Tripping Out / by Courtney Mehlhaff

Last year, one of my coworkers took a trip down to South America that included a cruise on the Amazon. He told me that they were drifting down the river in small boats when he reached out to lightly touch something sticking out of the water.  Whatever this plant was, it sliced his hand wide open, and he was reminded by their guide that everything in the jungle was pretty much designed to kill them.

When I told this story to a friend, he said that he pictures the jungle as a completely living thing, where everything around and above and under you is constantly moving. I commented that I wondered what that would feel like, and he said the closest he'd ever been to that sensation was when he was on mushrooms.

Now, I have never done psychedelic drugs in my life, but I think that's largely due to lack of opportunity rather than general opposition. Although I'd never want to end up like another friend's college roommate, who got super high at a party and was suddenly screaming from the bathroom that he couldn't get out because he couldn't stop staring at the wallpaper. Or another friend who half passed out in a room with a poster of the Eiffel Tower and could not stop repeating the phrase "Paris is a penis."

But this friend who heard the Amazon story claims that his mind-expanding trip on mushrooms was one of the best experiences of his life; so much so that he never did them again because he feared he could never match it. He talks about going into the woods with his friends and lying under a tree, and feeling like the entire earth was alive beneath him in an awe-inspiring way.

My absolute favorite part of this story is his laid-back yet honest description of his trek to the forest that night: "So we walked across this field, and the stars were out.  And yeah.  At one point I saw a pile of rocks that I thought was a castle.  But whatever."

Definitely not the worst thing you could witness on the path to enlightenment.