What an Acorn & a Ladder can Teach us about Life
Periodically, I will dedicate this newsletter to sharing my experiences with Psychedelics. Doing so acts as a differentiator. I decouple rational understanding from experiential understanding. To exemplify this: I can rationally understand what it must be like to be a parent…but not having children myself, I lack experiential understanding, and therefore am not qualified to write about the fulfillment & struggles that come with raising a child. I treat Psychedelics in a similar manner. It’s important I occasionally draw on my personal experiences & share these stories. I am in no way promoting the use of Psychedelics. Anyone interested in trying Psychedelics should consult with their doctor or therapist.
I recently embarked on a high-dose Psilocybin journey. For this particular trip, I consumed a very potent strain of magic mushrooms.
For a rapid onset of the medicine, I leveraged the ‘Lemon Tek’ approach, which consists of grinding the mushrooms into a powder & covering them with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I then put them in a hot ginger tea. The journey started pretty much right away.
It began with the typical markers indicating I was leaving this realm - the fibers in the blanket I was laying on began to move in subtle, back and forth ways…almost as if they were swimming. My motor function went away, inhibiting my ability to get up and walk around. I noticed spider webs and their intricate patterns on the trees in front of me.
After about an hour, I found myself in the throes of a ruminative episode. A barrage of nonstop thoughts kept coming at me like a boxer who has his opponent on the ropes. Thoughts ranged from how I want to spend the second half of my life to what I should write about next week.
The thoughts didn’t stop until a serendipitous event transpired - an acorn fell from the tree above & hit me on my leg. It jolted me out of my hijacked state. I immediately grabbed the acorn & studied it. When you are on mushrooms, even something as irrelevant as an acorn can be fascinating. And in this particular case, it contained meaning.
The message - stop living so much in thoughts. I worry too much. I am prone to anxiety. Did the mushroom conspire with the universe to send me this message via an acorn? Perhaps. What I know to be true is this - in every Psychedelic journey, there is a message to be heard (or in this case, felt). This is why integrating the experience after taking a Psychedelic is so important.
I have kept the acorn as it serves as a reminder that living in thoughts is a surefire way to avoid being present, fully immersed in this beautiful experience we all get to have.
What happened next took me back to a long forgotten memory from my teenage years..
Feeling emboldened by the message from the universe I had received, I suddenly felt the urge to climb up onto the roof and end the journey with a ceremonious jump into the pool. This mission would not go according to plan, however.
Once I got to the top of the ladder, I was overcome by fear. I couldn’t bring myself to make the final step onto the roof. This was the most precarious step in the ill-advised adventure I had set out on. To successfully get on the roof, I would have to temporarily have one foot on the shaky ladder. I was consumed by a fear of falling.
After 8 minutes of deliberation with my very confused, concerned partner (including at one point putting the ladder away, only to retrieve it again), I finally enlisted her help. She would hold the bottom of the ladder to prevent it from wobbling so I could make a successful entry onto the roof. From there I could make the jump into the pool & call the mission a success.
(I realize at this point, for my subscribers that haven’t had any Psychedelic experiences, this all sounds crazy. Climbing a ladder onto a roof is done, with ease, all the time. I had climbed this particular ladder & jumped into the pool previously dozens of times. But this time, I had several grams of a potent Psychedelic still very much in my system, so bear with me..)
With her help, I got onto the roof & jumped into the pool. Success! I was overcome by a sense of accomplishment that is hard to put into words. There were so many takeaways I could apply to life - the importance of being vulnerable enough to ask for help, the effectiveness of teamwork, the reward that comes with facing fear and pushing forward nonetheless.
Not long after my triumphant dive into the pool, a memory came to me that I had completely forgotten about..
When I was a freshman in high school, I visited South Florida with a close friend. We stayed at his uncles apartment, a luxury high-rise building steps from the beach in Fort Lauderdale. The trip was a blast. There is so much novelty when traveling at that age. Every part of the trip from getting on a plane to staying somewhere other than my house was exciting.
At one point during the trip, my friend & his cousin, dared me to swim 100 laps in the pool. I was not a swimmer. But once I got it in my head that this had to be done, there was no stopping me. I swam nonstop for what felt like hours until I completed all 100 laps. I came out of the water, exhausted, but was temporarily revived when I saw the look on my friend & his cousins face. They were in shock. They could not believe I had actually swam for that long. I looked at them and said, “it had to be done”.
There were many points during that swim that I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. There were many points on top of that latter that I wanted to get off an abort the mission. But I didn’t (although there is probably a rational argument to be had that I should have). The lesson - not giving up is a superpower.
The next day, a friend asked me how the journey went. I told him I climbed a ladder up onto the roof & jumped into the pool. He understandably responded with “why?’”. My response - “it had to be done”.
Psychedelics are not for everyone. They are powerful medicines to be treated with respect. I advise anyone interested in taking Psychedelics to meet with their doctor or therapist. I also advise strongly against climbing of any sort while on a Psychedelic - as beautifully as this endeavor ended, it could have went sideways quickly. Do not recommend.
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