Citation: Malarky. "Incredible Insight and Periodic Paranoia: An Experience with LSD (exp72529)". Erowid.org. May 25, 2010. erowid.org/exp/72529
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After taking LSD for the first time, I experienced incredible insight into the way the world around me and the people in it functioned - with that insight came the ability to recognize things as either 'safe' or 'unsafe': 'unsafe' resulted in heart-pounding anxiety and paranoia, while 'safe' allowed me to relax and enjoy the amplified sensations. I also had a pair of sunglasses with me, which I found that I could use to help tone things when the experience got too intense.
The single dose took about 45 minutes to take effect, ramped up for the next hour or so, peaked and stayed constant for maybe another three or four hours, followed by a prolonged cooldown period, during which I was extremely jittery, almost as though I had taken a massive dose of caffeine with no breakfast after pulling an all-nighter.
I had spent the last two days camping out at a big three-day music festival, and Monday was the finale. Although I had come alone, I met and got along great with my neighbors - there were thousands of us, camping next to our cars in a huge grassy field, and I was stationed at the end of a row, with a carload of four guys from the States next to me. We had gotten acquainted with a group of girls from Canada over the course of the festival, as well as encountering a small crowd of music enthusiasts from Montana while we wandered around looking for a party to join on the previous night.
Early Monday afternoon, before we headed out of the campsite to the festival grounds, we settled an argument about the availability of psychedelics via one guy yelling, 'Does anyone have any shrooms, ecstasy, or acid?' Immediately, a rasta-attired fellow approached us, and $10 later, I had a little square piece of paper in a ziplock bag stuffed into the breast pocket of my jacket.
The finale acts were an incredible electronic duo from Texas called Ghostland Observatory, and the incredible Flaming Lips. Their performances overlapped, which was disappointing, since I wanted to see both. However, I decided to favor the underdogs and catch the Ghostland show first, then go to see the last part of the Flaming Lips' gig. Ghostland's show was purportedly updated visual-wise since the last time I had seen them nearly a year ago - more lights, smoke, and lasers, all of which I figured would play well with the acid.
This was my first time taking acid, so I figured I'd start with a little, 1/3 of the tab, and see what happened, then go from there - in retrospect this was a good plan, but I didn't stick to it. I knew it took LSD a little while to kick in, but after half an hour, nothing was happening - when the music started, I was still sober but the visuals and music onstage were ramping up, so I thought, 'oh, what the hell,' and put the remaining 2/3 in my mouth.
Towards the end of the set, I suddenly realized that the acid has definitely kicked in. The audio had gone from 'good' (according to my usual appreciation of good electronic music) to 'heart-wrenching' - and I recognized my panting breath, racing heart, constant blinking, tingling skin, and roller-coaster-style awareness of changing gravity as the physical reaction to intense emotions.
Once I realized what was happening, the revelations started coming - that Ghostland's set was like a sex ritual, not in the ancient sense of rituals, but in the modern technological sense, aided by synthesizers and lights, transforming the lead singer into a sex god on the stage in front of us. He became a god as I watched, literally an idol on a pillar, completely untouchable and unreachable, brilliant, mind-boggling, streaming pure beams of sex from behind his body, posing and glowering down at us, his subjects. This personification of sex wasn't remotely human, it was alien, and had nothing to do with the physical act of intercourse. It's tough to articulate how powerful this transformation was.
Finally, the set was over, and I managed to find my way away from the darkened stage, through the crowds of sweaty people, and across the field to the other stage where the Lips were wrapping up their performance. By this time, all light sources were haloed in rainbows, similar to what you'd see through a multifaceted prism. One of my favorite songs started as I got there - 'Do You Realize?' If you haven't heard it, it's a beautiful song, with lyrics like, 'Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die? And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know you realize that life goes fast, it's hard to make the good things last...'
My acid-fueled insight suggested that despite the lead singer Wayne's overall beneficent and compassionate attitude towards us (and all of humanity), it was all a farce - in reality, he was an ego-maniac who wanted to test how far his fans would go to make him happy. At the end of the show, he was taken up into a UFO which hovered over the stage, then took off, leaving us happy and worn out down in the pit below the stage. (The UFO was not, in fact, a hallucination - look up 'UFO Show' for more info on the production, I'm sure it would've been impressive even were I sober.)
After the Flaming Lips were finished, my surroundings changed - the lasers, disco balls, coloured lights, and music dissolved, replaced by the dark environment of the emptying festival grounds at midnight. There were people all around me, and we were all trying to get out of there so we could go back to our campsites or hotel rooms. We were like zombie cattle - a herd of reluctant undead. It didn't help that some people were moo-ing (pretty sure this was real). It was dark, and I was mainly just following the other people - but every once in a while, I would catch myself mindlessly marching along with the herd, and I would stop, throw myself out of the mob, and catch my breath, trying to figure out how far I had already walked. It was a long walk back to the campsite, and the paths were fenced with flimsy wire fences, maybe a meter or so tall.
Bizarrely, some people started singing 'Happy Birthday' to the lead singer of the Flaming Lips... 'Happy Birthday, dear Wayne...' In a rush of deja-vu, I realized I had heard or read somewhere that it was a traditional thing for Lips fans to do after a show. It sort of fed in to my theory that he was just playing with us, testing the extent of our devotion. I felt like a secret agent - I liked the Flaming Lips, they're good to listen to, and the show was amazing, but I hadn't sworn loyalty to Wayne. So I tried to be inconspicuous - I was afraid that someone might find me out.
I also realized, in another bout of deja-vu, that the herd-mentality of the exhausted (and in more then a few cases, high as a kite) concert-goers was being expertly manipulated - we weren't really trekking to the campsite, we were being led in a huge circle, facilitated by the nondescript terrain and arbitrary fence system, as event staff moved buildings and landmarks around to make it seem like we were making progress when in fact we were caught in a huge loop. Eventually, the whole flood of people would pour back down to the stage, surprised and thrilled at being so easily led, where the show would end for real. I didn't want that to happen to me - I couldn't stand the thought of being messed with like that. I also knew/remembered (all this deja-vu was false, I'm pretty sure, since I can't figure out where I would've gotten any of this information from prior to this experience) that there were security guards dressed as monsters that were supposed to keep us on the path that Wayne intended us to walk.
Luckily for me, there were some people who must have reached similar conclusions - or maybe the people in front of them weren't moving quickly enough. In any case, they pushed down the wire fencing, and I followed them over the wall and in to the grassy meadow on the other side. I wasn't too far from my campsite (due to the fact that I had really been walking the right direction all the time, and the Flaming Lips' lead singer hadn't been cleverly manipulating our route) so after a few agonizing seconds of searching for landmarks, I found my way back to my car.
By that time, I had realized that I was in danger - not only since I had broken off from the herd, but also because there were small gangs of people wandering around, and in the dark, in my present state, I'd be pretty vulnerable should they decide to do anything to me. Remember how I mentioned categorizing things into 'safe' and 'unsafe'? My car was definitely safe, an impenetrable fortress, and the outside world was unsafe, scary and full of shadowy figures lurching around. I got inside the car, locked the doors, and sat shaking, my heart racing, breathing fast, each breath tasting crisp and pure, as though it were my first after spending an hour in a sauna, or after coming up from a deep dive.
Now that I was safe, I decided to relax - I put the key in my car, and turned it just short of ignition, so that the electronics would turn on. I had an extremely scary moment where I was tempted to start the car, but realized that I was in no condition to drive, so I quickly took the keys out and threw them on the floor. I decided to listen to music that I had composed over the last few years - all electronic, some more dancey or trancey, some more ambient. I experienced my music in a completely new way - the songs had become emotional roller-coaster rides that took me up and down and upside down, as I alternately white-knuckled the steering wheel and lay back in the fully-reclined front seat, my pulse pounding behind my widened eyes.
Although the car itself was normal, I began to notice that the droplets of water beading up on the windshield were not - they were crystalline, splitting and growing in precise fractal patterns, like ferns poking out of the ground. They were tough to look at for very long, in the same way that the sky can be too bright to look at, even if the sun is currently behind a cloud. My sunglasses helped. However, occasionally something would go wrong with the fractal growth, and the droplets would begin forming demonic faces, sneering wickedly and baring their teeth at me. They weren't detailed, they were more like stereotypical smiley emoticons, but I knew they were still dangerous. They might've been on the outside of the car, on the windshield, but it wasn't safe to let them stay and grow for too long. Luckily, the windshield wipers reset the field, and turned all the raindrops in to nice safe fractal patterns again.
After nearly an hour of gut-wrenching musical experiences, I realized that even though things were scary outside, I had to go out, to leave my fortress and see what the world was like. I shakily exited the car, taking my flashlight and coat with me, and immediately knew that it had been the right decision. It was pitch dark out, although the campground was punctuated by occasional light sources, either from the people camping there, or along the main road and over bathroom areas. My first stop was the tent of one of my neighbors - two of the guys were stuffed in to a little tent along with two of the Canadian girls. They were happy to see me - they had noticed me in the car but decided not to do anything, which I appreciated, since it might've really freaked me out to have people from the outside knocking on my windows. I tried to sit and talk for a while, but I felt really restless - I heard groups of people talking as they passed on the road, and I realized that I had exchanged my previous fortress of solitude for another of only slightly less lonely properties. I knew where I had to go - I had to find the group of people from Montana that were having the drum circle on the previous night.
I tried to to bring the others with me, but only one of the Canadian girls would go - she was with me when we left, but somehow got lost along the way. I didn't really mind. I deliberately walked past my intended destination the first time, wanting to do some exploring. There were smaller groups of people scattered across the campsite, last bastions of parties as the rest of the people went to sleep before the trip home the next morning. There was one completely drunken frat boy style party going on at the end of the road, near the exit to the campgrounds - drunken orgies, people singing to pop music, belching and whistling, groaning, 'Join us! Join us!' at people like myself who walked past. They definitely weren't safe - they were the frat party from hell, and possibly demonic, though I thought that their true shapes might be discernible in certain light, or after they were drunk enough. I'm not sure if they were related to the demonic faces on my windshield. I stayed away from their party.
After a bit of wandering, I ended up at the drum circle campsite - they'd set up one of those picnic shelters, a couple meters square with a rain-fly draped from the top, making a nice little enclosed space. This was an incredibly safe space - safer then my car, even, since the people here were nice, and we could protect each other if we needed to. We talked about the shows we'd seen, I gave an abbreviated account of my revelations concerning Ghostland and the Lips, we cracked and fiddled with glow sticks (which left distinct trails of light that faded after a second or so when they moved), snacked on oreos and fritos and passed around a big fancy bottle of tequila.
We had a few visitors periodically as the night progressed towards morning. A couple of Latinos in their 20s wanted to buy drugs but we turned them away, although I knew there was weed and shrooms to be had - it hadn't occurred to me at the time that it might've been racist to do so, but I wasn't the one with the drugs, so it wasn't my consideration. Eventually, another guy game by - a little older, in his thirties maybe, completely wasted and strung-out on booze and shrooms and who knows what else, maybe acid and weed as well, really really fucked up by any reasonable definition of the term. He ranted about the futility of life, told us he lived in the (not a) lobster shack, that he was running for president (and we were all voting for him), that he was completely lost and didn't know who he was or where he was going, and that he was trying to find more shrooms. We didn't have anything for him either, and eventually he discovered a baggy in his pocket, which he dumped into his mouth and lurched off.
While we were entertaining our guests, one of the guys there was molding his glow sticks (which were the drinking-straw-sized variety) into elaborate accessories - roman gladiator-style helmets, antennae and fangs, bondage straps, and weird tribal tattoos. Eventually, one broke, and we were all a little freaked out by the burst of glowing fluid that splashed on the ground between us. It was non-toxic, though, so we didn't worry too much about it. The sun was starting to come up when I finally decided that I'd had enough and was ready to get some rest - I had come down from the main part of the trip nice and gently in the presence of nice people, and I thanked them profusely before leaving. I made it back to my campsite (after using the portapotty that looked the 'safest'), got into my tent, crawled into my sleeping bag and tried to go to sleep.
I had become an absolute insomniac. I could not even get close to being asleep. Patterns of colour and light swirled behind my eyes if they were closed, and space seemed to bend when they were open - at some point, I looked at my hand (classic thing to do when you're high), and saw a terrible withered thing, barely recognizable as my own. But the look was only a veneer - I knew it was really my own hand underneath the wrinkled skin and spotted complexion. It was my 'aged hand', and its fingers stretched out unrealy, beckoning a few inches from my face. I was sobering up enough to realize that I was just freaking myself out doing that, so I stopped - after a while, I decided to try masturbating. To my disappointment, nothing special happened, just a normal orgasm. I lay with my eyes closed afterward, tossing and turning, until nearly eleven in the morning.
Finally, I gave up on sleeping, and decided that I just had to get out of there and get home. I hadn't slept at all, and though the visual effects had disappeared, I was still extremely jittery, though that could've just as easily been from exhaustion and nervousness as from coming down off the trip. I packed up all my stuff, and felt bad that I was leaving before my neighbors awoke, so wrote out a quick note and stuck it under their windshield wipers before embarking. The drive home was a little harrowing at first, until I either woke up enough to focus or slipped into my 'freeway mindset', and the 250 mile trip home took me about four hours. When I got home, I didn't even unpack - I sent a text message saying I was back to my housemates (who were at work since it was Tuesday) and crashed in my bed, where I slept for nearly 20 hours before waking, feeling surprisingly refreshed, all things considered.
In conclusion, the experience of LSD was good for me - I plan to listen to all of my future compositions on acid before I finalize them, and will definitely be using it for future concerts and possibly beach trips as well.
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