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Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Opinion: Highs and lows

For the longest while after my older brother died, I kept spilling all the weed.

I would sneeze all over ground-up piles; I would accidentally blow out packed bowls, thinking they needed to be cleaned out; sometimes I would manage to completely lose what others had spent hours rolling.

Everyone thought this little string of bad luck was hilarious. They lectured me about how it meant the universe was trying to tell me something, or that maybe it was karma for something terrible I had done. But usually they just laughed at me and kept their distance.

Some might get Freudian and say I was having some repressed issues and that really I was subconsciously responsible for all the lost high times. Others might just call it a curse, which would make more sense because it sucked like a curse. At the time, I didn’t question why I was being followed around by this bad luck — it’s not at all surprising for a stoner to knock shit over.

And nothing else really changed in my life. I was still able to keep doing what I needed to do.

But the only reason I even remember that little dark period is because it was followed by the exact opposite: a little period of “good” luck.

For the longest while I kept randomly finding weed. In gas stations, libraries. I even found some once at the hospital, which seriously got my heart pumping harder out of fear or surprise or excitement.

Everyone thought this was even funnier, and attributed it to possibly my good behavior, or to prayer, or to the chance that maybe the universe realized it had fucked up in giving me that first batch of bad luck when it meant to give it to some other asshole, and that now it was trying to compensate with all this cool credit.

In all honesty, I never touched it.

Obviously I picked it up and showed it off and bragged about how I’d found it. But even after others inspected it and told me it was safe, I didn’t feel right putting it inside me.

While I was pretty concerned with how unclean stuff on the streets can be, that wasn’t what held me back. It felt like cheating. Like eating the candy you bought with money you stole from your mom’s purse.

It didn’t make sense to me either, since everyone agreed I had found it as fair and as within the law as could be, but I just credit my decision to the chance that maybe after so many years of being a dumb-ass kid, I was finally starting to show a little maturity.

No one understood my logic, but this being Davis, I had no problem finding other people to take it off my hands. One guy ended up telling me a little bit later that it got him so high he thought he was about to die, which of course I took as a compliment.

And then finally, it all stopped.

People still tease me about it, and make jokes about pulling a Leo whenever they do something stupid or clumsy, and I still remember it as an experience that tested my views of nature.

It’s pretty easy to believe animals and even plants have some sort of consciousness. While they might not think in the same way as humans, they are still growing, living beings that need oxygen.

But can something as large and as abstract as the universe be capable of conscious thought, let alone enforcing karma?

Those who believe in karma or destiny believe someone or something is watching and keeping track of all our thoughts and actions, and that we personally deserve every bit of fortune or misfortune that we come across.

Others believe hardship is the universe’s way of rewarding us, since if we brave through whatever we’re going through, we’re likely to come out of it stronger and smarter than ever.

Hell, when you’re smoking it’s not considered a good hit unless it makes you choke or cry a little.

But what if the natural world really is actively conscious, and is actually just as human as the rest of us? Is it capable of fucking up? Can it be bribed or does it discriminate?

We were all young once; maybe the universe is still learning to cope with all the chaos it’s in charge of and it won’t be for a long while that it finally gets its shit together and stops putting us through hell.

LEO OCAMPO actually can’t remember if all this really happened or if it’s just made-up high talk, so don’t email him at gocampo@ucdavis.edu asking for your lost sack.

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