This is part 3 in a series of posts about a trip to Amsterdam, part 2 can be found here.
Part 3: Finding God
Falling back into the bed, the drugs took a stronger hold of me.
I was still somewhat aware of where I was – a clean modern room in one of Amsterdam’s nicest hotels. Yet, my arms couldn’t feel the softness of the sheets and my eyes couldn’t enjoy our view of the city. My head span, so I closed my eyes and lay, trying to focus on nothing.
Within moments my whole body started to shake, out of control. My limbs quivered back and forth and my teeth rattled.
I opened my eyes, hearing my friend Chris’s voice, “You alright there?” He was looking at me over a book.
“My body keeps shaking! I can’t stop it!” There was no more to say, he went back to his book. I went back to shaking, my body oscillating back and forth like a sound wave.
I started to focus on the tremors. The movement of my body helping to form a shape in my mind. I pictured a spiral twirling backwards and forwards. When I concentrated on the spiral my body went still.
Soon I found myself engrossed in the swirling line. It was multi-colored, moving backwards and forwards in the space between my eyes and my brain.
It calmed me, relaxed me. I wondered why. Now the obvious explanation for this is that focusing on this thing in my mind acted much like meditation. The focus took my mind away from everything else, which in turn stopped me from panicking. No panic, no shaking.
Still, I was on drugs, which means the obvious explanation is often ignored. I soon came to the conclusion that the spiral wasn’t just an image in my mind. How would an image of a spiral have any power to calm me down? That would be ridiculous! Instead I decided the spiral must be a god. It was the only sensible idea. Not ridiculous in the slightest.
The spiral was there to take me away to another dimension, where I would transcend my humanity. For a moment I came back to reality and wondered. Maybe this is the drugs. Then I came to the conclusion that the drugs had just opened up my mind so that I could see this being. Only a mind on drugs could communicate with this god from another dimension. The most rational of explanations.
I continued to concentrate on the spiral and decided I had to go with it. I realised that all I had to do was slip away. Close my eyes and die. Then my soul would leave my body and I would go with the spiral to live in a land of transcendence forever.
I could feel myself slipping away, I was ready to die. Ready to leave the Earth behind to be transformed by the spiral. To head to some place even better than heaven.
In reality, I was just falling asleep. I was just about to slip off when a voice brought me back to reality, “Are you sure you’re alright?”
Opening my eyes, I realised where I was. I looked at Chris, still sitting on his bed reading. “I think I’m going to vomit,” I said, before running into the bathroom and doing just that.
Once the contents of my stomach had disappeared, I sat on the edge of the bath and looked at my hands, my head throbbing. Mere seconds went by before I had to drop back down to the toilet. More vomit spilled from my mouth.
Again I went back to sit on the bath. Again after a moment I dropped down to the toilet. Again I vomited.
I sat on the bath one more time and came to a new terrible conclusion, again based on nothing. I had lost my mind. I wasn’t in the bathroom, I was locked away in some asylum. I was doomed to repeat this moment over and over again in my mind, forever.
Until the day of my death I would be stuck in this cycle. Vomit. Sit on bath. Vomit. Sit on bath. This would be it for me. Trapped in my own mind. A constant circle of vomit and bath sitting.
As I kneeled with my face in the toilet again, Chris knocked on the door. “Doing okay in there?” The thought of the asylum disappeared from my mind immediately. How silly of me. “Yeah, I’m okay,” I replied.
I stood in front of the mirror and stared at myself. Looked deep into my own eyes with amazement. Is that me, I thought? That doesn’t look like me…do I look like that?
It was as though I was seeing myself for the first time. Like I’d never truly seen my own face before. I saw every hair, every scar, every crease and shadow. I found myself startled at how I looked. Not because I was attractive, but because I’d never before realised that person right there was me.
For fifteen minutes I stood there, studying myself, expressionless. It was as though there were two people in the room, myself and my reflection. We weren’t the same person, we were different somehow.
Soon I turned away, headed back to my bed. Rolled on my side and stared out of the window. I watched the clouds moving over the sky. The clouds started to dissolve and the whole window seemed filled with a white haze. Every time I blinked the white haze would disappear and the clouds would be back.
I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
When I awoke, I felt normal again. Or normal enough. We decided to go for a walk and get some food. We headed to the red light district and watched old men knocking on the doors of the half-dressed prostitutes.
Walking down the dark alleys, I started to question whether I did feel normal or not. Is this how the world was before I took the drugs? I couldn’t remember, starting to panic. What if I never found normal again?
It was a problem I would continue to face, long after the trip was over.