I had taken LSD once before, but it was a smaller dose taken in a social setting. This time it would be 250µg, alone in the comfort of my apartment.

Here are a few anecdotes and musings from that sunny April day. Some were written in my expanded state of mind, while others were recollected in the following days and weeks. It was one of the most remarkable days of my life.

I peer in the mirror, in awe at the living being before me. My hand is pale but splotchy, a red and purple thing against the pale and artificial backdrop of the bathroom wall. Through the transparent skin I can make out veins, stretching like tributaries through a sanguine landscape. Tendons, ligaments, and bones lie deeper yet—the bedrock of my body, rippling just beneath the surface. Every aspect of my anatomy seethes with energy, awaiting my command. It is all so alive, this bundle of fibers and bones and blood that is my body.

Hand anatomy

How astounding that this miraculous machine is at your disposal, I think. What a god you are, to have these vast legions of cells bowing before you, running around to take care of your every need. Your immune system, digestive tract—all armies of individual creatures, organized to sustain you, to be you. These cells work endlessly to keep you alive and well. They live to satisfy your every whim.

It’s not the power of psychedelics that awes me. It’s the power of the human mind. Through some neurological alchemy, it is able to transform the raw stuff of emotions and memories into nuanced facsimiles of real people.

And they are all directed by a single central intelligence, your mind, itself a collection of minions, a committee of neurons emoting and voting along axons and across synapses. This vast democracy is somehow, mysteriously, cohesive! From multitudes emerges a singular identity, or at least the illusion of one. One entity governing the nation of cells that we call the body.

From these roots, consciousness arises. From these roots, you arise.

Ineffable

as in a
dream, bursting
with moments

each
one endless and
abounding with
meaning

moments for the
first time momentous

moments ecstatic and
infinite

for which
upon waking
you have no
words to describe

but try anyway

Identity: Being whole while being one part of a whole. A complete and self-directed being, yet only a speck in the cosmic ocean.

Be comfortable with saying back to the universe, “This is me, this is my realm, this is my identity. This is the part of you that is me.”

You have to claim this area of the universe. These reaches, where your word is law and your whims become reality, where any idea can be made real, are all yours. But there are boundaries to this territory.

Be comfortable with saying back to the universe, “This is me, this is my realm, this is my identity. This is the part of you that is me.

“I am a part of the whole, one of many interconnected beings, and I am comfortable with the part that I am. This is my place in the cosmo-ecology and I am satisfied with it.”

This is what it means to be mature, to be self-directed, to be me.

In the kitchen I am enthralled with the dirty linoleum floor. I cup my hands around my eyes to examine the floor in isolation, to cut it off from the context of the world.

I look down into a courtyard, at a girl in a green dress who is smaller than my thumb. I know intuitively that I am invisible to her, as God is to us.

The linoleum morphs before my eyes. It’s like looking into a snow globe with my hands around it, except the place inside is real. It’s a little stage, a miniature world.

I look down into a courtyard, at a girl in a green dress who is smaller than my thumb. She calls hello, looking around her. I know intuitively that I am invisible to her, as God is to us. She is calling out to a deity she cannot see—to me! I feel like Gulliver looking down on the Lilliputians.

She looks up into the sky, sensing my presence. The cobbles under her feet move around in tryptamine swirls. The courtyard walls, my palms and fingers, tremble with manic energy. But while the courtyard shifts around her, the girl in the green dress remains stable, even tranquil. She seems to accept her fate as a temporary diversion, a figment of my fevered imagination. She will perish in moments, but remains carefree. How can she not be shaken by her immanent mortality? I might ask the same of myself.

And then the vision is over.  She fades away, spinning into the linoleum, bright green giving way to drab browns.

The red EXPLOSIVES sign in my living room, a souvenir from an adventure through an abandoned warehouse years ago, becomes a more brilliant shade of scarlet that bleeds onto the walls around it. The door frame wobbles beneath it, allowing, it seems, a glimpse into the true nature of reality. What lies beneath the surface? This house of cards that we normally perceive as people and places, bricks and mortar, begins to seem like a precarious, cleverly maintained illusion. How fragile reality is; it tumbles down at the insistence of a tiny molecule swimming in my astounded brain.

I am on all fours in my bedroom. On the tips of the aquamarine carpet fibers I can see a hundred little bubbles, like beads of dew. In each I see a reflection of myself, smiling—but in the reflection I am not alone. As I look in, I can see myself along with my parents’ faces smiling back out, as though they are sitting right beside me. When I move my head back and forth, the reflections follow in a realistic way, as though my carpet really is dotted with reflective dewdrops. The illusion is complete; their smiles are so endearing that I can even feel their presence there next to me. They are living ghosts—ethereal, conjured by nothing more than my love for them, and yet completely real to me.

The whole time, I can’t help but laugh at the impossibility of the situation. How can I feel such a strong connection with people who aren’t even here? It’s not the power of psychedelics that awes me, though. It’s the power of the human mind. Through some neurological alchemy, it is able to transform the raw stuff of emotions and memories into nuanced facsimiles of real people.

This trip is beautiful, an experience more profound and liberating than anything else I can remember. It doesn’t matter what they say; I refuse to accept that this is not beautiful.

The anti-drug crusade can reject this substance and the universe of opportunity and emotion that it unlocks. The DEA, the FDA, the DARE squares and pious teetotalers can scoff all they want. They can advocate, schedule, prohibit, and control these substances, these states of consciousness, to make them less easy to obtain for the rest of us.

But I stand by my truth. I refuse to accept that this experience is anything but beautiful.

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