And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
|—||T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”|
|—||T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”|
Ever since hearing about UFC welterweight Dan Hardy’s spiritual experience in the Amazon, I’ve decided I want to go on an ayahuasca retreat. Hardy’s is definitely not the first account of an ayahuasca trip I’ve heard, but his was the first that actually inspired me to do a bit of research into participating in this sort of experience myself. It turns out it’s much easier to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony than I previously believed. Just a cursory Google search turned up a host of options for a such a retreat.
I’ve always been fascinated by the potential introspective, spiritual, and character-building benefits of psychedelics. Obviously in our backasswards society, such things are shunned and outright illegal despite centuries of use throughout history. In fact, Terence McKenna’s “Stoned Ape” theory postulates that the turning point in human evolution was our discovery of psychedelic mushrooms. I wouldn’t go as far to say that psychedelics were the critical boost in the evolution of the human brain that led us to our place at the peak of Earth’s hierarchy of living organisms, but I do believe there are significant psychological and spiritual benefits to the occasional ingestion of such substances.
Reading about the various ayahuasca retreats that are available has only further cemented my desire to partake in one. The few I’ve researched in depth are located in remote locations within the jungles of Peru. Most are approximately two weeks in duration and offer 5-7 ayahuasca ceremonies during your stay. I’ll admit, that number intimidates me a bit. Most of the accounts I’ve heard (including “The Outlaw’s”) involved only a maximum of three ceremonies. But the programs seem very structured: they start you off right away on the ayahuasca diet (so you’re not puking up processed garbage during the tobacco purge) and even include additional amenities such as steam and mud baths, massages, and jungle tours. Plus there are group sessions to discuss your experiences and attempt to process your visions/revelations with other participants.
In addition to the ayahuasca ceremonies themselves, I’m intrigued at the thought of nearly two weeks in the Amazon away from the distractions of modern society. No cell phone. No e-mail. No Facebook. No Twitter. God knows I’ll have difficulty with the latter. But just to go out into the wilderness of the earth is enticing enough. Just to experience the Amazon itself, chock-full of vibrance and life, would potentially be enough for me to make the trek. But that combined with the thought that I could get my mind right before I embark on my impending career in medicine is more than tempting. My plan right now (should it pan out) would be to make the trip after I take the Boards and before my clinical rotations start. It’s the absolute perfect time. I’ll be transitioning from the classroom to actually caring for patients. From keeping my own schedule to being a slave to my attendings. From my biggest responsibility being success on an exam to caring for the lives of other human beings. It’s the perfect time to get my mind and spirit right for the years to come.
I should, of course, address the elephant in the room. This all comes on the heels of the 18-year old boy from California whose body was found buried on the property of the Shimbre Shamanic Center. According to the attending shaman (who has since been arrested) the boy died from ingesting “an excessive dosage” of ayahuasca. (For more information, peep the story: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/14/u-s-teen-dies-after-taking-hallucinogenic-drug-ayahuasca-in-peru/) Now let me preface this by saying I mean no disrespect. But if you’re dying from drinking too much of some root-juice, you might just be a weak bitch. I have NEVER heard of anyone dying from ingesting “too much” of a psychedelic plant. I don’t know the whole story here. It seems a bit suspicious that the shaman took it upon himself to bury the kid after he died rather than report it to the authorities. But this sort of story isn’t enough to deter me. I know the potential benefits, and whatever risk there is, it’s worth it.
I want to see my true self. I want to learn and to grow. I want to find my spirit animal and ride a fire-breathing snake into the heart of Valhalla itself. I am the Lizard King. I can do anything.
That said, it’s going to be a bit of an expense so I might be doing handies in the park to get there…
For those of you who have yet to hear me bitch about it (which I’m assuming is relatively few considering just how hard I’ve bitched the past few days), I had my wallet stolen on the El coming home last Friday night. Luckily it wasn’t any sort of mugging scenario. I just got pickpocketed. But it is still a tremendous inconvenience to lose everything in your wallet. I had to cancel all of my cards, deal with the DMV on a Monday morning to get a replacement license, and I still have to file a fraud report to get back the money that the asshole thief was able to withdraw from my checking account.
Anticipating these ultimately minor struggles I’d have to endure in the coming days, I was understandably frustrated that night. Also, still a little bit drunk. Rather than keep said frustration to myself or talk it out with the friends I was with, I did something wholly unforgivable instead: I took it out on someone else. A stranger no less. We were trying to get a cab to pick us up from the Forest Park Blue Line stop and the cab company was struggling to find the location without an exact address. I was on the phone with the CSR, tired, drunk, and frustrated about my recent first-hand experience with larceny. Instead of attempting to work with her to resolve the problem, I instead lashed out and was a complete and utter asshole to her. This poor woman was doing her job at 4 in the fucking morning and she has some douchnozzle acting like a complete prick on the other end of the line. The worst part is I’ve been in her shoes. I know what it’s like to talk to cunty people. Regardless of how “rough” my night was, there is no excuse for the way I treated my fellow man that night. I’m completely ashamed by my behavior. And not just ashamed, surprised as well. I’m never aggressive or purposefully hurtful, even if I feel I’ve been wronged. But now I know I have the capacity to be that cunt on the other end of line. There’s no way I would have acted that way face-to-face. But the faceless anonymity of a telephone conversation gave me the “courage” to make an ass of myself.
Losing my wallet caused a temporary break in my positive approach to life. I’m a big proponent of the idea of positive energy. I try to stay positive even in the face of all the bullshit that life inevitably throws your way. Sure, everyone gets frustrated or depressed at times. But that shouldn’t stop you from sharing positive energy with those around you. Because maybe that person is feeling the same way and the positive energy you throw their way is exactly what they need to snap out of whatever funk they’re in. Just think how much more pleasant it would be to deal with people if everyone behaved that way. How awesome would it be if you could suddenly eliminate all of the douches of the world and people were just plain decent to one another everyday. Wishful thinking, I know. But I, for one, am going to try to live that way.
The bottom line here is that I’m utterly mortified by the way I acted. If there were some way to apologize to this woman in person, I would do it in a heartbeat. No one deserves to be treated that way, particularly by a complete stranger. From here on out I’m going to work to be even better about spreading positive energy, regardless of my own mood. Errday.
I was going to blog about how the Radiohead concert last night changed my perspective on things. How their music spoke to me personally. How before I was caught up in all the small bullshit and now I see that everything is indeed in its right place. But words won’t do it justice. Only the music will.
I’m leaving tomorrow morning to spend a few days in Las Vegas with some buddies. We’ve been talking up this trip for quite some time now, and it’s hard to believe it’s actually happening. I finally get a chance to redeem myself after the night Vegas chewed me up, stole my wallet (and likely my dignity), and spit me back out. Of course it gave me a parting gift of the worst goddamn hangover I’ve ever had. This will be the second time I’ve been to Vegas since being of age and the first time I’ve been there with people other than my family. The cards are stacked against me. But I shall prevail. I predict a strange but unforgettably amazing week. Stay tuned.