Every once in a while, my excitement and passion for life, with an almost frenzied desire to experience as much as I humanly can while I’m still young and healthy enough to do so, causes someone to brush up against their own issues. Most recently, I found myself in a situation with a person who had only spoken to me twice and had never actually met me in person, who felt the need to call me names in a somewhat lengthy letter that I believe was aimed at pointing out my deficiencies to me. One of the various names I was called in that letter was a “megalomaniac”. Now, sticks and stones certainly may break my bones, and names may never hurt me, but on the not-so-rare occasions I do get called names, I take pause, to reflect on whether I feel there is any truth in the accusation, regardless of the source, and make any adjustments I feel are necessary.
In the past, I have always made the choice to never fight back, to never give any real estate to anyone who has the nerve to make judgements about who I am when they have never met me. But, I have now, and not because of this most recent incident, decided to change my tact, and enter the fray. I decided to be vastly more vocal about who I Am and the choices I made because I stand behind every single one of them. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and believe deeply in what I am still hoping to accomplish, and with all my heart. If I weren’t so passionate about what I’m doing, I wouldn’t be doing do it. I’d instead cash in on my big brain and do something that earned me a ton of money instead of this level of struggle and grief, as well as the occasional need to deal with assumptions that have been made about who I actually am.
I am confident and comfortable with who I am, and with 20+ years in both the music industry and the exotic botanical industry, I’ve had to learn to trust my heart while also growing a very thick skin. I have enough people around me who I love dearly, and who take the time to investigate the intent behind any of my behaviors. But, when I get called names, it still causes me to take pause. It provides me with an opportunity to check myself, to examine whether or not I, or those closest to me, feel that there is some truth behind the name I’ve been called.
So, most recently, I was called a “megalomaniac” by someone who had never met me, and with whom I had only spoken to twice. I know, why am I even bothering to spend any time on this at all? Being called a megalomaniac is really no different than calling someone mentally ill, unstable, someone with a mental disorder because part of the definition is that one is “delusional”. Whether or not it was said in anger is beside the point because this person had plenty of time to apologize for being so inappropriate, but offered no such apology. So, I took some time to contemplate.
So, let’s take a look at that word according to Google:
A megalomaniac is someone who’s drunk on his own power, who is delusional about one’s own power or importance. I’ve never felt particularly powerful, and in fact, I usually feel the exact opposite. To illustrate, I offer a recent experience that changed the way I thought about the authorities that I have been directly struggling against for more than a decade because of my choice of business: recently, I had a very rare privilege of visiting the Illinois legislature as a representative of the Botanical Legal Defense; a tea of devoted spiritual explorers who are fighting for the rights of plants. I was there to try to help change a law that would not simply make Kratom illegal Illinois, but restrict its use to those 18 and older. The odds seemed insurmountable, and I felt there was no possible way I would be able to help make any difference whatsoever. How on Earth can a long-haired surfer-looking dude in a suit make any difference in the opinions of people who govern the state of Illinois for a living?
But, in the middle of that experience, I realized something that I had never realized before: Representatives are people just like any of us, and are usually overworked, stressed out, and have more work on their desk at the end of the day than at the beginning. It seems like representatives are always fighting for one cause or another, putting superhuman efforts into championing one law or another. But what I saw was a daily grind, a job like any other, with regular people who just happened to be in a position of great power. There were stacks of proposed bills on their desks, and somehow, they were expected to make their way through them daily.
So, here I was, also trying to make a difference in my tiny little world of entheogens, but have my own challenges every day, whether it’s another battle with the FDA, whether it’s another shipment I have to finesse from Homeland Security, whether I’m staying up late researching another new product that showed up in the mail that I might want to offer on the website, or finishing a 2.5 year build on my nearly authority-proof manufacturing facility and testing lab (Wonderland Labs) that will transform how we do business in 2016.
We were all trying to do some good, to make some difference in some way. I found that none of the representatives I shook hands with had even read the lengthy bill that was going to outlaw Kratom in Illinois. With the help of generous donors and our lobbyist, we were able to get an amendment I helped write, made into law. It was an amendment that restricts the sales of Kratom to those 18 and older instead of outlawing it completely, making room for Kratom to still be sold by my company, securing the jobs of everyone who works there, and allowing us to continue to provide an ancient and sacred plant to our customers at the same time.
My entire world changed because of this one incident, and I suddenly felt far more powerless to make a change than I had ever felt before, and decided that what is most important, is to speak up for myself, and to truly listen to others when they speak up for themselves, because in the end, with plenty of exceptions, of course, we’re all working for the same thing; to help other people out, to make some sort of difference in this vast world, and perhaps even to leave this planet just a drop in the bucket better than before we entered it.
Suddenly, the people I was continually struggling against didn’t seem to evil, their agendas didn’t seem so judgmental, and I realized that if I could figure out a way to play by the rules, I may be have a much better chance of accomplishing my own goals by doing so. With so much regulation and attention, that is becoming more and more difficult, but I do it anyway. But in that moment, I realized that I needed to start speaking about what I believed in, that I should make even more of an effort to hear what other people believe in, hence, eventually — this response to someone calling me a megalomaniac.
With such a saturated market, and people being able to click a few buttons, open an online store, and say whatever they want, closing down when they get caught, and then simply reopening a new store the net day has made running a completely compliant and legal entheogen business more of a labor of love than a money-making adventure. But I still believe in my original mission of doing my small part to try to help raise the consciousness of spiritual explorers, while providing them access to genuine plants and herbs that allow them to follow in the steps of those who came before us and discovered the amazing properties these sacred plants had.
To combat and protect both me and my employees, though, my manufacturing facility and my testing lab are now online, and we can now know and verify first-hand that we’re providing the high quality products that we’ve always wanted to provide, while testing other competitor’s products on the market, and exposing them if they are not, if we choose to do so.
The bottom line is that I’m not convinced that someone drunk on their own power would have taken everything they had to fight back even harder than before, by rebuilding an infrastructure that would be far more resilient to the authorities, that would be able to withstand the scrutiny of the FDA, and be far better equipped to battle Homeland Security and Customs. I looked over my various websites, asked for opinions of those I trust, and asked if I sound like a megalomaniac. The unanimous concensus was “No”.
I could have quietly closed my company in 2013 when disaster struck, I could have happy with what an amazing run I had, and simply closed up shop. But, my employees meant far too much to me, continuing to fight to bring consciousness-raising plants to people (including Kava…read below to hear about those topics) was still paramount in my passion and desire.
So, since this is my first post, we’ll see if this response was a momentary blip, or if I end up becoming far more vocal in my efforts at exploring and when necessary, defending other people’s opinions of me. I looked back to my first mission statement in the early 2000’s, when I started a forum to find others who had the kinds of extraordinary non-body experiences that I had when I discovered Salvia divinorum. I wanted to find other spiritual explorers who were as devoted to expanding their own consciousness as I was, and this was the note on the forum entrance:
Such sweet embrace, such rare moments, such clarity, such perfection, how could it be anything but the truth of all that is and could be? In this, my desire always remains the same; to find those who resonate with all that life reveals, to find expression through mutual revelation of all I hope to be true, to help awaken others as I was awakened to a dream that is larger than any of us have ever imagined or have simply forgotten. Wrapped in such humanness, we have the power to reach beyond, to share that which is real, to love and to be loved with complete surrender. Isn’t this all anyone ever wants when all falls to nothing?
So here is my beacon, honest in its design, obvious in its intent, hoping for nothing more than to know that others know of such rare treats, of which few are privileged to taste, and the majority are unaware. This is why I am, why I still am, and what will always be my only purpose and intent.