A few weeks ago I hosted my brother’s bachelor in Joshua Tree with a small group of his closest friends. There, I had an amazing shroom trip.
I ate one small mushroom no larger than half a shriveled pinky and headed out into the cool desert evening. Laying in a hammock suspended in a grove of Joshua Trees and cholla cacti, I gazed into the deep black sky from the womb of my sleeping bag. The sides of the hammock wrapped around like a cocoon, framing the night sky in front of me. My personal James Turrell piece for the evening.
I put in my AirPods and listened to Underworld’s “Jumbo”, its bouncy bass line put a smile on my face, like it always has. Searching for more joy, I listened to Solange’s “Losing You”. A tumbling satellite pulsed across the field of stars, synchronized with the tempo of the rhythm section.
As my trip intensified, I felt the need to go deeper and decided to listen to the album Music for Psychedelic Therapy by Jon Hopkins. The first track, “Welcome”, played. It started quietly with a slow ascending tone.
The sound reminded me of the vibrating energy created by the crystalline singing bowls at the sound bath the day before.
Coyotes wailed in the distance.
I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, like during meditation, or scuba diving. I sent my breath’s energy around my body, observing where it flowed.
As Leyah, the sound bath practitioner told us, “take a deeeeeeeeeeeep breath, brother!”
I felt myself slowly unraveling into a state where my body became one with the universe. I felt like an overseer, quietly observing the vastness of space. The gentle desert wind whooshing past my ears added to the effect.
I felt truly present, not worried about the past or future, because the present was exactly where I wanted to be. Sometimes I think Jesus, Buddha, or Mohammed lived in that state permanently. Buddha might have called it enlightenment.
You, me, and everything else in the universe are collectively “god”. God is experiencing itself recursively from the perspective of everything in the universe–and the way it can genuinely understand itself is to forget who it is.
When we trip we remember who we truly are.
Look at a flower or into the eyes of a passerby. You are looking at yourself.
Later, as “Tayos Caves, Ecuador ii” played the music descended and the trip became more challenging, leading to places I was scared to go. I began to see aspects about my life and some of the mistakes I’ve made, the grudges I hold, and the insecurities I have.
I observed from a perspective of understanding. Gentle reminders that I have work to do.
The flutes and birds swelled to a crescendo in “Tayos Caves, Ecuador iii” enveloping me in mother’s warmth. In my mind’s eye I saw swirling prisms of light morphing into the faces of my children.
Tears of joy and gratitude gushed out, happy that my son now has a beautiful brother that can be there with him in life. A gift. The tears streamed, one of those sloppy cries where your nose is so clogged you can’t breathe.
As I was coming down around 2am, I began to get hungry and felt the urge to be around others. In my experience, after every trip, people have an urge to gather, fulfilling the primal need to be a tribe. Sometimes it’s around a campfire– that night it was around plates of watermelon, mango, and speakers thumping house music I was mixing.
We laughed, danced, talked, and stayed awake until a couple of hours before sunrise to see Mars, Neptune, Venus, Jupiter, and the moon line up in the “Planet Parade”. Somehow seeing this celestial gallery made it all the more obvious that we’re living on a rock hurtling through space.
The next day during the car ride home, I talked to my cousins about my trip and got into a discussion about life. An unexpected rawness sprung up inside as I shared the difficulties I’ve been facing regarding my dad’s decline.
As I talked about my dad, I released deep tears of grief. As Andrew Garfield said, grief is unexpressed love. And there was a lot of it, hiding away inside, buried by denial, or my defense mechanisms, or whatever. My cousins lovingly listened.
I arrived home and gave my kids and wife huge hugs and kisses.
Since the Joshua Tree trip I’ve felt a sustained lightness I haven’t experienced in a long time. The difference feels like letting go of a dumbbell during a hike up a mountain.
Last night, my cousin said I was looking trim. I joked that it was the haircut he’d given me before my brother’s wedding.
I haven’t made any recent changes to my fitness, just doing the usual stuff like my short commute to work on my bike, going for walks and hikes, and the occasional visit to the pool.
Then I realized I haven’t really pigged out on any food recently. No urge to eat that extra piece of fried chicken, no late night McDonald’s binges, no dives into pints of Cherry Garcia; things I did earlier this year, especially around when my dad was suffering in a nursing home and when the pandemic’s grip was worse.
Could it be that I was burying emotions with food, and now that they’ve been addressed for the time being, that my body naturally wants to stay lighter?
I’d like to try ayahuasca one day, maybe soon, and my intention will be further exploring my relationship with food.
I’ll always remember the times eating at my dad’s favorite restaurants where he’d happily order too much.
“Ming, eat more!” he’d exclaim to me in a jolly tone.
Because to him, food is love.
And he loves me so much.