Somewhere in the back of your mind is a space full of “some day I want to…”- ideas. We all have our unofficial bucket lists and this past summer I was able to cross off yet another item that had been in my head for over 10 years. This story took place at a small scale nature lover, hippie-ish, rave-like festival in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.
Before joining the rest of the free-spirits down by the river, Mark distributed tiny flakes of paper to me and his wife. I placed the small shred of acid on my tongue, we high-fived, and made our way to the party. Emily was pointing excitedly at light beams coming from the stage while pulling my arm. “Woooooooooooooooow, look at this! Isn´t it beautiful??!!!”, she proclaimed over and over. I don’t think I have ever seen such a joyful adult and her excitement was most definitely contagious. With huge grins on our faces we arrived at the stage several minutes later.
Unsure how long to keep the shred in my mouth, I didn’t dare swallowing it until it turned to mush 20 minutes later. Just as I started wondering if LSD didn´t work on me, the high hit me like a freight train. To this day, I have no better words for what happened that night than calling it “a trip”. Years worth of experiences, emotions, perceptions, and thoughts appeared to happen in a single night.
As my trip began, the voices, laughter, and music around me appeared to fly about the sky in a disorganized fashion and only few sounds made their way into my ear. People were engulfed in conversations right in front of me and yet I couldn´t pick up a single word. Instead bits of music and conversation hit my ear at random and created a confusing sound scheme around me. Voices sounded robot-like and cut-off, laughter had an almost creepy undertone to it, and the music appeared distant and as if played in slow motion. Despite a sense of awe and curiosity, I decided to leave the area before I´d get too overwhelmed.
I began walking around, but felt as if I was directed by waves of movement rather than my own will. Every person, tree, animal, tent, fence, building, appeared to emit its own waves which gently directed me from one place to the next. Somehow, I found my tent and joined my camp neighbors who were sitting in a circle by a group of trees. Having lost any and all gracefulness, I simply plopped down on one of the camping chairs and looked at the people around me. “How´s your night goin´?”, someone asked. The look on my face combined with a resounding “Holy shit” was enough to make the group burst out in laughter. Someone handed me a bottle of water and something to eat.
Once again I found myself wandering around staring at the sky. Vibrant colors appeared to rain from the heavens and I simply could not stop repeating “Wooooowwwww” as I walked along different paths. Passing under a wooden arch, it took me several minutes to realized that I had wandered off the property. I began walking in a trance-like fashion in order to be carried along by the waves that filled my surroundings. Slowly but surely I made it back to the party.
Mark and Emily joined me after several minutes and eagerly told me about Emily´s puking episode caused by the acid. “My body just didn´t want it”, she stated and shrugged. After some serious water, she was as good as new and we started dancing again. I only perceived bits and pieces of the music created by the DJ. While most people were engaging in a very active, jump-like dance, I felt that flowing, calm movements were much more appropriate. The calmer I danced, the more in syn I felt with the world around me.
I joined my camp neighbors several more times that night. At some point, I was offered some sort of fermented drink that was described by some as “heaven” and others as “nasty”. I decided to stick with water. As I made an attempt to leave the camp once again, someone tried handing me a small light. I declined, feeling that they had given me enough already, but they insisted. This went back and forth a few times before someone started laughing and yelled: “He is not going to stop offering it to you. Just take the damn light!”. The light was meant to “help me find my way out of the dark”. Instead, I spent the next hour following its beam, not realizing that I was the one projecting it into the night. Good times.
Later that night, I found myself sitting in front of my trip mates´ tent. Despite the fact that my tent was 5 feet in front of me, I was unable to figure out how to get there. I was sure I´d get lost. When my Mark called it a night, I crawled over to my tent (without getting lost) and got ready for bed. I noticed a dark spot in the air that was desperately trying to get my attention. Confused I tried to figure out what urgent message it could possible hold. When I finally sat down, it came flying towards me, fused with my body and turned into a body perception. “What on earth…?”. I followed its path with my mind, a dull, almost painful ache, which then settled near my belly. After another minute of contemplation, it suddenly hit me! I had to pee like a racehorse! Despite flying higher than ever, I was able to marvel at the fact that my mind could project body sensations out into the world, and then quickly made my way to the restroom.
I began paying close attention to myself just in case I was unaware of any other bodily needs. “This stuff usually works by itself”, I thought and had a moment of deep appreciation for what my body does all by itself on a daily basis. I soon noticed that I was clenching my teeth and realized that I must´ve been at it for a while because my jaw was hurting. Logically, I put my fingers in my mouth to stop myself from grinding my teeth (it made sense at the time). However, that caused my fingers to hurt and thus I decided to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t keep chewing on my fingers. It didn´t end there, oh no! My fingers turned numb and before I could find a way to keep myself from sitting on my hands, I realized that was cold. “Damnit”, I muttered as I realized that I was butt-ass-naked sitting on top of my pj´s. I got distracted. “Keep it together!” I scolded myself and got dressed.
Exhausted from trying to control my own mind and figure out the things my body suddenly wouldn’t tell me anymore, I crawled into my sleeping bag in search for some sleep. As soon as I turned to face the tent ceiling, my depth perception went out the window and the fabric that should have been a few feet above me, appeared right in front of my face. My attempts to push the ceiling back to where ceilings ought to be was fruitless and so I simply closed my eyes. I could hear laughter all around me as if the party I had left earlier was right there in the tent with me. Unable to determine whether there actually are people outside my tent laughing, I began laughing myself. Filled with childish joy, I marveled at the softness of my sheets and the beautiful patterns around me.
I finally fell asleep and when I woke up at 6 am, I had stopped hallucinating for the most part. Even so, I was still a long way from “normal”. It wasn´t until noon that I was able to engage in a somewhat decent conversation again. The night before felt like days of colors, music, and laughter all bathed in cosmic energy. I didn´t even try making sense of it. While others were up and dancing again, my trip mates and I dragged our blankets and pillows to the shade and got some desperately needed rest.
The beauty and awe-inspiring experiences I had that night are beyond anything one encounters in everyday life. However, unless I stumble upon a very special set of circumstances and people, I doubt I will do this again. Don´t get me wrong; I regret nothing and the experience has enriched my life and imagination. But a 12-hour trip to wonderland? Ain´t nobody got time and energy for that!
Similar experiences? Please share!