The delight of the real

Rather than mushrooms / psilocybin, I’m going to use LSD for my next therapy session.

LSD is cheaper and easier to obtain, but also more deeply affecting even at the equivalent dose, and much longer lasting (up to 12 hours, rather than 4-6) – which makes it a bit less tractable as a psychedelic of choice. I’ve a full day slated for it, rather than a few hours. We’ll see how it goes.

Having never taken LSD in my life, I thought it prudent to take a small sample dose when I first obtained it, to get a feel for the drug. I feel quite confident with psychedelics now (I have a rough idea of the terrain, as it were); using the internationally recognised alcohol inebriation equivalence scale, I’d say I took enough to get me ‘a bit tipsy’.

This is a slice of my experience of that small, 100ug dose. At this dose there was a slight degree of visual distortion (irridescence and ‘breathing’), but only noticable when I paid attention. It was a light, clear, and pleasant experience, albeit one which came with a bit of a headache.

The Delight of the Real

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver, ‘Wild Geese’

 
It comes on unexpectedly, suddenly; subtly

Sat in the front room, an hour after dosing, wondering if I’m going to feel anything at all.

It comes on with a laugh; surprise, delight, escaping from my heart my throat my mouth, into the air into the room, bouncing briefly from the walls, the bookshelf, the houseplants the windows.

The world suddenly a delight. And nothing changed yet everything new, everything shining. Everything singing.

It had always shone. It had always been singing. But only now, only now with surprise and delight, I noticed; only now did I notice again.


conkers

I remember – I would have been 4 – being in a park with my family, autumn. I remember leaf mould, and yellow brown and red leaves on the ground, I remember conkers – conkers!, big and bold, opulent.

But no, no I don’t remember leaf mould and autumn leaves and conkers, these are words and ideas, all greased with ghosts and memories, but THIS, I remember THIS, the bold, beautiful THISNESS of the world, primary colours and rich textures and a world both open and endless and yet somehow also enfolding and intimate. In this memory, the world shines. It sings.


I laugh, brief; a burst of surprise, the shock of the new. Sunlight pours through the bay windows and sets the green and white of the spider plant alight; the warm wood floor calls out, lines and whorls, stretching luxurious across the room. The room… the room! Here all the time yet somehow never before met. Another laugh, another burst of wonder, the old white paint of the walls, the crack running across the ceiling, this tiny slice of the universe, shining and living and being, and me just another part of it, no more lost or precious than the spiderweb by the doorframe, the knot of cables by the television, the houseplant, on fire, by the window.

I am no longer the centre of my universe, and I have no way of telling you how blessed a feeling this is.

Eager, I lace up my trainers – trainers! Laces! Green and black and blue, playful fabric threads folded over and under, The THISNESS of them sparkles, not laces but fabric threads, rough-soft to touch, that can be woven this way and that and turned on themselves just so, to keep soft rubber bound to my feet. Trainers! Laces!

Eager, I lace up my trainers and head to the park, 30 seconds walk from my front door.

And the SKY…

The SKY

The wheeling of gulls in the unbounded SKY, the light playing, playing on the lake. The people, the trees, the ducks pattering about on the paving. I stand delighted, the horizon rising up into the distant hills, the city beyond, the clouds, the sun, the SKY, this gorgeous opulent world, and all of it singing, singing as it always is and has been.

The breeze – the joy of the wind, the way the air itself can dance, can pull you along too, calling let’s play, let’s play, lets dance for the joy of yet another gifted day! – the breeze whirls around me and, embraced by the endless open world, I am no longer the centre of my universe.

I have no way of telling you how blessed a feeling this is.

Because I no longer matter. Because the world is bold, and gorgeous, opulent and glorious and absurd, and has no need of me. This universe will carry on in glory long after I am gone, just as it did long before I or any other human soul was born.

For the first time in a very, very long time, I am meeting the world honestly, on it’s own terms, and far from my human world or words; far from the space where everything is turned however subtly into a story about myself.

The universe is the universe, on it’s own terms, and is infinitely complex and varied, from the laces on my trainers and the knot of cables by the television, to the flight of geese against the glory of the sky. I do not matter.

I can breathe easy. I do not matter.

clouds-country-countryside-414308.jpg

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At the boiling edge of the Big Bang (psychedelic session II)

After my November psychedelics session led to such a rapid and profound positive change in me, I resolved to take a session once every 2-3 months for a year. I did this because I’m aware the research indicates that relapses sometimes occur 3-6 months in, and indeed, after failing to follow through on my plan, I relapsed about 6 months later.

Fortunately, while it was a vicious and dangerous fall, after 6 weeks it resolved as quickly as it had arrived. While being able to climb out of the hole myself (somehow?) was an excellent lesson in how far I’ve come, the experience did drive home to me that I’d possibly become a little negligent in looking after my psyche. I re-committed to sourcing some psychedelic mushrooms and having another session.

Brilliantly, this time I found a friend willing to sit with me for the experience. Having a sitter meant I was much more comfortable completely letting myself go. While ultimately I don’t think the dose was as high as I’d hoped (consistency is always going to be a problem with organics), it was still a very moving experience, and worthwhile. I won’t be leaving it so long next time and hopefully relapses are now something in the past.

Here is the trip…


At the boiling edge of the Big Bang

At first, the garden. Unfurling and unfolding, up and out and embracing, green and purple and the gold of dawn. At first the garden, embracing. It’s beautiful, and sacred.

At first, the garden. At first the dawn, singing, and the light is gold – oh, oh the light! The light is gold, can you see? Can you see the joy the splendour, the wonder, can you…

into the roots, into the earth, into the aching unspeaking earth; into the cool and the dark and the secret spaces inbetween, the well of all our sorrows, the source of all

this

heartache and

a g o n y and

then

Oh can you see the first light of dawn! The pale horizon, the dark and the joy and the water earth and sky, and these deep roots and sorrow, the heartache, and

Oh, the dawn! Oh the clear gold dawn, the joy of dawn, sacred gift of dawn, and the garden, at first, at first the garden.

After the garden, the ocean, the beauty, oh the infinite swell of beauty, of sorrow and pain and love, oh the fall and rise, drowning in the embrace and release of agonising beauty. Fathomless and silent, heartbreaking and healing, incomprehensible, I let go, I let go, let go and fall into grace, into agony, into grace.

And I am stars spread out across the galaxy, I am galaxies spread out across the universe, like grains of sand in the fathomless deep, I am, am no more, Sprawled on this bed this body, us all of us, all us bodies and stars and sand, dancing slow and furious at the boiling edge of the Big Bang, all, everything, oh oh oh everything, can you see, oh can you see the stardust, the all, the love the goddamn furious LOVE of it all, burning into sorrow and grief and the goddamn LOVE of it all, oh tell me can you see, can you see what this Universe is, what we are, the howling glory of the real?

The goddamn furious LOVE of it all, powerful as root through rock as ice breaking stone, relentless, the tree of life cracking open the deep earth ascending unstoppable to the endless sky, surging, the goddamn furious LOVE of it all, holding me, mum holding me, a young woman, long hair, fresh faced, I curl up on the bed and curl up in her arms and relentless, furious LOVE surges forth, upward forever upward and and oh no, no no and oh no, mum falling away, time takes all from us in the end, mum falling away into the fathomless black below and I am dragged relentlessly on and

I

H O W L, I

claw at my eyes, clutch my chest, rock, no no no, not this not this relentless, unstoppable force, the boiling edge of the Big Bang taking me forever further from her, from the people I love, lost to the dark and the fathomless deep and me dragged on up and onward into the endless sky, this sheer fury of love and heartache, the agony of grace, the sheer unstoppable beauty of it all,

Nothing is ever lost.

All we have is this moment, all we are is this moment, this boiling fury at the edge of the Big Bang, nothing is ever created or destroyed, but all is in constant transformation; and underlying it all is this love, this torrential ecstasy of love, no thing is ever lost

I

H O W L

in agony and understanding, stripped of my skin and my breath and everything I thought was my soul, I fall away, into the fathomless black, and eternity surges on, relentless, at the boiling edge of the Big Bang.

And it’s so simple, so bright and starry-eyed simple, I laugh, and the laughter is rain on water.


Sit up, pull off the eye mask and headphones. My sitter looks up, smiles

‘I think… lets go look at the stars’

‘OK’

I don’t move. Sit on the edge of the bed, staring into infinitely colliding space.

‘It’s… I wish…’

I want to tell him I wish he could feel how I feel, wish he could know, know at a fundamental and wordless level how much relentless love infuses the structure of reality, but I know the words will be hopeless, meaningless, overblown and cheap. My hands dance in front of me, trying to grasp the meaning which infuses the world. I wish you knew what a glory it is to be alive.

‘You… me… all of it, everything… we live thinking we exist, we’re seperate… we need to, to survive as animals, to make this delusion that there’s this me, and once there’s a me there’s a mine, there’s grasping, there’s fear, gain and loss, we put up walls, but none of it… it’s a delusion, we’re all part of the same… there’s no me and you and this and that it’s all, we’re all… but it’s not right to say part of the same thing, there’s no parts, there’s no thing… it just is… it just…’ my hands flap, fail to grasp the meaning infusing all creation. I sigh, stare into infinitely colliding space.

‘You can’t pour the Universe into words’

We leave the room to go outside, lie in the dewy grass and gaze up at the soft velvet midsummer sky; the Universe gazes back.

‘Hello you. Hello me’

The air hangs heavy with the night flowers of the garden, green and purple and gold; out here at the boiling edge of the Big Bang.


Notes on music:

Because I arranged the playlist myself, I can point to the peices of music which induced the component parts of this trip. They are:

…at first, the garden: Henryk Górecki – Symphony number 3

…the ocean: Greg Haines – 183 Times

…and I am stars: Moby – God Moving on the Face of the Waters

…the goddamn furious LOVE of it all: Greg Haines – So it Goes

Holding on to breath

It’s a strange place, inside my soul right now.

Every recently day I’ve had moments – hours – where I’ve been so blue I’m black. Mostly, I try to sleep. Sometimes, I do things that are a clear danger sign. But I’ve people visiting from today until next week, so I’m safe now.

There’s nothing new in that. I’ve made attempts before, landed in hospital before. This time there’s a brutal grinding quality to it – I think born from exhaustion, the way this wears to you down after so many years. I’m just tired of it now. So this is far from new; it’s old, and worn; begging to be broken.

But there’s something else, this time.

I broke through it before. I know I broke through it. I remember how it’s shaped, I remember the words I used to describe it and while I knew they were imperfect they were also the best words I had to contain it.

I spoke with one of the ordained Buddhists at the centre a few weeks ago. I told her that in all my depression and grief I was so scared because I was falling apart and my life was falling apart and then… then I realised it was always, forever falling apart; there’s nothing to hold on to; all the suffering comes from trying to put together the pieces of a perfect life, in ignorance thinking that life is something you could ever grasp. That we could ever hold on to breath.

I told her I realised I was standing firm on ever-changing chaos. Everyone is. And there was joy in the peace of it, the realisation of it.

And now in this black and crushing space I still have all those words but they’re broken containers, most of the meaning spilled out and sunk to the earth.

It’s a strange place inside my soul right now. Like being kicked out of the garden.


Although it is bright, there are no objects of illumination

The Discourse Record of Chan Master Hongzhi

It came after the psychedelics. Buddhism prepared the soil and nurtured it afterwards, but the revelation came from psychedelics.

Psychedelics provide something of an afterglow effect for 4-6 weeks after the dose, but this breakthrough rolled on long after that, and if anything it grew deeper, more textured, richer. I guess I just have deep wounds, still prone to opening up and swallowing me.

I can’t afford any more shrooms right now. Anyway, I can’t take any while I’m this deep black, and I’d prefer to have someone with me when I do… all these things mean it’s a tricky solution for me and not something I can reach for immediately.

So I’m caught in this strange dark space, remembering only vaguely the shape of something so much greater, so open, something as invisible and bright as light in a void. Often – when I’m at my deepest – it all seems like a lie I’m telling myself to comfort my blistering sense of failure and shame, regret and loss. Why would I want to return to a lie? My life is, materially, a fucking mess; and it’s getting worse. Have you any idea how strong that siren song is that draws me to jagged rocks? I could finally leave behind all this failure and shame, regret and loss. My life is, materially, a fucking mess; and it’s getting worse.

I don’t want to swim forever – I don’t want to fight the tide

I don’t want to swim the ocean – when it’s cold I’d like to die

Moby

Friends tell me that it won’t always be this way, that things will get better. They don’t get it; this isn’t a fight between pessimism and optimism, but a fight between reality and fantasy. The only winning move is acceptance.

Acceptance is a hard move. But ultimately it’s the only one open to us, other than quitting the game. And I know this. I have the shape of it in my mind but it’s far away, and murky, and unbelievable. From here it looks not just hard but impossible, and the rocks are so much nearer, so solid, so simple. The sirens are singing, and all I have to fight against them is love, and the shape of something forgotten.


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