It was 1969 and Sherm brought home a joint to share with me after dinner, the kids were all finally asleep upstairs, Doug now 10, Charles 8, and Jen 5. A fellow doctor had given it to him as he left work. Within 20 minutes, he was asleep in a chair.
I laughed and relaxed on the couch, gazing up at the popcorn ceiling covered with sparkles and suddenly the sparkles became stars and I was sailing out into the universe. I laughed again at the valentine hearts sailing out there. And then I saw the entire universe or felt it or embraced it somehow, and got the joke. The joke was that here on earth in our little bodies and lives we can’t see the whole and how glorious it is and how all our little dichotomies are just ripples tiny ripples. Good and bad, right and wrong, black and white, me and you, our country, your country, our wars, all suffering, all victories, all ripples. One. Inside my brain and heart this concept burst open and I started laughing out loud. I’m high. I’m on drugs. But that doesn’t matter, I said to myself. It’s the truth, it is true high or sober. I know it as sure as I am alive. I relished the feeling and vowed to keep it forever. I made a little plan even then, to find out more about this state I was in. The scene gradually faded. But the understanding that I had experienced something important, extraordinary, and to be prized remained. I felt transformed. I remain transformed by this night to this very day.
The next morning I hit the library in Santa Monica. I wanted to find out more about the various highs people were getting on the drugs. I suspected that the joint had had a bit of something more in it, and that it would take more than marijuana to re-experience the event. LSD? Psilocybin? It didn’t matter, really. I didn’t need a repeat, as I felt completely satisfied. Granted my embrace of the transcendent experience might have been influenced by my current studies. I was immersed in transcendental poetry, romantic poetry, Emerson, James and others, studying to get into the UCLA PhD program. I didn’t lack for a frame of reference. But the experience did feel more like something out of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club Band.
I read Huxley’s Doors of Perception and found some answers. But really, my own body, mind, heart was my true guide. I did smoke other joints, take psilocybin again once or twice, but without the same response. In fact one night, I went to bed after a joint, and woke up terrified, have had a vision that all three of my children were drowned in our swimming pool. That was the end of my experimentation. I never wanted a repeat! I took it as a warning to watch my kids more closely, and stayed clear of recreational drugs.
But oh, that one night.