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First Time Lessons

I am a 19 year old college student.

I am a 19 year old college student. Prior to this experience, I had never consumed mushrooms before, and the experience left me both bedazzled and blown away. I did just about everything wrong that a person could do on this trip, and I believe that I came out of it a stronger person than I entered. It remains, a month and a half later, the most intense night of my life. I hope that anybody reading this can learn from my mistakes and try to avoid making them themselves. At 12:15 AM on Saturday, October 8, 2005, I ate 3.5 grams of dried mushrooms. That was my first mistake. I believe that an eighth is far too much for a person who has never done anything stronger than alcohol and weed. About 40 minutes prior to eating them, I had smoked some marijuana. This was my second mistake. I’m fairly certain that marijuana intensified the experience a great deal, and made me more introspective and critically oriented than I should have been. I was at a party for the fraternity I was pledging, and was listening to music in a room with two of my friends. This was the third mistake; I did not adequately prepare for the experience, and a party where people would fuck with me is NOT the ideal place for a first trip, or any trip for that matter.

T+15: I felt no effects, and started to think that the mushrooms were fake or that I hadn’t eaten enough. I complained to my friends, experienced shroomers themselves, who laughed and told me to wait.

T+35: After 20 more minutes of sitting around, my friend Mike suggested that we go for a nature walk. He had only eaten 2 grams several hours prior, and was having a nice level 1 or 2 trip. I, on the other hand, had no idea what to expect. By this point, I was starting to feel the come up, and felt like I was really high on weed. If only I knew what was coming next.

T+45: We left Mike’s room and walked downstairs. Things definitely felt ‘strange’, and I thought that everything would remain at this light, enjoyable level for the rest of the trip. We began to walk across campus towards the tree-covered quadrangle, and I noticed that the walk took a lot longer than it usually did. Whenever I looked at the trees, I felt a profound sense of connection; I could see them ‘breathing’, and deeply felt that they were all connected with each other and with the Earth. I ended up talking to one of the trees for what felt like 30 minutes (Mike later told me it was 5 minutes), and decided that it would be my new best friend. I still smile whenever I walk past it on the way to class.

T+55: After what felt like an eternity, we finally arrived in the quadrangle. We laid down on the grass and looked up at the stars, which appeared to be dancing in the sky and glowing brightly then fading away. I contemplated the multitude of galaxies that existed other than our own, and wondered if some alien child on another planet was having the same experience, looking into the vast unknown and wondering whether his race was alone in the universe. I was having a great time being out in nature, and the sense of unity that I felt is impossible to put into words. It is something to be experienced rather than told, and I firmly believe that it is impossible to understand it until it has been experienced.

By this point, my conception of time had broken down severely, so all of the following times are approximations.

T+70: My friends Mike and Tony suggested that we go back to the party. Tony had not eaten any mushrooms, and I could tell that Mike was coming down from his relatively weak experience. I, on the other hand, was just beginning. The world had taken on an entirely different tenor, and I felt as if the filters in my brain that allowed me to function normally were totally dismantled. Basically, I felt like I was a child again. During the walk back to the fraternity party, I noticed that I felt like I was ‘repeating’ steps, and had intense bursts of déjà vu at seemingly random times during the walk. Luckily, I felt safe in the company of my friends, and enjoyed the walk nevertheless.

T+80: This is where things started to go terribly wrong. We arrived at the party, and came upon a severed pig head which was impaled on a stake. The fraternity had roasted the pig for the past few days and some of the fraternity brothers thought it would be funny for some reason if they impaled its head. As Mike and I approached the stake, the head fell off and landed on the ground with a hard thud. Several people jumped back in fear as they saw it fall, but I stared at it with a strange mixture of curiosity and anticipation.

“Dude,” Mike said, “the pig was communicating with you. Put the head back on the stake.”

I was bewildered, but not yet frightened, and proceeded toward the head like a surgeon with a job to do. By this point, several more people had gathered around, no doubt questioning whether I was really going to do it. I picked up the head, and didn’t really look at it, but didn’t look away either. With as much force as I could muster, I jammed it back on the stake, and turned around to see about a dozen people staring at me, jaws agape. Ironically, it was at this point that I started to get scared. I wondered if I had done something wrong and my body felt like it was turning into cold metal.

“Woah man, I didn’t really expect you to do it. That was hardcore,” Mike said. I had no idea how to react, so I walked into the throng of people crowding the frat house’s entrance. One of the other fraternity brothers started to yell nonsensically, and I walked up to him and asked him to stop.

“Are you telling me what to do, pledge?!” He responded belligerently. “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m the one who tells you what to do. And let me tell you another thing. The whole ‘stoner sensitive guy’ shtick gets old fast. I’m just letting you know people like that aren’t very welcome in this fraternity.”

A great anxiety overtook me as he spoke. “Listen,” I said, patting him on the shoulder, “you’re a good guy, and I hope you have a good night.” Given how fucked up I was, I am still surprised that I managed to keep my composure to that degree. Mike then came over and led me towards a table of food. I ate a piece of chocolate, and it felt like a piece of metal going down my throat and settling in my stomach. To say the least, downing the chocolate was an incredibly uncomfortable feeling. Mike and I then sat on the fraternity’s porch as I began a spiral into a negative thought loop.

T+85: Suddenly, the paper parade float that the fraternity had spent the last week constructing exploded in flames. I learned the next day that one of the brothers got drunk and thought it would be a good idea to light the float on fire. I recoiled in fear, and for a few minutes (which felt like hours) I thought that I had literally gone to hell. The fire seemed to lick out into the night, and I could feel its heat from 40 feet away. I then heard a loud crack, probably a beer bottle being broken, but at the time I thought it was a gunshot, and that someone at the party had been fatally wounded in retaliation for the float being lit on fire. I stood up, bid a quick goodbye to Mike, who called after me, and began walking toward my dorm, afraid for my life and thinking that the world might be coming to an end.

This was my fourth, and most fatal mistake. I committed the ultimate sin of tripping. I wandered off on my own just as a bad trip was beginning, and made it a thousand times worse.

I managed to get halfway to my dorm, feeling like a helpless child made of metal, before I began to question the notion of direction itself, and what it means to walk somewhere. I lost all conception of what I was doing. I was at the gate of a football field, and laid down on one of the benches next to it, curling up into a fetal position. I thought that I was slowly dying, and could feel my essence beginning to leave my body. The feeling of metal was all-pervasive, and as much as I tried to overcome the bad feelings with logic, I realized that the tiny rational part of my mind had little to no control. But then, salvation appeared (or at least, appeared to).

T+90: I spotted a group of girls in the distance, presumably walking toward the party, and as they passed by I cried out to them for help. They came over to me and asked what was wrong, and I said that I was dying. I handed them my cell phone and asked them to call Mike and tell him to come and get me, as I felt that he was the only one in the universe who could save me from these hellish feelings. Suddenly, one of them started to talk to me.

“You’re a terrible person, you know that? It’s people like you that make the world suck. You are a horrible, horrible human being. I hope you die and live a terrible life. I hate you. I HATE YOU!” I stared into her eyes during every word, and her face will be forever burned into my memory. Her vitriolic rant seemed to continue on for hours, and each word penetrated the deepest recesses of my conscience and was absorbed as absolute truth. I began to feel like my body was hardening, and that insects were crawling into my pores and beginning to eat me alive.

And that’s when Mike appeared. “What the fuck did you just say to him?” He shouted, as she was concluding her diatribe. The instant he said that, she stopped talking and melded back in with her group. One of the girls gave me back my cell phone, and they all bade me a bitter goodnight. I later recognized the girl who insulted me as one whose number I had gotten at a party a couple weeks prior, but I had never called her up.

“I have no idea what’s going on man! What did she say? What did she say? What did she say?” I asked confusedly. My heart was beating a thousand times per minute, and Mike helped me to my feet, slung my arm around his shoulder, and dragged me back to his room in the fraternity house. During the entire walk back, I kept repeating “What did she say?” and was caught in a loop of fear, confusion, and sheer emotional pain. Mike told me to sit on his couch, and left me alone in the room as music was playing on his computer. He then left to go clean up the party. I felt like I had gone insane, and that the connection between my left and right brain was split, as whenever I moved my left side of my body, it felt FAR different from when I moved the right side of my body, and there was a general numbness on the left side of my body. It was incredibly uncomfortable.

T+100 and on: By this point, I realized that fighting the feelings was fruitless, and that I would merely accept it and let whatever was going to happen, happen. The negative thought loop proceeded on for a while longer, and I continued to writhe in pain, but it gradually decreased until it became manageable. What happened next is almost impossible to describe. I felt as I was floating through the ether of reality, that I was merely a traveler on the vast dimensional pathways of the All. It was not a welcoming feeling necessarily, but it was not unwelcoming either. It simply WAS. For the next hours, I floated aimlessly in the ether, and came to understand that whatever happened to my physical body, it would not be the end of my existence. Then, an epiphany hit me. I realized everything was one big cosmic joke, and I started to chuckle at the universe’s strange sense of humor. I had it all figured out, and felt at peace with the world. At some point, I fell asleep, and woke up feeling exhausted, both physically and mentally. I spent the rest of the next day contemplating what I had experienced, and was thankful for my sanity again.

Over the past couple months, whenever something undesirable has happened, I compare it to what I experienced during that bad trip and it immediately becomes inconsequential. If I ever do magic mushrooms again, I will respect their power, and do a far better job planning the experience. I know that I have a long way to go on the journey of courage and wisdom (because it’s impossible to have wisdom without courage), but I feel that I have made just a few steps in the right direction.

Thanks for reading,

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