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Reached Nirvana and Died at a Phish Concert

January 4, 2003I am writing this about 2 months after the experience because it was too emotional for me to be able to write about and I’m not sure if I’ll make it now either.

January 4, 2003

I am writing this about 2 months after the experience because it was too emotional for me to be able to write about and I’m not sure if I’ll make it now either. I have only tripped a few times and likely not again. My first two trips were great moving experiences. I have nothing but good memories of them. The last 3 however have become progressively more worse. They have been plagued with confusion and paranoia. The earlier two though in no way matched the experience that I had my fifth and likely final time tripping.

It is impossible for me to describe this trip without also describing the setting because it came to play an enormous role in the trip. My brother had been wanting to try shrooms for a long time. I wanted him to wait to try them with me so I can babysit and make sure nothing went wrong. It’s pretty ironic that I ended up being the one who needed a babysitter. We were both going to a Phish concert in Virginia. This seemed like a good time to do it. Trippy Music, far from home. So we bought a half ounce before we left.

We went to the concert early to hang out in the parking lot for a while. We were having a really good time listening to music, looking at the stuff people were selling and such. We found someone selling chocolate shrooms there with 2 grams in a chocolate. We figured this would be a better way to bring them into the concert and bought 3 chocolates.

When it came time to eat the shrooms, I had particularly hard time eating them. They were really dry and I didn’t have pretzels or bread to put them with like I usually had in the past. It probably took us a half hour to eat the shrooms. We split a quarter of the shrooms we brought. When we got out of the car we figured it could hurt to split one of the chocolates before we went in. Munched on that too and then we went in, each of us equipped with an extra chocolate for intermission.

In the past it had taken forty five minutes to a little over an hour for the shrooms to kick in. These shrooms must have been a little stronger because I was already feeling it after about 10 minutes. We were waiting in a large group of people on line to get into the concert. After about a half hour of waiting I was feeling it a lot. I was getting really claustrophobic but was ok. I was feeling pretty drunk like usual at first. I remember getting my foot stuck in a cup and as hard as I tried I could not get my foot out of the cup.

We finally got in by like 6:15. We rushed to the stage to get a good spot to watch the show. We sat down on the floor. We had a ways to go since the concert wasn’t scheduled to start til 7:30. After a few minutes of sitting down I was feeling really uncomfortable. I had a lot of energy and I had nothing to do with it. The crowd was growing and pushing in on me. I tried to smoke a cigarette to calm myself down, which had been pretty effective during the coming on in the past. It wasn’t really working though so I asked Marc to get up with me so that we could get away from the crowd. We walked out into the concessions area and just kinda stood there watching people go by. My nervousness was not going away but I was able to ignore it for a while by watching some visuals on the floor.

But this relative calmness didn’t last long because I looked up and noticed that we were sitting right in front of the first aid area. Needless to say I didn’t like the idea of being in this state in front of people that might be able to recognize it. Especially since I was by this point visibly freaking out. I managed to convince Marc to come back in again.

The overall anxiety was not going away and I was running out of ways to ignore it. I figured I just needed to sit down and close my eyes for a while, forget where I was. So we went up to the seats, but every seat was taken(the show was general admission). We stood there for a little because I didn’t know what to do. After we had been standing there for awhile we couldn’t figure out how we got there. Of course this added to my overall anxiety. I tried not to let Marc see it though because it was his first trip and I didn’t want to drive him to a bad trip. It was also at this point that I decided I didn’t want to be stoned anymore. Easier said than done.

Since we didn’t know how we got up there or why we were up there, we decided to go back down. Well, Marc didn’t know, I had remembered by this point but didn’t want to freak him out. It didn’t take much longer before we were suffering together though. One thing I have learned about shrooms is that you shouldn’t go anywhere that you can’t easily get back from. We were upstairs and we could not figure out how to get downstairs. The place was shaped like a U and the stairs between levels were at either tip of the U. We walked out into the concessions area. And started looking for the stairs. We would walk for a while give up and turn around. I don’t know how long this went on but we were both getting very scared because we couldn’t understand what was going on. (A little side note I’m listening to moe. “plane crash” right now and the lyrics are “….too fucking high” repeated over and over……weird). I wanted the confusion to end and to find the stairs. But I was also enjoying two things at the same time. I was not concentrating on the way I felt but on my mission. While I was distressed by the situation I was also able to ignore the way I felt to some extent. The other comfort was other people. Whichever way we happened to be walking, there were countless other people doing the same thing. This reassured me that I was OK. I was doing the same thing as all these other people.

Eventually we did make it to the bottom. We walked back onto the floor. But now there were a lot of people so we both agreed that we would be better off towards the back where there were less people. So we went out and started walking. When we thought we were in the back we went back in and to our surprise we had walked all the way around the U. We were right next to the stage. So we walked back and took chose a spot that was pretty far back but still on the straight edge of the U before it curved.

The actual floor was too crowded for us. So we stood in the tunnel that led in between the concessions and the floor. We were both very confused. We couldn’t really understand anything that was going on. We would occasionally try to have conversation to try to convince ourselves that were ok. But this was never really successful. I remember thinking many times thinking that all I wanted to do was wake up and it be tomorrow. I wanted to go home but there were two problems in my head. There was no way I could drive. Although as scary as it was, I was willing to drive if it wasn’t for the other problem which wasn’t even a rational one. If I left before the music, then my parents would know what happened. Obviously I could have just lied to them, but this never occurred to me. I tried to smoke a cigarette again, but this didn’t even help. My hands were shaking. I couldn’t light the cigarette. When I finally managed to light it, I dropped it twice and burned my brother once.

We were waiting for a very long time because Phish came on over an hour late and we had come in an hour early. I eventually noticed that there was an event staff woman standing behind me. I felt like she was staring a hole in my head. All I can think about is how she was going to get the police.(which would never happen. I was in better shape than half the people there I would imagine). I just tried to act natural which was impossible. I was completely panicking. I was too frozen and scared of change to walk away from her. So I just sat there waiting for the show to start, because once it started, the lights could be off. I could pretend to have a good time and I wouldn’t be in danger.

When the show finally did start, the only way I can describe it is total elation. Granted this was the first time most people had seen phish since their two year hiatus, and the excitement probably rubbed off on me. But I was ecstatic to be safe. I wasn’t sure how happy I was to be seeing phish but that didn’t matter just that I was gonna be ok. Then the music started. It was beautiful. I danced and sang and was loving every second. Every note was better than the next. The more I danced the better I felt. The confusion was gone. I was just a music fan still tripping his balls off at a phish concert.

Now the visuals didn’t really become that prominent, probably because of everything that I had gone through. Most of my experiences from this point on are abstract thoughts or just general feelings. The timeline is very foggy and a lot of this is probably out of order.

There was a woman who was probably in her mid thirties in front of me. A bunch of times we made eye contact and she smiled at me. I didn’t perceive this as your normal smile. It was so comforting. It was like she was saying to me everything is ok. I felt a motherly bond to her. I felt like she was an angel, literally and figuratively. Freud would love the fact that I regarded her as a lover not too long later. When I noticed she was with a man that looked a little bit like I might when I would be her age, I realized that this man was me and that I would fall in love with her at some point in my future.

I had a number of feelings about music and life in general. I felt that there is one universal song that has always been playing. And when you play music, you are just tapping in and playing a portion of that song. I also realized that everything is music. Everything in nature follows certain rhythms and is also a part of this universal song. I felt very spiritual at this point and thought I could understand the way Santana speaks.

This is probably what led to my only prominent visual experience. I didn’t actually see it. It was in my imagination. But at this point my imagination was so strong that my eyes were open and all that I saw was this vision. It is hard to explain what it was. It was a character that took a number of different forms at the same time. It was made up of bright green and red dots of varying sizes. In any of the many forms(all of which were very complex), the character was dancing to the universal song of nature. I perceived it as nature itself, possibly god.

I didn’t look too deep into this for now. I just continued to enjoy the concert. The song maze came on. Repeated over and over again is “You’ll never get out of this maze”. I totally identified with this. I felt like this song speaks to everyone. Life is just an attempt to get through the maze. Everyone is struggling to find their path through the maze.

This realization slowly forged into my realization of reality(or at least I thought so). It just came to me that I understood reality. There were really two separate models of reality, that I am not sure are compatible with each other. I realized that all reality was an extension of myself. Everything existed but only in my head. Also everything that has happened is always happening and everything that is going to happen has already happened. Not very original thoughts but they seemed to make sense this time. Everyone on the floor was me at a point in my history. My history spans generations and time is loosely defined for me. I can exist in all of these different bodies because my time line is not the same shape as each individual person’s. Mine wraps around in circles and loops while each of theirs is a line that coexists with a portion of my line. My many lives overlap each other but each person is unaware that the other people are just the same entity(me) at a different place in its timeline.

Now figuring out the world was a very good experience. I was so happy. I understood everything. I saw the interconnectivity of everything. I just got back into the music and smiled and danced and enjoyed the song of reality that Phish was still tapping into while seeing nothing but the glowing dancing nature guy and the lyrics were going “Everything is all right. Everythign is all right”. At this point I am at a level of happiness that I am not sure I have ever reached before. Of course nothing lasts forever as my trip took another turn towards the worse.

I realized that I was being foolish. I did realize everything about the world, but I never thought where does that leave me? I had jumped ahead into a new world without thinking of the consequences. If everything was me and had already happened before, what am I supposed to do with my life. I have just reached nirvana. I have figured out the greatest puzzle of the world. Now what? What can I do with myself now that I have achieved the highest possible achievement. No matter how I looked at this I had screwed myself over. I could not live a fulfilling life from here. How can I go to school and study or work or try to look for love when I know I have already done something greater than is imaginable. And then the chorus strikes again but this time I resent it: “Eveything is all right Everything is all right”.

After feeling sorry for myself for awhile the downward spiral just continued, I got more and more depressed about my fate. And the more I thought about it the worse my fate got. I realized that not only did everything already happen but tomorrow was the end of my timeline. It was the end of a journey that started with the first person on my extended timeline and ended with my death. I noticed all of these themes in my life that helped lead up to this realization of reality. Most of them were recent occurrences but some date back to childhood. My fear of death is one thing. It has driven me to do a lot of soul searching that would have helped. I had studied religion in school which helped the nirvana part of the realization. I had been reading a astro-physics book which definitely helped lead to a lot of the realizations I had.(There were a lot of reasons in physics for what was going on, but I can’t remember any of them now). I realized that all of these themes were steering my life towards the realization and this night. There were obstacles though. My two previous trips were bad trips, presumably an attempt to discourage me from tripping again and realizing it. Additionally I noticed that my mind had trouble accepting the reality that the trip had presented in the past. It would fight at all costs to keep some of its familiar reality in what was going on. I should have realized that this was proof that what was going on really wasn’t, but I didn’t. Instead I took this as proof that everything in my life had led up to this day where the shrooms were completely accepted by my mind. I no longer had to eat shrooms to have the feeling. I had the classic what if when you were stoned it was normal and when you’re sober you’re stoned. My mind had transformed. So my whole life had led up to this experience. Now in any good story when you reach the climax there is a short period of falling action to tie up loose ends and then the story is over. I thought this is where I was. I thought I was somewhere in between the realization of reality and death. (People do say that the moment before you die you do have a one moment of clarity, which I had earlier that night). So now all I had to do was wait for death.

I later had a realization, not sure why, that the set would continue forever. I was doomed to be here for the rest of eternity because if everything had always existed and will continue to exist, there was no way for it to ever end. This is when I hit rock bottom. Realizing that I was stuck, I wanted to die. Death would be the only release from my torment. I couldn’t take it anymore. I lied down under the bleachers on top of a bunch of jackets waiting to die. I closed my eyes and just thought about how I wanted to die. Prayed for death, but realizing that everything including god was me, just hoped for death. I wanted to die but this was an impossibility. Under the bleachers there were also a number of empty water bottles. I took this to represent the end. But when you drink out of a bottle there is always a little bit left that you can’t get out. That’s where I was. I was that little bit that would never get out of the bottle. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t just die and end it. Around now a song was going on where the lyrics go “Stop stop stop stop stop stop” for about a minute. I couldn’t agree more but I had no control over the situation.

Since I couldn’t die, all I wanted to do was have someone reassure me that everything was going to be ok. I still was scared of the situation so I couldn’t say anything to my brother. But I did notice another ripple in reality. Marc was an extension of me. ME and him are very similar people and I saw him as a representation of my childhood but also my adulthood. Something about the concept of him made me feel a little bit more comfortable. He was pretty much my whole life as an entity, while my conciousness was only and isolated point on my life timeline.

I still needed to be reassured that everything was going to be ok. All I wanted to do was call kara or michelle and have them tell me everything is going to be all right. I felt that if I could just get one of them to tell me that, then it really would be true. But again my false perceptions didn’t allow me to follow through. Kara and michelle didn’t exist, so I couldn’t call them and even if I did it would only be myself reassuring myself, so I never called them.

I panicked and ran to bathroom to do something that I can control. I needed to exert control over something. When I came out there were a few people walking around looking very tired. It was like the concert was over. But not the phish concert. The concert of life. I saw the first aid area again and realized the truth(yet again). I had died of a shroom overdose at the concert. I hurried back to the bleachers to see if I was laying dead there. I wasn’t. This was comforting.

I lied for the rest of the concert still wishing for death but less and less as time went on. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made. I eventually came up with the new theory that if the second set ever happens then everything will be ok, I will be able to continue to live my life. This was because whatever song was playing when I lied down, I thought was never going to end. Since this song was in what I thought was the first set, if the second set happened I would be ok.(I know it doesn’t make much sense). Well that one song, I’ve gathered, was the whole second set. I eventually mustered up the courage to ask marc what set it was. It was the second set. Everything was going to be ok. I was intensely happy to be alive and instantly came out of any trip that I had still been in. I was sober and still ecstatic to be alive. There was one song left and then the concert ended. Not my life concert, but just the Phish concert. There would be many more concerts in my future.

This trip has had an enormous emotional effect on me. I have not completely recovered from it. I think about it often. It was the most scary and possibly the worst experience of my life. But at the same time it was the best experience of my life. I can say that it was most likely the most emotional experience in my life. Even now when I think about it, I get uneasy. It was very hard for me to write this. Sometimes when I listen to spaced out music I get an uneasy feeling for no reason, just a feeling that everything is not going to be ok. But this happens less and less often as time has passed. I had a legitimate fear of going to another Phish show. I didn’t want to rehash old wounds. I even had the illogical fear that I would repeat the experience. But I went to one today and had a great time. I hope that I have put an end to this chapter in my life. While I never want to repeat this experience I do feel that there was a lot of value in it. I would not want to undo it. I feel that all life experiences have value and that the strong emotions that I felt, even though they were mostly negative have had some positive effect on who I am today.

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