I tried to be a Hippie. But “turning on and tuning out” paled beside my desire to get an education, work, and have a family. So although my “formal” hippie career was fairly short…it was festive. I have stories. Some I can even share. One of my favorites originated with an LSD tablet. I had never done psychedelic drugs, and was “gifted” with one (1) tiny tab of LSD. Groovy. So on a Saturday afternoon I broke it in half and tried it. I HAD THE BEST AFTERNOON OF MY LIFE. I tripped out gloriously and laughed and sang and learned how lawns communicate with sidewalks, colors are alive, food isn’t real, and that cats are magical beings that read minds. Far out. At the time I didn’t know that I had just been lucky. (Can you see it coming?)
About a month later I decided to use the other half of the same tablet. Why not? The first half had provided a grand experience, right? I ingested the drug and went on a camping trip. HAD THE WORST NIGHT OF MY LIFE. This half of the same tablet hit my body/mind like a devouring demon and I was in absolute hell. Terrified, paranoid, and sick, I was assaulted by violent images, colors melting, soda pop cans becoming gruesome oozing shapes, noises that meant death, and somehow my feet were wrong. And I was in a damn tent at night in the middle of a damn forest with a damn crazy person. Bummer. My camping partner had brought all the camping gear that included a handgun for “protection” from bears. I was in big trouble now. There was a Crazy Person with a gun inside the tent and Killer Bears outside the tent. No place was safe. I decided to spend the entire night at the entrance flap of the tent holding on to the canvas for dear life. When the Crazy Man inside the tent freaked me out too much, I’d lean way outside the tent while clinging desperately to the canvas door flap. When the terror of Bears (who were surely lurking in the woods just waiting to devour me) freaked me out too much, I would lean back inside, still gripping the tent flap. Back and forth, inside and outside, leaning in, leaning out. I spent all night like this. I would lean in and out of the tent thinking CRAZY PEOPLE OR BEARS, CRAZY PEOPLE OR BEARS! It was a Hell ‘til Dawn kind of experience. But dawn did arrive and thus ended my very short, yet festive, psychotropic drug career.
Crazy People or Bears has become a favorite metaphor in my evolving resiliency practice. When faced with difficult situations (Crazy People or Bears) my first task is to grip the tent flap of my faith trusting that dawn that will certainly come. If I made the choices that put me in the situation, I need to be mindful, get out of it as soon as possible, learn the lesson quickly and gently without shame, and do my best not to repeat it. If someone else puts me in that situation the drill is the same. Ignorance isn’t bliss, but I can’t know what I don’t know until I know it. However, once I know it, I’m accountable. Personal accountability helps me stay resilient because like ignorance, self-deception is a very dangerous drug.
Dr. Vali, PhD, LMHC, REAT, CEAP, Hippie.
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