Citation: Logan MacIntyre. "Insight: An Experience with LSD (exp106589)". Erowid.org. Nov 5, 2016. erowid.org/exp/106589
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When I took this drug, I took it because I wanted to change my life. When I was a child I was badly abused by my best friend. When I came to college, I was in many ways a person deeply handicapped. I was painfully shy and struggled to talk to strangers. I was extremely apathetic and I rarely did my homework. I had no experience with intimacy. These were all of the things I believed about myself at that time.
I had read about people having life-changing experiences using acid, and I increasingly felt it was something I would like to do, and that maybe it would effect a positive change in my life. By this point I had fairly extensive experience with alcohol and marijuana but I had never done any more powerful psychedelics that commonly come to mind such as shrooms, etc. I told a friend of mine (Arthur) about my interest in acid and, having experience with it, he volunteered to see if he could find some at school so we could do it together.
I didn't know what I really expected out of taking acid. Vaguely I had hopes that it may turn me into an extrovert or help me become sexually successful, but really I was just looking for a way to turn around what I perceived to be a very negative life trajectory that I was on. I felt like I wasn't as happy as everyone else and I wanted to be happy like them.
Eventually, my friend Arthur got his hands on two tabs, and we decided we'd take it together one weekend when he was home for spring break. It was late March and the weather was relatively warm and clear, although it was windy. Inevitably I felt a little bit of apprehension, but I was mostly relaxed and I wasn't too troubled by ruminating on the coming trip I stayed very present minded and just went with it. My only fear was that I would have a bad trip, and even then it was a fear faintly held and I didn't waste any attention on it.
At a little before 1:00 PM Arthur and I took our tabs and we decided to walk out to an area of my campus where there's a farm and some trails in the woods that we thought would be a good place to come up. I immediately noticed a metallic taste when I took my dose; I knew LSD was supposed to be tasteless, so I mentioned it to Arthur and he said it wasn't LSD but it was probably NBOMe or something similar. He had taken this specific substance before, he told me, and it was definitely acid. I wasn't concerned.
As we walked out to the farm I began to feel hot and I was being extremely talkative. Both of these Arthur attributed to my excitement/apprehension, and he was almost certainly right. When we got to the woods, there was a fallen branch that we had to duck beneath to start on the trail. As I went under it, I touched it with my hand, and for a fleeting second I felt this weird connection with ancient humans. I thought about how people for millions of years had walked through the woods, maybe even these same woods, and had maybe even put their hand on this same tree, in this same place. This was my first indication that something unusual was beginning. It had been probably 35 minutes.
When we got into the woods, Arthur took out two joints and we sat down on a dry log. He told me it was a good idea to smoke while we were coming up, especially for me, so that the transition to altered consciousness would be less jarring. Before I had even finished my joint, I noticed how unusual this high was in comparison to times I had smoked before. There was a super-real quality to the world around me, and my thinking felt very abnormal and disordered. It's very difficult to explain; I want to say that it felt like my mind was crowded and cloudy, almost as if lots of little thoughts were passing under the lens of my awareness
it felt like my mind was crowded and cloudy, almost as if lots of little thoughts were passing under the lens of my awareness
never in their entirety, but in little fragments discrete segments of bigger thoughts, confusing and strange because their meaning was lost entirely now without their full context. Despite how this description may sound, I was having a very good time at this point and I still was really excited.
When we left the woods and started back to campus, it was very apparent now that I was tripping. My vision was really wavy and fairly heavily impaired. I remember we stopped briefly to look out over one of the fields, and it looked like the grass was literally rippling as if it were a liquid surface. I also had the strange sensation that we were inside a giant snow globe type structure, almost like a big biodome.
When we were back on campus Arthur and I were walking towards my dorm, talking about what we wanted to do. I suggested we should buy snacks, but when he asked me if I felt I could handle interacting with the employees, I felt an abrupt apprehension. I began to think I probably couldn't handle it at all, and I imagined it going very wrong. At this moment, there was a kid in a grey hoodie with a backpack walking towards us on the sidewalk. His hood was pulled up. As he passed we made eye-contact, and for a moment I had the sensation that we were in a wintery, Eastern European type city; I could imagine as if there were big concrete buildings on either side of the road, and light flurries of snow falling all around in the air, and a sky blotted out with heavy white clouds. We passed each other and the vision faded.
This was an extraordinary experience, really beyond my ability to rationalize or make sense of, and I immediately told Arthur I thought we should just go back to my dorm and relax for a while. When we got back to my dorm, the first thing I noticed was how heavily distorted my vision was. My hallway looked like a funhouse, as if it were twisted into a spiral. As best I could, I navigated us to my room and maneuvered inside.
We both sat down. I opened up my laptop and Arthur suggested I should play some music. Immediately, I was deeply disillusioned and even perhaps unsettled by the sound of music. It sounded depressingly flat, dull, and lifeless far worse than I typically felt listening to music on weed, worse even than I felt listening to music sober. I wasn't into the music at all, and I found it hard to even concentrate on. After only a few songs, I stopped playing it.
Feeling markedly more anxious now after my musical debacle, I went online and, partly for the tongue-in-cheek 'trippy' factor, I decided to read The Waste Land by TS Eliot. This proved to be a similarly bad decision. I found myself disturbed, depressed, and generally frightened by reading the poem. I had an uncontrollable, unpleasantly intense empathy with the words, and I found myself being emotionally deflated by this surreal, devastated, fractured, dark world being spoken of. I thought about the emptiness of it all, about how these Victorian era people were all fake cardboard cutouts of people, living entirely through rituals they used to keep themselves comfortable while the internal issues they couldn't deal with sucked Europe down into an era of war and a cold cultural vacuum. Very upset, I closed my laptop.
Arthur and I decided we should watch some TV. At this point I was beginning to feel a definite claustrophobia. My dorm is not very large, and my roommate and I were not much enamored of interior decorating, so the walls were essentially just blank plaster with conspicuous pipes poking out of the ceiling in some places. It felt industrial in a terrible way. All I wanted now was to relax and laugh a little, so we turned on cartoon network.
On cartoon network they were showing Adventure Time. I love this show, but it turned out to be a very poor choice while on acid. The episode we tuned into was one in which this elephant character (can't remember her name) has some apples stolen from her, and the protagonists go looking for them so she can bake an apple pie. Adventure Time is a trippy show, and this is a notably surreal episode. What winds up happening is the elephant lady finds the apples hidden in her own cupboard, and incredibly, she calls the police on herself since she evidently stole her own apples. At the time, this freaked me out, because it was such a strange story and I couldn't tell if it was really happening or if it was some crazy hallucination I was having. I remember I kept asking my friend, 'is this really happening?' 'is this real?' over and over again, and to make matters worse, he largely wasn't responding to me or he would just say 'I don't know'.
The episode ended, and another show came on. This was some kind of live-action show that apparently is a mixture of comedic skits and candid-camera type pranks done by a group of photogenic teens. I was already unsettled at this point and my mood did not improve watching this show. It had a kind of 'wacky' vibe, with a lot of fast cuts and kooky effects, that made it stressfully inconsistent and all over the place. I couldn't settle into whatever was going on screen before it would switch again. To me in my altered state, each new narrative or skit they would jump to seemed bizarre and meaningless, like self-contained pieces of disturbing art, unrelated to each other and making no collective sense. I was specifically very frightened by this one prank they featured where I guess they had a bunch of grown-ups gathered together under the auspices of watching a concert, but instead of actual music being performed one of the cast members stood on stage and delivered this kind of weird belching or growling sound. A sizeable number of audience members had apparently asked the network to conceal their identities (lol) so their faces were blurred out; the collective effect of these things was, at the time, incomprehensibly disturbing. I began to also hallucinate (I think?) that there were black bars drawn across the eyes of various audience members, as you might see in redacted photos of crime victims or something like that. Beholding this hallucination was perhaps the most unsettled that I felt during the entire trip.
At some point I eventually went back on to my laptop to try and listen to music, thinking that upbeat songs might improve my mood. Unfortunately, music remained 'upsetting' (this is the best word but still not a good one) and to make matters much worse, the album art of the song I was listening to featured a mug shot of Frank Sinatra from when he was apparently arrested as a young man. The association with crime was negative in itself, but I also hallucinated at this time that there was a black bar drawn across his eyes as well, like the people on the TV. This little experience put me close to a state of outright despair, and I had a terrible body anxiety, kind of like a restlessness.
Around this time I have trouble putting events in exactly the correct order. I know that at some point, some of my friends who lived on the same floor as me came over to my room to see what we were doing (they knew that I had taken acid earlier in the day). What I can't remember is whether or not Arthur and I had already gone outside and come back in before they stopped by my room. Let me tell the events in the order of most emotional coherency.
So after we had watched Cartoon Network for a while, I was miserable and very anxious in every sense, as I have already said. During the period when we were in my dorm room, Arthur had also frequently mentioned his sense of unease to me as well, so we were both feeling similarly. At some point he suggested that we should step outside for some fresh air. I happily agreed and we went downstairs to go sit outside near this cool little gazebo in the middle of my residence area. Almost instantly after we had left my building, my mood began to improve. I especially enjoyed the sun, which was out and shining brightly, and it brought my mood up in a way I can't really describe.
We were just sort of sitting there on the bench, not really saying much, straight chilling, and as we did so my mood continued to get better and better. Pretty soon, I was actually feeling better than baseline I was feeling really great! A big stupid smile took over my face as I just sat there on the bench and let the sun shine on me.
A big stupid smile took over my face as I just sat there on the bench and let the sun shine on me.
I began to feel a rush inside of me, exhilarating, like a pent up energy. I don't remember exactly how the thought came into my mind but I remember I started to explain, with great enthusiasm and euphoria alike, to Arthur how the meaning of life is whatever you want it to be. For some reason, this terse kernel of knowledge excited and uplifted me so much. It felt so simple and intuitive, and I couldn't believe that there were people who asked themselves what the meaning of life was and wondered about the point. The point is whatever you want! I thought to myself. It's completely up to you! If you think the point of life is to travel the world then the point is to travel the world and if you think the point of life is to eat as much cheese as possible then that's the point of life, to eat as much cheese as possible (I thought exactly this). It was so beautifully simple. It was perfect, and I know it's true.
At some point not exactly sure where in the chronology of things we were in my dorm room and my friends came in, like I had said. I'm not sure if this happened only one time or if it happened a few times, I think probably the latter. The highlight of this part of the experience was when I had gotten an inspirational burst of thought, just like the one I had outside of the bench which makes me think this might have happened after that experience. But regardless, I had this sudden and powerful thought ('insight' is probably the better word) about how the world is made. I conceived of everything as part of a great spectrum, between two extremes, of absolute perfection and absolute imperfection. Absolute perfection, I realized seamlessly and without manual reflection, is God. And absolute imperfection represents the no-essence, having no energy, no character, no qualities, no mass, nothing. And all life, I felt, was engaged in a constant struggle to move toward perfection everything, all the time, is moving toward a state of perfection. And perfection is so much a part of our 'quest' as humans that it defines what we are all about, and all the things we paint, and build, and write, are attempts to capture perfection that we discover in the world around us. Nobody paints an ugly mountain, I think I might have said literally. They paint beautiful mountains, the ones that speak to us because of their perfect quality. And it just made so much effortless sense to me.
I explained all this to my friends, our sober visitors. They did not take me seriously and generally did not engage with my idea. I remember in all of my interactions with them during the trip I always felt this awkward sense of separation from them. They didn't get the things I was trying to talk about and they didn't try to. To them it was a joke. It frustrated me until I let it go and focused myself internally. We did not actually spend much time with them. I remember Arthur specifically did not like having them around very much because they upset his mojo. He is very zen and he likes his tranquility.
Another thing that happened at some point is that Arthur and I took a walk. I think after we had come back inside for a while we grew restless again and embarked on another soothing sojourn into the natural world. At first, this walk was extremely stressful. I remember I was very agitated by the traffic going by as we went down the sidewalk. The cars exuded an air of great menace and danger to me. At one point we went across a crosswalk and it was a hellish nightmare of a three-second experience. There was an indescribable amount of body tension and there was this big SUV type car inching through the intersection as we crossed which put me on the highest alert. I was intoxicated by drugs, so I wasn't even sure if I was supposed to cross or not and I was deathly afraid of breaking the rules and thus getting hit. Eventually, we reached this kind of enclosed neighborhood near my building and I calmed down. It was peaceful there and very wooded, with no cars. I don't think anything of note happened on this walk we went a little ways until we were purged of our anxiety and then we started back.
Eventually, my friend Douglas who had just finished moving back onto campus came over to see how we were doing. We sat down with him at a picnic table just outside the room to my building. I remember he told me how large my pupils looked at the time. It was around dinner time so the three of us headed off to the dining hall which was just across the street from my building.
One of the big takeaways from the dining hall was that food was very bland. I was reasonably hungry, but every bite that I took of my pizza was just really bad. Again, the word I want to use here is 'disappointing' or 'upsetting'. I think the big thing I need to communicate here is that substantially the reason why it was a bad experience was because I felt let down, like it failed my expectations. I had had pizza before and loved it I love pizza! This time the pizza was bland and chewing was a huge chore. It upset me that the pizza was not tasting and feeling good like I had always known it to do.
Also in the dining hall I experience some not-insignificant paranoia. There was a person sitting at a table on the other side of the room and a few rows back from where I was, who I thought was watching me. I was afraid that he was going to beat me up. There was no reason at all for thinking this, except that he was a little intimidating physically, but I kept thinking that we were making eye-contact and that he was staring at me angrily. Nothing ever came of this and we left the dining hall after I gave up on finishing my food.
After eating, we went back to Douglas' dorm which was on the other side of the campus. We spent a little while there playing Mario Kart and listening to music. Music remained dull, although at this point I was definitely coming down. After chilling a while Douglas decided to smoke a bowl so the three of us all headed out to the woods, where we had originally gone after dosing, so he could smoke.
On the way there it was growing dark. In this period I experienced some of my last 'trippy' thoughts, prominently including the sensation that eventually 'everything will happen' because of the infinite nature of time. Arthur countered that an infinite system doesn't work in this manner. I argued that because the universe continually contracts, reinvents itself, expands, and then contracts and regenerates again, surely after a certain point enough unique universes will have generated for every conceivable possibility to have manifested itself in reality. I think my point was dismissed as naοve.
In the woods, Douglas smoked, Arthur was chatting with him, and I sort of went off a little bit (not very far) into the woods to think. I was really enjoying looking at trees and running my hand along the bark. Suddenly I had my last great burst of thought. I had a vivid and exciting vision of the Ancient Mediterranean and hoplites and sun-bleached walls of stone, and for whatever reason I burst out saying that Hannibal (the Carthaginian statesman) did not really lose to the Romans after all, because we still remember him and everything he did to this day. My point was received with the polite appreciation of true stoners.
It was dark when we got back to Douglas' room. At this point I was no longer feeling any of the effects of the drug from before. Instead I began to feel some after-effects, most notably including an excruciating vasoconstriction in my legs which is probably one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever felt in my life. I was also feeling very 'out of it' and disconnected from everyone else. When I got back to my dorm, my roommate was there with some of the people from my building. They talked while I stayed mostly silent. I felt so different from them, so much not a part of what they were doing and talking about and their activities. It was profound. That night, it took me a long time to fall asleep.
When I woke up in the morning I felt a little groggy, not dissimilar to the feeling I get after using marijuana the night before. During the day I experienced no major side effects.
This experience had a long-term impact on me, specifically with respect to my use of marijuana. Speaking only of this substance in itself, I found it to be a very clean and cerebral trip. There were some visuals early on but they were not the prominent part of the experience. The effects of this drug, for me, basically manifested as flashes of thought or 'insight' that came into my head without effort.
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