Alcohol and drugs (hallucinogens and pot) have been friends in my life; some might say tools, but I prefer to see them as friends. Or allies, to use a shamanic term. Never mind that they sometimes threatened (as with alcohol) to harm me—and did. I have to respect their power . . . even as I abandon myself to them.

Like Baudelaire, I believe in being high. It’s good for the soul, if not always the body. It takes its toll for sure, but to some of us that toll is worth it. Why? Because of who we become as a result: clowns of the infinite. Because of the insight and freedom we attain.

And let’s not forget but be grateful for the fun we clowns had in attaining it, becoming recipients of the wisdom of our hells, our debaucheries, our self-destruction, which was only a prelude, it turns out, to whatever self-surpassing we achieved.

Yet as we mature into greater grace, which is the honing of our spiritual path, it might behoove us to wean ourselves off the use of substances for purposes of knowledge, insight, wisdom, power or whatever clowning we are after. This is not a moral but a practical stance.

In fact the goal is probably to come to a point where it is all the same whether substances are used or not.  If I can achieve a natural high that is tantamount to what I get with the use of substances, then I’d rather not use them. Why? Because even if as a clown I wear oversized shoes, I like the idea of leaving as small a footprint inside my body as out.

Furthermore, hallucinogens and alcohol, sacred as they are if used respectfully, do not hold a patch to dreams induced by metabolic inebriation, i.e. the natural high. The sensibility of a naturally ecstatic insight strong enough to rearrange our cellular structure is a gift of the body given to the power of its own spirit.

I’m referring to the sensations and perceptions that exist in what we eat with our mouths on fire, our teeth on edge. For life is not just lived, it’s ingested . . . devoured, made an organic part of us. Learning to be naturally high—which is not the same as being high-strung, a neural condition that may conduce to and appear similar to the natural high—turns us into living poets, dancers through life, clowns of the infinite.