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On the Nature of Self

1.5g cubensis via lemon tek with my brother

I should probably provide some context for this experience, as it is definitely significant. Actually, there is quite a bit of context, so sorry about that. I am 19 years old, and have had some interest in psychedelics since I was a sophomore in highschool, although I never had any desire or opportunity to experiment while I was still living with my parents. In fact, I pretty much avoided substance use altogether during this time, as I knew that after completing high school, I could finally break away from the person I was during the 12 years I had spent at the same school, with the same people, whom I felt would always hold certain expectations and grudges. When I headed off for my first year of college and the time came to reinvent myself, I was set on doing exactly that. What I failed to fully grasp at the time, however, was that my past is an important part of who I am, and that I cannot grow unless I have established roots from which to do so. Through this experience I replanted those roots, and came to terms with what I really believe to be important, breaking away from other people's judgments. This experience took place with my older brother, C, who I have always found to be like myself in many ways. While we unsurprisingly often disagreed about many things during the days under our parent's jurisdiction, our ideals, our morals, and our views on life in general always agreed. He is probably the reason I dove deeper into what started as a very misled and minor interest in psychedelics. One evening during my sophomore year in highschool, I was sitting in my room, tuning out the world, and doing my own thing, as I normally did. My dad came in the room and told me that C had taken LSD and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I was surprised, and somewhat worried, not knowing too much about it at the time. All of this happened under my nose while I sat in my room minding my own business, so my dad's words were the only information I had to go off of at the time. As far as I knew, my brother had never experimented with psychs before, and my parents definitely do not view them in a positive light, and likely have a limited knowledge of the subject, as demonstrated by their decision to call an ambulance, understandably not knowing what else to do in that kind of situation. When all of this took place, my first reaction was quite simply, "why?" I didn't understand why my brother would knowingly take this kind of risk, in a setting which, especially for a first time experience, is fairly obviously not so wise. I knew my brother well enough to know that, while maybe he just did something pretty stupid, there was probably something else to it. I trusted him and his decisions on the basis that our lives had been filled with many of the same experiences up until that point. This is the reason I began to look into LSD and other psychedelics in the first place, and learned how they can be used as tools, an idea which I had not been exposed to previously, blinded by stigma. What I found out later was that what my brother had taken was not actually LSD, but was in fact a monstrous dose of 25i-NBOME which, unsurprisingly in that kind of terrifying situation, resulted in an ego-death inducing experience which totally kicked his ass. What struck me was that my brother was not scared away from psychedelics after this experience. Instead, I would imagine that the experience was so humbling that it propelled his interest, if anything. He knew he had seen the worst. Fast forward to my first year in college. Within just a few weeks, I had my first experience with acid, however it was very weak acid, and the experience left much to be desired. Following that, I had a couple more experiences, as well as a somewhat lackluster first experience with mushrooms. Most of these experiences took place with people who I had not known for very long, and some of these experiences were greatly hindered due to this, although one mild LSD experience as well as a San Pedro experience, both of which I had by myself, showed me just how awe inspiring these experiences can be. I shared these experiences with my brother after the fact, and he asked me if I wanted to try shrooms with him, as he had never tried them due to their lack of popularity in his location, and my only experience with them was mild and not great to say the least. We had never tripped on anything together, and I really wanted to make it happen, and was committed to doing so the next opportunity we had, which would be our spring break. Unfortunately, I found out that our breaks would only overlap for a few days, as our school's schedules were different, but those few days would be spent at a very familiar beachfront cabin in the woods in a beautiful part of Michigan with my family. I had to make it happen, and I did. I ground up 5 grams of cubensis in a coffee grinder, stuck the resulting powder in about 50 capsules, swapped the mushies capsules with some arbitrary herbal remedy I grabbed from Walgreens, and safely flew them to my destination in my carry on. And I did all of this without telling my brother. I wanted it to be a surprise, but I also didn't exactly want to tell him that I was going to be smuggling shrooms on a domestic flight, even despite my precautions, worried that he would turn down the opportunity to avoid risk. So when I arrived in Michigan and he asked whether I brought any weed, he was pleasantly surprised when I produced 5 grams of cubies instead. We only had a couple nights together before he had to fly back to school, and obviously neither of us were too keen on the idea of tripping in the daytime with my whole family around. He was eager, but understandably didn't want to jump right into the experience, so we decided that we would do it the night before he went back to school. I was a little worried because we would have to wait for my family to go to bed, which would mean a pretty late start, considering that he had to be up at about 6:30AM for his flight, but he insisted that the resulting miserable and sleep deprived flight the next morning would be well worth it. It was. I should preface the actual trip report by saying that this was by no means the most intense or challenging experience I have had, which can probably be attributed to dose and setting, but it was arguably my most profound experience and certainly my most enjoyable and awe inspiring. When the time came, it was a very overcast and cold, almost eerie night. It was about 11:15PM by the time my family had all gone to bed, so I decided it made sense, given our time constraint, to take advantage of the already powdered mushrooms by soaking them in lemon juice in order to reduce the onset and overall duration as much as possible. I dug up some lemons from the bottom of the fridge, squeezed them into two shot glasses, and emptied about 1.5 grams of mushies into each glass, letting them soak for about 20 minutes. Having never tried lemon tek before, I didn't want to go any higher on dose, unsure of how much it would intensify effects. I would say that, having tripped 2 grams of cubes in the past, it was definitely effective. After letting it soak, we each added some soda water to each glass to dilute the mixture in an attempt to make consumption less unpleasant. At about 11:40PM, we drank the magical concoction and lied in our beds (we shared a bedroom) until we could feel the effects. Within only 20 minutes, we began to feel the effects at seemingly the exact same time. We both decided to go up to the attic, where there were more beds, for the start of the trip. We each took one of the three parallel beds that were up there and, lying next to each other, silently watched as the wood grain in the ceiling and walls subtly warped as the mushies were coming on. At this point I could really feel the heavy body load weighing down on me. I felt as if I was sinking into my bed. We didn't talk much during this time, yet I feel that the sharedness of the experience was strongly felt, as if we subconsciously agreed to not distract each other from our individual experiences while still acknowledging that what we were experiencing was the same. After about a half hour of minimal conversation, we began to converse more and share what we were feeling. At some point, we decided to put on the album Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens. This was such a great decision. From the moment the album began to the very end of the album, conversation was very minimal once again. We were both possessed by the beautifully melancholic implications of the music. I remember towards the end of the album feeling surprised at how such a seemingly sad album made me feel so alive. It made me see the beauty in life by showing me how meaningless life would be without its coldest and darkest aspects. I realized that a life without pain and death is not a life of happiness, nor is it a life at all. We were so consumed by the music that, when the album was over, we didn't really know what to do. For me at least, it felt as though the magic ended along with the album, and that nothing else would effect me in the same way. We decided to go outside, and man was I wrong. Once we got outside, the album became merely context which told me that life is a beautiful thing worth living. Being outside in nature showed me why. As we worked our way around the house through the woods to the beach, I remember feeling the bark on a tree as we passed. It felt so much more real than any tree I had ever touched before. It felt cold and warm, soft and rigid, dry and wet, all at the same time, and I could see miniscule details in the bark that I couldn't before, even in the dark. As we approached the water, the load on my body progressively increased, and this feeling of heaviness felt very real, as I would lose balance much more easily if my center of mass strayed out of line with my feet. This made navigating the unpredictable terrain of the sand noticeably more difficult. I did not feel intoxicated, yet I still often found it much harder to stand up normally. We stood there for quite some time, looking out into the water and observing the very familiar landscape from a new lense. I remember repeatedly saying "wow" under my breath, as it felt like I was really seeing the world for what it is for the first time. As I walked along the water and looked back at the house, it felt like everything in my vision was moving independently, as if the universe was moving around me as I stayed still. Though I was aware of the presence of my body, at this particular moment, I felt completely dissociated. This was a feeling that I was not expecting with mushrooms. It no longer mattered where I was, or even who I was. All that mattered was reality itself, of which I felt I had unlocked an infinite understanding. I would say we were probably peaking at this point, but there was still a good ways to go. We headed back up towards the house and walked down the long driveway through the woods out to the main road. I had not been overwhelmed by visuals by this point, but while walking through the woods, we both unanimously agreed that the driveway looked much narrower. It was a little scary walking through the woods at 2AM, but it just felt right, and the the heavy prevalence of clouds in the sky reflected enough light that visibility was not a major concern. Coming out of the woods to the road, suddenly we were surrounded by open space. It was a weird, but enjoyable feeling. We literally just stood there, in the middle of the road, looking into the sky. C told me to close my eyes, and I did. I was suddenly overwhelmed by very vivid patterns. My whole visual field was covered by a multicolored, honeycomb-like array of cells, and I watched as they rapidly split, duplicated, and expanded, as if I was watching the very cells of my eyelids. I became immersed in these visuals, with little concern for how crazy I looked standing in the middle of the road with my eyes closed. We didn't stray too far down the road. Instead, we just stood there for good 15 minutes. When we finally got back to the house, I wanted to go around to the beach one more time before we went back inside, so we did. This time, we sat down on some wooden chairs in the sand. C said something along the lines of, "'On the Nature of Daylight' would be perfect right now," referring to a piece by Max Richter. Without hesitation, I quickly pulled out my phone, opened Spotify, and played the song through the onboard speaker, setting my phone down on the sand under my chair. Despite the undesirable sound quality, this proved to be a remarkable experience. Throughout the 6 minute duration of the song, neither of us said a single word to each other. I completely lost sense of time and context. All I could think about was the sheer euphoria and beauty that I was experiencing, and how happy I was to be alive. It felt like hours went by, and then suddenly, the music stopped. For a split second, I was confused, not sure what had happened, before I realized that the song simply ended. I had been so immersed in the music and the setting that they became intertwined, and I had completely forgotten that I produced the music in the first place. Instead, it felt like the music was always there and always would be, and was an integral part of whatever I was experiencing at that moment. We went back inside. About three and a half hours had gone by at this point, and we both agreed to ride out the rest of the trip in our room, independently, kind of like how we started. This marked the beginning of an experience which was vastly different than what I had experienced up until that point. It was at this point, comfortably lying in my bed, that I really began to get lost in my thoughts. I felt like I had finally begun to return to myself. I say this because, whereas before I was too caught up in the experience for any kind of introspective analysis, now I was focused on nothing else but reflecting upon my earlier experience in relation to the whole of my life. Suddenly, that feeling of infinite understanding of the universe and reality described before made so much sense. I realized that reality is only what I make of it and nothing more, completely limited by the capabilities of my perception. I realized that there is probably so much more to existence that we simply can't perceive, but that it doesn't matter, because reality will always be subjective, no matter what kind of crazy unthinkable senses it is viewed through, or what conscious being it is interpreted by. At around 4AM, the effects were wearing off, and I decided it would be nice to take a shower. I guess I just wanted to be left alone in my own space for a bit to reflect upon my experience, and let this profound realization wash over me. As I stood under the shower, watching the stones that made up the shower floor grow and shrink before my eyes as the visuals slowly died down, everything made sense. Reality is what I make of it, not what other people make of it. I am in control. I trust myself to make decisions independently, and acknowledge that I might make the wrong one every once in awhile, and that's okay. But this is all I have, and it's all I ever will have as far as I know, and the only way I can embrace that is to be happy with who I am.

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