Thursday, July 19, 2018

First Trip in 40 Years






First Trip in 40 Years




I started this series with the Salvia event even though it happened over ten years ago. The sage experience is what planted the seed that would grow into this collection of post middle-age psychedelic adventures. My first acid trip was in August of 1968, and the last time I tripped out would have been sometime in the summer of 1976 or ‘77. Forty years is a long time to be away. But I was determined to get reacquainted.

The first problem I encountered when I decided to begin this adventure was getting my hands on some LSD. It’s kind of hard to come by. But synchronicity always seems to come into play when you start poking around metaphysical realms of any sort, psychedelics included.   I (finally) encountered an ethical and trustworthy source, and got hold of some blotters and a gel tab. I didn't want to risk getting in over my head (been there. No fun.) so I started out with a modest dose. I did a crappy job of quartering one of the blotters, so I went for the biggest one of the four, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a hit. 

The event was our monthly bike club ride. There’s about a dozen of us in the bicycle gang including my wife and me, and we all ride on fat tire cruisers, antique Schwinns, stretch bikes and custom choppers. We gather once a month to cruise the down the riverbed bike path to the beach, and then up the coast for food, beer, and buzz. It’s an all-day party. We had a parking lot potluck at our meet-up spot that morning. Everyone was bringing food, coffee, beer, and of course, tons of weed. 

 I stopped to get cash and a soda on the drive down. I came out of the 7/11, took the green plastic can out of my pocket and popped it open. Such a tiny chip of blotter. My heart was pounding as I put it on my tongue. Crunch. Swallow. Committed. Deep breath.  I looked at the clock in the truck. 8:43. Twenty minutes later we joined our friends.

 After greeting everyone, and shooting the shit a little I grabbed a sandwich and coffee, and sat in a folding chair, waiting. I was a little nervous, and the food made me feel grounded. The coffee was hot and strong, and the morning was cool and sweet. I checked the time. Almost 10:00. More coffee. 

Suddenly I’m very concerned about our bikes being all clean and shiny.  I know I have a rag, but I can’t find it. I borrow a rag, and start cleaning the wheels on my wife’s bicycle. Then I spot the rag that I couldn’t find a minute ago. Get to work on those wheels! Oh, wait. They’re not so bad. Oh. So then what? Oh. I recognize this! Here we go. I could feel it coming on in waves of excitement, and energy. Suddenly I’m all smiles walking around the parking lot drinking coffee, and talking with my friends. I have the distinct feeling that today is an event of some importance. The sense of apprehension has faded, and the monthly ride has the quality of a holiday like your birthday, or Christmas.

 But I hadn’t taken a wake n’ bake yet. I got some stupid expensive private reserve sativa for just this occasion, and I was waiting for just the right moment. Which arrived like- now. Before I knew it we were locking up the cars, smearing on sunscreen, checking that we got everything OK, and forming up a group to roll out. I knocked back three or four fat tokes, and saddled up my trusty Dyno stretch cruiser. The bicycle felt comfortable as an old shoe. The sativa settled in over the coffee, awakened the mild acid buzz, and turned the morning into a dream.
 All my senses cranked up to 11. All the colors were art, all the sounds, music. Puddles in the low-tide riverbed were clear and incredibly beautiful. We had a small turnout; it was just our club and a handful of close friends. The morning was sweet and clear: perfect for a cruise down the river, and out along the coast. 

As I said, I took a modest dose, and didn't get deep enough to have "visuals". The exception was when we got to the beach, and stopped at the park restrooms to pee. You know how that is when you walk out of bright sunlight into the dark. Add some acid, and it like you're stepping into a closet full of fireworks. This is fun! Rainbow pigeons shuffled and cooed up on the roof. The gods were with me on the dosage; it was *exactly* enough- just what I had hoped to experience.

We headed up the coast. This stretch of beach holds deep, deep memories for me. This is where I first saw the ocean on summer vacation, 1963. I couldn’t wait to really taste the salt water. I was on my first acid trip here in ’68. I learned to surf here in the 70’s. Saw people die in these waters. I scattered my father’s ashes here. And my mother’s, and my grandmother’s.  Last summer when I was here on mushrooms, I could feel their spirits tearing though me in the wind. It made me cry out… All this floated through the morning like a deep incense of memory on the sea breeze. The winter sunlight is honey gold on my face. And I recalled something about acid from years back-

My youngest brother and I often didn’t get along. The dinner table turned into a battleground a couple times a week, easy. Unless I came home high on LSD. Then all the antics my brother would pull to get me pissed would make me laugh instead. Odd how I hadn’t thought of that in so long. But it was of a piece with everything in the world this day. No need for anger. I had also forgotten what a good social lubricant acid can be. All day it just felt as though I were in the right place, saying all the right things at the right time, part of my bicycling family, high as a kite, and just thoroughly enjoying it all. The day was framed and painted with everything that makes life good. The small dose made it all glow and shine.

The important part, though, was the deep perspective that came after the peak had passed, and the excitement had settled. Riding back down the coast and up the river to the cars, the tide was up, the river was full, and the still water reflected the mountains and the sky. The afternoon sun bathed it all in deep golden light. The sheer beauty of it all nearly brought me to tears. And I *realized*. I was so very acutely aware that in another age and time I wouldn't be taking 20 mile bike rides. I'd now be dead, or an invalid from heart disease. Nor could I be drinking in this beauty through plastic eyes because I'd be blinded from cataracts. I wouldn't be out partying and loving life at 65 years of age, because I'd have worked myself to death.

 I can give you the phrases, and they will sound like lots of stuff you’ve heard before:
 "There is *so* much beauty”.
” The Creation is steeped in glory."
 "Your very existence is miraculous."
 "We are so richly blessed."
Life is a gift.

Sometimes this stuff sounds tired and trite until we get those flashes of insight into cosmic/ metaphysical Truth, and those phrases light up like fireworks. The LSD turns that flash into a sustained glow; lets us savor those truths. Of course, that glow fades. But the realization stays. Lucy had one more gift for me that day.

I have a bad problem with road rage. So Cal traffic is awful, and usually by the time I get home from the drive to the beach and back I’m an infuriated screaming wreck. Saturday, after the ride, I glided through that traffic like I was cruising a country road. No hint of frustration or anger. And the anger wasn’t anesthetized as if I’d taken a Xanax or something. Today, I was just not the kind of person who lets a little thing like traffic get him frustrated.  I got home cool, calm, and happy.

 Seven months later although I still dislike driving, I still keep my temper in traffic. No small thing.  Lesson: It is not the external situation that is the problem, but my response to it. I CAN drive mellow. I just had to see it. What else is possible? Like I said- it's all stuff we know all along. The magic is right here when we choose to see it.

 

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