11. Countries full of crooks

Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A truly deafening beat bursts thousands of eardrums. Many (sort of) danced: feet came off the ground en mass, arms went up and up. Massive amounts of energy got burned, sweat gushed abundantly under a summer sun. The vibe was high, bloody fantastic. You’re getting quite thirsty from all of this. No wonder bottled water was in high demand since it remains the best and healthiest thirst-quencher. Such collective wisdom on display, it filled me with warmth. Although… There’s obviously more going on here. It’s impossible to miss with a bit of attentiveness: all the hugs, the dreamy glances and (un)subtle chewing, the exaggerated facial expressions and run on ice pops. In my conservative estimation, the majority of festival-goers popped some pill(s). Or whatever they used. Hey, but isn’t that kind of stuff forbidden? Yeah, so? We’re doing it anyway. Organizers, bartenders, guards, they all simply squeeze their eyes for us. Especially since the customer are royalies.

As part of a herd of regurgitating cuddle-bugs, I happily joined the mob. MDMA had plunged me into a state of intoxication, which I didn’t feel ashamed about – at all. This kid has arrived in the candy store. I enjoyed the moment, music, atmosphere, interactions with random strangers and my friends’ companionship. Everything was so pure, much better, more intense and beautiful. I was just doing ‘my thing’ as usual. Despite being surrounded by a huge crowd, I was gone for a while. I was gone within myself, gone within the deep trance of this perfect moment. Suddenly I got ‘out of it’: someone’s shenanigans drew my attention. Amused I stared at his shameless frenzy. As if he felt it, he suddenly looked into my direction. We exchanged a brief glance, instantly burst into laughter and did a fistbump. Joyfully I claimed my mates’ attention. They had missed the moment but laughed immediately as well. Because of me, that is. Apparently I looked like an bald crook. ‘Those pupils, bloody hell!’ I ignored their advice to put on sunglasses. Why try hiding the obvious, let me look at things as they truly are. And vice versa.

We had a brief chat from heart-to-heart. What very specific substances can do with emotions, group dynamics and the perception of reality is really amazing! A whole (creative) world reveals itself, it’s so special. It’s something completely unimaginable for my younger self. I didn’t want any of it at all at the time, for good reasons. Once I received professional treatment (for mental health issues), I solely encountered negative aspects of drugs. It influenced my perception of them, on top of an unsuitable state of mind. The required mental stability, self-confidence and self-control to get started were still lacking. Under such circumstances, (mis)usage with the wrong underlying motives is imminent: think of numbing unpleasant emotions, succumbing to peer-pressure or escaping an existential void. Then usage can quickly turn into abuse, with all its devastating consequences. Besides, it was – and is – my conviction that such means are not a requirement to feel happy, have a good time or gain insights. Wisely I avoided it, just as long until I was truly ready for dosed and cautious experimentation. When the time came, I did it my way, with my conditions, dosages, confidants, beliefs and personal motives. The suppressed curiosity that lurked beneath the surface finally emerged. There it was, bare and open to the outside world. It was no longer hindered by cultural stigmas, black and white thinking, other people’s bad experiences or outright fear-mongering. The buoy floated steadily, in sync with the ever-changing circumstances without being flushed away.

At last it commenced: the boss’s appearance on stage. I didn’t even realize it at first, only after my mate called me names. Like God knows who’s standing there. It’s hard to distinguish loud boom-boom, louder boom-boom and rock-hard boom-boom within this deafening noise. Is there something refined about this controlled anarchy anyway? So, there we stood. Yearning for the pope’s gospel like a bunch of fanatic pilgrims. The surrounding symbolism barely interested me in all honesty. Just bring me the message, just give me more bone-crushing boom-boom-boom for the sake of it. We all went com–plete-ly mental once everyone’s patience got rewarded. Finally, that’s the spirit. This is such a mighty open-air cathedral, holy moly. Collectively we broke free – free from the grind of daily routine, free from tiring obligations, suffocating expectations and packed agendas. We recharged the collective battery for yet another hectic (work)week that awaited us. Oh, and besides that, we were simply celebrating life with our (occasional) friends. Just leave us, it’s already lasting so shortly.

The party was over after a popping finale. Too bad, but everything comes to an end. Tens of thousands of steps and I didn’t get anywhere. Yet this necessary outlet leads to something: fulfillment. Satisfied I jumped on my bicycle. Since I was still as high as a kite, I hovered effortlessly through the city (without wearing a helmet of course, like a true stubborn Dutchman). I arrived home in no time. With ringing ears I laid in bed, enjoying fresh and older memories. Chuckling I recalled my completely pissed shenanigans as a drunk youngster. Ha! At least my actions were still legal and socially accepted since alcohol is absolutely not a drug. Now look at me. Now I’m on the ‘wrong side’ of a cultural distinction and its associated laws. Not only do I look like a crook; I am one according to the legal system. How great is that? Maybe I should return to the liquor store or switch to the legality of a Dutch smartshop. Then I can take off my prison uniform, just like all those drug-tourists in Amsterdam. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to buy pills in a smartshop, not as ‘drugs’ but as mind-expanders. Or maybe this little fun will also be taken from us: time will tell. Oh well, what are the thoughts of me and my partners-in-crime worth? Nothing at all. We’re just hopeless and above all stupid pill-poppers. Like all junkies, they’re completely irresponsible, ignorant, selfish and (self)destructive. All of them, no exceptions. So: criminalize, tackle and silence all of it, because such ‘secrecy’ really pays off (in other countries). The potential abuse of a minority will automatically disappear from the radar. And with it all the positive effects for the majority who do have the required self-knowledge, self-control and learning abilities. Isn’t that great? Curiosity for other realities, deeper insights and unforgettable experiences; this terribly inhuman need should be suppressed and ignored. Or, to put it more straight-forwardly:

Drugs are bad, m’kay?

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