I met a man who tripped major balls on shrooms
He was a traveller from a far away land. As far as I could tell he was an honest fellow, upright and keen to do that which was good in his eyes. He wasn’t very tall, nor was he a tiny chap. About right. Late at night, before the dark did fright, over a whiskey or three, in a bar full of him and me, in Los Angeles near the valley or maybe the sea, he related a tale so strange and mysterious, I thought him insane and delirious. But oh did I laugh and jest, and even spilt whiskey on my vest when he confessed that, one summer’s summer day he on mushrooms supped and ingest. Listen, listen reader to the man’s tale. His name was Jack Dale. I remember how he started, yes, he started so: “ Dude, I’m telling you the shrooms made me feel like I became the fucking wind…
Chapter 1: Introduction
Jack Dale’s opening line might have seemed metaphoric. Perhaps he suggested that, much like the wind, the wacky fungal psychedelic made him free and careless, boundless and light. Perhaps he meant the supernatural feeling of ingesting poisonous mushrooms was like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral. Or the more insane and factual interpretation: Jack Dale truly felt that there was no material difference between himself and the air, that the contours of his hands and body melted into the flowing nothingness, and the world he once knew, stable and deterministic, transformed into a world of magic and intrigue.
August 2018 Johannesburg
“Mom, I bet you we’re going to run into someone I know.” Jack, confident in his weird mystical talents, or knowing the Joburg eating scene too well, casually related this prediction to his mother as he walked into Nomada, a popular sushi restaurant in the southern suburbs. Lo and behold! Who was it that sat at the conveyor belt in the chair closest to the entrance other than one of Jack’s oldest and most loyal friends Daniel Deville.
“Oh Dale, howzit!” Daniel beamed, seeing his friend for the first time since he came back from the States. “I didn’t know you were back!” Jack felt a little guilty for not telling Daniel about his arrival, but he knew that Daniel understood him well enough to excuse his terrible communication skills.
“ Ah, I just got back, I’ve been very low-key. Been playing some COD and reading. What’s happening my china?” Jack gleefully shot back, his eyes brightening when using that curious slang of his home-city.
“You’re not gonna believe it, but I was literally just planning to go to Mozam and was thinking who could come along with me. It’s so weird that you’re here. I was literally just thinking of you. Bro you have to come, it will be sick. I promise. And you’ve always wanted to come to Mozam, come on!”
Jack had wanted desperately to visit Mozambique since he learnt his childhood friend had bought a home in the lovely resort town of Ponta do Ouro. But chance and circumstances before now had prevented him from going. Every time Daniel went, Jack was either in school or in another country. For the first time, the stars had aligned for these oldest of friends. He needed no convincing.
“Fuck yeah, I’m down” cried Jack, imagining the coastal resort and all the adventure its image implied. “Sick, awesome, Dale!” Jack’s mom, tired of hearing the “sicks” and “awesomes” of her son and his friend, decided to leave the boys for the bathroom.
“Bro,” whispered Daniel, “now you can finally do mushies with me. I’m packing the really good shit, Penis Envy.”
“Penis Envy hey. I have plenty of that!” Jack mocked himself lightheartedly, forgetting momentarily the topic at hand. “ What’s Penis Envy?”
“Oh man, this shit will hit you like a fucking train. Imagine what you did with Che but ten times stronger.”
Che was another one of Jack’s friends. The year before Jack and Che bonded together, soul to soul, over a shroom trip in the latter’s living room. Not having much nature to admire and wanting the setting to be intimate, the two agreed to trip while playing FIFA and watching Planet Earth.
And boy was that trip wacky. Jack distinctly remembered five stages, each crazier and weirder than the last. The first stage was giddiness and uncontrollable laughter. Apparently the beginning stages of a trip can feel quite awful unless you smoke some weed. Smoking a fat J helped ease our boys into the trip. Our boys were cracking their asses up, laughing for no apparent reason and for any reason.
Then BAM! The second stage of trippy hallucinations and mind tricks. Jack was playing FIFA when the second stage kicked the fuck in. He had just completed a beautiful and stunning through-ball from Pogba to Rashford, passing the ball from the half-way line into Che’s box when, all of a sudden, the negative space between the players exploded, each player drifting away from the other, caught in what could only be explained as a “what-the-fuck” inversion of spacetime. Jack’s jaw dropped. While this started happening, he looked out the window of the living room. Under the once-orange-yellow light now appeared a color somewhere between blue and purple, but which he could not describe or name, and which, like most of his exe’s, he has not seen or heard from again.
“Ah Che,” mumbled Jack. I don’t think I want to play anymore.”
“Why not? Are you a little… oh daaaamn,” the delayed effect of the shrooms whacked Che before he could finish his taunt.
Jack and Che agreed to end the game and start watching Planet Earth. Stage Three decided to walk through the doors of perception to knock some metaphysical blows to our too-far-in heroes. Jack’s body began collapsing in on itself. He quickly tried eating the popcorn in front of him, and learnt just as quickly, that he did not know how to eat anymore. His stomach crumpled and his mouth ejected the popcorn as though it were an alien body. Just as this happened, a giant spider crawled onto the screen, the latest animal-kingdom celebrity on Planet Earth. Ominous chamber music filled the room. All Jack remembers from this stage was the intense fear and suffocation he felt because of the music. His whole being became depressed and forlorn as though it were the end of the world. Luckily this stage did not last long.
Che remembers communicating with the shrooms: “Hey Shrooms!” called out Che’s inner voice. “ Hey Che” replied the Shrooms, intimately. “What’s the meaning of life?” This question had labored on Che’s mind his whole life, and now finally was a supernatural being or thing who could answer him. “We don’t fucking know, we were about to ask you the same thing!” Che forlornly accepted that this question could not be answered, at the very least not by philosophically-inclined fungi.
Pure Bliss, or Stage 4. Jack and Che, noble warriors and champions of the shrooms had conquered the terrifying early stages and waltzed right into sublime and transcendent calm. “Dale, Dale, I feel, I feel like a student of the universe.” Jack almost cried at the beauty of these words. He too, felt like a student of the universe. It was as though a funnel had been placed above his head, where God, or angels, or aliens, or whatever the fuck, was pouring every sweet juice of knowledge imaginable downwards. Jack and Che looked each other in the eyes, and their souls merged as they emptied their hearts to each other. Family, financial and romantic woes danced together freely, releasing our heroes from their deepest fears and worries.
“Dale, I love you.”
“Che, I love you.”
Our two heroes embraced. They spoke for an hour, recording their deepest and most profound insights on Jack’s phone. A conversation both Jack and Che treasure as one of the defining moments of their lives.And everything in the world seemed right and fair and just in those brief, unforgettable moments.
Then the come-down of Stage 5. Jack and Che retreated to the kitchen, hungry and lightheaded after their battle with the deceptive plant kingdom. “Dale,” began Che, “ do you ever wonder, like, do you ever think…” Che wobbled slightly and then his whole body collapsed. His sugar levels had dropped dangerously, knocking him unconscious. Jack reacted quickly, catching Che before he hit the floor. “Che, Che! Wake up man! Wake up!”
After several minutes of Jack panicking over Che’s motionless body, Che woke up. Relieved, Jack calmed down.
“Dude, I was pure energy. Just pure love flowing through space and time. Everything is love man, the stars and the planets are our brothers as much as the trees and ants are.”
“Dude,” responded Jack, “ I don’t think we should ever do this again.”
Jack zoned back into reality from his memory. Hmm ten times stronger.
“So what do you say?” asked Daniel expectantly.
Hmm. Ten times stronger. Is that even possible? Oh no, now Jack’s inner philosopher barged into his subconsciousness.
“Hell to the fuck yeah!”
Chapter 2: Mozambique
“Dale, what are you reading?”
Jack now found himself in the cozy lounge of Daniel’s Mozambican home, nestled into the corner of a black leather couch, surrounded by three friends: Zane Musk, a self-declared asshole from high school turned sweetheart and the man asking the question, Andrew Hazlitt, a gentle giant and champion drinker and bong-ripper and Daniel Deville. Jack was not as friendly with Hazlitt and Zane before this trip. In fact, Daniel had relayed to Jack that Zane was even surprised Jack would want to go on the trip if he and Hazlitt were there. It was true that these two did not have much in common with Jack. While Jack had spent most of high school studying and reading, Zane and Andrew had been rowdy partygoers, hitting up the local nightlife. But the time they all had spent together in Mozambique had endeared them to one another.
Jack and Zane had bonded over their shared laughter when Daniel, asked to show an Afrikaner family how to wheelie on a quadbike, and not knowing himself how to do such a wheelie, failed miserably to lift the quadbike in front of the disappointed audience.
Hazlitt and Jack had shared many moments talking about the strange and secret hand of fate in the running of things, and when Hazlitt was loneliest or most forlorn Jack comforted him, and cheered him up through the only way he knew, and which he had learnt from a young age: to impart wisdom.
“Have you heard of Numerology, Zane?”
“No, what’s that?” asked Zane genuinely interested.
“It’s the science, or I should say study, of the spiritual significance of numbers. Almost all major religions have mystical interpretations of numbers: the Jews view 7 as sacred, the Greek Pythagoreans viewed 5 as sacred and so on.” “Supposedly,” Jack gestured towards his Iphone from which he was reading, “names and birthdates can be boiled down to numbers with significant meaning. And this meaning can inform the direction of our lives, or the urges of our souls.”
“ You don’t really believe that bullshit, do you?”
“ Remember our set work for matric Hamlet. There’s a great line from there. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” Undue skepticism will ruin the imagination, and tear apart the magic of the universe.
“ Jesus, Dale. But you’re the smartest guy I know. Don’t you believe in science? That shit is not science.”
“I believe that there are some things we know and somethings we do not know. Whatever positive science has discovered, there’s an ocean more of undiscovered knowledge. The world is still mysterious. I think we need to be more humble about the ultimate mechanisms of the universe.”
Zane listened intently, but disagreed silently. “Well, what does it say?”
“It says a lot. Apparently, …” As Jack began to read his numerology report, suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the radio switched on by itself. The radio tuned into a specific part of a specific rave song where the lyrics went something along the lines of “ And a spiritual leader will arise, and a spiritual thing will happen.”
“Daniel that’s not fucking funny?” screamed Zane.
“What, I didn’t do anything?” earnestly replied Daniel.
“Hazlitt that’s not cool!” screamed Zane a little louder and more desperately.
“ Dude, I didn’t do anything,” Hazlitt calmly responded.
“Zane, I don’t even know how to turn on the radio. And I don’t even have the remote for it.”
Zane, Hazlitt, Deville and Jack all burst into a long, repeated refrain of “what the fuck,” the shivers crawling up everyone’s spines.
Jack was scared shitless. But the philosopher in him was more curious than he was afraid: “Hmm, how is that possible? Probably some energetic interference.”
“Oh my god,” yelled Zane. “We haven’t even taken the shrooms yet. That’s tomorrow!”
Chapter 3: Oh Boy Here We Go Again
Gulp. Ahh, gross. Jack drank the blended shroom-milkshake concoction, finishing the bottle within moments. He walked outside the living room, onto the wooden deck which overlooked the sprawling beachfront and the surrounding forests. Tonight was beautiful. The stars were out in full force, beaming from hemisphere to hemisphere. The moon shone bright and was full. The wind gently blew across the house, chilling the atmosphere and bringing a deep sense of calm and ease to the adventurers.
“Daniel, when do you think these fuckers will hit?” Jack asked curiously.
“Trust me Dale, you’ll know. Give it 45 minutes.”
Ten Times stronger. Ten Times stronger. Ten Times stronger.
“Fuck, am I going to die?” thought Jack anxiously to himself. He was wont to take drugs, regret it immediately, and then soldier through, wade his way out of the muck because it was impossible to go back. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, it’s happening.”
This experience was completely different to last time. Jack could feel his physical body dying as the shrooms coursed through his veins. His body shut down over the course of 15 excruciating minutes. It felt as though his lungs collapsed and his heart stopped.
“Push through you bastard, push through” he kept chanting to himself, pounding his fist against his chest and holding it there as if he were singing the national anthem, or preparing to martyr himself for some noble cause.
And then a breakthrough! He was alive. He was alive. He was more than just alive. He was a pure spirit. Jack had left his physical body. Looking at himself, eagerly tracing his own contour, he could seriously not differentiate between the air and his body. It was as if his body were an extension of the air or vice versa.
He looked up at the stars and the moon. The moon shone doubly, its beams landing right on Jack’s face. And Jack felt something strange. The moon, the moon was trying to make love to him. Yes, he could feel the moon drawing him into her orbit, seducing and lulling him. And he saw a kingdom of stars, dancing and ascending from the lowest rungs of heaven to the top. And they all knew his name and were inviting him upwards. If only he knew how to fly like they did!
He looked at the sea. And where he should have seen the gentle dapples of moonlight bobbing over the surface of the sea, instead he saw a giant Crab whose arms conducted the currents. Her immense claws harmoniously gathered the waves, and then dispersed them. Flowing back and forth forever, the giant Crab controlled the destiny of the waves, their movements, their progressions, their beginnings and their endings.
Jack walked to the edge of the wooden deck. He looked one last time at the sea and the forest. There she was Nature in her glorious beauty shorn of physical deformity, or material illusion. The Great Spirit, the great binding force which connects everything to everything else had been laid bare to Jack. The death of the body, which the shrooms induced, far from being the end, only revealed an infinity of more.
Jack went inside to sit down, lying flat on the black couch he was on earlier; the same one where he had been sitting when the fucking radio decided to burst alive like Frankenstein’s monster. He looked at his feet. They were completely distorted and disproportionate, way too itty-bitty for his giant frame. “Fuck, not you too,” he thought. “Yes, me too” responded his feet.
Jack passed out.