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LUCID DREAMING, QUANTUM PHYSICS, AND OTHER PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS I'VE DONE


Prologue


Parallel lines never meet. They exist in the same plane, always apart at the same distance. We know this to be true.


I.


i’m pretty sure i’m too unstable to enjoy any type of hallucinogenic drug so to make sure i don’t miss out on any out-of-body experiences or life-changing trips—among other things— i’ve been dabbling in alternatives.


in a publication on design and altered states of consciousness, i read that- contrary to popular belief- Salvador Dali never took psychedelics. instead he got his inspiration from self-induced dream states. he'd hold a key in his hand and keep a dish beside his bed. when he'd fall asleep the key would drop into the dish and create a disturbance just loud enough to wake him halfway and send him down the rabbit hole.


and so i pick up a book on lucid dreaming and let it dissolve on my tongue.


the first rule of lucid dreaming is to constantly be asking yourself, “am i dreaming?” even when you’re certain you’re not. you still ask to form a habit, so your dream-self will start asking too. “i know it’s strange to doubt your reality,” the author writes. i want to tell him no, it’s not as strange as you’d think.


one way to test if you’re dreaming or not is to place a finger on your opposite palm. if it doesn't pass through your hand, you’re not dreaming. i do this a few times a day to pull myself out of my own head. “what’s in front of you is real,” i tell myself. feet on the ground, feeling the weight of my own body on the earth. thumb against solid skin. it’s way too easy to get lost sometimes. which world do i really belong in?


another way to test if you’re dreaming is by jumping. if gravity immediately pulls you back down, you’re awake. if you stay on the wing for a moment- lighter than air, suspended in the atmosphere for longer than seems possible- you’re most likely dreaming.


if you told me to jump, i’d ask “how high?”


i’ve only been lucid twice so far. once by accident. once purposefully. i remember a desolate landscape, anonymous figures walking toward me, away from me. a shore covered in dense fog. the realization came almost instinctively. i didn't perform any tests. i didn't ask myself any questions. i just told myself, out of nowhere, "this is a dream." if only it were always that simple.


some other non-drug-induced ways to reach altered states of consciousness that i found in my research: meditations, transcendence, sensory deprivation tanks, sound baths, simply staring at your own face in a mirror for too long. all allow for a pause between the parallels, if only for a moment. every night i listen to a guided meditation where the direction is to imagine yourself ascending with each out-breath. you rise until you’re no longer on this planet, but somewhere else. somewhere among the stars, where nothing and no one on earth knows where you are, where nothing can touch you. everything that makes you grind your teeth in your sleep is somewhere below you. surrounded by nothingness.


"now let's go a little bit higher."


i find myself looking for the nothingness where there is nothing but everything. looking for peace in the wrong places, wondering if it only exists in altered states. even while awake i keep myself in a dream state in some capacity. a force of habit or a defense mechanism, i'm not sure. maybe a subconscious form of self-sabotage. maybe a bit of all three.


in a dim-lit room Thom Yorke falsettos through the grit and static of a turntable. All is well, as long as we keep spinning.


there are brief moments of clarity, when the spinning comes to a screeching halt, when the gut-punches i try so hard to dodge are delivered. debilitating. necessary.


i'm dreaming of a life where reality checks don't hurt as much.


II.


Parallel lines never meet unless you grab the ends of both and bend them toward each other.


the week is over and i’m so tired and in a whirlwind of self-doubt and a loosening grip on my identity i almost decide to stay home and skip the show i have a ticket for. it feels better here, i tell myself, paralyzed and thinking god damn i'm so tired of dressing up for people and god damn is it exhausting to keep up with all of this and god damn am i tired of hearing that voice in my head that constantly tells me that every move i make is inherently wrong. i spend my days putting on way too many faces, living way too many lives, i need a break, i’m so tired. i'd rather stay right here and dream. right here in the nothingness, where nothing can touch me, nothing can hurt me, nothing can disappoint me. it's easier.


dragging my body up slowly, i take the next small step. under scalding hot water i try to melt these feelings, skin turning red, peeling back the layers of buildup from the first few months of the year. i put on less makeup than usual and dress up as myself for once. i’m familiar with my reflection for the first time in a long time and i notice how easy it is to breathe when you're not trying so hard. alright. fine. i’ll go.


the room is light and then dark and then light again and i’m drinking fast and fading blissfully into the background. i prefer it that way, honestly. in rare moments you can find the nothingness where there is nothing but everything. the elliott smith lyrics i wrote on the bathroom wall around this time last year are still there. i remember exactly where my head was at, scraping lead into the paint, as if it would solve anything. a lot has changed in a year but at the same time nothing has changed at all. this is a recurring dream. i’m here at the same bar, watching the same band, writing on the same walls. aren’t i?


another REM cycle completed and we're back at square one, waiting for the next one to start, waiting to see what happens this time.



III.


Parallel lines never meet unless you melt them into liquid and pour them into each other.


have you ever had everything you think you know and understand flipped on its axis in less than 5 minutes? i’m reading a book on the concept of time. the concept of “now.” the concept of everything and how, at the same time, it’s all nothing. everything is made up of energy, the movement of atoms, creating form, creating matter. even in the stillness, in the nothingness, there is constant movement.


“now” is not universal, but relative. there is only a “now” in regard to events that are close to you. your Now isn’t the same as someone's Now who is living on another planet, lightyears away. but it can be the same as someone’s Now that is standing right in front of you. you share the same Now when you’re asking questions in your mind like what does your name sound like in your own voice and what's your favorite flavor of intimacy and what part of your body shakes when you get nervous. skin against skin, the past and future disappearing into the dark mouth of night. the act of being present.


sometimes it feels like my Now throws wrenches at me just to see how i react. it feels like some cruel being is pulling strings, sitting back and watching, entertained, as i unravel.


if there is a god, i wouldn’t blame him for having it out for me, the way i talk about him.


IV.


a seasoned lucid dreamer can control who appears in their dreams. they can summon family, friends, lovers. someone they want to reconcile with, someone they want to confront. dead relatives, their past and future selves. if i knew how, i’d summon someone to help me untangle all these threads once parallel that keep twisting into each other, the waking world and the dream world, the real and the surreal. “these knots are impossible,” i’d tell my recruit. “we might have to cut them."


"also, thanks for your help. i'm sorry you got caught up in this."


V.


the first picture of a black hole ever captured is in the headlines this morning and this is major because it confirms all we know about physics so far to be true. it confirms that we are so small and insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe and to me that is such an incredible paradox about existing as human beings. we’re so small. we’re so impermanent. we're out here suspended in nothingness, all of us. and yet, so much matters. too much matters. we're so small. how do we carry so much?


words don’t do me justice anymore so i allow myself to feel what i’ve been feeling completely for the first time. my therapist sits across from me quietly, waiting patiently until i can collect myself. after a while she asks, “are you okay? what’s happening right now?” i say yeah. i feel lighter. i think i just need to be alone for a while. i think i need to get out of new york for a few days. i think i need a break from destroying myself.


Parallel lines never meet because if they do they're no longer parallel. if they do they become something else entirely. they are never supposed to meet, because this changes everything.


if you told me to jump, i’d say sure, but i can’t promise i’ll come back down any time soon.

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