Wednesday, June 23, 2004

SATMATC 12: The Trip

The visit itself was kind of a letdown, at least for you. It was definitely good to see Sean again, and we did a lot of late night talking with Shea. I suspect Sean was feeling his age, or at least his actual age (which is measured in terms of responsibilities, not days)--we spent the night of our LSD trip in deep philosophy mode.

The kids were put to bed, and his wife retired soon after. The three of us sat up, late into the night, tripping our asses off and arguing about our lives.

Sean did some heavy talking to Shea. He used the everpopular burning candle analogy.

Their older brother had (apparently) burned out at an early age. He was still wandering around, taking up space, but he refused to get a steady job or do much beyond smoke pot and play guitar. Which is all well and good, if you're not responsible for anyone else...but then you get all bound up in definitions of words like "success" and "potential" and "happiness," which drive me up the wall.

Here's the deal: a long time ago, I made the teen-existentialist decision that I didn't want to be rich, I wanted to be happy. Rich was just an easily quantifiable way to define happy, I felt, and if one were able to redefine happiness into, say, something that gave you a more abstract sense of satisfaction, then you could cut against the grain of modern society at the same time you put one over on the IRS. Both of those reasons appealed to me, the first to my punk rock sensibilities, the second to my populist/libertarian upbringing.

And I still sort of feel that way, to tell you the truth, but it's not as easy as it seemed when I was 17.

Anyway, Sean was the second oldest brother, and (he said), he'd not exactly burned out, but settled into a slow, steady burn. This is known as stability, or domesticity. From hearing him talk, it wasn't much fun, but you can go to bed at night knowing you'd discharged your responsibilities as best you could. You were Keeping Your Promises, which in a world where promises are necessary, is more important than anything else.

[I wonder if maybe that world's not passing, but that's for another post]

Sean's admonition, at 3am on whatever night (Thursday night, I think) we were up tripping, was for Shea to not do what either of his brothers had done; to find some third way of living life, one that didn't widen further the well trod paths of sloth or drudgery, I guess.

The only reason I know what he was on about was because Shea was dense, and Sean had to explain it again. I had been engaged in a sort of peripheral game of hide and seek with a window that kept appearing in the back apartment wall, beyond which was a seacoast whose breakers were glowing silver in a moon that didn't really exist. We were probably 200 miles from the seacoast, and the window was never there when I looked directly at it, but it sure was a compelling hallucination.

That's always been the fascination with me, and it's hard to explain. The best trips don't feel like optical illusions, or magician's tricks. The best trips are when you see things that aren't there but COULD be there, I guess. For a minute or an hour, where you are has an ethereal, otherworldly beauty about it, and you feel like you could live in it forever. Bad trips, conversely, show you an awful, dirty, beaten up world that you may have to live in forever. It's not for everyone, Gentle Reader, but for those who can handle it...the world is a much richer place.

So I came back as Sean was finishing up with how he'd fucked his life up, just before he turned a baleful eye on me, extended his finger in my direction, and intoned:

"there's another way of living your life--not burning out, not settling down, but living free...and this man will figure it out. Shea, this man is a prophet, and he has knowledge of people beyond his years. He will succeed in something that we aren't even aware of on a daily basis, and by succeeding will make us all better people."

Or something like that. It sure seemed a lot more majestic and weighty when he was saying it--perhaps it had something to do with the imaginary waves breaking in the distance. But it's a pretty heavy thing to lay on someone who's in the middle of an acid trip, as you can imagine. Thankfully, we were nearing the end of said trip, and a half hour later, Sean was upstairs, sleeping in his older daughter's bunkbed for reasons still unknown to any of us.

Shea was asleep before then, I think, and I finally dozed off after it occurred to me that there was no seashore outside the apartment building. Hallucinations like this are made of the same stuff as Douglas Adams' method of flying--once you realize you're doing it, you realize it can't possibly be, and you fall to your death. Luckily, I was still sitting on the couch, so all I felt was that sickening click of perspective as all the room's angles went back to 90 degrees.

The next morning, there was snow on the ground, and more on the way. We had been planning on leaving that afternoon, but our hosts urged us to leave, so we left. I never figured out if they were really concerned about roads being closed, or if they just wanted to get us weirdoes out of their house, away from their little girls. I gave Sean the acid, and told him to mail me the money if he sold any. It's hard to get too concerned about base ideas like money, when six hours before you were being extolled as a prophet.

[NOTE: part of the reason I haven't written this bit is because I feel insufferably arrogant writing about being called a "prophet." Those that know me know that I can't keep my house clean, can't get laid, and definitely can't keep my CD's organized. Those that know Sean, on the other hand, know that he loves nothing better than making grandiose statements that have some basis in reality, or at least aren't provably false. Ultimately, then, I came to the conclusion that just because he said it, doesn't necessarily make it fuckin' so. I mean, you beat a man on the head with a wife and kids long enough, he'll begin to think being frisked by US Customs is downright glamorous, right?]


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