The shortcomings of the hippie/psychedelic movement.
Preface: These are opinions of my own, I will not be citing sources but rather discuss my thoughts on the subject.
“Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skys”.. the opening line of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles and my first (while unknowningly) introduction into the world of psychedelics.
It was a beautiful fall day, I was in 8th grade and was walking to school when I heard this song. My mom had called me in “sick” after not finishing my paper the night before. The melodious sounds filled my ears; a smile sprawled across my face. “What a wonderfully strange song” I thought to myself, little did I know how this would affect me later in life.
Before going deeper into this blog I think this needs to be said, I believe greatly in the healing power of psychedelics, they have been one of my greatest assets in my continual journey of grieving my fathers suicide. They are not always fun but I would not change those experiences if I could.
That being said I understand people’s fear that surrounds these substances. Having a drug that opens your consciousness and sheds you of your “lizard brain” for a brief time can be petrifying. It is a term coined by scientific community as a “neuronal avalanche”. Basically what happens is the blood usually focused in you default mode network of your brain is pushed outward to give you a greater focus and understanding of the things around you. A big reason you will often hear “holy crap that is amazing” while your buddy looks at a roll of paper towels. Your brain begins to work in ways it is not used to and a beautiful chaos ensues.
There is still much to learn about the powers of psychedelics, sadly the government would rather only allow substances that are addicting and mind numbing to be researched by big pharma. ( A huge reason for this is because most psychedelics are in the public domain and unable to be patented and therefore unprofitable) When the government was not able to militarize these substances after testing them on unknowing citizen, we see them begin to fear the substance. Nixon went on to attack all drugs and created fear campaigns rather than education ones. These campaigns were so successful people today who were not alive during Nixon unknowingly quote them. You can tell me all about the “bad trips that never end” or the “change in personality” we all fear so much. The point being, do your own research, do not buy into the fear porn surrounding these substances.
Now on to the real topic of this blog. The problem and promises of the hippie movement and where it has left us.
Woodstock, Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, Jimmy Hendrix National Anthem. So many of my favorite things came from this movement. A domino that was seemingly pushed over by the work of Jack Kerouac that resonated throughout the heart and soul of American looking for something more but unsure where to find it. Was it in a lonely? Maybe Denver? Has to be California? Or maybe it was inside of us all along. All we needed to find it was a little acid. Or so we thought (or we told)… and that’s where the problem began.
The fear of drugs should not be the drugs themselves, drugs are not inherently bad, neither are the people who use them. The problem comes with the reasons why they are using them.
One of my all time favorite writers Hunter S. Thompson said it best “We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60’s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Taking these substances does not automatically make you “happier”, “more enlightened” or a “better person” no substance will. The only person who can do that is you. The only thing that can “enlighten” you is you. We give these substances too much power in reverence as much as we do fear. Those who revere them as “good drugs” often times fall into the same escapism as the benny addict across the hall. Everything is better in moderation and the changes and consciousness expansion you are looking for is not going to come from 10 tabs instead of 1. It is going to come through you and your ability to become a more compassionate and empathetic version of yourself everyday.
As far as my final thoughts on this I am going to hand it back over to Mr. Thompson and try to answer your question “Am I going to have a bad trip” or “is it really a good idea to try these”. “No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
-Keep on keeping on