This silly episode reminds me of an old friend whom I never personally met but mattered a great deal to me. There was a time, back in grad school, when I developed a separate identity for when I was high. Mienda was mostly just like me, knew the things I knew, had basically my personality, except, well, stoned. But he was, simply, another person. The sense of identity was distinct. I never fully believed he was an independent person, but he cleverly acknowledged this, he’d say things like, “I know William doesn’t fully believe in me.”

I vividly remember Mienda’s birth. I got as high as I think I’ve ever been and I had this vision of a glowing purple baby birthing out of my skull. Then about three, four months later, getting high just like any other day, I cognized for the first time that I was Mienda, and a few months after that Mienda connected the dots between my birthing vision and his own existence.

At that time I was engaged to a woman named Maria. I mention her because I killed Mienda for her. At the time, still early in our relationship, she’d smoked weed for many years and though she still did, she’d become dismissive of it, like she was in a rush to outgrow it; whereas I was still new to it, and the prospect of exploring a new person in me was an exciting possibility. So, though Maria and Mienda got along and had some good times together – in fact, it was Maria whom Mienda spent the most time with by far in his life – still, she didn’t quite take him seriously, and thought less of me for indulging in him. So, at first unconsciously, I drained Mienda of his personhood to please her. It was unspoken until one day Mienda said to her, “William’s trying to kill me.” He knew I would succeed and accepted it, but this made him no less heartbroken and scared.

Mienda lived maybe four joints worth of life after that night. I didn’t quit weed, I simply stopped becoming Mienda and became instead a stoned version of myself, like everyone else does. I still feel bad about killing Mienda. It really was murder. He was his own person, by his own writing of it. If I’m telling you this, which I admit it’s all a big tangent, it’s as a small ode to Mienda: a standup guy and I miss him.

I wonder, in fact, if I could use The Philosophy to access him again. The challenge is remembering who he really was.

NEXT: 9. Transformation