June 3, 1999
Study Butte, Texas, USA

Around noon, Taz, a friend of Richard showed up at the door looking for helpers to move tin roofing, and said "It might take two hours."

It took over five hours. When I wasn’t standing in the noon day sun lifting large sheets of metal, I was cramped up in the cap of a truck with a large shedding shaggy dog, slowly bouncing down dirt roads through the desert to and from houses with no neighbors within sight. Not much fun, but I was happy to see the community spirit of neighbors coming together to help each other out with expecting anything in return... except... help next time they need it.

Sitting on the door step with Richard, watching a stunning sunset in the west, and Maverick mountain in the east change colors- pink, orange, to gold, I told him that I would like to hire him in a few years to manage... or at least take part in the management of the horse stables on my property.

"I admire you for that..." Richard grinned, inhaling on his hand rolled cigarette, "your ability to envision your future and plan your life. I never thought like that."
That made me feel warm and fuzzy. "I just plan to do what I think would be most fun. It baffles me why more people aren’t doing what they want to do."
"That’s it, man." he assured. "Most people don’t put them self first. Looking at their own pathetic life is too scary. So, they try to control other people’s lives."
"Or... ’I’ve got cats to think of...’" I chuckled.
"Exactly!" Richard responded. "These people trade a false sense of security for freedom. And comfort for knowledge."

"I am worried by the responsibility accompanied with publishing my journal. I don’t want it to cause problems with my family or friends, and I don’t want to be tempting kids to try drugs that they would not have considered before."
Randy popped into the conversation. "Irresponsibility you mean!"
"No, MAX!" Richard declared with his trademark high energy deep roaring voice, shaking his clenched fists in front of his tanned, hairy, sculptured chest - as he often does in great excitement - stirring up the energy around him - invigorating his life-force. "You gotta stir it up! You need to wake these people up to the truth! Ya gotta make waves! Like dropping that pebble into the pond. Remember that plaque," said Richard, referring to the plaque dedicated to the founder of Big Bend State park, "’There will never come and end to the good he has done.’ You don’t know who you are going to effect," Richard continued, "and what they will do with the impact you made on them. Just keep on having good intent. Stay hip to the trip."

Today on TV, I watch a public service announcement with a dozen or more kids, ages 10 to 13, saying things like "Normal kids can play video games for hours..." and "Normal kids can eat pizza three meals a day." To finish, all the kids said together , "Normal kids don’t smoke pot!" Large white letters on a black background said "Only one out of five kids smoke pot."

I didn’t even know what "pot" was until after I was out of high school. "Pot" sounds scarier than "marijuana." The first time, I smoked the herb was only 6 months ago. Since then I have inhaled and eaten marijuana many times-- when it is offered to me. I don’t buy it. Financially, the total cost to me has been only two dollars. I have never felt any addiction-- no cravings-- ever. I feel no difference in health or mental capability, although that is not to say there has not been any. The most significant effect on my life has been an increase in time spent contemplating and writing.

The intention of this journal is to give an honest record of my thoughts and experiences on this journey-- which means offering both sides of drug use-- the desirable and negative effects. I’m sure many parents, teachers and sponsors would rather I just say, "drugs are bad... don’t do them!", but to "sell-out" in fear of losing support would be forfeit the very purpose of this project. I’m a normal guy going through things normal people do.

Flicking channels, I landed on the Isla of MTV, an island in the Barbados chain rented by MTV as the location of their summer programing. In the back ground of nearly every shot are hot bodies, perfectly spaced-- chicks in bikinis and buffed dudes dancing to nonexistence music: Joe Lunch-bucket paradise.

Sitting on the doorstep with his wake up coffee in hand, Richard cautioned, "If the first thing you hear every morning is who killed who and what plane crashed where... that is going to mold your perception of the world. The first thing I see every morning is the sun rise over these beautiful mountains. Our minds are very impressionable, MAX -like silly putty. Be careful what you expose yourself to."

Tomorrow, Richard, Anne and I are driving to Austin. We plan to be back in a week. Hopefully I will be able to connect with Dick when I get there. Earlier this week I got am email saying that he cannot come to Terlingua for personal reasons - that he would tell me about later.