I once had an experience where I believed myself to have died. I was 23 and naive. Up til then my only experiences with mind-altering chemicals included alcohol, pot, and most recently mdma. My experience with ecstasy is worth telling in its own right but this is not the time. But running off the high of that experience I was eager and willing to try just about anything.
I was very intentional in trying psychedelics. Up til then I only had an academic knowledge but now it was time to have an experiential one. Try as I might I was unable to get anything I really wanted (mushrooms, acid, dmt, etc.). But I had heard about Salvia and even noted that it was legal in the state of California. That seemed an obvious place to start.
There was just one caveat; apparently it’s a very unpleasant experience for most users. Unpleasantness be damned, I was going to make it beautiful through sheer force of will. Or so I imagined.
Hell, at the time I thought I could handle anything. I was looking forward to having a so-called “bad trip.” I told myself that if I experienced a bad trip at the onset all the rest of my trips could be nothing but beauty. Oh the joys of delusional thinking.
I even chose to put on the scariest song I knew, aptly titled Get All You Deserve.
Check it out. It’s a good song in its own right but a terrible choice for tripping. Unless you’re looking for a bad trip.
I timed it so that I’d blast off right as the high hat comes in around the 3 minute mark. The song gets incredibly dark and sinister with an overwhelming sense of foreboding. The song still gives me the creeps and sends me back to that trip even today.
I loaded the bowl of my bong to the brim with the Salvia and took it all in, holding my lungs for as long as I could. I could feel my skin begin to crawl and tighten. I blew out the smoke and felt a heaviness sink in, as if my whole body were imploding or if I suddenly landed on Jupiter. As soon as I blew out that smoke my vision broke. I mean that literally. It was as if a pane of glass shattered in front of me, except it was my whole existence, or my perception of it. In its place a vortex appeared not disimilar to the portal scenes from Stargate.
I traveled down this blue tunnel and ended up in a world entirely in my head. Or out of it. The only thing that existed here was me and my longing to be back home again. Whole again.
My girlfriend Kelly was in the room with me and when I traveled to this other world I could still see her. Except she was made of wax. She had become a statue, or maybe she always was and I was just now realizing this, and I could walk around her and inspect. Suddenly I’d be somewhere else, only to be brought back to my room. Every time I returned things would duplicate.
I looked at my water bottle then looked away. When I returned my gaze there were two. Do this again and now four. This also happened with Kelly. There were a line of her wax statues, extending all the way to a million. All contained within my bedroom. Depth and matter no longer followed basic rules or laws.
Neither did time for that matter. The whole time all this was taking place my mind was attempting to “solve” the riddle. I couldn’t remember that I smoked a hallucinogenic drug, but I knew something was “wrong.” There was a wrongness to everything. Was I just now tuning into that fact or did something recently happen to make it this way? What was I doing before all of this wrongness began? Did I just arrive or have I always been here? Am I dreaming or dead or have I finally woken up? There was no way to tell.
But one thing was certain, I was experiencing this just as I had experienced anything else. In fact this felt far more real. Realer than real as Terence McKenna liked to put it.
I tried to find my way back. But how do you get out of a mental construct built entirely in your mind? Where is the exit?
It gradually dawned on me that there was no getting out of this. Wherever this was, it had become my new reality. I could not deny that. It simply was. Perhaps I truly did die then, for what other reason could all this be happening? I let go and embraced my new existence.
Wait, who said that? Kelly? Where is she?
I looked around and saw her face just inches before mine.
But no. Now I’m sucked back to this alternate dimension. I searched and called out. I had to find her. If I could hear her voice then she must be real. I raced around my mind looking but couldn’t find anything substantial.
I heard my name again. I was back in my room, my real room.
Thrown back again. Only to return. This back and forth cycle persisted for eternity, yet each time it repeated I could hold my grasp on “reality” just a little longer.
I was living the ending scene from Final Fantasy 8 now.
Eventually after what felt like eons I was returned to this plane of existence. Except now I wondered if I would be pulled away at any time. Was I still tripping? I could not say.
I spent the next two years constantly fearing that I was still locked in my own time loop, just imaging my own existence. And let me tell you a solipsistic existence is no fun.
It’s been 7 years or so since that trip and I’ve not fully recovered. Nothing before or since has shaken me quite like that night. I spent so much time in that “place” that I now feel as if I am 100 years old. The young reckless me really did die there and I am not quite as I once was. I lost something there. A piece of my humanity maybe. My ego surely.
There are real consequences to our actions. Don’t wait for life to smack you in the face to figure that out.