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Chasing the First High

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The phrase “chasing the first high” comes from addiction medicine, where the addict will return to a substance over and over again hoping to duplicate that first euphoric experience. But often, that first high is never to be had again. Subsequent experiences are never quite as good, somehow, and the impact and cost of the substance abuse become greater and greater even as the returns diminish.

However, you don’t have to be an addict to chase the first high. Most of us do it from time to time, in many different areas of our lives. And it happens in Touch Practice all the time. So let me talk about some of the ways, outside of addiction, where people chase their first highs.

Here’s the basic premise: there are times when we would rather attempt to recreate an experience we have already had, rather than take a chance on a new, and unpredictable, experience. We’ll take the sure bet, even though we’ve already experienced it, rather than take a risk on the next step.

I had an uncle who lived alone and who ate out most evenings. He lived in a town that had quite a few good restaurants. However, he insisted on eating at the same restaurant, exclusively, over and over again for a period of many years. It baffled the rest of the family. I remember talking to him as a child, asking him, “why don’t you try out some of the other restaurants in your neighborhood? Wouldn’t it be fun to experience different things?”

imagesHis response, basically, was that he already knew the food was good at his restaurant of choice, and he was too afraid of disappointment to try something new. He’d rather stay with a sure–if boring–thing than take a chance on an unknown new possibility. He was worried he’d have a bad meal, and it didn’t seem worth the risk.

Sometimes this pattern will manifest in the way people date, especially if the person has a strong sense of “type.” They may have had a strong positive experience with a tall person, or a person with a beard, or someone younger than themselves, or of a particular race, or body type, and this strong positive experience becomes ingrained as ‘the first high’ which they then repeatedly chase. Often people who are chasing this kind of high are very clear about it in online profiles, so you’ll see something like “must be clean shaven, HWP, younger than (or older than) xx, employed, love dogs…” (it goes on and on and on.)

Sometimes in Touch Practice people will have dramatic, breakthrough, life-changing experiences in their first session or two–followed by many weeks of disappointment as they try to duplicate and recreate that exact same experience. Sadly, Touch Practice is never the same twice. Because it is a practice of showing up for each other where we are, sitting with each other wherever we happen to be, it is, by definition, never the same way twice. It is not a formulaic acting-out of some sort; rather, it is a genuine showing-up-in-the-here-and-now kind of practice which responds to the circumstances of the moment. The container is the same each time, but not the contents. Touch Practice is not role-play; in fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of role-play. We begin again, over and over again.

All of this raises an interesting question, however: given that the scope of this life in these bodies, miraculous as it is, spans perhaps 80, 90, 100 years at best, and potentially can be a much shorter time here: why on earth would we waste time trying to duplicate an experience we’d already had? Why not have as many experiences as possible?

Do you really want to eat at the same restaurant, every day, for the rest of your life? Date someone who reminds you of your first love, over and over again, hoping to get back to that experience rather than live the next one? And, as far as Touch Practice: so you finally had an experience of “the perfect Dad” or “the perfect little brother” or “the perfect combination of the erotic and the spiritual” or “the place you can fully feel your grief and finally cry it out.” Great. You’re going to run that in a loop for the rest of your life? How about trying some other restaurants and ordering a few different dinners?

Mix it up. Run it around. We are on this earth for less than a century, miraculously born into these bodies, bestowed these minds, given physical forms to accompany these eternal spirits. How many different eating establishments can you try? Have you considered dating another gender? Opening up your “requirements” list to include blondes? Allowing for the possibility that some non-HWP person might come along and blow your socks off? Dating outside your political party? God forbid.

Chasing the first high almost never pans out. Go find the second high. Better yet, go create it.

Have thoughts you’d like to share?

Touch Practice is a sacred practice for me, and part of that is keeping confidences sacred. While a name and e-mail address are required to post a comment, feel free to use just your first name, or a pseudonym if you wish. Your e-mail address will never be seen by or shared with anyone. It is used to prevent spam and inappropriate comments from appearing in the blog. I’d really like to hear from you!

 

  1. Stephen
    Stephen04-13-2013

    Another great one. They all are. One I can easily relate to. Did you see my comment on last weeks blog?

    Your writing is so well thought, exquisitely written, perfectly expressed on every possible level… all these blogs you have compiled and collected over these past few years, could very easily be made into a book. A book so many may need and not even know until having read, much like until having experienced your practice.

    Stephen

    • Kevin Smith
      Kevin Smith04-14-2013

      hey thanks for the comment and the support. I’m getting lots of support (and even some gentle pressure….ok, and even some NOT gentle pressure!) to write a book. The idea really intrigues me, although I don’t know where I am going to find the time to do it. But I’m certain you’re right, that all these blog entries will probably serve as the backbone of the book I eventually write about Touch Practice. It’s a serious future goal. Meanwhile, I appreciate the encouragement, Stephen! Thanks!

  2. Rick
    Rick08-26-2013

    Funny, I was just thinking about this today; How we can get stuck trying to achieve the same high in other aspects of our lives. Relationships came into my mind immediately. Religion is another. I have a friend who has lamented in not knowing Jesus like she used to at first. It’s just like chasing the high… If only I could feel the same way. Another friend still brings up high school as this great, magical time. Living to experience that first high only to be disappointed in the fact that it is now a different time and not the same.

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