Ode to Dude Chilling Park

Michael Dennis’ “Reclining Figure” is the unofficial mascot for Westcoast ethos. The wooden statue, located in Vancouver’s Guelph Park, is a jaunty but unquestionably relaxed fellow made out of wood. He embodies the pose of so many people who flock to the West, simply so they can sprawl around him at 2 p.m. on any given Tuesday. Or on any day when the sun is out.

Guelph Park was famously renamed after prankster artist Viktor Briestensky erected a replica Parks Board sign that read Dude Chilling Park. After the city took it down – totally not chill – a petition was launched locals fought to get it back. And they did! The park is now widely (thought not officially) known as Dude Chilling Park.

It’s a heartwarming story about what happens when a neighbourhood bands together to fight for something they truly believe in: the privilege to forever be associated with the being the chillest place on earth. Put that on a map.

There’s an unspoken acceptance that the West, championed by Vancouver, is a region where chilling, as oppose to the opposite of chilling, is top of mind. It’s not the type of place where you go to work, then an after-work function, where you talk about work, then go home to do more work, and then do it all the next day.

Naw, the West lives and yearns for its downtime – it’s a driving force in the collective Westcoast psyche. And while that may give the impression that we’re lazy or inefficient, that’s not the case at all. How can we continually top Most Livable Cities lists if we’re couch-bound sloth-heads? We’re certainly getting something right.

Yes, shit gets done, but we don’t care to let that define us. We’d prefer not to come across as stuffy or stain. Leave that to Toronto. Productivity is a force, sure, but it’s also an afterthought. What drives us is a quality of life and a quality of living. And that quality factors largely on how we spend our downtime – usually outside, sprawled out somewhere where the sun can find us.

This is why we embrace and even fight for our reputation as down-time-loving folk. Because if we’re going to be known for one thing, it might as well be our passion for unwinding, and hopefully inspiring others to get on board.

The Basic-ness of Being Busy

“Oh man, I’m just so busy,” a casual acquaintance replies to your polite but somewhat disinterested inquiry as to how things are going. 

Ugh.

It’s truly remarkable this overachiever was able to get away from responding to hundreds of undoubtedly pressing emails to simultaneously acknowledge you while try to make you feel like a pathetic failure at life. What a multitasker.

This oft-made remark is always delivered by those benefiting from an economy that is slowly bleeding out—a lame justification of one’s existence to stave off a trip out back behind the barn. “How could the business possibly survive without me? I’m just so busy!”

You certainly know the type. Despite having virtually no employable skills, this person gets a decent salary with benefits for merely showing up at their one job and sitting at a desk all day. Sure they may be there until, gasp, 6 p.m. on some occasions, but they’re not actually doing anything. When the economy eventually collapses, these people will be the first in the soup line. And when the apocalypse happens shortly thereafter, these people will be the first to get eaten.

Christ, what the hell does this basic even do again? Project management, marketing, or communications for some shitty app that’ll never launch? According to their Twitter bio they’re a social media proselytizer who’s passionate about food, wine, and the outdoors—it’s also careful to note that their vanilla opinions are they’re own and retweets, which are mostly links to listicles, are not, in fact, endorsements. Telling you how busy they are is the most interesting thing they’ll do all week.

The truth is they’re really not very busy, and if they are it’s probably due to their own incompetence. Unless you have a plum gig contributing to an artisanal weed blog, you really have no business dropping how busy you are in casual conversation. (Seriously, it was agony to bang out 600 words out on the topic of self-identifying busybodies.)

People who are actually busy never proclaim it. They’ll tell you they’re tired or exhausted. That’s the surefire way to tell the difference between the legitimately busy people and the fakers who are trying to show off some weird metrics-based badge of honour.

Yes, Vancouver is a tough city to hack it in. The rent is astronomical and even if you could afford a nice apartment, it doesn’t matter because they’re rare as decent paying, full-time work that won’t crush your soul. The struggle, as the millennials say, is real. So sure, it’s a little gauche to boast that you’re happily coasting by and couldn’t be happier, never really that busy and living off of one unpredictable pay cheque to the next. But that doesn’t mean you need to join their weird faux-busy club, which seems rather cultish—minus the fun of doing mind-altering drugs, swapping partners, and drinking the prefect’s bath water.

So how do you possibly respond? Well, you can lie and one-up them with tales your equally if not more busy lifestyle. You could even tell them to hold that thought as you have a really important email that requires your attention immediately, then whip out your phone. Or you can concede you’re less important and productive, before you tell this loser off.

Do so the latter at your own risk though. It’s very possible the main reason they’re telling you they’re busy is because they don’t have time for your overly critical, lazy ass. 

This Is How Marijuana Can Solve All of Your Problems

Here’s a scenario you’ve probably experienced: You’re working on something, either at your job or on your own personal project. Maybe it’s some sort of quarterly report, or maybe it’s something purely creative, whatever it is, you’ve hit a dead end. Your head is against the wall and you’re stuck. A problem that should be solvable, somehow isn’t and you can’t seem to find a way around it.

If you’re up against a deadline, it may feel you’re in a crisis. It could be that you’ve got too many options and can’t narrow them down, at the other side of the spectrum, that you can’t come up with one decent idea.

But don’t fret, there is a rather simple way to climb this problem mountain without breaking a sweat: simply leave your desk, smoke a joint and forget about it.

Now, this might seem a little bit too counterintuitively groovy to make any sense, but it’s actually a perfectly logical approach backed up by science.

Firstly, once you take a break from a problem and put it out of your mind, an interesting mental process takes place called “the incubation effect”.

The incubation effect is part of a four-stage theory of creativity, first put forward in by Graham Wallas, an English psychologist, in 1926. The stages are as follows:

1. Preparation
2. Incubation
3. Insight
4. Verification

There are a couple things that happen when you take a break and forget about what you’ve been working on. The first – your mind gets some much needed rest. The second part is that your subconscious does the heavy lifting.

When you exert conscious effort to understand a problem, you’re training your brain to view that specific problem as important, a byproduct of this is that your subconscious will also see the problem as important and will work overtime for you while you’re off sleeping, playing videogames, or at the gym.

After you’ve taken an appropriate amount of time doing something unrelated to the problem at hand, you will be able to experience some sort of new insight into what you’re struggling with and see a solution that was right in front of you the whole time. Sometime you might need a few hours of incubation, or depending on how complex the problem is, a few days or weeks.

Now, wait, where does the joint come in?

If you’re someone who feels inspired and creative when using cannabis, it has the capacity to enhance the incubation process and propel you towards epiphany. Why? Well, there are many different reasons, including increased frontal lobe activity, deep brain stimulation, and many other neurological effects related to cannabis use.

Most interestingly, a 2010 study by Morgan, Rothwell, et al. showed that one of cannabis’s central properties is its ability to increase “hyper-priming” ; which is related to your ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. Or in other words – cannabis use can lead to creative epiphanies.

Now, this isn’t earth-shattering, mind-blowing or revolutionary news, and most people who have used cannabis in creative pursuits already know this. Nor does it mean that taking a few hits of sativa will magically put your brain on autopilot and make everything easier (quite the opposite).

But understanding how your conscious and subconscious works, and how cannabis can factor into that process, can definitely help you out the next time you find yourself with your head against the desk.