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The one where I do not try psychedelics
I recently read this article in Kinfolk about near-death experiences and how, though most people experience the same, unifying out-of-body drift toward a white light, 23 percent of people experience disturbing images of tormented souls and tangled limbs—which is not an insignificant number.
When I read this, I wondered whether that meant that heaven and hell were real and that 23 percent of people go to hell. But then, when my dad awoke from a coma a couple of years ago he said that he had terrifying apocalyptic visions while he was out—and he is one of the most selfless people I know, so this is certainly not a merit-based scenario.
And then there’s the fact that my sister and I share the proclivity for having very disturbing dreams that involve cutting arms off babies and duct taping them to busses that speed off into the galaxy and branding lions into people’s chests with a knife and throwing them off buildings and trying to have a romance with my husband who is a werewolf even though I’m a vampire and I very much want to eat him (that last one may have been inspired by Twilight)—and I’ve been off-and-on religious enough to know that I did not suddenly start having “heaven” dreams when I was saved. (Alas…)
So then I think that maybe this is just some kind of odd natural cerebral psychology that exists in people already and then when they are dying they just fire out all the odd phenomena they already have going on internally which, as a naturally inclined “hell person,” has me terrified of trying any kind of mind-altering substance that might lead to a “bad trip” because I already have those every evening while I’m asleep so why be a glutton for punishment, ya know?
This is all totally valid, by the way. I once spent an entire morning reading this study about the use of psilocybin which actually uses the phrases: “Bad trips were more frequent in female users, being associated with thinking distortions” and “findings reinforce the need to manage anxiety during psilocybin administration, indicating that distortions at the level of thought were the main cause for bad trips.”
So that would put me (along with my sister and my dad) in the “thinking distortions” category which makes me a bad candidate for drug use and/or near-death experiences and/or death experiences. Though we’ll never know for sure about that last one unless I appear to a medium after my death and have her write a story about my last, very disturbing and apocalyptic thoughts. Which does sound like something I might do…. (I’ll keep you posted).
All of this is to say that I've never been inclined to try any kind of psychedelic even though they are all the rage these days and everybody is doing them—that is, until my husband and I watched almost the entire Entourage series during our month of the plague and could not stop laughing about the one where they all go to Joshua Tree to have a little trip and decide the very important life question of whether or not Vince should star in the next Benji movie.
Soon after, I had the opportunity to try a medically measured microdose and was guaranteed that I would "feel nothing" and since I was writing a pretty hallucinogenic portion of my book that day while preparing for a big career change, and anticipating a life of creativity and travel (and imagining, in my mind, the beautiful absinthe scene from Moulin Rouge) I figured I might as well have myself a little experience beyond the looking glass just to see what all the fuss was about.
But then I became overwhelmingly paralyzed the day before that I would not be able to write about my experience like all the other millennials do because of stigma and the law and jobs (even though, for the record, I was actually between jobs at the time, had the day off, and had such a negligible amount of responsibility that I feel I should more thoroughly report to my employer the week when I am on my period, laying on the floor praying for menopause, which does in fact interfere with my work more often than the times I’ve taken a psychedelic on the weekend (which, ok, is zero times. But my point remains!)
This thought process continued into the next afternoon when I found myself pondering whether I should accept the half of a half of a dose offered to me before ultimately deciding not do anything untoward. My husband and I walked three miles to the museum where we had reservations to look at art alongside 98 other people who also had reservations to look at art—all of our mouths and noses covered with masks ostensibly so that we would not breathe upon the art and intoxicate it with our coronavirus.
The whole experience was very... meta. Not because of any kind of trip—we definitely did not have one of those—but because we walked three miles to a museum, and then wandered a museum, and then walked three miles back and talked about all the normal kinds of things people without kids talk about like why we both think it’s time to retire the whole “Santa” idea, and how, if we can walk all the way across our city to go to a museum then there are too many people using cars and maybe we should just eliminate cars altogether and have ourselves a good walk.
(We also passed several frat houses where shirtless collegiates were playing some kind of game on the front lawn that was NOT beer pong and was NOT flip cup (and did not involve social distancing of any kind). Can someone please explain to me this new college game that still involves red solo cups but for some reason involves flinging tiny rocks into the air so I don’t have to say things like “whoa what kind of game are the kids playing these days?” I already hate myself for saying that out loud to my husband as we walked past.)
Starting to get hungry, we walked to a restaurant where we met good friends for dinner, then walked home—a total of 10 miles wandered in one day. It was beautiful and sunny and warm and did not require the use of any kind of mind-altering substance to make it that way. In a way, I did take a trip through the looking glass—only on the other side I found, not the tangled limbs of an apocalyptic inferno, but a beautiful, idyllic afternoon spent wandering the world with my husband. Which is exactly the sort of perfect day I live for.
In the end, I do not need psychedelics to have a strange trip (I have those at night anyway) and I do not need psychedelics to have a wonderful dream of a day (I have those during the day anyway). “Thinking distortions” or no, my waking life is a paradise of my own making—an Eden of everyday moments. It matters little to me what my sleeping mind has to say about it.
Until next Sunday,
Other things that happened this week
There was a moment on Twitter this week when Brandon Fugal (the owner of Skinwalker Ranch and the focus of my article about it) visited a haunted nunnery in Utah and agreed to let me write an article about it. Do you see the bloody handprint on the wall? Our meeting is scheduled and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this story.
You can follow my complete reading list here. Here’s what I am currently reading:
The Mermaid from Jeju. It’s Korea and abalone and sea magic and a mythological sea god the women visit when they almost drown in the ocean. I am loooooving this one so far. Can’t wait to finish on my trip this weekend.
Utopia. I found a hardcover copy of this one on Etsy and it’s been a very relaxing read during my yoga seshs. It’s also a pleasant reminder that the democracy we have built was once what people dreamed about when they dreamed about the perfect world.
Writing goals this week
My husband and I left for New Orleans for a little vacation this week. As a result, our week was cut short and I did not get to any of my writing—except for this newsletter. But I’ll be back at it next week!!!
Book 1: No progress.
Book 2: No progress.
Article: I wrote this article plus a guest post for a friend’s newsletter.