It’s not an accident or random that the deeper you go into a metaphysical question, when you share your insights with others they ask you, What have you been smoking?
Deep thought is somehow connected to getting high. Why do we think this way?
The answer I think can be found in looking at a phenomenon everybody is familiar with: The Runner’s High.
What happens when you run or work out long enough, you can reach a certain point where endorphins are released along with some of those brain candies like dopamine and Endocannabinoids, those neurotransmitters that also spark when you use cannabis.
You get a good feeling, strength, invulnerability, exuberance, like you can’t feel any other way except using drugs.
I’m a runner, but I’ve never experienced Runner’s High.
I run (or try to) five days a week just to keep healthy, but I have never ran so much and so long that I’ve gotten high. The best I can do is 30 minutes, and I run so slow that old men with wobbly legs and knobby zip pass me by.
Oh wait, I am an old man with wobbly legs.
I may not be athletic enough to have experienced the Runner’s High, but I’ve experienced the Thinker’s High.
But I like to call it the Writer’s High.
And it is just as a legitimate physiological experience as the Runner’s High.
Most writers have experienced the Thinker’s High.
Even if we’re not sitting on our butts writing a story or a poem, we understand that it takes free time in order to expand our creativity. We take walks. We have moments of silence. We sit by a window.
And sometimes, when we’re taking a walk, we go so deeply into an idea that we don’t even register where it is that we are, and I’m certain that at this time the same hormones and neurotransmitters can be released as in the Runner’s High.
The ideas are so stunning that we forget where we are, and when we become aware again we find ourselves on an intersection in the city or a crossroad in the country, and it’s like we’re in a brand-new landscape. We feel exhilaration, a rush of well-being that connects us to the sublime.
We feel a level of euphoria that we cannot get any other way, except for maybe drugs, at least the first couple of times.
This is the Thinker’s High.
The Writer’s High.
And writers are addicted to it.
Sometimes it happens when we’re deeply rooted in thought, but it can also happen when we’re completely absorbed in an ordinary moment. It could happen while washing dishes or cutting vegetables, watching as the knife goes chop-chop-chop.
These moments sustain us and keep us writing, because the high is incredible, and they are often responsible for our best work, our best ideas.
How do you induce the Runner’s High?
You run or exercise for a very long time, usually over 30 minutes, maybe an hour at the least, and keep doing it over and over again.
How do you induce the Writer’s High?
Take time to think, and thinking doesn’t mean a structure of thought to solve a problem, although it could; it means following your imagination, your daydream, keep going with it, wherever it takes you. Follow your language. Follow your spirit.
You might write something so good that your friends will say, What were you smoking?!