To Journey Within

“I know what I want for Christmas.” My thumbs tapped out the message and hit Send.
Two hours later, I got a reply.
I took a deep breath. “Psychedelics.” Send.
This time, the little bubbles at the bottom of my screen immediately started moving, indicating a response was being typed up.
“I can make that happen. Is after the new year okay?”
No going back, now.

January 7th, a Saturday, promised a drizzling rain all day. My dog stumbled in the backseat as my friend navigated the sedan through a roundabout.
“You’d have an easier time if you sat down, buddy,” Ashton said to my dog.
“He’ll figure it out eventually,” I murmured.
He didn’t.
I went back to gazing at the dreary, water saturated landscape. The previous six weeks had chewed me up and spat me out, left me for dead. I had recently been informed of my beloved sister moving her family halfway across the country, my parents’ plan to sell my childhood home now that they were established in Alaska, and this double-whammy on top of the burnout and depression left me feeling adrift, unanchored. In a foggy, not-quite-there way, I was grateful to have a day of no responsibilities.
Ashton had handled all of the details for our mini-vacation: a small cabin in the woods, some food, and — most importantly — clean doses of LSD and MDMA. He was an experienced user of psychedelics, but this would be my first time. I’d spent as much energy and time as I could spare studying the effects of these kinds of drugs. I had learned they could open one up to truly spiritual experiences, and possibly alleviate — or even cure — various mental illnesses that had plagued me for most of my life. I was ready to try it for myself.
I stole a glance at my chauffeur as we came to a stop at a light. His thick, black hair was getting long; he’d probably buzz it down soon. He was the only person I trusted to go on this venture with me. We’d been roommates in our early twenties and fast friends ever since, never losing touch despite moves, partners, drama, mental breakdowns, and all the other myriad events that come with growing up. I would trust him with my life.
The car ride was quiet, save for the soft electronic music coming from the speakers.

The piece of paper was barely half a centimeter across and had a little heart stamped on it. I stared at it on my fingertip, then looked at Ashton. He read the question in my eyes and said, “Suck on that for a minute, then swallow it down. Cheers, Punkie.”

Iridescent shapes began to appear between the trees, and I watched with a calm curiosity as the rainbow shapes created fractals in the empty spaces. I sat on one patio chair, Ashton on the other, and my dog would march between us, begging for head pats. The creek chattered merrily before us, the diminutive waterfall frothing the glassy water. I felt such a sense of presence, of being wholly aware of this exact moment in time, as if everything before and after had fallen away. It was the first sense of peace I’d had in months.
Though the cold air was not uncomfortable, my eyes were becoming sensitive to the watery daylight, so we retreated into the dimly lit cabin. Ashton buried himself in the fuzzy blankets on the couch, and I sat in front of him on the floor, watching the rainbows kaleidoscope in my dog’s eyes.
It wasn’t much longer before the visions overtook me. I closed my eyes and watched sheets of time, each one a different color and texture, descend on top of each other like waves to form a single moment. I disintegrated into grains of sand, adrift on the hot wind blowing between the dunes. Desert stretched as far as I could see, and I – in my sand granules – wove between the legs of camels. Beside me was Ashton, or rather, the impression of his soul, which was like if a range of mountains began walking. I could sense that he was on his own journey, but we remained connected, each aware of the other.
As my unbound soul traversed the near-literal sands of time, I didn’t know fear. Pain and sadness dissipated, leaving only awe. Gradually, I was lead to an oasis in the desert: the air was the color of saffron, and an elephant-headed god bedecked in gold and jewels sat at one end of a cerulean pool, upon which pale pink lotuses floated. I don’t know if the elephant-headed god spoke to me — words were far beyond my comprehension at this point — but I had an innate a priori knowing this was the culmination of my journey, and I could stay here for as long as I needed. The pool was the waters of pure, unconditional love, and my unraveled soul bathed in those waters for I know not how long. All I knew was that I was on the other side of forever, and I wasn’t afraid of dying because this is what was waiting for me. The waters pulled the human experience away from me, bathing me clean of doubt, anxiety, worry, stress, grief, trauma, anger, and left me knowing absolute love, and absolute peace. My soul was home, I vaguely understood.
Gradually, the scene faded. My time in the waters of love had come to an end. As my sense of awareness began its leisurely descent through the cosmos, I was struck with a parting realization (or perhaps the elephant-headed god did speak to me as I was leaving). The realization was this:
I am the Universe experiencing itself.
Every single connection I make; every action I take, menial or meaningful; every single thing I say and see and feel and do is an act of god, because I am the universe and the universe is me. The human body is made of 37.2 trillion cells, each one contributing the to the experience of the soul that pilots it. I am a cell in the body of the universe, contributing to its experience. And so is Ashton. And so is my dog. Each and every one of us, as a living and experiencing thing, is a complete universe in and of themselves, coming together to give life to the Universe. We are here to experience, I realized, and what we do beyond that is up to us.

As we descended back into our bodies, Ashton and I gradually became coherent and discussed — in pieces and gestures and feelings — what we had experienced. Two hours later, I bit into an apple and nearly cried at the sweetness. The rest of the evening passed peacefully, time still an illusion with which I wasn’t ready to engage. When morning broke, I was fully within my body again, but everything felt… different. Ashton looked the same as he had 24 hours previously, as did my dog, and the cabin, and the woods, and the creek. But I was not the same person as I had been. Like rings on a tree, I had stepped into a different version of myself. One that understood what it means to love, and be loved.

It’s been a handful of weeks since that journey, and life has introduced plenty of opportunities for grief, stress, anxiety, and depression. It always will. But on the other side of awareness is a cerulean pool guarded by a god with an elephant’s head, and the love that I felt in those waters is the love that comes from within.

You, my friend, are loved.

2 responses to “To Journey Within”

  1. A beautiful retelling of a story of love, self-love, and self-discovery. I kind of experienced a blog synesthesia of sound and color merging with all my other senses. And peace. Let’s not forget peace 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this — it read like a short story — I’ve never done psychedelics so I can’t personally speak about the experience but from what you described it sounds beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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