Down the rabbit hole we go. A few cigarettes were being passed around as I watched the grains of soil slowly become magnified.
“Have a drag man, it’ll speed up your bloodstream. The acid will hit you harder” Tyler said.
His pupils were whirlpools and his face drifted in the campfire’s blooming light. We had been planning to do LSD ever since we turned 15. Now, we had finally boarded our vessel.
Peeling across a black stretch of mud, a white Ford SUV swerved to a halt and out stepped Patterson clothed in his token Hawaiian shirt while bearing a toothy grin.
An air of wisdom surrounded him, for unlike us, this was not his first time. A tree branch swayed and a creature scattered as Rob cartwheeled from behind the car.
“My dead grandfather keeps telling me I should stop taking so much LSD” Patterson said. Our laughs echoed through the rugged woods as we sunk gently towards nirvana.
The drug came on a small square of paper that could balance on the tip of my index finger, and here this is supposed to be one of the strongest hallucinogens known to man. Taken at a large enough dose, all sense of time and self is completely overthrown. You cannot fight the experience I told myself. I had read too many stories of people stubbornly clinging to their previous perceptions, then having their suppressed personal issues resurface in the form of traumatic zombie hallucinations. The whole point is to wake up from sleepwalking through life, to see yourself in utter clarity.
To venture into the forest alone seemed like a necessity at the time. A pool of light filtered onto a mossy rock and I found myself resting there. Slowly I became unhinged from my previous view of reality. I began to spiral back into a vortex of smoke.
It seems that we had reached the first stage of LSD: where the ego disperses.
“I can’t stop pissing on everything. This must be what dogs feel like!” Rob yelled in the distance.
Self-consciousness started to unfurl itself and puff like little clouds in front of my face. Time stretched out like a rubber band and past events separated then melted into one violent narrative. Like a dog, our primal urge has always been to piss on something. As humans battle for control, they find themselves holding on to irrational positions. Man limits man. Man limits himself.
It had begun to feel as If I was looking upon myself from a bird’s eye view.
The trees were breathing and I felt as if I were underwater. I felt like a piece of seaweed drifting in a riverbed. Mosquitos zipped by like pluming mist, yet I felt no separation from them or from my environment. Everything was one singular motion in time. It’s easy enough to say, but understanding that “everything is one” can only be expressed through silence.
I stood up and felt an impossible lightness in my body. Gripping the arm of an old pine I scaled upward between branches to the tree line. It felt as if I were balanced between the earth and the cosmos. I heard a rustle of leaves and looked to see Rob below me.
He spoke with beaming eyes, “The only way I can describe this feeling is if you had camera with its aperture fully open. I feel like a photo being constantly flooded with light.”
His voice sounded oddly close, as if his mouth were cupping my ear.
I dropped down to meet the ground vibrating in a tribal rhythm. The other’s palms beat their chests like the worn skin of ancient drums and I felt like I was in the Amazon. Patterson bowed as Tyler held up our sacrifice to the heavens. We felt like shamans as the second tab of acid dissolved between our quivering lips.
We had entered the second stage of our trip: realizing the eternal now.
“This must be what autistic people feel like, constantly overwhelmed by thoughts,” Tyler said.
Geometric patterns lined the air around us. The leaves bent with the space that surrounded them. I saw the trajectory of movement as it happened. There seemed to be a uniqueness and presence to all form and the space between objects became itself an entity.
What this revelation involved was twofold: without space there are no objects and within space there is an energy that can be tapped into.
This is what Buddhist monks refer to as Chi. By staying conscious to space you can allow the moment’s energy to fill you up like a balloon.
“How fucking cool would swimming on acid be?” said Tyler.
Suddenly stage 3 kicked in: a tsunami of adrenaline.
With an intense rush of energy we jumped over fallen logs and darted between thorny bushes. Rob began to cartwheel, and I back flipped off of a rusty bench. We were moving with such enthusiasm we did not even take a second to realize we had no idea where we were going. We walked for hours like savages exploring uncharted territory. We crossed paths with two hikers who must have known we were on drugs, because they were as disgusted with our appearance as we were with theirs. To us, their faces looked like melting toadstools. At the time, we were too scared to ask if they knew the way to the water. We affectionately came to know them as “The Gnomes of Truth”.
“We don’t have anymore water. We’ll die out here if we don’t turn back.” Patterson said.
Suddenly we caught a glimpse of a shimmering surface like a mirage in the distance. As we ran with a final spark of energy, we came to a black marsh, a canopy of trees reflected within its boggy edges.
“There is no fucking way I’m swimming in that.” said Patterson.
Another revelation: The future cannot and never will match our imagination.
The sun began to set but the heat continued to rise. My vision fell in and out of focus like I was sitting under a windshield slicked with motor oil and water. Everything glowed in ambient rainbow.
We had reached the final stage: tipping point.
We were in limbo, floating about and trying to make our way back to camp.
Man versus wild. The air was thick with musk and I looked ahead of me to see thousands of mosquitos feasting on Patterson’s back. His skin was covered in scrapes and oozing bug bites.
To my horror I saw they had infested the backs of Tyler and Rob too. They crawled across my skin. They were laying eggs in Rob’s hair. I slicked my tongue across my front teeth only to realize some mosquitos had drowned in my saliva. As I grinded my back molars, I noticed blood smeared across Tyler’s cheek.
“WHERE ARE WE GOING!?” spat Patterson.
Patterson was going crazy, nearly foaming at the mouth with how many insects were swarming him. Swatting without a target, he ran off into the forest while cursing the bloodsuckers.
I too was about to jump out of my skin when I noticed Tyler’s calm demeanour. A fourth revelation hit me like a bullet to the back of the head. Man is victim of his perspective. A man’s perspective can alter his environment. One man crumbles; another matches the frequency of the mosquito’s beating wings. They bite now, but only temporarily. When you stop begging for a more bearable future and realize the present moment is fashioned by your hands, you will find that your situation becomes manageable. Two men nearly starve to death in a prison but only one comes out sane. Why is this so? The answer is how each chose to occupy his mind.
Suddenly, the thought of a thousand blood-bellied mosquitos getting high on acid overwhelmed me. I couldn’t stop laughing.
As our campfire came into view, I felt as steady as the stars poking through the forest canopy. We had stepped outside ourselves to find that the only true light at the end of the tunnel is the light of the inner self. To control your own consciousness is to control your own circumstance. The truth is, you can’t buy this understanding for the price of two tabs of Acid; LSD just gave us a glimpse of the horizon. The new question is: how to hold on to that beautiful perception and accept that we as humans are the eyes of the universe looking back upon itself.