Tonight was Concord High's homecoming game. Ever since my first year of teaching yearbook at Concord, I've tried to go to that game. It's cool to see some of my former students. Emphasis on some.
Many of the kids were dressed in green and gold, some even going so far as to paint their faces. In the lead up to today, I've seen several Facebook status updates mentioning that kids were excited for the game. I had to wonder how many of these kids actually have spirit or if they just want to be like their friends. I also had to wonder back to my high school days to think if I had that kind of school spirit.
I was a band geek, so that's the group I most closely identified myself with in high school. Many year, my lunchtimes were in the band room. I was in there before and after school. I even had my own key to the band room. Since our marching band was fairly successful, I think that most of my thought process was focused in that direction. I don't remember very much about homecoming at our school, other than helping rig the vote for junior prince.
I also like to think that during those days my mid was actually focused on real things. No, we weren't exactly debating philosophy on a regular basis. But I had a decent understanding of the world I lived in, as did most of the people I was hanging out with. In general, I was pretty happy. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was generally sober, as well.
The topic of drugs came up more than once tonight, as so many of these kids are high on a pretty regular basis. And that's their life. They wonder why the rest of the world is so boring. It's probably because being on drugs is fun. That's why people get addicted. When you spend too much time in that world, the real world must suck.
While I don't want this to be an anti drug prudish message, in the end I think it needs to be. Allow me to clarify that I'm in support of the legalization of "soft" drugs, even though I don't partake in them myself.
The main reason is that I believe in personal freedom. I think that these things in moderation probably aren't bad. If I had the money, I would drink more wine. I wouldn't be drunk often, but I would have a glass or two on more evenings. If pot wasn't illegal, would I use it? I don't know. The only comparison I can make is that I was in Holland a few years ago and I never even considered stepping into a coffee shop. There was no appeal for me. I've also read a bit about mushrooms that make the idea interesting, but I never have and I'm not actively trying to find any. And then there's the failure and expense of the drug war and the lost income on taxation of these drugs, but only people with common sense realize that.
But I'm talking about adults here. People who have been through school and have learned to make good choices. Possibly more importantly, people who have something to lose if they overdo it.
Yes, drug abuse is a problem in adults. How many of those who abuse them as adults WEREN'T as kids? I'd guess very few. What if we were teaching kids about drinking in moderation when they are younger instead of prohibition? I'd guess they'd be less interested.
I wonder often about people who talk about their high school years as "The Best Years of My Life," and wonder how pathetic their lives have to be to think that. The best years out of your way by age 18? Do you realize that people live well into their 70s? 80s? 90s (Happy 90th birthday to Grandma, by the way)? 100s? 18 is nothing.
Sure. I'm the old fart who is going to turn 36 in a few month. Double 18, for the non-math majors. And things are always better than they were. Yeah, there are lows. But life's good. The kids who find life so boring today during their sober hours - what's their life going to be like at age 36? how much are they going to hate their lives?
I had a good friend who got herself hooked on pain killers because real life was too hard. And because she's hooked, she doesn't feel and therefore can't heal. I don't even know how she's doing these days because I haven't talked to her in over a year. The drugs were much more interesting than anything I could ever do or say. And it absolutely sucks.
I've had the "opportunity" in the past couple years to take a similar path. I know I've barely mentioned my depression to most of you, as it isn't something I enjoy talking about. But I spent a really shitty afternoon in New Orleans sitting outside a bar wanting to go in and disappear inside, possibly forever (and probably my lowest point). I've had potential access to painkillers that could have swept me away. I wonder if I would have gone down the road often traveled if I had become more comfortable with these drugs when I was in school.
But as I said, life is generally good. I have other, better options when things suck. For example, I haven't been as thrilled with my job the past couple years. But I'm not about to become the school drunk to change things. I have a feeling I'm going to need to make a change soon, but it's likely going to be a venue change, as I don't see my current venue making changes.
But that's an option I have. The idiot former students of mine who are high 24/7. Will they have the same options? Or, rather, will they even recognize them? And, the question I ask every day in my job, if they don't care, why should I? Really. Why should I?