Cessation

I quit smoking pot a little over a month ago after being a consistent smoker for ten years. It feels weird because I’m pro drugs, just not pro addiction. Turns out I was falling more and more into the latter category.

I noticed I wouldn’t go out, even if there was something I should be doing (like buying groceries) because I’d feel ultra self-conscious.  It’s hard enough to get the motivation to go out in public sober, nearly impossible otherwise.

I’ve tried quitting a few times over the years but what finally got me serious was my lack of dreams. Not in the metaphorical sense, but literally. A common side-effect to pot is losing one’s ability to recall dreams. I’ve discussed this with many people and it seems like nearly everyone experiences this.

Since I quit I’ve had intense dreams every night without fail. Some keep me awake and in sweats but I’m okay with that. I feel that dreams are more than just insignificant data being processed by the brain; they are an integral part of learning what your hopes and fears are. Without dreams you may not really know why you are feeling what you feel but with dreams you cannot hide from the truth.

It was through a dream that I learned I was tired of my job, or rather my job was exhausting me. I love my job, but some aspects of it make me miserable, even when I’m at home. I’m not one to want to carry my work with me when I leave. It was beginning to affect all areas of my life. A dream pointed out to me that there was another way.

I let it sit for a while and I got progressively more depressed until I finally had to do something about it. It was either change or blow up, and I’ve seen the latter happen to damaging effect so it was certainly not going to be that. I told my superiors that I wanted to drop down to a lower position.

Today I finally got to see the result of that conversation and it felt incredible.

Listen to your heart or watch as it gets ripped out.

Death

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 psychadelics. 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.

“Andrew!!”

Wait, who said that? Kelly? Where is she?

I looked around and saw her face just inches before mine.

“Kelly!!”

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.

Bicycle Day

Seventy-four years ago Albert Hofmann intentional took a drug he created called LSD.  He took what he thought was only going to give him minor effects but underestimated its potency and mistakenly took a very large dose indeed.

Thus the first LSD trip was documented by the scientist who birthed it. The far-reaching effects of this discovery are still being felt today.  Take note that little ol’ me is writing this post discussing it.

He wasn’t even trying to make an hallucinogenic drug.  In my mind, this seems to imply he was working within the Tao.  In Taoist traditions, one is “in balance” with the universe when one does not strive.  When things are felt directly and then naturally left to unfold.  The more one tries to control the world, the less control he has.

Since he stumbled upon this discovery, and the fact that it has had such a large impact, asserts to me that this was bound to happen.  If not him, then someone else.  But that this chemical, and the others like it, is needed for our planets survival.

Psilocybin

There comes a point where if I eat enough mushrooms the veil to reality is removed. Lying beyond this wall is a being of supranatural power.  She is a mirror and shows your karmic debt instantly. Every thought. Repeated. Emotion. Amplified. Fear. Terrorized. Love. Blissed.

You realize that life is nothing but a karmic simulation. You reap what you sow, so sow something beautiful or mire in your own shit.

Salvia

Someone on Reddit posted this pic and it inspired a discussion about Salvia and it’s effects.  Salvia is just fucking weird. There are certain qualities that are common to a psychedelic experience. Salvia defies them all.  It takes thought and perception, twists and contorts those concepts, then fucks with your own processing of those distortions.

It’s akin to dreaming, but fully alert. You’re just fucked beyond all recognition.  Nothing makes any sense and you have no ability to make sense of anything anyway.  You become a passenger to this moving train of thoughts, images, and fears, all of which are completely and utterly out of your control.  All you can do is succumb to the process and hold on for dear life.

One time I smoked Salvia I placed the bong down in front of me and blew out smoke.  I didn’t smoke enough to be blown out of this cosmos but it started fucking with me anyway.  I looked down at the crease in my pant legs and believed to be viewing large distant mountains.  I looked at the cloud of smoke and believed myself to be a particle of smoke.  The bong was my home and it was my mission to get back there.

Somebody once told me they became the wallpaper and were viewing the room from this new perspective. Another started waving his arms out to his side and ran around the room. He later told me he was flying.  I’ve looked down at myself and seen my own body lying on the bed.  I’ve seen a room shrink and disappear only to be replaced by a vast nothingness that is cold, dark and hungry.  It holds you down for as long as it can and sucks the living soul from your flesh so when you return you’re nothing but a baby in a brand new world.

Salvia man.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

4-aco-dmt

About 5 years ago I was feeling exceptionally sad (I was sad often back then) and pulled out my guitar to grind out some of my frustration. Within the span of 10 minutes I had jammed out and written a song, the first I had ever produced for guitar.

It wasn’t a very complex song and mostly consisted of power chords and harmonics, but I was proud of it, if only because it was my first one.

Over the next few years I would continually play this song to myself. I never played it for other people because I didn’t think it was very good but I kept playing it alone because it brought me satisfaction. I had been longing for days past when I was the bassist for another band and this was the closest I could get to that experience.

I eventually began working out and gathering more energy. I searched for a drummer and started rewriting it with an emphasis on the drum parts. The structure stayed very similar to the original idea, but with a few flourishes. Over the course of six months I watched as this idea turned into a legitimate song, an experience I hold very close to my heart.  I was no longer simply a “wannabe” in my own mind but an actual “musician.”

I should probably point out that the impetus to finding a drummer began while I was high on MDMA.  I was with a group of friends and thought it would be a good idea to play my song for them. It was the first time I’d ever seriously played guitar in front of anyone. Usually if I knew someone could be listening, I’d dumb myself down so they couldn’t tell how much I was feeling it.  Not this time however. Given the circumstances, I gave the performance everything I had. I played the song as if there were nobody else listening.

And a beautiful thing happened: I let go. I stopped holding in. I stopped hiding my love, my fear, my frustrations, my worries. I channeled them into music and emerged reborn.

At the end of the song everyone was praising my playing and letting me know how good it was. I still didn’t believe them but I trusted that they were sincere.

Fast forward to 6 months of playing, working and reworking the song with a drummer. Eventually we got it to a point where I felt satisfied that the song was not only good, but complete.  We set out to record it as you would in a studio: break up the song into chunks and then build it piecemeal. First the drums. Then the guitar. Then more guitar overlayed. Then bass. Eventually it’s at a point where it sounds like a full band, yet it’s only two people still. Right as I’m putting the finishing touches on this piece I get ahold of some 4-aco-dmt (a synthetic analogue to psilocybin mushrooms) and get an idea.

We started off by splitting it in half and each consuming a piece. I plugged our instruments into the recorder and then we started playing. There were no words spoken as to what we should play, but we ended up playing some of our best shit ever.

First we started with some jams. It was mostly just noise and intensity, but we enjoyed playing them and had fun with it. Near the end of our last jam I realized it needed to wrap up somehow so I went into the ending of our aforementioned song and we ended up spontaneously coming up with a neat new way to playing that ending.  We noted that this ending could be used instead of the way we had previously written it.

The intro was previously written with a drum part that plays a tribal beat. But when we played it under the given circumstances he was inspired to play it a new way.  I immediately fell in love with this new rendition and just went along with it. We played the song passionately and with many improvisations until we came to the ending. The ending we had previously come up with during the earlier jam. I had completely forgotten that we were going to try this so that when the drummer started playing it I just played along as best I could. We ended up writing the perfect ending right there on the spot on our first go.

So my point is this: this song, from inception to finale, could not exist as it does now without the use of drugs. The ecstasy alleviated my fear of inadequacy and playing in front of others, and the 4-aco-dmt enabled us to reshape the texture of our songs in the heat of the moment. I believe these songs are objectively better because of our experimentation with these chemicals.

I grew up being told “drugs are bad” and believed them. For a while. But the older I get the more I see how wrong they were.  Drugs and music can be a beautiful union and I will fight for our right to use them until I die.

And even then some.