Boy writes on air the way my old neighbour Gene Crimmins says Mozart played piano, like every word was meant to arrive, parcel packed and shipped from a place beyond his own busy mind. Not on paper and writing pad or typewriter, but thin air, the invisible stuff, that great act-of-faith stuff that you might not even know existed did it not sometimes bend into wind and blow against your face. Notes, reflections, diary entries, all written on thin air, with his extended right forefinger swishing and slashing, writing letters and sentences into nothingness, as though he has to get it all out of his head but he needs the story to vanish into space as well, forever dipping his finger into his eternal glass well of invisible ink. Words don’t go so well inside. Always better out than in.”
Boy Swallows Universe
And even in the midst of mooning and moaning over who you are, remember that you are. That’s where the real wonder is.”
Psychedelic researchers, advocates, and skeptics alike met on February 13th, 2019 in Melbourne for the Mind Medicine Australia launch. Fresh from San Francisco and eager to meet people in this city also interested in psychedelic medicine, I bought an early-bird ticket.
February 13th, 2019, 5:30 PM. At this point in life getting ready to go out involves more time bopping around with acid under my tongue than looking in the mirror. Microdosing quells my zapping nerves and oftentimes overactive mind, especially before larger gatherings.
So I took a small dose before biking to the University of Melbourne for the Mind Medicine launch. The bats weren’t out yet, but they would be soon, and the air was a perfect 23°C. I locked my bike, tried to tame my helmet hair, and entered the Sidney Myer Asia Centre. Immediately greeted, thick lashes ushered me to the left. More smiling eyes appeared around the corner, showing the way upstairs. I entered the full, bustling theater.
There were only a few seats left. Everyone was finding their space, finding their friends. I sat down in the back and observed the crowd. No matter if it’s in Melbourne, London, Berlin, or San Francisco, the general attitude and sense of psychedelic conferences remains the same: compassionate, curious, positive, and present. There’s this shared understanding, communicated with kind and sometimes cheeky glances that say: “We’ve seen a glimpse of the possible. That’s why we’re all here.” It’s usually a clash of characters, buttoned-up scientists, artists. The kind of people you might bond with at a music festival and never see again are there, anticipating a lineup of lectures.
Sound cultish? It really shouldn’t. People from all edges of the earth have been interested in psychedelic medicine and its potential for millennia. Many aboriginal people wonder what took us so long to make the connection. This goes beyond a Reddit thread.
“Hi neighbor,” the man next to me introduced himself. He was wearing a sheen suit and said he wanted a job.
The tension before taking off. How do you pack it all and go? Zippers inside zippers. A tetris of objects playing tricks of easiness. Summer clothes. THC tea, a blotter sheet, Dr. Bronner’s soap, Goo Gone for sticky messes. Rhodiola and yerba mate. 37 books. I’m ready. Flying into another season. The farthest I’ve ever been from home. My cells shake, anticipate. Preparing for a whole new world. New rules, new government, new order. No more sativa mornings. Walks through redwoods. No more Bart rides to 16th. Delayed by people jumping. New transit, new accent, new coffee shops. Wondering what will be. A place that seems mythical. A place also fucked by foundations of colonization, but somehow seems to function in a streamlined smoothness of well-being that gleams from many Aussies I meet. Generally okay. No worries. And that’s what scares me. The main thing I’ll miss and maybe even crave in Australia is friction to rub against. Something to be bothered about. An itch. Something that makes me watch out. Something that makes me critical. All the chaos home provides. The subsequent yearning to make, to do, to deconstruct, to transform. What will I do in a land called Oz? The same as anywhere: think, feel, read, write. Burn and rebuild energy. But will Australia irk me the same way? Will the people agitate towards change like they do in the Bay? Will there be access to the same niches of information and conversation? Talks on Tuesdays. Will the people care about what’s happening around them? Or are they too far removed, hearing yesterday’s news? Will the flag be half-mast everyday there too? Lifted into the air by migrants on minimum wage while those who pay to have it risen stay inside, scheming. The American Dream. If everything is relatively sane and easy-going down under, then what is there to reach? (Isn’t simply being there wrong?) Where’s the dirt? (Paved by Victorians seeking gold. Stolen generations.) Maybe it’s fertile soil for groovy music and laid-back design of neon pinks and blues. Quality gastronomy. I’m not sure how far I’ll go slipping into pleasure. A new place to consume. You can’t compare the two, but you can feel them differently. When you mix all the paint the color turns brown. Once at a bar in Paris, drinking my favorite color green, I overheard a table of Aussies saying they’ll never go to the United States. Because of the ignorance, the obesity. All the shit. The competition, the stress, the drugs, the mess, the machine. But I’ll miss the mud that springs lotuses of reform the world watches and replicates. The tallest trees and the dry breeze. I’ll miss California. Not the border, but what happens within. Channels of hope to grasp in the dark. The ones that pull you through and push you forward. This is just a time capsule of thoughts. A photograph. Maybe in a year I’ll have some answers to these questions. Maybe I’ll be wrong, again. And look, I’m outside of myself. Already there, wondering how next will be.
Here. Made it. First impression: love.