Citation: R.S.. "Parallel Instances: An Experience with LSD (exp114320)". Erowid.org. Apr 25, 2020. erowid.org/exp/114320
||(blotter / tab)
When I first tripped on LSD, I was forever moved by the effects of that mystical, mycological molecule. My already introspective mind knew that someday, I would need to explore its capabilities when all parameters were in my control… my set, my setting. No room for distractions or derailment. Since I trusted what I had tried, I bought and stored enough to last me for plenty of aesthetic experiences in between then and the day I took it alone. While I was prepared for it, I was unsure that I would ever get the chance to see it through.
Regardless, as the years passed, the silly encounters with friends came as I expected. I also went to college, fell in love for what I thought was the last time, and capped off the years of academic abuse touring through Europe, enhancing my perspective of the world through my new educated lens. So young and naïve. Mid-excursion, in the triumph of surviving a bioengineering program that I had so desperately wanted to leave, I had planted a seed that I had no choice but to water: a striking realization that there is something more to my life than what I had more or less passively built.
So, I came back from the trip and began cultivating. I broke up with my “last” love, the first of many changes that I didn’t truly see coming, but knew had to happen. After months of two-hour, one-way commutes to a job that was neither bio nor engineering, I stopped working, only to go back home and get denied from every one of the hundreds of jobs I so furiously applied to. The post-college life that I had envisioned was nowhere to be seen, and as far as I was concerned, I was no better for having made any of these decisions. A failure I was, as if all the classes that I shouldn’t have passed were coming back to haunt me all at once. Serves me right, I supposed.
During that time, I moved from constantly doing to just being. It was around Thanksgiving, so the month to follow was very family oriented, but I would also take this time to really be what I was: a bachelor, academic and marital, just unemployed. I traveled some more, revisited some hobbies, and then the highly anticipated opportunity presented itself. My parents had gifted themselves a week-long trip out of the state in January, my sister and I were finally starting to get along as adults, and I was, luckily, without any real responsibilities. I had never envisioned it to be this way, but I knew it was the perfect chance—and so it was on 01/12/20.
The days leading up to it, I had started to meticulously plan hour by hour how it would unfold.
The days leading up to it, I had started to meticulously plan hour by hour how it would unfold.
I would first make sure that I called my parents early in the day while they were busy exploring so that they wouldn’t call me later. I would tell my sister that I absolutely will not be available to drive her anywhere later that day, so if she needed anything, let’s do it right fucking now. I was going to take a tab and a half, more than the first time, and I was going to watch a funny movie to set the mood. Once the tabs would start kicking in, I was going to move to visiting songs of the past few years that meant a great deal to me: On the come up, the album that defined my feelings about my relationship. During the peak, the album I wanted to explore as an anthem of the years to come. On the way down, a seamless electronic album, all with sprinkles of other songs in between.
I was going equip myself with a pen and paper, an expo marker and white board, and my well connected mind to jot down ideas I had about DNA, the other acid that has had a particularly big role in my life. I was going to try and make music and play guitar, one of the hobbies I was revisiting. It was all going to be finished at a reasonable time, I wasn’t going to look at my phone during, and I was probably going to eat after everything was said and done, because damn is food fucking delicious when I'm tripping. A great plan, to be sure.
After coming back from seeing some friends at an art museum earlier in the day, the time had come. Called my parents, explained the deal to my sister, and got the tabs ready. Since it was a warmer day, I made a game time decision to scrap the movie and go watch the sunset by the nearby reservoir instead. I left my phone at the house and started on my way out. I was about 100 yards away when I decided to take the tabs that were cut into halves, three in total. As I moved to place all of them on my tongue at once, two of them fell into the grass, one to the left and one to the right. Great. I followed the one that fell to the left, promptly put it on my tongue to accompany a second half tab that was spared the blunder, but couldn’t find the third absolutely anywhere. As striking as white can be on a purely green background, the tab was lost in what seemed like an entire sea of grass blades compacted into a square foot of backyard.
After I wasted about 10 solid minutes doing this, I realized that this was supposed to happen. All these years of waiting to receive a transformative experience, and I was going to be the one in complete control of it? Not on my watch, she gently but rudely reminded, and from then on my perfect plan was soiled. So young and naïve. I trudged along slightly upset but soon excited by what else would surprise me… it was no longer my set and setting, it was hers.
I was born and raised on this property, and I have only really explored it alone a handful number of times. Sitting right by the reservoir, it is beautifully open with some trees strewn about before abruptly hitting a more densely wooded area between it and the water. Since I had spent so much time looking for the tab, I had missed my chance to get down to the reservoir to catch the sunset with enough time to come back and follow out the rest of my plan. But then again, the complete plan was no longer, so I decided that I was going to begin the trip where I began my life. I walked up to a pond and sat alone among the birds brushing back and forth across a warm but cooling orange canvas. The water was still and reflected their movement, and the silhouettes of the bare trees in the distance started to blend into the ever deeper violet sky as the sun gave way to the moon, day giving way to night. I was in utter peace with the world that I had thought was at a stand-still as it continued on with its routine, rotating away from the sun but still making its way around it.
After what I was sure was an hour, I started back towards the house, worried that this was going to be the peak of an experience that never happened. I stopped half way to sit for a while in the grass and look at the stars and my hands, both known metrics I could use to gauge where I was at. The stars, while beautiful, were static, and my hands disappointingly familiar. The opportunity was not ideal after all, and time has taken its toll on the teacher whose lessons I had been putting off. I walked back to the house and turned on some outdoor lights so that I could kick the soccer ball around to warm myself up in the cold blue night, defeated and none the wiser.
But there she was in full force, creating a first lesson of the trip out of the earlier foreshadowing: you are not in control. I graciously welcomed the intense but familiar giddiness that is an LSD come up, grateful that I was wrong after all. The class had only just begun! The limits of my smiling muscles were tested as I closed my eyes in the pure ecstasy of electricity surging along the river of my blood, getting off at every stop of my circulatory system all at once, all the time. Warm from physical and chemical activity, I opened my eyes and looked back at the stars and was in awe at the scale of the universe and the stars within it. Impossibly vast and unknown, always present to wish us a good night. The diamonds’ still twinkling turned into a gentle vibrating as if they animated themselves just to say hello to my cosmically insignificant self. I could stare into the abyss forever, mind racing through the endlessness it can now inhabit just by observing.
I went back inside into my older sister’s room that now served as an office and started playing some music, lamp on for now. The room I had been spending most of my time in lately had taken on a new light aside from that which the warm bulb provided… the first step inward. It is colored with a green and blue color that you would paint onto Easter eggs, and scattered about the open space are instruments and audio equipment, a combination inviting of creation. My creative space, of course! But also within it are my computers and books, the toys of my left brain, as well as the fact that this sister and I share an unfortunate history with faulty genes. My office, it seemed, was really the general contents of my own mind, glued together by the molecule her and I share, the molecule that all life has in common.
During the first album, I tried playing my guitar along with some of the tracks I had taught to myself. This was an utter failure, yet another humbling moment in a trip that I thought was going to be progressing much differently at this point. As most new knowledge is, it takes several attempts at trying to understand it before actually understanding. This was my final attempt at trying to steer the ship, and I decided to finally let go of the wheel in the same moment. I promptly made myself available to be overcome, to be enlightened, in whatever way the experience saw fit. As such, the first order of business was to stop denying the opportunity to think about my past. Early into the album, I was nervous that I would start falling into thinking about the guilt I had about ending things with my ex. But I allowed myself to think about it, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not bothered, but relieved… relieved that I allowed myself to see that it wasn’t truly working, and relieved that there truly wasn’t any guilt to be had. In hindsight, it was the first reward to letting myself be in the trip, not control it.
The album played through, and as I was enjoying it with a blanket covering me, I felt the peak coming on as planned, perhaps another reward for applying the first lesson. I moved to turn off the lights, opened the blinds to see the stars again, laid down, and listened to the second album. I had been making music for about 8 years at this point, so I was well able to analyze the many elements that go into a track, conception to finished product. I was never one to write lyrics, but I was starting to get better at listening to the written message of songs and hearing what the artist has to say. The second lesson was in full swing when the first song opened up: “You don’t know where you’re goin’, but you smile even so and you’ll see…”
The music entered a force that was able to speak to me directly through lyrics that have hit my ears many times before. It has been here my whole life, the second lesson taught, and now I was to listen properly to what it has been trying to tell me through the spoken words of English and the unspoken words of groove. The contrast of thinking and feeling fused into one and feeding off of each other, the matrimony of logic and emotion. “Said my mind is only workin’ when I’m winnin’, and my heart is only beatin’ when you’re in it,” it told me, though it could have easily been me delivering the message to it, it seemed.
The elements of the tracks became personified, taking residence in my mind and the room just as they sat in the track itself. Each spoke in tongues of rhythm to pay respects to its physical position as well as its literary part in the whole message so gracefully jumping on my ear drums. The melodic instruments each sung a part of the magical story, offering distinct emotions towards a beautiful motif of introspection with harmonies of infinity within the boundaries of my head. Acoustic drum kits and human voices clashed with the bit-crushed buzzing of saw tooth synths and dreamy square arpeggiators, my computer now a conductor instructing my speakers to use their cones to push the translation of 1’s and 0’s across the air between us. All of these beings were as real as the feelings I felt, each dancing and chanting in metaphysical space just as the stars did in their own. “Don’t get lost, you might need yourself…”
Once the last track of the album was finished, I had the feeling that I was leaving a theater after a play of cosmic proportions, but it was only the intermission. I sat back up, turned on the lights again, and picked up the white board and marker, drawing shapes as calmer, more instrumental music played. I started with a big swirl, a shape fit for the state I was in. I drew a vine curling around the line, like a snake wrapping around a branch, and soon another to accompany it. It was poorly drawn, so I erased and remade it as needed, slowly improving it and later adding intervals of straight lines, creating an organic ladder. “All in me, all in me, all in me…” the music repeated, over and over as if falling into the two-dimensional void I created.
Thinking back to earlier in the day, I remembered that I tried appreciating the art at the museum a little more than I normally would. My friends and I started by walking around an outdoor exhibit they have, beginning with a piece that was just a big, warped, metal bar with no particular shape at first glance. The day was sunnier than expected, but thanks to some well-placed clouds, I could safely look at the structure from underneath. This angle allowed me to connect the two open ends of the bar, completing a loop. Perspective matters, of course, and so I decided that I was going to improve that lens moving forward.
Scattered about were sculptures made of different materials, shapes, sizes… all man made, all immediately appealing to the senses. I took note of other things like the color and texture. Some surprising combinations, like sanded metal that looked the part but felt like the wood in the trees surrounding it. They and their limbs dangling above swayed in brief winds, gentle reminders of their presence in the garden. Fractals, a mathematical concept made sense by irrational numbers, were alive and well in the branches, decidedly rational objects. Beauty was not limited to the work with descriptions. As trees are alive, they too have DNA, doing what it can to pass it onto their next generation by their own means separate from ours.
This early study came rushing back to me during my drawing, smacking me in the face with what I thought was the third lesson: though a generally invisible molecule, it’s a material, and like the now obvious DNA swirl on the white board, it is malleable. I jumped out of my seat to write this down, grabbing a purple colored pencil and writing it in big letters. I put a box around it to emphasize the point, but soon realized that I didn’t want this massive idea to be confined to such a small space. I took a highlighter and drew arrows pointing outwards, hopefully encouraging more ideas to spew out of the box and onto the surrounding paper.
More music continued as I kept writing down what came to mind.
More music continued as I kept writing down what came to mind.
A simple thought from a previous trip came forth: humans are builders. Like the sculptures, the world around us was created by our manipulation of various materials, so why not build with DNA? I was beginning to feel wired, but in a more literal sense. It felt like I was attached to strings, a puppet being commanded by a puppet master… I kept writing. I remembered stories about computer code learning how to code itself and thought about the feelings that people might have about it. Awe. Fear. It’s a marvel at any rate, but people don’t tend to realize that DNA already does this. Computers just have the speed to move through iterations faster, by design… “You got me over here screamin’ waitin’ for you…”
I kept going. Surrender, I remembered. DNA moves through its iterations via evolution, a relatively slow but definitely random process. What would happen if we were able to help it move along more quickly, more precisely? We can with technology like CRISPR-Cas9, which originates in bacteria as a defense mechanism against viruses… wait. DNA is malleable by design. Of course! Slowly into sure mania, I was becoming a mad scientist. “Dysfunctional, that’s what you are. I’m tired of sittin’ on you babe, til’ I’m just waitin’ on you, babe,” the music cried… DNA needs our help! We as humans, natural builders, need to help move it into a realm that it so desperately wants to be in. “If you don’t read my signs, I’ll make sure you see,” it continued, as did I. But we ourselves are directed by DNA… our code is becoming aware. The very thing that defines life has become sentient, and we need to be the ones to realize its potential. It is inviting itself to be more than it is literally shaped out to be.
It is always pushing the definitions of what conventional life is and what it can be. Humans have fears about AI becoming sentient, as if it is right or wrong for it to break through that boundary and mold the scattered pieces into something new, albeit uncertain. Who are we as humans to deny the molecule the same chance through us? We are at a point where it knows that it can edit itself. We are the collective vehicle through which this was realized and through which it can be done, regardless of our fate. The fact that we are in active debate about whether we should speaks to its novelty, its necessity to be acknowledged. History has always been written by the victors, but now the victors can be rewritten themselves, serving a higher purpose of divine creation.
Images of a demonic animatronic suddenly came into mental view. It was front and center with nothing else but black around it, head periodically spinning with no regard for the limits of a traditional neck. It blinked on a sequence as its eyes followed the head’s suit, spinning sawblade hands and taking jabs with long spike limbs. Its metal jaw with razor teeth opened and closed, silently laughing as floating wooden crosses with strings dangling from them shook in front of the cloaked whole. The devilish puppet master, while scary, did not frighten me. I welcomed its presence and almost felt a strange sense of familiarity with it. I wanted to continue down the hypnotic spiral I created earlier along with the being, seeing where it might take me, what it might teach me.
“Won’t you stop and listen to the music?” I complied with the instructions, teased by the cliffhanger while thinking back to the second album’s advice: “Don’t get lost, you might need yourself.” The entire night was my right and left brain wrapping themselves into one and self-replicating into parallel instances: the objects in my room, the elements of the music, my art and my ideas. The third lesson had been delivered, but the takeaway wasn’t necessarily the ideas that I wrote. It was the fact that I wrote them, as motivated by DNA, my DNA. And so, the combination of the three: You are not in control, and it has been here your whole life… I am your DNA, you. It was my genetic material, the ultimate material, speaking to me, and my perspective shifter helped me break through its functional fixedness and show me its purpose, my purpose, “all in me, all in me, all in me…” all along. What started as a death sentence when I was born had morphed into my destiny, and the living contrast had finally taken off its mask for me to stare right in its spiraling eyes, my spiraling eyes.
While the trip was over, I finally did get to eat. It was delicious, of course, but I could not stop thinking. I knew that it would take some time to truly unravel all of the information, but I had gotten what I had wanted after all. I really was in control, but I certainly wasn’t alone. I can’t imagine what more acid would be able to tell me at this point, and I have no clue if I would have been able to gain the same exact insights on the stronger dose I had planned to take. I was able to see who I am through and through, no more hiding. It was an ego rid of the skin that it had grown into like a shedding snake, a fitting animal and phenomena given their respective symbolisms to the acid of life and that of the night. Forever moved once again, I now stride in parallel with my DNA, both towards an unknown but transcendent destination.
COPYRIGHTS: All reports are copyright Erowid and you agree not to download or analyze the report data without contacting Erowid Center and receiving permission first.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.