Citation: 91. "Being Led to the Heart of the Question: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp17787)". Erowid.org. Dec 5, 2003. erowid.org/exp/17787
It was near the end of the summer after my senior year of college, and I had important decisions about life to make: whether to stay around school and risk getting tied down or to move West and bum around for a while. It was one of my last weekends with my friends from school, and I was faced with the ire of saying 'Have a good life' to dozens of my closest friends. Still, I had a positive outlook about life, and I was having a shitload of fun just existing cut off from my parents, working and supporting myself for the first time. After a summer of trying futilely to get away and do some drugs with friends, my friend Syph snagged some shrooms.
We found a weekend to go up to a cabin owned by our university. It was myself, two of my best friends from college (Syph and Clock), and a really good friend I had gotten to know well that summer (Sugar). A mutual friend of everyone came up with us to enjoy nature and ended up being our sitter (Dummer).
After arriving late at night, we waited until the next afternoon to eat them. There was a threat of some showers in the morning, but by lunch the skies were blue, warm, and sunny. We were hoping to catch some stars at the tail end of it eating them at around 4:00, but we had to be leaving that night for a 2 hour drive, and just before 2:00 my friend Clock said 'We're wasting a beautiful afternoon. Let's go.'
We divvied up the shrooms, an eighth each. Everyone ate 2/3 to 3/4 of their dose then. We got our stuff together, and played frisbee for a while in the sun. The onset was very quick - within ten or fifteen minutes me and Sugar got a slight stoned feeling. It could have just been a beauty high, though, because it was so gorgeous out, and we were up in the mountains on a perfect summer day.
It's difficult now to remember what happened the next half-hour. We had decided beforehand to go to an area of the river where there was a stone beach and some boulders and rapids to wade across. When we got there, there were some families in the water, and we just didn't feel good about it as a setting. We decided after some confused looking around to go up the river to another place, where there were fewer people, but more rocks and ledges to jump off of into the river. I was a leery about having all that dangerous terrain to deal with, but we had little choice. The spot was a ten minute walk, and the skin on my legs was starting to feel that creepy crawly feeling I get at the beginning of trips. I practically ran leading everyone to the new spot through the woods, it felt like a race against my mind to get there before I got too high to find my way.
We finally got to the rocks, (+0:40) which were catching so much sun now. We laid our towels down on one of them. I laid out a quilt that my grandmother had made me before I went to college, it was hundreds of squares of a full spectrum of colors, and I was hoping it would be interesting to have while tripping. I had no idea. I immediately ran for the ledges that overlooked the river; I had been here many times before and I wanted to get one jump into the river before the drugs hit too hard. I went up to the ledges, where a half-dozen teenagers were daring each other to jump. I stepped off naturally, felt the cold sting of the water -- all quite natural sensations. Getting out of the water, I went up to the ledge with Syph and Sugar, with Dummer (the sitter). We sat at the top in the sun, looking into the water.
The teenagers were still there, and we started off talking reasonably enough, but after a half-hour or so our discussion was wandering into weird territory. My mind started wandering around, analyzing the fact that we were starting to act high in front of strangers yet nobody felt able to move, or staring at nothing for a while. Clock eventually joined us.
I was looking down at the water, assuming the first visuals would come from the ripples in the water. It was only when I looked away from the water that I saw them (in fact, I didn't get any visuals from the water beyond occasional tracers the entire trip). By this time (+1:15) I was beginning to appreciate beauty, and the scene I was in was overwhelming me with it: The sound of whooshing cars on a highway above, trees lining the banks, a mountain river flowing by 20 feet below our dangling feet, a warm breeze blowing cumulus clouds into creampuffs as it coursed over the mountains and up our valley. Even though were out of direct sight of the beach, I could hear children playing around the river bend, I could smell pine tar in the air. I looked down into the endless detail of the granite around me, and it was strewn with pine needles in random, yet orderly positions on the ground. It was like looking at a fractal, and the needles started to flow, as if drawn by strange attractors all over the 3-dimensional surface of the rock.
Syph said, 'look at those clouds' right about then, and Dina was transfixed to a cliff face across the river with her mouth wide open. All this time, sitting on the ledge, I had been thinking about jumping off again, since I had warmed up sitting in the sun. We were all noticing that we were getting some weird looks from the teenagers, but everyone was too rocked by the drug's onset to go back to our towels, a three-minute walk over uneven rocks. I decided to by-pass the whole issue by jumping in again -- it was only a minute or so by swimming, and I wanted to jump again anyway.
It was awesome! The drug was well into the upswing by now (+1:40?), and the fall was a freeze-framed instant that was jolted away only by the cold of the water closing over my head. I found quickly that I could still swim fine, and went to the top. On the way up from the depths, I notice an awareness change. I usually stayed out of the darker deep reaches of this river, just for a fear of the blackness and rocks down there. As I was under, I noticed a beautiful green glow of the sun coming through the water, and felt very nice about being here. Just for a split second, though, I may not have even realized its importance at that time. I treaded water until I started getting tired, then headed for the rocks.
I came out onto a small boulder. It was covered in bird droppings, which ran in white streaks as the water from my trunks hit them and ran down the rock. I stood, transfixed by the chalky trickles below me, and watched them absorb into the rocks and run across them for a long time. My friends had started slowly coming back from the ledge, and Syph stopped on the same rock, watching the water bugs swarm across the still water at the river bank. I began exploring the rock area, walking into a secluded gully and seeing a rock that looked like a viper leer ominously at me. I stepped on it, and watched lichens on rocks, or patterns in granite, or the trees and cliffs across the way. It was as if I was looking for a door, a stimulus to throw the trip wide open. I think at this point I was beginning to peel back the layers guarding the subconscious. I was having fun, but there were no cathartic feelings at that point.
I had planned to eat the last of my portion when I began to peak, and I sat down on my grandmother's quilt to eat them, with Dina and Clock doing the same. We smoked a j, and I was babbling about something when Clock said '91, what's the difference between the first and second jump?' You see, I have a theory about the relative altruism of people who jump off cliffs into water that I had told Clock about after my first jump.
'Well,' I said, 'The first jump is completely chemical-induced. Your brain sends out messages craving adrenaline, and seeing a safe way to attain it here. It's like, 'I've got to jump!' Now, the second jump,' I continued, 'is for the love. You've got your adrenaline fix, you are already refreshed, now it's like 'I love to jump!' '
Clock paused for a second or two (~+2:30), then looked up thoughtfully, saying 'So what's the third jump all about?'
'Well, I don't know -- guess it's ... I never thought of it ... ' I said.
'Maybe you should find out,' said Syph.
I was driven. I had found my door, although I didn't know it at the time. All I felt was a pull to the ledge. It didn't stop me from exploring a bit on the way, but I got to the cliff top in only a few minutes. There was a crowd of normal 20-something people up there now. I hesitated, not liking the looks of this and knowing I should probably go back down out of sight, but I had to know what the third jump was all about. I stepped up to the edge, but there was a line forming, and I had to get in line. I imagine the look on my face was a cross of intense curiosity and social fear. I didn't like this one bit, but I had to jump that third time.
I sailed through the air on a cushion, hitting the water only feet away from the guy who went before me. I stayed under for a second longer, going a little deeper and letting myself float in the muffled, chilling aqua. I swam into the middle of the river, out of the shadows of the shore, and let myself sink down. It got colder and darker, but a meter or so down everything became a wavey, deep cyan. I felt like a womb, only so much colder. I felt like I was protected completely and exclusively down here, only the sound of the rushing river around me. I was perfectly isolated. I could feel the heat of the sparkling sunlight, even though the water around me was only 65 degrees.
I reached a Nexus. The minute I felt it, I realized I had only felt this nexus once before, the first time I shroomed one afternoon on the Gulf of Mexico with the sun blazing and the surf breaking at our feet, I had lived a lifetime with a beautiful, bronze, young, and hot trip buddy. I was there again, but I was too happy to analyze it; I was home once again. I think it's something with me about the wetness, the texture of the water, the muffled sounds of a crowd or the underwater world, the warmth of the sun, and maybe the touch of human flesh that brings feelings of absolute comfort and content because of the tactile similarities to the womb. And every time I came up for air, it felt like I was being reborn.
The water was getting cold, and I swam to the opposite shore. There was a little outcrop of chair sized rocks, and nobody else there. I knew that this was the perfect place to explore now that I was peaking (~+2:50). I plastered my cold body against the biggest flat rock, feeling the cold leave my skin. The sunlight dancing across the little wavelet tops made everything in my view sparkly, and the ledge I had just jumped down from (for the third time) was beginning to take the shape of a frog. Across the water, I watched my friends. Syph was perched on the birdshit rock, contemplating waterbugs. Sugar was wandering in the woods down different paths, and Clock was still milling around the bags in his usual fidgety fashion. Dummer was a rock downriver from them laying flat in the sun, attempting to take a light nap underneath the sunny skies. A sparrow flew by overhead, and I watched it go, so fast that it left a streak that went off into infinity.
You can imagine my joy when I found a wallet washed up on the rocks. This was perfect! All these things about a person, in this case little Timothy H. I went through his cards: A junior high student ID, a gun club membership card, and some other stuff. I yelled to Syph about the wallet. He called out, 'Is there any money in it?' It hadn't even occurred to me to look. The true treasure was the mind trip of finding out stuff about a total stranger's life.
Syph was holding up a bowl with my weed in it, and even though it tore me to leave my secret exploring place, I didn't want them to smoke it without me. I slowly waded out into the now-frigid waters. I went under a couple times, but it was too cold and I had to keep my head above water most of the way. I pulled myself out of the water still glowing from my experiences in the water and across the river, and we all smoked the bowl of kind. I began hiking toward the ledge, but it must've taken me half an hour to get there, with all the detours I took for exploring little nooks of the woods. I sat on the back side of it, looking down the path I had come up. I wanted to jump again, but I was too cold, so I sat in the sun. Sugar joined me, then Syph and Clock.
There was only one local left, a 27ish woman on the other side of the ledge. She appeared to be waiting for her boyfriend, who was swimming. We talked about her cursorily because she looked at us very long and weird, like she knew something was wrong with the picture, but didn't know what and didn't care to ask. We all told each other what we had seen, and I was talking about the ledge turning into a frog, and the vipor rock. I began to feel very megalomaniacal, like I was in control suddenly. I said 'my mind can do anything right now!' Clock told me to move the bridge that we could see down the river. I couldn't do it right away, but sure enough the next time I looked at it, it was stretching towards me.
Syph has a very squishy nose, and he often makes people feel it just to understand its level of mushiness. We have rules when tripping -- no touching, no splashing, no following, no fucking around with anyone. I announced that I wanted to break the rule to touch Syph's nose, and he was fine with that. As I smushed the cartilage mass down, his facial features suddenly sprouted. He has very heavy brows, a big nose, and a large jaw. I looked at him, and all those features grew out in relief. Everyone else was looking at him, and we started laughing at Syph's face. Syph was also laughing. Clock said, 'Syph, you're kinda weird looking, huh?'
Now, Syph was kind of weird looking, but he had once been called one of the 10 sexiest guys in America on some newsgroup poll, so it wasn't a bad weird. But now, he just looked very Neatheral-ish. I told him so, but not in a bad way. Everyone laughed, we had a group laugh, prompting another look from the girl. It startled us to remember she was there. 'Oh, I forgot she was there,' said Syph. I said, 'Oh, I saw her before.' 'We all saw her before,' said Clock, 'we just forgot.' Indeed , we had completely forgotten. I looked down at Dummer, who was a smallish figure sprawed on the rock 50 yards downriver. I stared at him, and tried to make the rock swallow him. Not out of malice, but just because it was fun to do. It began to bubble up around him, and seemed to vaporize at the edges and begin to waft over him like a cloudy lens or a slight gray fog. Then, he and the rock turned into sharp shapes, and degenerated into a paint-by numbers, with Dummer just a few tan slivers in the whole gray jumble of the rocks.
I sat for a while longer, but the sun was now shaded, and I felt like I wasn't in the place I wanted to be. I went back to the bags, put on a turtleneck, and found a notepad and pen in someone's bag. I sat down and looked out over the water, all alone on the rock. I sat on my grandmother's quilt, and it just seemed so comfortable and warm, I didn't ever want to leave. I began to flash back to my first trip, on a Florida beach. I saw the blazing sun, the eons of waves in front of my disembodied legs, my trip buddy's smooth bronze body next to me.
I curled up under the quilt, the light showing through it, engulfing my world in every color of square. I felt a distinct red warmth come over me, and a comfort that was just like the best feelings of family. And I wanted to go into the water, but it was too cold. I just started writing:
'That nexus. The water keeps calling me back. It was like a womb ... a cold womb ---- aqua, the light playing above ---- I felt so perfect.' Looking at the pad now, the handwriting goes from scratchy, and becomes more and more flowing until it is almost cursive, 'Like I was part of the water. I want to be there again. Like on the Gulf of Mexico with the sun so HOT, then cold.' The handwriting suddenly becomes very straight, yet messy; almost maniacal, I remember feeling intense feelings of sexuality here, 'And Koala there ------ like a dune of bronze flesh just rising out in so perfect a beachscape, saying 'NOW IT'S PERFECT.'' This was an intense flashback to my first trip, but it ends just as abruptly, in once again flowing handwriting: 'Like the water. I want to go in the water again.'
The writing ends here, because I ran off my little rock into the water at this point (~+3:30). The cold could be damned, this was where I had to be. I swam into the middle, and I promised myself not to come out because of simple cold. It was not exploratory like the last time, this fourth jump. I was mature, it was coming back to an old friend, it was rebirth. I swam around in an intense state of euphoria, shrieking with audible pleasure every time I came up for air, screaming underwater from a core of contentedness that was so much better than the forced happiness of MDMA. I swam and swam, letting myself sink into the black, floating on my back as the sun warmed my stomach and face. I began feeling megalomania, yelling back to my friends that I could pitch a no-hitter right now (like Doc Ellis).
As I was treading there, I realized that the river and the blanket were the two fighting parts of my life -- the blanket was trying to hold me back to home, the water was like the cold, but wonderful, sting of a new start. I yelled out, 'I'm torn between nostalgia and rebirth!' to anyone who was around to listen. It was everything I had felt for the last year in a sentence. That calmed me down a bit, but I couldn't leave the water yet. I went near the opposite shore, looking at the little secret place I had found, shivering violently. I had been in the water so long that I couldn't feel my feet or control the shivering. My friends were getting concerned, and I felt like I had proved to myself that I was willing to put up with hardship to find new horizons.
I returned to my bag (~+4:30), putting on the warm clothes I had brought. I wrapped myself in the quilt, feeling that it no longer conflicted with my desires. I took out the pad of paper, and began to write again.
'In our bodies we took refuge curled up in a sea of time ---- no, curled up against a sea of time.
like all these blessed rebirths today. So wonderful to have just ... passed these ages together. These long, desperate journeys between.' I looked up at my friends, because that line was meant for them. They were up on the ledge again, looking out at the water and the sky. I wanted very much to share the rest of the trip with them, but every time I had travelled the same path up the ledge that day, it had taken me so much time because I was distracted by different sights along the way. The discovery process that had been so fun at the beginning of the trip was now seeming daunting. I wanted to be there, but I didn't want to go there, and it was another life metaphor suddenly, as I wrote: 'Like twilight for the soul. We start out craving the journey, but we end up regretting its distractions. We haven't the energy to try out new things any more.' This last sentence was written in a desperately quick scribble, because it was so upsetting I just wanted to be done with it.
I started walking back to the ledge with the notebook in hand. I didn't avoid the sights along the way, but noticed that they were all familiar. I had passed these spots so many times that day, the visions they produced were like old friends. I stopped to say 'hi,' but I didn't need to spend the time meeting them all over again.
I got up to the ledge and sat with my friends. We were all beginning to come down now. While most people hate the denouement of the mushroom trip, I've always enjoyed it. We sat there, talking about our trips and watching the sunset reflect off the clouds. Mostly, though, we just sat there silently, smoking a bowl or two to deal with the comedown and enjoying the tracers that were coming out of the colors of sunset and the flocks of geese flying by. I said to them, 'I'm going to miss you guys.' I meant it like I had meant few things in my life. I felt a tear streak down my cheek, and wiped it away quickly. It wasn't a tear of sadness, I was quite content at the moment. It was just a little outlet of all the emotion that had coursed through my body all that day.
We walked back to the cabin in the graying twilight (~+6:00). I was horribly cracked out, and the kind bud wasn't helping. I was more tired than I could ever remember being. Other people staying at the cabin had started a fire, and I just sat by that, still off baseline, looking up at the stars from the confines of my own little world. It would take 15 hours of sleep to get back to baseline after that trip, but it was worth every bit of it. The insight that I gained on that trip has been with me ever since.
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