I'm starting to understand. There's no going back. There's no stopping or even slowing down. All the scrambling I've been doing to stay above the surface is wasted energy. I have no choice but to sink. Breathe and sink. The nausea has subsided. Fear is still here, but really all I'm afraid of is how intense it is. I'm starting to understand that it will end, that I will be okay. In fact I am okay, right now. This is what I wanted, after all. It's not what I expected, it's so much bigger and deeper and brighter and breathtaking - but it's not going to kill me. My song changes: a tiny bloom of hope, of humor and light in the dark.
"Mason! Mason!" (I'm here)
"Did I break my brain?" (no)
"Did I...did I just open it a little wider?" (hahaha...yes)
"Am I going to survive?" (yeah)
"I'm so scared" (you're gonna be fine)
"What about dehydration" (that's just the drug)
"I'm on an acid trip!" (haha, that's right)
"Is this going to make a good story?" (oh yeah)
"Am I in a story now?" (yep)
Minutes go by, and I'm not sure if they feel more like hours or seconds. The most important things are remembering to breathe and refreshing my lifeline - asking for reassurance. But even speaking has become nearly impossible, because my mind is now continually dropping down through a series of trap doors. Or rather, my consciousness. The most essential, purest part of me. Just when I think it can't possibly go further, it does. I'm a galaxy away from home, where home = the regular bounds of perception.
There is a poverty of language to describe what I'm beginning to experience, and what will continue on in my brain, for the next several hours. It isn't thought, and and isn't feeling. It's more than vision or belief or emotion. The word that comes closest to explaining is "awareness", but even that isn't right. What's happening is so powerful and awe-inspiring that all I can do is retreat to a corner of my own self, sit quietly, arms wrapped around my knees, and watch in amazement.
I am starting to understand how much more there is.
And there is so, so, so much more than I ever could have dreamed.
What you know of the real world, of everyday life. What if you could encapsulate it, hold it in your hands like a crystal sphere? Say to yourself, This. This is what I know to be true and real. These are all the experiences of my lifetime and also all that remains possible, for the rest of it.
And what if inside that sphere was another sphere, which contained another, which contained another. An infinite nesting of alternate realities, where the deeper you go, the more would be revealed to you. You wouldn't be able to explain the things you learned. You could only accept and marvel, humbled by the hugeness of it all. It leaves you breathless, awestruck, grateful. It's moving so fast, filling you up and dazzling you, making your heart pound, leaving you limp in its wake. You're coasting around in your own mind, blindingly fast, seeing its million tiny folds and pockets, all at a glance. There is a whole other universe inside your brain. You had no idea. No idea.
Meanwhile, there is still the outside world, solidly in the acid's grip. You've reached a point where you can take it in. It is no longer a nightmare. It is. It is. Oh my god it is.
You lift your spinning head from where you've been cowering, and you see. And you feel.
Color. That is the first thing.
You timed it perfectly. Sunset. You chose the perfect place. A home with windows all around. This sunset - how will you make them understand? It's a painting, an impressionist painting that the house sits inside. Streaky clouds wrap themselves all around it. Pinks, blues, purples. It is a living thing, this sunset. It is part of the story. Is it telling the story?
It's unbearable. Your heart might break, it is so beautiful. Pinks, blues, purples. These colors will stay with you forever. Indelible. You will always choose them, you will always go back to them. You will seek them out, clothe yourself in them, fill your home with them, tint your photographs to match them. Unforgettable. You didn't even like purple before today. Now it is forever emblematic of this night, a secret wink of the rainbow. I know what you did, what you saw. I was there and I'll remember. I'll remind you.
And there's the wind. It isn't wind, of course. It's just air conditioning circulating through the house, strong as it is, set to high. But you think it's wind, right now. You think you and Terence and the entire home have been swept up in a current of it, are floating on it, it moves through the house and through you, lifting everything up to a higher plane. Nothing has ever felt so good. The edge of chill, almost almost almost too cold but not. And it has a sound, a song like yours. Wind was never so loud, filling your ears, roaring and rushing like a waterfall.
The shifts are almost violent in suddenness. One moment I'll be on the upswing of some blissful burst of perception, the next I'll be dropped into a mire of anxiety. And it all has to do with the call I'm still on.
Mason. Speakerphone. Vegas.
Talking me through it. Not angry at all. Patient, sympathetic - even amused. When I feel these positive emotions coming through the phone, I am calm, even giddy. Able to laugh about the craziness of what I'm doing. But the second I sense frustration or annoyance or even just fatigue, I panic. And plummet, psychologically. And all of this is manifested in my physical view of the phone itself. When I perceive all is well, it appears radiant, throwing off beautiful sparks of light, his name at the top pulsing with reassuring life. And wondrously: hot to the touch. When I grow fearful that he's bored or antsy, wishing to end the call, the phone darkens ominously, grows icy cold like steel in winter.
The first breakthrough of true, of real, of unspeakable, heart-stopping joy. Out of nowhere. A lighting bolt that splits me, shatters the crystal sphere into a billion pieces. And as those pieces rush to reassemble themselves, they become something new. A chandelier. A crystal chandelier that is lighting my - me - everything - up in the most beautiful (I can't), breathtaking (Oh god, is it possible?) way imaginable.
I gasp. My mind gasps. My heart gasps. It cannot possibly be real, this much joy. It cannot possibly. I cry out, singing my song, because now more than ever I need to believe that I really am alive and okay, because I had no idea --- no idea that --
"Did I break my brain?" (no)
"I'm on an acid trip!" (yeah you are)
"Is this going to make a good story?" (yep)
"Am I in a story now?" (sure are)
"Oh my god, I am. I am! And it's so beautiful! Do you see? Do you see?? It's. so. beautiful...."
It doesn't last. There are dips. Some of these lows are pure horror, still. But slowly, the frequency with which I am rocketed back up to peaks of sublimity increases.
And now I'm faced with the task of making you understand what was on some of those peaks.
Take the word "happiness." Plant it in a garden. Water it and tend to it until it bears fruit. Take the seed of that fruit and plant it in another garden. Repeat this process over and over for your entire life, and maybe - maybe - at the end of it, a word will grow and bloom, descended from the word "happiness" (but so far removed from it as to be unrecognizable) that will capture what it was like on those peaks.
to be continued (crap, really wanted to finish this in one last post but it's just too big, and the more I tell, the more I remember, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing worth taking my time with, so....more soon!)