The Most Fun I’ll Ever Have Almost Breaking My Brain (And The Lessons I Learned Doing So)
As any experienced delinquent will tell you, probation is not very much fun. Urinalysis is ultimately only effective for detecting THC use, and that was, and still is, my personal drug of choice. Monthly or even biweekly urine tests aren’t a reliable way of detecting a regular use of alcohol, cocaine, opiates, or acid. Fortunately for me, in a sense, I’m only really prone to abusing the last one out of those four. So while I was on probation, I developed a habit for the tasteless tabs and became a tripped-out troublemaker. Although acid is significantly cheaper and less lethal than any of the other aforementioned substances, those don’t have quite the same capacity for reality-bending shenanigans that threaten your sanity. The last couple of times I dropped acid, it felt like the Universe, or God, or whatever, was emphatically telling me: “Hey kid, if you keep this up, you’re going to wind up a drooling psycho gnawing on your own fist for the rest of your natural life. Probably knock it off, huh?” Some people I’ve met can trip all they want and seem to be relatively unfazed. I don’t really get it, but different strokes for different folks, I guess.
I think it’s now been a little over 2 years since the last time I took acid. Even though sometimes I miss the fun aspects of it, I don’t miss feeling like my grasp on this reality is dangling by a thread. I detailed my all-time worst night in my other story: “Psychedelics, Sex, and God”, and the picture above is the most accurate depiction I’ve ever seen of what that felt like. Plenty of other trips could neither be categorized as good or bad, just intense as fuck and bizarre. I remember one night, speechlessly watching the documentary “Samsara” on my friend’s projector in his bedroom and feeling as though I finally understood everything. Of course, by the next morning, that sense of complete understanding vanished.
Picking the fragments of truth out of the aftermath of a psychedelic revelation can be a task and a half. I’d like to think I’ve gleaned a fair bit of value from those experiences, though. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was how little I truly know. We assure ourselves of so much with such unwarranted certainty. Now I have far more questions than answers, but I’m more comfortable with it than I otherwise would’ve been. Prior to my psychedelic experiences, my intellectual pride kept me from seeing a bigger picture, and my compulsion to have the classic grandiose philosophical questions answered led to me to adopting the scientifically accepted narrative of our existence simply erupting out of total chaos with no causal force. I am by no means a young earth creationist, but the details I’ve peeked into can’t be explained with a dice roll. I don’t even know if it’s possible to be put into words just how profound those moments can be, when some cosmic truth is spelled out with such moment-by-moment precision that it raises every single arm hair and makes the spine tingle.
A friend of mine said to me once, “If you talk about coincidence long enough, eventually it just turns into debating the existence of God.”
I’m not trying to proselytize to anyone or convince anyone of anything. I think our species has had more than enough history to see not much good ultimately comes of that. For as much as I’d like to, I can’t recall every detailed incident of conversations overlapping with a song or T.V. show in a significance-laden way, or the radio coming on with some insightful premonition of something going on in my external life, but I know I’m not the only person to have these experiences. Anecdotally, they may not even have any impact regardless. What I’ve found is spirituality is highly personal and experiential, or it’s bullshit. All the going-through-the-motions ritualism and clinging to dead ideologies, it’s spiritually weighing us down.
Another one of the lessons I learned floating through the madness is the value of the gift of free will. We don’t often consider it, but if it were not for our spirit or soul, (the nonphysical element of ourselves, whatever you choose to call it) all of our actions would be nothing more than the resulting chemical reactions unalterably set into motion from the moment of the Big Bang. It was a horrifying concept to realize from the position of a naturalist perspective, but I have yet to hear a satisfying counter-argument from that position. One could argue that is indeed the case, and “free will” is merely an illusion we’ve constructed to make ourselves feel better about our predicament, but I would hardly call that satisfying.
I think the idea I clung to the hardest in the midst of the craziness, and still have to remind myself from time to time, is there are some things that simply can’t be comprehended by the human brain. We just don’t have the evolutionary hardware yet, so just because something makes virtually no sense doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true, sometimes it just requires a bit of faith to accept what is, and then how it is will become apparent later.
Music is a profoundly moving force that routinely circumvents our logic and touches us emotionally, sometimes in ways of which we aren’t always fully aware. We often take it for granted, just how much music impacts us. I think the most prominent example of emotional resonance with music that comes to mind from my own life was near the end of my last relationship. My ex-girlfriend and I were pulling into a gas station, where I had previously worked, for a fill-up and listening to Cuco, an artist I wish I could still enjoy. Beautiful music, but too emotionally soured for me, at least for now. She had been talking to someone else for months. We both knew it was over, but we were both too scared to actually pull the trigger on our relationship. As we were pulling up to the gas pump, she commented on how much she liked the sound of the melodic song we were listening to, and then the lyrics started:
“I don’t think I’m meant to be with you
I don’t wanna make you sad
All the time just feeling bad
Girl, don’t make me fall in love with you
I don’t think I’m right for you
I’m just disappointing you”
(Song: dontmakemefallinlove by Cuco)
Meanwhile, we were making eye contact with each other, and she groaned, “Noooo…,” but we both knew the reality of the situation. I said nothing and got out to pump the gas.
This brings me to another lesson which has been difficult to internalize: regret is pointless; appreciate the time spent and the lessons learned, and move on. One thing that remains immutable is the past. We can change practically any other aspect of our lives, except for the past we’ve lived. We have an intrinsic need to reconcile with ourselves, one way or another. It doesn’t matter how one tries to evade it, whether through the classic vices: sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, whatever it may be; or by embracing some form of dogma, eventually the past catches up and must be dealt with, and not necessarily for the sake of anyone but ourselves.
I realize that my youth makes a lot of people roll their eyes at what I have to say about life and God, which is fine with me. I plan on getting older eventually.
Reincarnation is a bizarre and confusing concept from within the three dimensions in which we are confined, but ever since those psychedelic experiences, I’ve been unable to shake the sense that this face and this name is not my first time as a soul on Earth, and that some of my friends have been my friends before. The truth of that situation will obviously not be available in my lifetime, and I don’t think it’s important whether I believe it one way or another. If the light at the end of the tunnel when I’m trying to cross over onto the other side turns out to be another hospital room, I’m not going to be thrilled, but you’ve got to work with what you’re handed.