844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Sensational Sumatran Silly Psilocybin (Danau Toba, Indonesia)

For a revised version of this post, go here.

July 23rd, 2009 - What would it be like if all the beauty you’d ever experienced throughout your life came rushing through you all at once? What if for a brief moment you transformed yourself into some sort of cosmic tuning fork, just laying back and letting it all envelop you like a wave of energy? Ever look into the sky and be so overwhelmed by the intensity of it all that you had to look away for fear you may burst? If you don’t think I sound bonkers then perhaps you’ve had a pleasurable experience with psychedelic mushrooms and the chemical psilocybin.

This was to be my latest Sumatran adventure, a ‘trip’ down the cosmic highway. It was for me an absolutely magnificent experience. There is more to psilocybin than most people may think. It is much more than a hippie drug utilized by college students and frazzled flower children. You may be skeptical. You may think that I am Deadhead trying to rationalize my own irresponsible behavior but you might be surprised to learn that in 2006 John Hopkins University, one of the premiere medical institutions in the United States, commissioned a study on the beneficial effects of psilocybin which included 36 test subjects.

The results were overwhelmingly positive and a follow up survey published on the first of this month found that test subjects continued to benefit from their experience 14 months later. What’s more, if one were to do the research one will discover that none of the usual drawbacks associated with the drug use are prevalent with mushrooms. If you are skeptical I do not blame you. In fact I encourage all who read this to assume that I am full of poo-poo. Find out for yourself.

Now does this mean that I am advocating the widespread and frequent use of magic mushrooms on a grand scale for anyone and everyone? Of course not. It is not time to start incorporating mushroom omelets into our school lunch programs or as a necessary part of a well balanced drug diet. However, I do believe that in certain circumstances and for the right people the benefits of use are pronounced.

Clearly this is not for everybody and should, as in the study, be done under the supervision of a trained professional or, at the very least an experienced individual with whom you trust. I had the benefit of experimentation in college so I knew what to expect. But it is not uncommon for folks to have a ‘bad trip’ as the phrase goes. I cannot say I have ever had a terrible experience but some 'trips' are less interesting than others. The quality of the experience depends heavily on the current mental status of the individual. Expectations and thought processes can easily lead someone down an equally negative or positive path. So again, I reiterate that I am not advocating a perpetual mushroom jamboree.

It is important to mention that I broke no Indonesian laws. Mushrooms are not illegal here. As to why that is I cannot say since the punishments for possessing other traditionally illicit substances are quite severe. I sat down at a local restaurant that employs omelets as their psilocybin delivery system. Lake Toba is not the first place I have come across the open sale of schrooms in Indonesia. The Gili Islands off the northwest coast of Lombok is another place one may indulge.

So why did I decide to partake at this particular juncture? Excellent question. I was curious, curious to know how I would perceive some aspects of my present situation. What would I see? How would I perceive this journey I’ve begun? Would it be a negative experience or would the positive shine through? And then there is the girl. There’s always a girl. I was really curious to know how I would view the rather complex tangle I’ve found myself in. I thought I knew how I felt but had a sense that taking a spin on the yellow brick road might provide some insight. Don’t get me wrong. I never expected the universe to reveal itself to me or that all the pieces of my life puzzle would coalesce. I just figured it couldn’t hurt and at worse I would have a pleasant experience. I know the sensation associated with the ‘trip’ and it has never been a bad one.

So what happened? Frankly, I pretty much blasted off. To the moon, Norton! Awesome with a capital ‘A’. Standing on the edge of a floating dock on a beautiful Sumatran lake was almost too much for my senses to handle. The sky was overcast but the sun managed to peak through and glimmer off the top of the waves. The world became ethereal, as if I was seeing the world beneath the surface of the world I see every day. The water became a bit luminescent and took on the properties of a dream world. The phenomenon was subtle but unmistakable. When I laid back on the dock and looked directly into the clouded overcast sky the feeling was overwhelming. The clouds had a digital quality to them and everything I perceived was pixilated. On top of that it all began to pulsate, to breathe in a sense. And it was beautiful, almost too beautiful for I could only look into the abyss for so long and was forced to pull away, to sit up and attempt to digest what I’d just experienced.

There is something significant I discovered at this moment, something I hope everyone could discover while under the influence. I do not need mushrooms to have this experience. I’ve felt this way before, most recently while climbing along the cliffs of the Ijen Plateau in East Java. It is the feeling you get when you experience something remarkable and cannot quite find the words to describe what you are seeing or how you are feeling. Of course, psilocybin amplifies your perception and allows one to see the magic in even the more mundane aspects of existence. This itself is a significant insight. Perhaps the awe, the magic is always there but we are prevented from seeing the world in all of its grandeur. As Ralph Emerson once said, “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." Turning the everyday into the spiritual.

Sound ridiculous? Perhaps it is. I know what I probably sound like but you really need to experience it to understand. On the other hand it is quite possible that only I can have this experience because such perception is an intricate part of my personality. For you it might be wholly different experience and involve an entirely new set of perceptions. I believe that this drug amplifies your personality and accentuates aspects of who you are, good or bad.

For example, for a little while I had a hard time deciding where and what to focus my attention on. Everything became interesting and I could not decide if I should sit here, stand there, run, swim, stare, etc. And that is me, restless. Where should I go? And once I get there how long should I stay? Should I be somewhere else, somewhere more amazing? So many possibilities in life and our infinitesimal time on this planet permits us to explore only a tiny fraction of the permutations. I find I am often tortured by the realm of possibility and all the avenues one can investigate. And so this manifests itself under the influence but, in my opinion, in a positive way.

And what about the girl? Well, I as stood on that dock letting the universe channel itself through me (forgive me but that is how it felt) I started to think of the woman and how I felt about her. And at that moment I would have given just about anything to have her there with me by my side on that dock gazing into the natural beauty that is being. I found this conclusion meaningful. I suppose I could have wish for anyone in the world and I chose her. What exactly that means I cannot say but I am certain it is entirely positive. Then again, maybe it is all a steaming pile of horse shit. Dunno. But what a ride!

At the peak of this mystical experience I wanted her to be with me. And although the thought of our separation could have seriously pissed all over my parade it did not. It was enough for me to discover that what I felt was real and that, if given the chance, I would do what I must to be with her. Unfortunately it is not for me to decide and it is out of my hands. This too could easily have lead me down a negative road but at the time it was enough for me to know that I tried and that I was willing to do what I could. Beyond that it is out of my control. Don’t feel too bad for me. What I’ve written here is a gross oversimplification and I am not without culpability for the current situation. This too could have brought me down but my experience eschewed the negative, almost as if it was not possible dampen my mood.

So what? Did I figure it all out? Am I one with the universe, in tune with the cosmic order? Of course not but the experience was extremely gratifying and one I think I will look fondly on for some time. And what of my journey? In the midst of my altered state I thought about my trip and what I should be doing. I came to the conclusion that I was doing what I wanted to be doing right now. I’d always wanted to travel without limits, without time constraints and I am doing it. I’d always wanted to do a motorcycle trip and I did it. I am not so good at tooting my own horn but I would like to think that this is at least something. I know it is not saving the whales or following in the footsteps of Mother Theresa but it is not without some merit.....I think. Maybe I can save world later but for now I am content to take it all in and play the role of a casual observer. One day I may need more but for now this will suffice.

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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim