if it hurts the person in front which is not essentially a good thing) and being able to escape the everyday reality. The reasons are plentiful but for me these were the lures.’

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‘Over the years of abusing intoxicants especially alcohol I came to realize that the reason I do it can be fulfilled in some other ways too. If we look at the people who do not need intoxicants and inspect their lives we will find that they too experience the same moments in life as an intoxication dependent does albeit in a different way.’

‘Like countless reasons to go for it there are countless reasons not to fall into the lure of intoxication and it differs from person to person. I will not get into the reasons that Science or Spirituality gives cause that’s more universal and mostly people know them, you should do a little bit of research on it too. What I say here I more of a personal experience that I want to share.’

‘What I have understood after all these years is that it is not the reason or the goal that I need to get rid of, rather I need to refocus my energies into the way I take to reach the goal. I have listed above the reasons I used to go into the lap of intoxicants. They had been my vehicles to escape my everyday reality and fulfill my reasons but what was it that I was looking for, cause after so many years I was becoming more and more dependent these external agents. It also came to my mind that my goals were probably wrong but then one day I could reason it out. It was not my goals, I needed to relook at the path I was taking to reach my goals.

What I realized was that the road to my goals did not lie with intoxicants; in fact it was doing more harm to my goal of elation and freedom. Behind the veil of a temporary achievement it was sucking my soul dry. Once the effects wore off I was back to my everyday life and then it would make me like to have more which in turn was adversely affecting my health. What I realized was in life we must give something to get something but this path was taking away more than it was giving.

‘My very spirit was in dire indecisiveness. Which, I realized later, was actually a good state to be in cause through the clouds of indecisiveness and indecision came the rays of clarity.’

I realized that since my mind and spirit craved for certain things there was no use fighting them. I would end up losing my being and soul. Instead I decided to focus on another way to get there. Like two sides of a coin or two sides of every event there exists at least two ways of achieving a particular state of mind that one desires to attain. I realized that over the years I had been going for the easy way to reach my goals and that I had been ignoring a second way to achieve the same state. The confidence that alcohol gave me, the worlds that LSD (a drug) showed me or the feeling of being the happiest soul alive that ecstasy sprouted within me are all achievable by merely closing our eyes and trying to get to know the person that lives inside all of us. This world that the person inside guides us through is more fascinating then anyone can imagine and all of it lies inside us. What bliss and happiness we look for in our surroundings and friends lies within us, probably even more than what we can think of. We just have to look keenly deep within ourselves.

No man made drug can reach even close to the possibilities hidden inside our spirit. Love your spirit and you will not require any external stimulant. This process, as I realized, takes a lot more time than intoxicants do. It takes months or years when intoxicants or psychotropic substances take minutes or hours and in today’s world of manic speedy life, time is a very precious commodity and people expect results fast. In my limited understanding as a young adult, I too wanted everything fast, and alcohol and drugs made me bliss out faster. But that, what is easy comes with a great price, this I realized in due course. I was not willing to make the long journey but always fell for the lure of the shortcuts. What I also did not realize is that if something comes easy, its value decreases and we start taking it for granted. The long way makes us appreciate the goal more once we get there. It’s the teachings and learnings we pick up on the way that makes us appreciate the achievement at the end of the journey. I learnt that there is indeed no short cut in life. It’s easy to find the state but difficult to control (think of the behavior in intoxicated bliss) but the other way despite being long and regimented is easy to control once the state is achieved.’ ‘Also, it gives us the power to be in a state of bliss every moment of daily life, a state not achieved going by the easy way. It’s as if the devil (my simile of intoxicants) will gratify me only if I let it flow within me, without ever ebbing its flow. It wanted to be unstoppable in its rampage. On the other hand, the practice of meditation and the willingness to accept one self’s inner entity with the practice of listening to the voice, despite being time consuming took me to such a state where every moment I breathed was in bliss of living my life. Its bliss did not suck my soul dry, instead I was filled with a light energy that gave me pure peace. A bliss that stayed long after I opened my eyes.’

‘By telling you this I do not profess to have managed to reach the state of desired peace through meditation. I know that because I learn new things every day and it will go on till the day I die. My reason for telling you this was to talk about something which is a possibility, which I had been ignoring for most of my life. It is a process which must be repeated over and over again till we breathe our last but so is the case with the other option. The way I see it, it’s like the Apache story about the twin wolves that live within everyone. In the end, it is up to us to decide which wolf we want to feed.’

– Sumit Banerjee