A reader writes:
My inaugural psilocybin trip happened with a cast of fellow actors under the guidance of one of the last surviving Merry Pranksters. Tom Wolfe described the particulars better than I ever could, so I’ll skip them here to comment on the larger discussion of Journey v. Escape.
After I came down from my Oregon sky odyssey, I felt a brief urge to return – to escape back – into the third-eye pleasure-dome. But a new feeling from the same trip quicklycountered that reflex. Put simply, the trip left me with a new sense of reverence for the trip itself. No, not in an evangelical you-must-try-this sense, but reverence in the sense that this experience was to be remembered, treasured and only repeated with certain people, landscapes, music, skies or stages in life. In other words, I wouldn’t want to spend every waking minute on psilocybin because I value what I brought back from the trip too much. The potency of the trip commanded a strange new spiritual respect, not bottomless desire. Sure, I’d love to go back “on the bus” some day, but I’m not organizing my life around that goal. The experience was too beautiful to make it an earthly goal.
This kind of reverence is categorically different from the fixations of addiction, where the drug-taker only reveres the drug. I suspect it’s why few people talk of shrooms with the same vocabulary as heroin, cocaine or cigarettes. Dependence, tolerance, toxicity – these have nothing whatever to do with it. As with marijuana, our drug policy places shrooms at level of criminality that is inversely proportionate to the personal and public health risk it poses.
(Illustration: A Molecular spacefill of Psilocybin.)