If you want the short story of my experiences at Reggae on the River, 2015, it goes like this: I planned; I attended; I enjoyed. There, all done. However, it is my custom to use my blog to not only recount experiences, but to extract from them some sort of sage assessment.
Each episode will consist of a vignette written to stand by itself, but which will also link with all of the others to attempt to imbue the reader with a basic understanding of what the attraction is to gathering with thousands of others along the Eel River every August, when it is most likely to be hot.
#16: Much Love
As I wind down my chronicles of my experiences at Reggae on the River, 2015, with much remaining unsaid, I remain transfixed on the love that was prevalent throughout the event. This extended to the automatic “Happy Reggae!” greetings exchanged by one and all, no matter how much of a zombie it was that loomed up in front of you at 4:30 in the AM.
Regardless of whether I was relaxing in the campsite or out and about in the hustle and bustle of bowl-life, the love was everywhere. Just as Casey trucked the bong everywhere with him in his basket, or as he calls it, his brief case, there was much sharing of the sacred herb.
Unlike the majority of music festivals, during which cannabis is indulged, ROTR takes the sacred herb to an elevated level, simply because of its position in the Rastafarian religion. The smoking of cannabis (herb, sinsemilla, weed, ganja, or simply pot) for Rastas, is a spiritual act, and it is considered a sacrament in their religion.
It’s pretty high up on the ladder for me too, as far as success is concerned, and if it weren’t for cannabis, and I had to take Corporate ‘Merica’s solution to my mental issues, I would be hurtin’ for certain.
The Rastafarians believe that ganja cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, uplifts the consciousness, invites a feeling of serenity, brings pleasure and transports one closer to Jah (God). Sacramental use of cannabis in celebration of the Rastafarian faith became legal in Jamaica on April 15, 2015.
Yep. Sounds about right, with the exception of the part about God.
Having been introduced to the sacred herb in 1969, I have been a frequent flyer ever since, with the usual expected gaps. I stopped for five full years at the outset of my teaching career, because I was paranoid about drug testing. Our community on the mountain was being hounded by a disgruntled individual, who kept suing our little education collective out of a misguided sense of injustice.
I figured since she had many of our homes red-tagged by Mendocino County, and went to such extremes to make her unhappiness known, that fingering me as a rampant abuser of reefer would be next. So I simply stopped.
Any teacher’s first years are so hard that it defies description, but I suppose it helped that my manic disposition kept me adequately wound up, until the rubber band stretched out enough for me to collect my fragmented thoughts.
Cannabis helps lasso those scattered thoughts and keeps them confined to the corral which happens to double as my brain. I have benefited from it immensely my entire life and possibly as a result, have never been attracted to alcohol, despite its presence in my lineage.
Sitting in the outdoors kitchen Sunday morning, I was approached by a young man who offered me his little ceramic pipe and a nug of hash. Delighted, I stuck out my hand and said, “Mark.”
“Shaggy,” he responded, “and how is your day going?”
“Another day in paradise. Epically, thanks for asking. Coffee, some dank breakfast and some hash? Sure, and it’s foine morning to be after having a nip of hash.”
A while later one of the aforementioned zombie-like personalities paused by my table, obviously not wanting to disturb the mustearded oldster, pounding the keys of Terra Jean, his computer.
“Hey man, I hate to bug you, but do yo have a Spirit?”
I know this waste-cadet isn’t talking about my joie de vivre.
“Sorry old chap, it’s not computing,” I ventured, hoping that he would clarify what it was he was seeking.”
Speaking of not computing. Try focusing.
“No, Man. I wanna know if you gotta ‘Merican Spirit.”
I am obviously missing something here.
“I have to tell you, I don’t think we are on the same page. You’re looking for something but I don’t know what it is,” was the best I could do. Voila!
“ You gotta a cigarette?”
Got it, but no. Maybe this?
Whipping out my one-of-many Altoids box, this one labeled purple diesel, I offered him a fattie, in lieu of a ciggie. This he understood, and looked up at me to see if I was serious.
As a heart attack.
On another occasion I was approached by a fellow who looked as though his dog just died, carrying a bong that looked like it had seen hard times.
“Got any weed?”
Nothing like getting to the point.
“Sure, Dude. What did you have in mind? Pound? Q.P? Ogre berry? Kush? Acapulco Gold?
OK, the last was just for show.
“No, Man. Just a nugget.”
“Bummer. No nugs.”
He started to move on.
“But I do have some ARs,” or already-rolleds for those uninitiated, and he came back.
“No problemo, Brother Man,” I said to his retreating back.
As Cheech and Chong intoned, way back in the day, “You got something the other guy don’t got, you chair, Man.”
I do a lot of chairing because it is the nature of the beast. I grow my medicine for my own issues but I have plenty to go around. I’m going to get into trouble one of these days because some authority figure is going to decide that it is worth the time to go after me.
Until that happens, I always keep ARs on hand for anyone who needs them.
Sitting back in camp now, deserted except for Mid-Sized David, we chatted quietly, basking in the heat, me with ice water dripping down my face from the melting ice inside my hat.
“I’m so happy to see you here, Mark, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you here.”
Considering how much David can put away, he’s doing remarkably well. Keeping it together like a Gee.
“Hey, Dude, you are a huge reason why I am here-all of you guys letting me know you have my back. Makes it hard to fail.”
“We all wanted you to be here. You know, you have some good kids. Your sons are good people.”
We go back, Old Sod, don’t we?
“You know, David, I noticed that myself.”
“I love your sons,” he responded, “and I love you, and I love Annie. You’re all good people.
Wow. People don’t say things when they’re wasted, that are insincere. Not possible.
“We go back, Old Sod, don’t we?” Is there an echo in here?
He repeated, “I love you and your whole family.”
There could be no doubt about that. I had been feeling the love from my community all week long and it felt good.
Tomorrow: The Closing Act