I had to do this. I mean, I had to even if it scares me. Walking down empty streets starting blankly at empty bars with their fading signs. It suddenly felt lonely when I gazed at my favorite coffee shop and it looked pretty apocalyptic in my eyes. I wouldn’t have dreamed of this happening in a million years.
This is our reality now. Death is knocking on everyone’s door with covid-19 breathing down our Canadian necks. A new normal we say but I can’t say that it is enjoyable.
As I drew near the subway, my phone beeped and the notification showed a text from a distant friend, Shaman. I opened it and it read, “Are you ready?”. Instantly, it all came flooding back. When the lockdown was announced and the mandatory quarantine and isolation laws were imposed, she had convinced me to attempt my very first psychedelic trip. I could reason with her after all, it would take the clear-headed to see through the blurry visions of tomorrow. I needed to see beyond what’s happening now. I replied, “Yes, please!”.
We agreed to consult via Zoom later in the evening. She advised that a simple Psilocybin dose will help me gain perspective and figure things out. By this, I mean, knowing what to do with myself amidst the shock and fear that plague me.
I sat by myself on the train, staring into the dimming hopeless eyes of my reflection. I could see the hurt that arose from not having a clear picture of what would happen next. Who would die next or who would be laid off?
I dipped my hands into the small pouch that held the shrooms I bought earlier and gave them a little nudge. My phone beeped repeatedly and I checked to see a message from my friend. He texted to inform me that his mother was sick. Another text read “Stay safe”. I closed my mind as the phone’s backlight went out trying to numb the fears I held. I could imagine my friend’s mother having the worst experience ever, struggling to breathe. Oh, the terror! Thousands were going to die.
Everyone went about masked and protected from head to toe. I felt it was to no avail, people still die anyway. I croaked out a scary giggle and wished I had contracted the disease already. If it doesn’t kill me, panic will!
Shaman’s text came in once again and encouraged me to look beyond the surface, picture what I have to gain and what panic felt like. Another text came in, shaman talked about how our existence tends to overwhelm us and it bores us into crippling fear.
I got home and settled on the couch before my laptop for the Zoom appointment with the shaman. She asked if I took the shrooms and I nodded in affirmation waving a couple of burnt sages in the air, spreading the smoke. I lit the candles and sat down comfortably on the yoga mat.
At her behest, I took a deep breath in and out. I released tension that had knotted up in my body as the slow breath I took kick-started the shrooms trip. I started having a warm feeling rising and cresting in my chest shooting straight up into my head. It was funny and free.
Shaman asked, “What can you perceive?”
I spoke amidst freeing gasps, “Nature is mocking us, it’s children are giggling with joy as the virus overwhelms us. The sky is falling down, people are scared to death and fleeing in the direction of their homes. Nobody is sane anymore. Politicians wearing hats shaped like the virus. That is stoking the elderly in tubes and forcing all of us to push them into the depths, never to return.
” My heart tightened in my chest, I felt angry and started cussing every single person I could blame for the fate of my country. I could almost punch a home through the wall if I tried but I could only claw at it.
Shaman called out and asked me to relax and find a home in the things I love. I saw my old mother weary and diabetic lying on the bed with an oxygen mask. I removed the mask and gently led her to the front porch. One of my childhood friends waved at me with beaming smiles from across the street. I saw people opening up body bags and their loved ones stand up with help. Everyone is joyful and happy.
The trip gradually wore off and tears streamed down my face. I was out of my reverie and got a text from a shaman that read, “Welcome home”.
is next to her, arm-in-arm. Everywhere people unzip body bags as the dead awaken and clumsily stand. We get them on their feet. They are so surprised and cry out in joy. It is sunrise and the sky is a giant rose. We reach up and red petals fall into our hands. The psilocybin wears off, and the waves recede within me. The visions fade. I blink and wipe tears off my face. The laptop screen is blank. My Shaman was gone but left a message, “Welcome home.”
I felt more like myself and when Shaman checked up on me a few days later I had the same response. I was purified by the shrooms and I’d never felt so free.