Fuck, I thought, in reference to the passing, fragmented awe I felt about my laptop working. For most of my life I had believed everything was broken. I had believed everything was broken in a manner that, I’d only recently begun to understand, blindly assumed things that weren’t true. My whole life I had been oriented toward the world in a manner that reflected me back. I’d always started with myself, only pretending to look outward, and only pretending to look inward too. I’d always viewed malice and tragedy as the only true facts of my life, ignoring everything else that didn’t fit my self-serving narrative. I had believed that everything was broken when in fact the opposite was true: everything worked! Even that which didn’t seem to work worked. It’s an unbelievable miracle, I thought, parroting Jordan Castro.”
Thoughts were snakes shooting through high grasses. Now you see them, now you don’t. As you walk in the high grasses, you must take a stick and beat the ground. Scare up the snakes, pursue them to the edge of the field into the open and see them, exorcise them. You must perform this ritual now. In the middle of the night, alone with pen and paper, you sound out the snakey thoughts. You write one of those letters that’s never meant to be sent, isn’t addressed to anyone. No one’s eyes are meant to see this. This is a private ritual. The writer, the reader are trying to get as close together as possible. They are coming together, sealed in a word on a page where you’re trying to make the shooting thoughts come out in the pen. Shoot them down your arm, through your fingers, and out the end of your pen. Make them visible. You know it’s primitive: filling up a page so you can empty your mind. But you’re doing what you must: trying to let go. You’re starting by addressing yourself:”
she believed that the damage
to her mind and heart was permanent,
until she met wisdom, who taught her
that no pain or wound is eternal, that all
can be healed, and that love can grow
even in the toughest parts of her being”
And once again I am, I will not say alone, no, that’s not like me, but, how shall we say, I don’t know, restored to myself, no, I never left myself, free, yes, I don’t know what that means, but it’s the word I mean to use, free to do what, to do nothing, to know, but what, the laws of the mind perhaps, of my mind, that for example water rises in proportion as it drowns you and that you would do better, at least no worse, to obliterate texts than to blacken margins, to fill in the holes of words till all is blank and flat and the whole ghastly business looks like what it is, senseless, speechless, issueless misery.”
Mental diagnosis felt like an act. A script I shouldn’t have played into. Some do. Some need to. Those whose function cannot find place. Like mine at the time. But I was passing through—turbulent heartbreaks, growing pains, clashes with Hims—and mistook role for reality. I overthought my relation to it, that joy and suffering, and tied it to a being beyond. I regret that now. Or at least can see it as it was: seeking, clenching, grasping. Am I nothing more than a need to reach? Maybe. I’m human. Some childlike essence that shows in contours when ignoring and blurring details of pores. Take off my glasses and focus on the obscure. The fuzz. That uncertainty between me and it. Subject in/to object. Still disoriented in space, lost along the way, I may trip a few times too many, but that’s okay. Because it’s only and not me at all.
I always kept a quotation mark to my left and another to my right. Somehow ‘as if it wasn’t me’ was broader than if it were—an inexistent life possessed me entirely and kept me busy like an invention.”
She had all the attributes of a great character. She was capable of madness, like the affair with her land, but she also possessed a great lucidity. She embodied those contradictions that make for great characters, like when she nearly died upon learning that I enrolled in the Communist Party. But she is not the main hero of my body of work, nor the most permanent. No, I am the most permanent. Writing is to write for oneself… We separate ourselves from people by writing.”
-Marguerite Duras on her mother in Me & Other Writing
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 transition from fully committed to quitting was slow to start. My hours of operation started to sync with my circadian rhythm. The 9–5 became 8–3. Mornings were so efficient that by midday, I’d be fried. Done with screens, done with meetings. So I’d leave the office early.
On a microdose of acid, I’d feel completely in tune with my energy capacity, unable to ignore the afternoon dip. There was no more gray area of hanging around the office or poking around on Twitter, letting the time slip as the outside world turned. No more “should I stay or should I go” debacles in my head. I couldn’t sit (er, stand) at my desk any longer for the optics of working a few extra — unproductive — hours. I realized the work would never be done, so it was up to me when to go. And as soon as I felt accomplished for the day, I’d slip out the door. Down the stairs. Into the sunlight.
I didn’t initially start microdosing at work for the professional edge like many people in tech. I started to manage shifting moods that made it hard to leave my apartment. To feel better just being. And it worked. I felt happier and more comfortable within myself. I took it on workdays because I wanted to stay consistent in my regimen (one day on, three days off). Heightened imagination, concentration, and energy at work were really just nifty side effects. But eventually, this new way of feeling, thinking, existing made it much harder to spend time in the office.
After microdosing for six months, I didn’t progress at work; I quit.