I walked into a dispensary and asked for a strong-sativa pre-rolled joint. I hate using those little plastic tubes that the pre-rolls are packaged in, but I made an exception on this occasion. The very friendly clerk sold me a joint made from a strain called “Memory Loss.” Hm.
I’ve often been struck by how many pot strains have hideously unappealing names. (Durban Poison, Cat Piss, Hog’s Breath, and Agent Orange come to mind.) But Memory Loss! I think if I had noticed that name on the little tube before buying the joint, it might have given me pause. I’m not sure how strong the strain is because I can’t remember whether or not I’ve tried it yet. (Kidding! I haven’t yet lit it up, for the record.)
I have some concern about memory loss. Not that it’s a problem for me (yet), but it is something I fear. There is a “Memory Care” center – basically a stately looking dementia ward – just blocks from my house, and I used to try and avoid walking by it, as if Alzheimer’s could be contagious. Though the building looks very serene, surrounded by well-kept lawns, I imagine the “inmates” wandering around in there like bewildered wraiths, bumping into each other, emanating forgetfulness.
Of course, it’s well known that pot affects memory function, particularly short-term memory. I’m not up to date on what the research says about its long-term impact on the brain. I guess if there was a clear connection between sustained pot usage over decades and increased risk of dementia I’d probably have heard about it by now. Right? (Unless I did hear about it, but have forgotten.)
Then again, just how bad could it be really, for memory to dissipate? I saw it happen to my mom. She was 92 when she died. She started losing her memories and her identity in her late 80s, and she actually became a much sweeter, more relaxed person in the process. Stripped down to her essence – ultimately forgetting even her own name – she was very loving. Back when she was in full possession of her cognitive faculties, she was far more complex and troublesome — and troubled. Her loving heart was occluded by layers of fear and shame, pain and spite.
What is memory after all but a string of stories that sustain our identities — and false identities at that? Spiritual visionaries have long proclaimed the fundamental truth that our small, individual ego-selves are an illusion – an inevitable and necessary one perhaps, but an illusion all the same. The farther into yourself you look, the more you find empty awareness behind all your mind’s machinations and ceaseless spinning of “narratives” about who you are.
I’d like to avoid dementia if possible. (Who wouldn’t?) I eat healthier foods than my mother did. I get far more physical exercise. I read a lot and I do chess puzzles and word puzzles. These are things that are said to be good for the long-term health of the brain.
I also smoke a lot of pot, which does have the effect of – if not impairing my long-term memory – at least loosening my grip on some of my internal stories.
The Memory Care Center is surrounded by a stately (oops, did I use that word “stately” already?) wrought iron fence. To enter, you must pass through an iron gate. Maybe it would help me to conquer my fears a bit if I went ahead and opened the gate (will it open for me? I haven’t tried it yet.), traversed the little footpath up to the door and actually knocked. And then, when a staff member or clinician opens the door, I can show them the Higher Thought game and offer to donate a few games for the patients therein. Seems like something people with limited memory could enjoy, right? Who knows — maybe I’ll even play the game with them at some point. As a visitor, I mean.