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Tripping, Learning, or Lack Thereof in the Steel City

Human nature has a weird commonality; a deep underlying assumption, a yearning for a barefooted walk on the greener grass located on someone's seemingly flawless lawn. 

The other lawns seem better than our own; the lawn nature handed us, the grass we helped grow.

Does anyone ever just want to start accepting their own grass and vow to never observe another lawn? Do we ever stop being jealous, envious, shamelessly inquisitive of what we do not own. Can we just appreciate all the grass equally?

People tend to assume that life is better for the next person and the next person assumes the same thing until we just have a chain of misinformed people. Presumptuous people, those that jump to conclusions, those that cannot trust, that doubt others' intentions and unfortunately become bitter. Sometimes we miss the point of life, which is a protracted act of being and doing. We often miss this because of comparisons.

But, people experience life in similar ways...no life is more difficult than the next, just different.

As much as atheists demean the Bible and other holy scriptures for their vague pluralities, plethora of preachy proverbs and general lack of science; the human experience is one grand cliché (we all have unique experiences and yet live in one shared space) and thus it makes sense that the philosophy of religious leaders would air on the side of not judging another human being for traits that are beyond their control...maybe certain actions defy our individual understanding. 

We may never fully know.

Many of the smartest scientists were also the slowest learners and not quick-witted or even popular in school. 

These people were abnormal by their peers' standards because they needed to analyze everything in order to better understand it, hence why they became famous scientists.

Most people are just so busy doing nothing, or busy comparing themselves, or forcing relationships with other people that they forget to stop and just observe everything.

One of the best experiences I had was experimenting with hallucinogens in college and it was also one of the worst. 

My mind had never been so altered, it was eye-opening and absurd.

I felt more self-centered, scared, and slightly brazen with each trip...until acid, which was a ridiculous mind fuck. 

In total, I experimented with three different types of hallucinogens: salvia divinorum, psilocybin mushrooms, and Lysergic acid diethylamide.

All I know are that these altered states of being were simultaneously "the best of times...and the worst of times."

Charles Dickens must have had a trip or two in his day because he demonstrates a deep understanding of the human condition; a truth regarding the duality of most life experiences.

Life is anything but glamorous, it is long, complicated, messy, boring, often repetitive, with only small instances of really bizarre, yet profound moments.

Psychologists describe the way that human beings evaluate past experiences as part of the "peak-end" rule, meaning that we tend to remember the highlights, or delightful sensations felt at the peak of any experience and the end and not much of the boring stuff in between.

Consequently, I remember tripping, but not all of it. For instance, I remember sitting on the top of the hill at Schenley Park during a warm summer night while on 'shrooms. I remember a crowd of people were watching one of the many terrible movies Will Smith starred in on the big screen. I think this one was called Hancock.

But, to me, that was not important, all that mattered was the fact that I was surrounded by people that cared about my existence. I simultaneously thought of all the friends I had grown up with who would never see this sight on top of the gargantuan hill overlooking the urban district.

I thought about how much I missed the people I had been close with back home, but I also worried about the fact that I was growing apart from many people because I made decisions that many would not understand.

I live life with no regrets and I cherish every moment.

I remember after that movie ended I just sat with some new friends and talked about how Naples, my hometown, had made me appreciate jazz music.

But, now I realize I was still experiencing the effects of that magic hallucinogen. I know now that Naples had nothing to do with it, the people that I hung out with in Naples had everything to do with it...people who were affiliated with my high school band, music aficionados who were massively talented and genuinely eclectic. In fact, the first time I listened to Miles Davis was while stoned in one of my friends' caravans, it was also the first time I ever listened to any music while under the influence of reefer.

The music sounded out of this universe. Mr. Davis was simply incredible. I fell in love with jazz that day and with music in general. It was the beginning of my obsession with quality music which will never peak and I hope never end.

I remember the first time I ever experimented with acid and how confusing, delusional, and exciting that day was. It was two days after I was baptized in Mt. Ararat Baptist Church. I was baptized on Guy Fawkes day in 2009. Remember, remember the 5th of November. Well, I will never forget how my roommates from all walks of life came to the ceremony to support my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and savior.

I also remember the 7th of November, after taking the tab. I was with two of the roommates that witnessed the Baptism. We were on the 7th floor outside of my apartment.

We "came up" together and it was fascinating, frightening, and illuminating. It was a unique experience that was helped by the brightness of the Sun on that fateful autumn day. We took the tabs in the morning. The tree leaves were changing colors and the winds were becoming cooler. The visuals were stunningly vivid and surreal. The colors were abnormal and everything seemed animated, more alive. Everything felt off that day.

I never saw Pittsburgh or the world look so zany. I felt like the mad hatter at a 12-hour tea party.

I was experiencing a sham of perception.

I did not feel like a terrible, educated, sly junkie rather I felt as though I was more interconnected and simultaneously invincible. I felt as though my soul were one with the world and all its people; as if I were nothing more than an eternal member of the vast universe and labels were irrelevant.

I was undoubtedly fucked up. I had taken one of the strongest substances invented by man, but my thoughts transcended normal reasoning. My thoughts were aloof and scattered.  

We were all trying to be coherent and have profound conversations, but we found ourselves defeated by the acid. 

We casually resigned and lived for several hours without communicating. 

We felt a thousand perplexities, we vocalized a few of these, we absorbed the drug and allowed it to guide our decision making...we had no other alternative than to surrender our minds to psychedelic transformation.

We were all on the same page anyway. It was both awe-inspiring and overkill, at least in retrospect. 

We managed to leave the roof and go out, but not very far. We traveled only within about two miles of our apartment building. 

We could only walk that day and experience something, whatever that something was.

When we left the roof we went back and contemplated leaving the building. We vacillated for what seemed like an eternity. I was the strongest supporter of exiting.

We each rocked shades because we felt a rush of concern that people would notice our dilated pupils, how ridiculous to think that people would actually notice.

I remember when we got down to the first floor we ran into a tenant in our apartment building who also sported sunglasses, I laughed in my mind, and somehow the laugh escaped my mind and entered the universe for the tenant to hear.

At the time I thought what a small world. Maybe this guy is covering something too, something he felt the world would not understand, something that would bring forth harsh judgment. 

I realized that we are, all of us, trying to cover what we do not want others to see, whether stoned or sober. Even the most honest among us are not completely honest with everyone around us.

We walked out of the building and made it to Schenley Park. 

On that day, there were no clouds in the sky. It was a remarkable November day, we watched the Sun quickly go down into the illustrious urban landscape. We witnessed unbelievable hues of orange, pink, red, and saffron. 

I had never seen such a spectacularly colorful display. Although born and raised on the Southwest coast of Florida where the Sun rests on the Gulf of Mexico...this event was meaningful, it was surreal.

After the Sun went under the skyline, we walked to the Cathedral of Learning and decided to go to the topmost floor, some 42 stories above the ground. 

The large structure overlooks most parts of Pittsburgh. After all, it is the second highest educational building in the world. 

We saw the tiny morsel that was our institution of higher learning in the distance. The problems of grades and all that seemed like utter bullshit in that moment. We all wondered how that tiny structure could cause such a multitude of stress.

Night fell and we managed to make some salmon on the skillet. It was very hard to actually make because this was the first time we had been this high in our apartment. I remember getting lost briefly in that familiar space. 

While still experiencing the effects of the drug we unsuccessfully tried to perfect the salmon; however under such constraints we were severely limited. Nevertheless, the salmon came out like any other occasion, just fine.

We watched The Cosmos hosted by Carl Sagan and philosophized about the potential of a 4th dimension. We also knew that this was clearly not a passive, recreational sort of drug because after hours of taking the substance communication was still stifled.

Later, we went on the roof where all the tripping had commenced. The sky was still superb and breathtaking. The stars on a clear, cloudless night even with the pollution of the city the lights were mesmerizing. 

On a night such as this, the stars were even more outlandish. I could feel the mild winds ushering the coolness of autumn atop the roof of my building.

I thought about our vast universe and how many people are misconstrued, when it's really life that is crazy. No one should be called normal because the universe is not normal, the stars are not normal, the fact that we are all here now is not normal. 

These things just are here and life is here now. We are all just living to make sense of our surroundings. We never fully become accustomed to life because each day is another unique experience, filled with man-made routines and expected, yet unexpected Earthly idiosyncrasies.

And all I know is that I know nothing.

But, I learned from these times. I learned something.


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