I never believed in God ‘til 400 micrograms of a banned substance saturated my brain. Since that day I learned to put my faith in something beyond the five senses and limited rationale of all I knew. Little did I know at the time that God could be found beyond chemically induced rapture, but immature as I was in this new phase of life I spent my days learning all I could about psychedelics and their effects on the mind, the role they played in civilizations long past and their ancient sacred rituals. This shattering of my mind, this breaking free was not without consequence, and within a year I had quit my job, sold my car, ended friendships, yet held my God close. I prayed every day, and soon learned to cook my own psychedelic brew, creating in my kitchen a chemical already endogenous to us all, dimethyltryptamine.
Acasia and lye, lighter fluid, and three days grace was all it took for my first crystals to form. I saved them in a glass jar in my freezer, hopped on my bike, and rode to my nearest headshop off of 16th street, Indianapolis. The sky was gray and the air was cool, almost cold enough to bite, but my legs pushing work kept me warm. I walked inside and through the Grateful Dead draperies with their multi-colored dancing bears and was greeted by various glass pipes of different colors and designs along glass displays. Alas, what I was searching for was not to be found in that laidback shop. A quick google search recommended I try a seedy gas station and look for the rose, and so I hopped back on my bike and made it another mile or so west down 16th.
I walked in the gas station and looked around, and right by the cashier was a bouquet of cheap plastic roses, each individually wrapped in cheap plastic and held in a thin glass pipe. This wasn’t a pipe for weed, nope, this was designed specifically for crystal meth, what with its bulbed end and tiny hole through which the crystals are dropped. Now I’ve only done meth once and by accident, but a crystal’s a crystal, and for a buck I knew I had what I needed to blast off. I paid for the pipe and rose and rode the few miles back to home.
I’d never smoked DMT before, all I knew was what I read, and what I read told me that this, the most potent psychedelic in the world, would take me someplace new. With a pounding heart I tossed out the rose and scraped the crystals from the jar into the pipe and heated its side ‘til I it glowed. I turned the pipe over, the hot spot now on the bottom, where the crystals fell, burning and filling the bulb and stem with a thick smoke just a few shades darker than white. I put it to my lips and sucked. The smoke tasted like lighter fluid and copper. After the first drag I felt invisible waves thumping into me. It was like being at a concert with the bass turned way too up, but no sound. Outside my apartment I heard a neighbor walking by, talking to his friend about some movie.
“He was launched to another dimension.”
Immediately everything doubled as the unadorned white walls of my apartment melted unto themselves into a giant checkerboard of diamond's light. I closed my eyes and I saw a ball painted in squares purple and red. Shining like wet pearl in the sun, it bloomed into a symphony of geometric shapes, each more complex than the last. A living fractal, an impossible flower with no sun to lean towards, no bees to attract, existing for the sake of existing as a beautiful impossibility, had filled my room, my mind, reality itself. Again and again it flowed from inside out of itself. Each birth swallowed me whole; I was looking at the spectacle while being lost in it as well. The colors and their combinations were always new, and though the shapes were never the same they shared the same quality of impossible beauty brought to life. The world itself was stuck in a dream, had realized it and had come to life. Matter had a flow, a pattern of truth, a beauty that could never express itself in four dimensions. But in this space, reality realized it was alive and in its newfound consciousness realized that beauty is its ultimate expression, and so formed itself around that concept.
I craved these experiences, I was enthralled to their novelty. But one drug was never enough, LSD and mushrooms supplemented my psychedelic voyages. Different drugs do different things, and though these last two never launched me past the fifth dimension, they had another effect I couldn’t let go of. Now let me paint you a picture. Imagine a long voyage away from home, in a country or city you never chose to go to, but had to nonetheless. Imagine those closest to you, your family and the ones you love most, visited rarely, and most of the time you spent living in this new home you spent with unknown people that never smiled. One would come in at night, dressed in black and slamming doors, shouting at anything. The other would come to you at random, unpredictable hours to remind you of all the things you did wrong, spitting between sharp teeth your various shortcomings. And after surviving them both you’d retreat to your room, finding peace and solitude in a book perhaps, until you heard they’d found each other to battle with. You’d put on head phones to hide away a little more, to find solace in music, but every now and then you’d hear the smash of porcelain, or be called to take a side. Imagine this disfunction followed you like a shadow every day, smothering you every sober moment. Then one day you walk in your room and see a wooden box with a red button on top. You press the button and all of a sudden you’re back home. The shadows are gone, nowhere to be found. Your parents are there, and they’re like the way they were when you were young, patient, caring, and fun. Imagine you’re back at home and you’re free to walk around without the fear of knocking something over or whatever fight was sure to break out next, that you can walk smiling outside to a bright green endless field where the clouds are few and always white, and always look like something you recognize, that favorite animal, favorite toy, cartoon character. On the fields you can run and jump and never fall, held aloft by a breeze that felt like the warmest hug. What relief this place would be, what a gift the box would be. With just a press of a button you could alive again, before the blame, before the shouts, the arrests and the hiding and the fear. It’s no wonder the last time I got high, and the feeling set in, the first thought that came to my mind, with tears in my eyes, was “I’m back home.” I didn’t know then how lost I was.
This last DMT trip, like all the ones prior, demanded a ritual. This was a sacred act that demanded sacrifice, after all. I had already burned my old hippie clothes as a way of letting go of an identity that wasn’t mine a couple weeks back. This time I ripped out the pages of my journal and placed them in the same metal pot I burned my old clothes in. I was going to burn my past away. I had lighter fluid left from my DMT cooking and burning of clothes, and it swished in the tin can as I unscrewed the lid, the smell like sharp gasoline as I poured it across my torn memories. I had already consumed the shrooms, and they were kickin’ in. Every object had an aura, every color breathed as I stepped onto the balcony of my second story apartment, headphones on, Pandora shuffle. I grabbed a shred of paper and lit it, tossed it to the rest. The flame crept along the yellow-white pages, scorching them black to ash I burned the glass pipe to an orange glow and said a prayer before sucking the smoke. Again the pounding thumps, the double vision. I closed my eyes and music engulfed my body—every snare, every beat, every rhythm of every word slid through my ears and sent waves through my body. No fractals this time, this was a different vision. In a pitch black room I saw three innocents hugging, and the shadow of corrupted love. I saw children with their hands outstretched, candy offers on their fingertips and watched them spit at my refusal, and the crocodile tails that followed them as they turned away. In their midst was one pure child, shy and with his hands behind his back, who stayed. During this a song pounded in my ears, “No church for the wild.”
In in instant the vision was gone. I opened my eyes to clouds of smoke billowing from the pot. Outside and below a dozen people stared up at me, beyond them the firetruck. Hard knocks at the door, I opened and let the firemen in. No fire, I assured the two, but one saw the pipe next to the smoking pot, nudged his friend and nodded towards it. Arrest number five was on its way, and this sinner’s instinct was to run grab and smash the glass before they could stop me. But despite the high, the tight tense chest and coiled legs I stood still and recalled the words God had led me to read just a few days prior: “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”
I did not move as the firemen called the cops. Two came, and again I placed my faith in God and the words millennia old He sent to me, “Returning to the source is stillness. It is returning to one’s fate.”
“What were you smoking?”
“You better speak up, boy. No? What’s this, your cellphone, huh. How do you think he’d like it if we called his mom, maybe then he’ll speak up.”
They couldn’t hold the stare, and with my phone in his hands Cop 1 looked away and quickly put it down. I learned something in that moment: remain silent in the face of power abused, remain non-reactive and they have nothing to push against. What was left in the silence was the man’s conscience, the knowledge that despite my wrongs, despite my breaking the law, he was doing wrong to threaten me, to tamper with evidence. He gave me a choice.
“You either speak to me and I’ll get you to the hospital, or we call up the wagon and you’re going to jail.”
“I’ll go wherever you take me, God” was the thought in my head as I stayed silent, confident wherever I went He’d be there with me. They put my hands behind my back and called the wagon.
For the third time I can remember, and the fourth time in Indiana, I found myself in jail. DMT lasts minutes, but mushrooms last a couple hours; I had about another hour left to go. One effect of psychedelic drugs is they decrease activity in the thalamus, the brain’s gatekeeper, meaning all the little details that it’s supposed to filter out so we can concentrate on the task at hand suddenly become very apparent. Every crack of the cold concrete walls squirmed at me, the small faded and abraded white patches suddenly noticeable and appearing and disappearing. The smell here was like a high school gym, and the faint scent of beer crept up on me as I walked to the holding cell. Most apparent was the thick smell of smoke stuck in my gray hoodie. I remember thinking what if my mom wished in that moment for a sign of how I was doing, only to receive fabric soaked in smoke, what could she possibly believed had happened? How worried would she be? My stomach churned at the thought, slugs writhing through my gut as I realized I’d done this to her over and over throughout my life, and here I was doing it again. I made a promise to God that I’d do as she asked and go to rehab if He got me out of jail without making her worry.
As I sat praying, trying to remember the rosary’s mysteries, the speakers called my name to take the fifth mugshot of my life. I passed a TV and heard the words spoken on the screen, “You’re a good man, but you keep letting us down. You need this kick in the ass to get your shit together. Now go, be the good soldier I know you are.” I know when God speaks to me, I know I was meant to hear those words. I held my head high, now sober and confident I would make things right. They took my mugshot and told me to walk to the main holding room. It was shorter than a truck and about ten feet wide. At its end was the toilet where I pissed in front of the rest of the criminals before sitting down.
Certainly this is no place for a good mood, or so it would seem. But God is great, God defies expectations, and even in the midst of our multiple fuckups he brings us joy and a way to do right by Him. I took my seat on the cheap plastic and metal bench, the kind that looks like a wire fence for your ass. A drunk passed out beneath one of the benches, and another stood and made a bombastic speech a la Kanye West, the center of attention until outside the room and across the hall the women were being led to their own holding room. Men can be animals, horny criminals and convicts more-so, and immediately cat-calls, wolf-whistles and smacking lips spilled out the crowded room. All I could think was those women are mothers daughters and sisters. How could I stay faithful to God in this room of drunk and arrested men if I allow this perversion and disrespect to take place? I had no clue what to do, because I really didn’t want to tell these horny goat-men to quit it and risk getting my ass hooved. It’s in situations like these, full of uncertainty and doubt, that I turn to God. He led me here for a reason, and I would not refuse my destiny. I bowed my head and in silence prayed.
“God, guide me, reveal to me your will.”
That very instant I felt a loud rumbling in my magic-mushroom-filled gut. Things were a brewing. It turns out God’s plan had been set in motion before I ever set foot in that room. I must be honest, I had my doubts. Could this really be God’s will? Was I to let one rip in the name of the Lord? His faithful servant, I took a deep breath and emptied my thoughts, readying myself for what was to come, and in this brief moment of meditation I swear over all I’ve ever loved and will ever cherish I heard the words “Now, my child.” With the Almighty’s blessing and at his request I let loose a booming fart that shook the very foundations of these men’s wretched souls and the rattling metal bench we sat upon. As though slain with a flaming sword their perverted words fell mute. God is found in silence, and silence filled the air until one among the sinful men, the most repentful and brave of them all spoke the truth in the silent wake of my trumpetous fart.
“That guy didn’t give a fuck!”
All heads turned towards me and my ass, as safe from the lecherous cheers and jeers of the once horny men the women left in peace. But this is not the end of this holy tale. God is greater still, for in His infinite mercy and grace He blessed the wicked men with a fart that barked but didn’t bite, a holy flatulence devoid of stank whose loud release bloomed sounds of angels and doves. We witnessed grace in this dark place filled with liars, sadness, and thieves, for not a sinner wept as our laughter shook our bellies and filled our ears.