Tuesday, June 24, 2008

excerpt 08

(excerpt from "It Seemed Funny at the Time...) -rough (revised)

Walking through the daily carnival of the Pearl Street Mall one day, I came across a bronze plaque on a statue with the Mark Twain quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I could feel the demise of those things in myself as I read.

Awed by this compelling counter culture, I began an intensive study of the controversy surrounding American drug policy. I had only heard one side of the argument to that point. I read transcripts from debates on the pros and cons of Marijuana. I studied pre-prohibition papers on the effects of LSD. I listened to the music of the 60’s with new ears. I discovered that I had been lied to by the media, the government, and the education system.

Angry and determined to find out about the issue first hand, I tried LSD for the first time at a house party. No one had to slip it into my drink. Rich found some for us and I split a dose with him. I put the tiny triangle of paper on my tongue then sat in a stairwell at the party and watched the people, and waited for something to happen.

I enjoyed being detached and observing human behavior in group situations. I liked to judge people. I had a tendency to look at people that seemed to be having more fun than me and I mentally skewered them, with a polite smile on my face. I looked for the weakness, the deficit, and attached it in my lens of perception of them. “His biceps are far larger than mine, but I’m funnier.”
“Those two look happy together, but I can see it won’t last. Someone’s gonna cry.” It was a defense mechanism I learned in 5th grade. I was an outsider, skinny, shy, and chauffeuring an angry God in my crown shakra, just waiting with his itchy smiting hand. I didn’t want to get smited. My dad had a heck of a smite, so I wasn’t eager to see what God smite was like. I was a good boy. I was going to heaven. Just a short life of restraint and abstinence was gonna get me an eternity in Heaven. “These people look like they are having fun, running around munching on the forbidden fruit of the world, but they’ll pay with an eternity in Hell. And they’ll deserve it, for flaunting their lust for life just outside my cell of belief.” It was an ugly manifestation of a deep alienation. I excelled in nothing. Not school, not sports, not art, not socially, not physically. Yet, there was an underlying sense of superiority that caused me to get creative with my thoughts. I had a fetish for fatal flaws like an entemologist, pinning my collection of critical observations all over the map of my world, ‘til I could see little else. I was living in a cocoon of stagnant perceptions that had been comforting.

Suddenly, as I sat in that stairwell waiting for something to happen, something happened. From across the room, I was judging a hot young co-ed to be arrogant and self centered when that criticism inverted and I saw a reflection of myself. It struck me with the force of a satori. I slowly panned my eyes across the room and felt a deep familiarity with everyone I saw. Male-female, black-white, hot-not, didn’t matter. All the same to me at that moment. “I am she and she is me and they are we and we are all together. Koo koo ca choo, baby,” Not what I was expecting. A connection to life had suddenly commenced and I was receiving. I wouldn’t have put it in those words at the time. The experience dumbfounded me. My defenses were vaporizing, or my cocoon was ripping, and I was more concerned about how the experience was causing me to feel than I was about the nature of the experience. I had come from a literal linear world and I had no tools with which to interpret it. The atmosphere began to roil. I was listing to all the voices in the room like crickets on a summer night in the country. I just heard one sound rising in falling in wave patterns of various frequencies. My sense organs seemed to turn on for the first time. Then there was another inversion and I didn’t hear a crowd of people, but heard all the individuals. I didn’t just see people, but read whole personalities at a glance. Then I spied a little dog standing in the open doorway of the house, subdued and looking around at the menagerie of college kids. I felt an instant affinity for the dog as it looked warily around the room and made subtle adjustments in it’s demeanor as it’s eyes rested in various pockets of activity. I identified with it. He looked at people greeting each other in a familiar way and his head rose slightly and his ears perked a bit to catch the friendly greeting tones they used with each other. When the boisterous cluster of fraternity guys barked with laughter, the dog lowered his head a bit and made a slight glance outside to confirm his exit route, I felt the same impulse. The dog looked up at me and wagged his tail once, then turned and walked outside. I looked around the room for Rich. He was talking to some friends with a nervous smile on his face when I caught is attention with my stare. He looked at the open door then back at me and I nodded. We made a hasty exit. I stopped to pet the dog, but he was not into being touched. He wasn’t unfriendly, but preferred to keep his distance. The perception inversions kept osculating and flickering. I saw a dog, and then I saw a god. Dog-god, god-Dog. God-dog, god-blonde, god-bush. God-me oh-my. Trippy.

On the walk back to our apartment I could smell Colorado and could feel the dry atmosphere leaching water from my skin. I suddenly understood the word “ecstatic”. I felt as though I had emerged from a rubber suit that had enveloped me my whole life. I was experiencing the world directly for the first time. When I turned my head I was aware of the muscles and tendons at work. I could hear my blinks. We were both grinning broadly as we walked. Gravity felt as though it had been reversed and the effort of walking was in bringing my feet back to the Earth. Like a reversed magnet the ground seemed to repel my feet and send my legs buckling towards the star filled sky. I could feel the mile high altitude of Boulder in my lungs that were working harder to process the thinner atmosphere. The wind in my face became an entity that communicated in buffets. The stars seemed to be reaching toward me from behind the hulking mountains sitting like mafia dons. Before I left Oklahoma a friend told me “The fruits and nuts of the country roll to the west, to LA and San Francisco. Some hit the Rockies and bounce over, some pool into Boulder.” I looked at the mountains and decided I was there to become a big enough nut to get over them.

We made it back to the apartment giddy and jacked. We couldn’t remove the perma-grins from our faces, which seemed to fill the apartment devoid of furnishings. Rich heated a can of soup, but I couldn’t eat. I washed the wooden spoon he had used and was captivated by the sensation of the water. I felt like I was rolling H2O molecules between my thumb and fingers. I picked up the spoon to put it in the dish rack and was stunned by the sensation of the wet wood grain. I offered to share this amazing sensation with Rich, but he refused it. I was crestfallen when he declined to feel it. I did my best to sell him on the idea of feeling the spoon, but my promotions of the experience seemed to embolden his resistance. He retreated to his room and closed his door to insure that I didn’t force the spoon upon him.

I sat down in front of my stereo and put the “Best of War” CD in. When it played the track “Why Can’t We Be Friends” I noticed a little laugh in the background after the second line. I used the tracking button to repeat the laugh, and then did it again, and again, and again. “a ha ha-a ha ha-a ha ha- a ha ha…” I don’t know how long I kept this up, but Rich eventually burst from his room and demanded that I cease, and then he returned, slamming the door. I sat in the window watching the trees breathe for a while before retreating to my room to write. I realized that I loved people. Affinity seemed to be shooting out from me in all directions and I felt connection to people. I recognized a habit of actively detaching from people, places, and things in order to feel utterly unique and special. Actually feeling love for someone felt better than securing my isolation. It seemed a much better option. The realization was simple and profound, undeniable. And illegal. I started laughing like a lunatic at the irony.

Rich came in with a snaggle toothed grin to show me a picture he had drawn of himself climbing through space on free floating smiling orbs. I concurred.

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