A Journey, Not An Escape, Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

I'm happy to see the debut of the (yet-to-be-named?) "Mushrooms Closet." I was an avid reader of "The Cannabis Closet" and bought the book, mostly to show my support. This kind of reality-based dialogue is invaluable for the cause of sanity during this pivotal moment in the drug war.

I hope I'm not being nongermane, but for me to write about psilocybin, I also need to write about LSD, because they are inextricably linked for me. I realize LSD isn't natural like mushrooms, but save for that one facet: the way these two drugs fit into my experience (and, frankly, society) is very similar. I'll try to spare you my life story, but my formative years were key to my later drug use.

I grew up in a tiny Nebraska town, and although there was pot there, I never had the opportunity to try it. (I probably could have gotten ahold of meth more easily.) Instead I spent high school engrossed in every activity I could possibly squeeze in: band, drama, sports, speech, and relentlessly preparing for college — getting ready for "the real world."

Well, in college, shit got real. On the first day, my new roommate pulled out his little wooden box. We spent the night giggling and I was hooked. I know they say pot's not addictive, and generally I agree, but for the next year and a half I got stoned several times daily, choosing it over class, studying, exercise, family, activities, and worst of all, my girlfriend. I lost her and my full-ride scholarship, I went on academic probation and nearly flunked out, and I almost had a nervous breakdown.

Is this because of marijuana? Of course not. These were my own decisions, caused by naiveté, laziness and fear. Pot simply helped me not think about them.

Shortly after my first marijuana experience, I tried LSD and mushrooms. I skipped class a couple of times to day-trip (4/20 anyone?), but in contrast to pot, the most endearing quality of these hallucinogens is what I once heard called "the progress-checker." While I now love the occasional joint for relaxation, it took me far too long to realize that I shouldn't make decisions while high. The opposite is true of hallucinogens. Trips were the most lucid and honest evaluations of my life during those two years. In fact, I can attribute at least in part my eventual modest success in college to the times I realized with horror while tripping how badly I was screwing up my life. Pot is for checking out; hallucinogens are for checking in. Way in. I was forced to think about school, about family, about my life. It was terrifying, but in the way I imagine therapy can be.

Your contributor mentioned the journey. During a (good) trip, the vastness and beauty of the individual journey is simply staggering. Acid is the only time I have actually wept with joy; it is also the only time I was convinced I was about to die and accepted my fate. They helped me through the existential muck – I made peace with impermanence and insignificance. Hallucinogens helped make me who I am: They opened my eyes to the intricate depths and fantastic surrealism of nature (psilocybin while hiking the Zion Narrows – I'm an atheist but that's the closest I've been to god); they've helped forge deep, permanent friendships through shared, unique and utterly insane experiences.

Not to mention the staggeringly beautiful visuals. I will never forget a young Sean Connery speaking plainly to me from his James Bond poster on the wall, or a brick wall flapping in the breeze.

Sometimes I think the world would be a better place if everybody would trip hard just once.