Citation: DayTripper. "A Strangely Isolated Place: An Experience with LSD & Massage (exp91899)". Erowid.org. Aug 5, 2011. erowid.org/exp/91899
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During the snowy beginnings of a long northeast winter, three friends and I ventured out to a seasonably available lake-house for a group Acid experience. Our small sheet of blotter featured Ganesha riding an improbably tiny mouse, an image almost identical to the one inked on S‘s left shoulder.
Through the randomness of voluntary choice, the dosages panned out into a sublingual golden mean, D : 2 hits, Me : 1.5, S : 1, G : .5. While anxiously waiting for the come-up, we sat in a circle and talked the jagged pointless talk of children too nervous to converse with any conviction and too excited to focus on anything else. Soon stomachs began to express disquiet as pre-trip anxiety set in. I fretted deeply over my inability to find an appropriate music choice for this point in the evening.
+0:40 All four of us now began to feel the first deep-seated stirrings of the experience as seldom used elements of our minds began to rev. Energy started seeping from my body and my surroundings came more sharply into focus. S calmly let us know that her shins were slowly undulating as the almost inevitable body load began to say hello. As more energy radiated from me, I felt chilled and channeled my inner Linus by grabbing a nearby blanket and wrapping tightly it around me.
+1:00 The room’s dimensions began to shift with an oh so slight House of Mirrors effect. The ceiling tiles were beginning to resemble the end result of a massive game of Tic Tac Toe and the carpeting, Risk. My heart rate crawled skyward while steady breathing become more difficult. I started pacing intently and became more deeply absorbed with each step. The music gained intrepid depth and each instrument’s part became more and more defined. D and S were on the couch laughing hysterically at jokes I wasn’t hearing. Their laughter was contagious but I refused to let it distract me from my extremely important primary objective: continuing to pace. I lost track of G in my deep focus on putting one foot in front of the other, nimbly dodging furniture and backpacks that deigned to impede my path.
+1:20 My restlessness intensified and I wandered upstairs with the blanket wrapped around my shoulders, a physical embodiment of the music that my ears pulled with it, trailing me like a like an ambient cloak, a cloth walkman that needed no earphones.
Upstairs I ventured into the master bedroom and paused to consider the usual inhabitants, D’s parents, in a general, absent, lacking any definite path or conclusion sort of way. Inside, I was surprised to find something I had never noticed there before, a 4 foot long panoramic color photograph of what appeared to be the Alaskan wilderness. The photo was taken from the shore of a remote, icy lake with ethereal wisps of snow white fog floating above it and a dense coniferous forest encircling. There were massive, powerful snow-capped peaks hovering in the distance. As I stared at the raw, unspoiled scene, the image began to shift and change. The brightness of the landscape shifted from darker to lighter and the color of the sky vacillated between light and dark blue, going from dawn to dusk and back to dawn again, completely skipping the blackness of night. Then the fog began to roll in and out, billowing in to completely white out the image, and then out again, completely disappearing into the trees on the far side of the lake, only to be exhaled out again a few moments later by some massive, unseen, sleeping forest beast. This signified the time that occurs so often in my stronger trips, the moment when I stop for a second to call timeout and assess the situation and realize that I'm in for quite an evening. For a few seconds I strongly consider the possibility that I’m an LSD lightweight.
But the “movie” I was watching soon recaptured my attention and I suddenly felt a strong desire to call the rest of my companions up to experience it. But I was enjoying it too much to leave and made a hopelessly doomed yet nevertheless valiantly conceived, mental note to show them later, waiting until what I lazily rationalized to be ‘the right time.’
Instead I sat down on the floor in a half-lotus position and continued to watch my movie. But instead of being able to focus on the “movie,” some motion coming from below it arrested my attention. I looked down and below the picture I saw a large, unstained wooden dresser and its grain was swaying to the same song (whose source still appeared to be my magical cotton music cape) as the fog above. I had never seen the dresser before, but I highly doubted that the neon greens and pinks that intermingled with the dancing grain were actually a part of the “natural” color scheme of the piece.
Feeling like I had stumbled upon a holy shrine (or more accurately, had a holy shrine materialize around me), I gave in to the urge to attempt a meditation. I pulled the blanket over my head and was blown backward as, in the sudden deep darkness, abstract visuals exploded for the first time into my astonished field of view. Geometric shapes of red and yellow, often in repeating patterns, danced before my eyes with strong motifs of right angles and not a curve in sight. It fleetingly occurred to me that I had just been knocked backward by light waves (did my brain just attack me with lasers?!??!). I tried to empty my mind, relax, and concentrate on my breathing, but the visuals were overwhelming and I burst out laughing with joy, for once not disappointed at my inability to meditate. And yet, looking back, perhaps it was my most successful meditation. The thoughts were flying through my mind at breakneck speed, which at the time felt overwhelmingly anti-meditative. But because of the intensity of the new thoughts rushing in every other millisecond, the earlier thoughts flowed right over me like water and disappeared. I dwelt on nothing and questioned nothing. I simply observed.
Soon my earlier restlessness returned and I threw off the blanket, ready to take in the power of my found personal shrine once again, but no longer was the swaying motion restricted to only the dresser and the photo. Now the walls had joined the tribal dance.
+1:40 I heard D out in the hall breathing heavily and making boisterous exclamations, declamations and proclamations. I strode out regally with my royal cloak to investigate the courtly disturbance and found him taking off his sweatshirt and sweating heavily. Through labored breathes he informed me that he had been outside sprinting around in the snow and his breath was mischievously eluding him. And despite the physical consequences, his electrified eyes and stunted laughter told me it was worth every wheeze. Subtly my empathy brainwaves engaged as I experienced flashbacks to the difficulties in breathe mastery I’d experienced during previous chemical vacations. But quickly I became distracted by an arrestingly colored flower vase and forgot all about it.
Taken by some trifle, we soon wandered back into his parent’s room and D flopped on the bed with audible enjoyment, completely spreading out in one of the purest examples of total comfort I‘d seen this side of the Y2K scare.
I enthusiastically re-lotused in the glow of my movie shrine until D suddenly sat up and directed my attention to an impressionistic painting hanging in the corner of the gently breathing room (the painting somehow was exempted from the breathing [whose exemption at the time in no-way contradicted my rudimentary understanding of physics]). It was a huge Van Gogh-like impressionist sunflower painted with deep, thick, globbed on brilliant yellows, oranges and blues. D offered that he loved that particular work of art because it perfectly summed up his father. This made rip-roaring sense, and for a split second I saw his Dad’s face appear in the head of the sunflower and then softly fade (‘Our eyes are projectors, Yeah! Projecting our lives…’).
+2:00 D and I decided to head downstairs and rejoin the group. As soon as we made it downstairs, G came over and asked if it was time to start the massage. As I couldn’t think of a single solitary reason why not, off we went. As we headed to an adjoining room, I lost my focus and stopped a moment to just let the constant waves of sensory input wash over me. Sound (music/laughter/banging/jokes/exultations) was coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. The source of none of it could be pinpointed with anything resembling verifiable certainty. Everything looked profoundly…different… and I was clearly noticing certain aesthetic liberties being taken with this particular room’s aquatic themed wallpaper. Occasional blinking yielded a flash of geometric patterns that would spyrographically expand outwards and then dissolve into wherever it is visual hallucinations retire to. The smallest hint of impending humor threatened to send me off on giggling sprees of painful proportions.
To begin the massage, we selected Ulrich Schnauss’s A Strangely Isolated Place which proved to be an outstanding choice for any tripping related activity (I've since verified this using the tripper’s scientific method [once is a strong theoretical possibility, twice is mathematically inalienable certainty]). Next G switched out the lamp’s normal light bulb with a green one. Turning all other illumination off, it cast a pale, almost natural (almost…) green pallor on us and the room. G had heard it suggested by certain shifty-eyed types given to suggesting, that green light is supposed to be associated with the heart Chakra and be helpful in circulatory therapy. In this room there was a gently humming heating duct in the center of the ceiling and it streamed audible whistling and rushing air that imbued the atmosphere with the desolately beautiful aesthetics of an expansive desert, wind rushing over the dunes. I detected the wafting scent of incense creeping slowly in from the other room.
By now I was approaching the final ascent to the “peak” of this experience. I had the partially alarming realization that it was taking considerable mental effort to focus long enough to accomplish just lying down on the bed. At the first touch from G it became (unsurprisingly, in hind-sight) apparent that this was going to be just a bit more than a couple of notches on the intensity scale higher than the first time G gave me a massage a couple days ago at his apartment. Any small touch would shoot off a cascade of sensations which would evolve into others which would devolve into still others. Explosions of the visual, physical, auditory and even seemingly new ones I had no names for, forged in the constantly bombarding fire of missile-grade sensory intensity. The closed eye visuals adopted an Aztec and Egyptian sensibility with stepped pyramids and circular calendars taking center stage. One Mayan-stepped tetris-piece design constantly took center stage and a subsequent hastily drawn recreation (Untitled, colored pencil on lined notebook paper, 2010), produced post-trip signs of recognition in my fellow psychic adventurers.
When I decided to check in with reality (and reality IS a choice, don't let no fancy talkin headshrinkers tell me different!) I could tell G was searching deep within my lower quad looking for little knots of muscular fury. And then he found one. And pushed down. And something inside of my leg exploded with waves of energy, and like a child whacked out on sour patch kids and seizure inducing cartoonage, I began my best Vishnu impression, all arms and legs in constant motion. And as G somehow moved up to my elbow region, I saw the veins and muscles lighting up inside my arm as my blood rushed to G‘s fingertips. Unable to contain my vocal self, I belted improvised exclamations and expressions of wonderment. This prompted D and S to stick their heads in and ask, without needing an answer, how we were doing. I believe I detected more than a sliver of jealousy in what probably were their voices. All in all I was thoroughly enjoying myself as the electronically natural and ambient sounds of Ulrich Schnauss crashed and swirled around me to a pulsating beat.
Because sensory input had now completely arrested what remained of my voluntary focus (crack-aided ADD eat your heart out), I had a hard time keeping still long enough to allow G to accomplish much in the ways of massage therapy. He kept attempting to coax me into staying in the same position, but after 10 seconds (margin of error: + - 11.2 sec) I would give in to the mind‘s de-tethered racings and flail about subconsciously. G, searching for a new tactic, kept repeating the suggestion of striving to feel heavy, heavy, heavy. The concept was intoxicating. I began chanting my new mantra quietly, “heaviness, heaviness, heaviness” over and over, and something in the mind calming repetition allowed renewed control of focus toward staying relaxed and under control. And I was quickly rewarded as G found another hidden ball of clenching tightness down near my tibia’s base and my auditory and corporeal senses hit critical mass.
While hurtling through this scene of sound and sensation, traveling through the multi-dimensional ether, G attempted a deep hamstring stretch and implored me to move “up” a bit so he could get a better position. “Up!??!? Up?!??!? That could be anywhere!” I cried as my mind exploded with the possibilities. I was beginning to alternate between the room and the cosmic elsewhere at an increasing frequency. When he finally had the angle he needed, G gently pushed my leg back into a deep stretch and suddenly I was no longer in the room. G was still with me, giving me a deep hamstring stretch, but our surroundings were different. And yet, the new location was in no way cosmic like the other “places” I had been frequenting over the last few minutes. No, this one was earthly and familiar. In fact, it was more than familiar. I could easily place it. It was G’s apartment! And we both were wearing different clothes. I recognized the clothing as well. They were the clothes we were wearing two days ago when G first gave me a massage in his room. I cautiously looked around and to my right I spotted an image of a cloud formation with deep purples and reds, my favorite picture hung on G‘s wall. I could make it out in excellent detail looking deep into the terrestrial nebula.
I looked behind me and saw G’s door shut loosely against the frame. The half full glass of water I had started that particular massage with sat untouched beside me. It suddenly occurred to me that looking at the digital display on a watch can alert the dreamer to the presence of the dream-state and I looked down at my wrist. After disappointedly discovering that I had taken my watch off for the massage, I quickly looked back up for G’s alarm clock and saw that I was back in the present with the whistling heating duct gazing knowingly down at me.
+3:30 The glowing humanoid form that was in all likelihood G then hovered over to my left side. He clasped my left leg and left arm and pulled me firmly but gently towards him in a complicated motion. This subtly shifted my center of gravity to a foot below me and suddenly I felt myself seeping through the bed down into an unknown void. At first I found the sensation unnerving and resisted, pulling myself up towards G and away from the gravitational sinkhole that had opened up beneath me. But G got me to restart my mantra of “heaviness, heaviness, heaviness,” and chanted along with me with in a calming tone of voice. I gently and slowly leaned backward, like dipping a toe into an expectantly frigid body of water. But as I allowed myself to relax into it, I found it to be an incredibly warm, comforting sensation. Instead of careening down into a cold desolate pit, I excitedly at first and then euphorically melted and dripped into the physical cosmic consciousness, the amalgamated entirety of corporeal energy in the universe.
At some point G returned my limbs to me and I resurfaced up into the room. Soon I felt fingers working softly on my cheek and jaw line. As soon as they reached the area just outside my rear molars, a cascade of long buried, decade old memories fluttered into my field of vision. They starred my childhood orthodontist, a kindly, elderly man, but soon this present incarnation began jumping around the room brandishing pointy instruments and cackling loudly in the manner of a certain Toe Jam and Earl villain. A deep seated, primal fear caused me to psychically recoil from the frightening and increasingly cartoonish visage. And yet I surprised myself by not pulling away from G’s fingers. Instead I looked deeply into the vision and the aesthetics began to shift and change. From a hysterical villain, he soon became a fool-hardy Doug nemesis, then a harmless Rugrats adult until the image finally faded away, replaced with a feeling of calmness and exorcism.
G then migrated down to my IT band and another rush of memories sprung forth hailing from my middle school cross-country days where I had first learned the seated-foot-resting-on-knee IT band stretch. Soon I smelled an early fall meet held deep inside a rustic state-park: decaying leaves mixed with freshly cut dewy grass and the smoky embers of recently extinguished fires at nearby campsites. Early morning fog permeated the memory melding with the sleepiness of a sub 4AM wake up call and then infused with adrenaline from the anticipation of the starting gun, muscles taut, ready to go. G’s voice suddenly cut in from nowhere, imploring me to relax.
As the massage progressed I found it easier and easier to maintain calm stillness. My body, acting independently, relaxed into the massage while my mind wandered through irretrievable revelries. At some point G informed me he had finished, instructed me to take my time and go slow when I decided to arise, and left the room. I lay there gathering my exceedingly scattered thoughts, picking them up one at a time, trying to assess the situation and piece together what just happened.
+4:45 Wits tentatively corralled, I wandered unsteadily outside and down to the edge of the dock, drinking in the cool night air and getting calmed by the soft arrhythmic crashing of the waves against the wood. I stood there, outside for the first time that night, and drank in the wide open expanse of land, sea and sky with eyes impossibly accustomed to the dark. My muscles calmed and relaxed while at the same time also felt toned and sore from an intense cardio workout. I pondered whether weakly stretching or melting into a jellied pool of tissue and cells would be a more prudent course of action.
+5:00 Seated on the side of the dock, I heard the rustling of the sliding glass door open and booted footsteps slowly sound signaling an approach somewhere behind me. It occurred to me that I could find out who it was with the trivial motion of a swiveled head. And yet, feeling the most Zen I had felt in many moons, I opted for patience and remained staring down into the inky water. The footsteps ceased a pace behind me and were replaced with the slow creaking of boards as the person silently shifted their weight. Then a comparably sudden creak and from the corner of my eye I saw S sit down beside me. She pulled a cigarette from behind her ear and placed it softly between her lips. A lighter materialized and sparked giving off the olfactory hint of flint and char.
Taking advantage of our chemically bestowed night-vision, we gazed out into the light black expanse of watery valley, silently taking in the dully glowing nocturnal scenescape. The source of the glow was everywhere and nowhere and I looked down the shore at the little boatdocks and gazeebos extended out into the water, calmly sitting below undulating, grey weeping willows, and I was transported to a Japanese water garden (Serenity, darkly inked woodcut, 1129). S took a slow drag of her cigarette and held it for an impossible expanse of time before exhaling the smoke dreamily starward. Some inconsequential part of my brain wondered, without a trace of anxiety, what G and D were up to. The waves kicked up and then calmed for no verifiable reason. Another deep cigarette inhalation from my right. I turned slowly to look at her and smiled. “Pure beauty,” I said gesturing languidly down the shore. “It looks just like a Japanese water gar…”
“YES!!!,” S screamed, jumping up with wild eyed gestures, ash raining down. “Oh my god, you read my thoughts! I was thinking the exact same thing!” Her startled but exuberant words rushed through and past my face to ride out with the night waves. The echoing in my ears slowly subsided as we looked wide-eyed at each other until the feeling gradually passed and our attention was once again arrested by the Sea of Japan.
+6:00 S and I jumped to our feet with an irrepressible urge to play Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds and A Day in the Life. It was one of those music choice urges that was irrepressible until satisfied. We were either going to listen to those two songs or sit there bemoaning the impossibility of that fulfillment. Those were our only options. After momentarily weighing the feasibility, we ran excitedly up the deck into the house and I dove into the chair sitting before of my laptop. Seizing my mouse, I turned and looked deep into the soul of my operating system and realized that simply changing the song on I-Tunes was going to be easier said than done. After waiting with saintly patience for the words to reassemble themselves into something resembling a language I might hope to understand, I chose to forgo the improbably placed search bar (3 inches outside the northernmost border of my laptop screen) in favor of the always helpful alphabetic ordering system which led me straight to the Beatles post-haste. With the first deliciously reverbed harpsichord(?) notes sounding in my ears, I assembled the portable speakers, wire connected tweeters over subwoofer, in a sound oozing pyramid on the ground below the table. I arranged myself in a comfortable position 2 feet in front of the speakers, closed my eyes, and let John Lennon describe the backs of my eyelids.
Thanks to my heroic and song-worthy mastering of the I-Tunes play-list feature, the last crashing of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) abruptly began and faded away to the simple opening acoustic guitar riff of A Day in the Life. I let the first crescendo scramble my brains into smithereens only to have them re-arranged by Paul’s oh so charming tale of morning routine only to be betrayed into a second dream culminating in a orchestral mass of entropy even more mind scrambling than the first, this time heralded with missiles of light emanating from the speaker pyramid. And finally we came to the merciful eye of the storm before the impossibly conceived 15 seconds of an unidentifiable Beatle (or 3) speaking in tongues with improbable repetition and what shreds of my mind that were left instantly shattered. Stadium-concert appropriate cheering from S ensued.
+7:30 Soon G emerged from the next room and D staggered out a few moments later as I was hit with massage flashbacks from memories that have yet to dry, only a few hours old. D followed in my previous flight path and ambled outside while G decided it’s the appropriate junction to pick up a musical instrument. He carefully hooked up his guitar to my laptop and began enthusiastically adding and removing effects, delays, reverbs, flangers, phasers, tremolos, pitch shift, chorus, like a mad musical scientist. When he finally comes to rest on a combination that makes a solitary plucked guitar note echo with an entire cosmic orchestra’s worth of auditory power, he strums an deep powerful chord and I feel my ears physically vibrate with joy.
Up from the depths of my mind comes Mucho Maas’s description of the joys of listening to music on acid. “You’ll think I’m crazy Oed. But I can listen to anything and take it apart again. Spectrum analysis, in my head. I can break down chords, and timbres, and words too into all the basic frequencies and harmonics, with all their different loudnesses, and listen to them, each pure tone, but all at once. It’s like I have a separate channel for each one and if I need more I just expand…” I think it’s safe to say ol’ Thomas Pynchon indulged once or twice in his time.
At some point G thrust the guitar into my hands, still attached with life-enhancing medical tubes to the computer and its tone crafting software, and walks off to start S’s massage. I hesitate at the burden of crafting the auditory background for S’s massage experience remembering how integral Ulrich was to mine. For a moment I contemplated turning on an album. But after feeling the incredible power and possibility after plucking just one note, I cannot contain myself and begin picking along a simple (and then all too soon, driving) melody, diving in and out of openings left by the delay, dodging reverb responses and leaning hard into the tremolo with feelings bordering on euphoria. Suddenly remembering the task at hand, I shift down a few gears and begin to strum lightly between softly picked melodies, weaving a web of softly pulsated ambient threads while D lays on the couch staring incredulously up at the ceiling.
+8:15 My energy level completely crashes. Ignoring all else in the blissful act of music creation, my waning strength didn’t register until my strumming became gradually sparser and sparser until my final melody sounded at a crawling 10 beats per minutes. I gently placed the guitar on the ground and became one with the pile of blankets next to the couch, spending the remaining 4 hours of the trip in lazily light-hearted conversation and activities, bobbing in and out of sleepy, closed eye revelries.
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