Something that was new to me in my college years was staying up all night. There is a magic in watching the sun rise, never having gone to sleep the night before, never having laid your consciousness down to rest. Those nights when you just seamlessly move into the next cycle of light. Toward the end, I realized there were two very different ways I’d seen the sun come up, and both had to do with drugs.
The first drug that kept me up all night was alcohol, mixed with a little lust and desperation. The sun was not as kind on those mornings. The second way I experienced the sun rise was after taking LSD for the first time in April of 2006.
I remember walking down the stairs of an apartment building in Boulder, after having been up all night tripping, and seeing the lights on in a main-floor unit with empty beer bottles scattered about. It was immediately apparent to me that I was feeling a lot different than whoever was passed out in that apartment and better than my former selves who had done the same thing. That morning I felt clarity, light, joy…
This feeling stood in stark contrast to the sleepy, drained, depressed feeling I had after drinking all night. Am I suggesting LSD become the new preferred drug over alcohol? Not exactly. That would be quite a battle, taking on the most accepted and marketed drug of all time. Cannabis has a better chance of wining that battle.
But if more people ingested acid than alcohol, would we better off in any sense? I say yes. Psychedelics have the power to transform humans in a profound and fundamental way. Cannabis is our gentle healer, she is transformational but on a smaller scale. LSD and alcohol can transform your life on a major scale, sometimes overnight. However they use their powers of transformation quite differently. One helps you understand the world around you and one strips you of awareness of the world around you. Having less inhibition is a great feeling but one that moves you further away form being your best self.
Maybe it seems to odd to be comparing LSD and alcohol, such different drugs, they are like day and night. And they don’t serve LSD at Chili’s. But after my first time using acid, the universe made that comparison for me, and so clearly that I could not ignore the significance of the message. It was trying to tell me something very important about these drugs and their affect, not only on our society and psychology, but on our history and our future.
On a basic level, it’s very important to not put all “drugs” together in one pile and people usually leave alcohol off the list, foolishly. I love when people say “I’ve never done drugs” with a glass of wine in hand. That’s ok though, we are all drawn to different drugs, for one reason or another. But perhaps the main motivation, whether we realize it or not, is that we desire to play with our consciousness. It’s malleable and fascinating to watch it relax, and then contract or expand.
All drugs have “spirits”, different liquors do too, and just like humans, the varying inclinations of their spirits affect the type of drug they are, and how they interact with the human spirit. There is no judgment here, the alcohol spirits lure me more than ever. But I think back to that morning when I realized that some drugs contract our consciousness and some expand it. Mind expansion is possible with use of certain tools. “Remember what the door mop said, feed your head, feed your head,” (White Rabbit).
Mind contraction is possible too. Alcohol, stimulants, and opiates are the first that come to mind. These drugs darken your worldview over time, contract your mind, bring you down; these drugs want you to only focus on them. These drugs have the ability to turn us into addicts, where all we want is more and more of them, and less and less of the life around us. They teach us little except how to suffer. That is their power, for it is great, and in many places these drugs are winning. They cleverly keep people from being who they were truly meant to be.
Of course alcohol doesn’t have to always go that far, but it has ruined a great many lives. And yet, a glass of rosé is so sweet and innocent. It is a great magician. However, it is important to note too, that drugs are only the first part of the equation, the soul and consciousness with which they interact are the second.
We all have different body chemistry, different brain chemistry, different genetics, different life experiences. We don’t all react the same way to the same drugs. There is a dance that takes place between us and them. Regardless, the fact remains: some drugs contract and others expand. The ways in which they may are infinite. As infinite as the personalities on this planet.
The point of this is not necessarily to encourage people to take psychedelics, but to draw attention to the possibility that things are not always what they seem. What is casually deemed as common and innocent can actually be harmful and dangerous. And what is deemed as scary or outrageous might actually be hugely beneficial. This is the major crux when it comes to drugs in our society. It is a great game of misperception, mislabeling, and perhaps a desire by some, to keep people from truly expanding their mind, truly discovering the mysteries of this world, and gaining direct access to spiritual answers and experiences.
Later in the summer of 2006, I had spent another night awake on LSD with my neighbors, and as the morning came closer, I wanted to escape them and be alone. I was always searching for something back then, something magical. Around 7am I put on my headphones and got ready to walk up toward campus. “It’s a beautiful morning” came on my shuffle, “I think I’ll go outside for a while, and just smile.”
A white cat with blue eyes had come up on our porch. He had chosen us as his new owners. I continued on my walk anyway, looking for someone I always hoped to find, but never did that day. I was beginning to realize though, I had found something else and it was helping me discover more than I had ever imagined.