I had just gotten back from camping out with a few friends, we had some work to do out in the middle of the desert and instead of paying for a hotel I demanded we camp. One of our friends had never camped before, ever, so I taught him a few things. How to start a fire. How to chop wood. How to cook food in cast iron on hot coals. How to set up a tent. The works. This was extremely fun, I hadn’t been camping with someone who was inexperienced, and so it reassured me of my skills. I set up a tent that fit three people, enough room for the people I was with, but I elected to sleep out under the stars. It’s something I enjoy, always. Even when we’re at home in the city I tend to set up my sleeping bag and sleeping pad in the back yard at night. I sleep like a baby in the outdoors. The only time I have difficulty sleeping is when I’m inside or if I’m disturbed (I’ve had a few skunk encounters, but my sporadic and somehow natural hissing always gets them to go away).
I had a wonderful night of sleep. The stars were covered by clouds, but the beauty of the area we were staying in was great. There were a lot of freight trains passing by, but that didn’t disturb me at all. Unfortunately due to our late night of work and the need to get back to the city really early, we only got around 5 hours of sleep. I got a little less, because I got up before the sun rose and started a fire to cook breakfast and get warm. Oh my god guys, the sunrise was beautiful. I couldn’t BELIEVE how great it looked. I’ve always been a morning person, and this just confirmed why. Through my meditative practices and my gathered appreciation of the world we live in and the life I have I was moved emotionally by this in ways I didn’t know I could feel. We appreciated it for the fleeting moment it was there, and then the morning light took over, casting through the clouds and diffusing the light to grey. We drove home after getting the morning work done, and after getting the other guys home, I went home to relax. Instead of trying to catch up on my sleep, I took a bath and listened to some meditation music (it really helps, actually, binaural beats are amazing). In this time, I tried to meditate and clear my mind, but my thoughts were extremely active, so I let them run and turned what was meant to be a relaxing meditative state into a philosophic one (no complaints).
What I ended up thinking about was the following: The relationship between your body and your mind is similar to that of two best friends, closer than you are to any of your other friends. You’re born into the world together, you experience childhood together. Your body does what your mind thinks of. Touches the hot stove maybe, and your body gets hurt. Your mind apologizes, you both didn’t know after all. Now you do. Your body starts the job of trying to survive and do tasks and your mind starts the job of thinking of what you can do together, thinking of all the great times you’ll have and what life means and what you want to be together when you grow up. You start eating different things, and your body learns that it loves certain foods. The mind is content with this and gives the body what it likes, what it needs. The mind learns about the dangers of eating too much, drinking too much, the dangers of certain substances in certain amounts, and helps control the body’s intake of these things. You start being active. Keeping the body healthy. Or you don’t and you ignore what your body is saying, you ignore what your mind has learned, and the relationship goes bad. But your body is still there for you. Still trying to keep its functions going, despite its neglected existence. But, assuming you have a healthy relationship with your body, you both grow together and are always there for each other.
So you go to school. You read books and watch videos and talk to other people. You learn about religions and theories about your existence and the world. Your parents show you their beliefs and morals, and your body looks to your mind to decide what you both believe. The body, after all, is the one stuck in the physical form. It doesn’t want to die, it wants answers, and it’s up to your mind to give that to it. Some people have a fear of death, until they feel comfortable with what they believe. Christianity, for example, gives you the answer you want to hear. After you die, you ascend to a beautiful place called heaven, and your mind is reunited with some sort of heavenly version of your body to exist for the rest of time in perfection. Awesome. Your body is comfortable with this, because it gets to stay with you. It loves you after all, you’re its best friend. Its soul mate. If you choose not to believe in that, and instead choose the atheist approach, then your mind is as dead as the body will be. Once that last breath happens, you die together, holding each other close, returning to the nothing from which you were seemingly born from.
I, on the other hand, tend to believe that wherever our mind goes after death, it’s not just over. I tend to consider myself a Pantheist (shoutout to /r/pantheism). I think in some respect we return to the great oneness, even if that results in just being darkness and nothing. Wherever our mind goes, it’s a new adventure, but one fact still remains. Our bodies, the physical existence and representations of ourselves, moves back into the earth, back to dust. There comes a point where this is clear, and if we return to the metaphor of best friends of soul mates, it becomes heartbreaking.
Imagine telling your best friend, your soul mate, that you have to go. You’re not sure where. You’re not sure why. But you do know that they can’t come. It may not be today, it may not be for another hundred years, but one day, you are leaving them. You love them, you say, it’s not them, you say. It’s just part of this whole beautiful thing called life. You can react in different ways. Some people choose religious beliefs that tell them otherwise, that tell a tale of living forever or returning to our bodies and our form. Some people drink. Some people choose that since death is inevitable it may as well be now, and they commit suicide. Some people, however, choose to live. Live this life and experience it for all it is worth. Atheists do this as much as spiritualists. It can be done in a variety of ways. But the fact still remains. Some day we will die. We will move on to some new adventure, or perhaps not, but we can’t take our bodies with us either way.
And the heartbreaking part is there, if you take this for what it really is. Your best friend, your soul mate, the body that serves you and loves you for a hundred years, accepts this. Understands the sacrifice, and chooses to go through with it because it loves you more than anything else. On your last breath, on your last heartbeat, your body says goodbye. It says “Thanks for all the memories, thanks for all the years, thanks for everything we were.” The body smiles, accepts its death, and watches as you move on.
At this thought, in my bath, I began to weep. Like a child. Like I haven’t done in years. Like something inside of me had been released and suddenly the tragedy and beauty of this life cascaded over me and overfilled my emotional responses. I cried, and I cried, and I curled into fetal position and cried some more. Once I got control of my breath, my thoughts and my tear ducts, I stepped out of the bath and dried my body off. I stared at myself in the mirror and saw everything I was, everything that we were. My body, a physical representation of my mind, a healthy body. I had new appreciation like I’ve never seen before. I wasn’t on acid. I wasn’t in a chemically induced state of mind. I was simply so deep in my thoughts that the world had changed. I left the bathroom and distracted myself with video games. I have to be honest, it was a lot to take in personally. I had only gotten around 4.5 hours of sleep on a thin sleeping pad, and after that meditation-induced revelation I was physically, emotionally, and mentally drained. This morning I woke up to go to work, after dreaming extremely random and vivid dreams, and came home to write in my journal. After that I typed this out, because I wanted to share this with my Psychonaut community. Being a Psychonaut is a lot like learning the controls to a video game that only works inside your mind. You have all your senses, but you’re using them for a completely new purpose. Turning your senses internal and seeing what exists. It’s a beautiful, scary world in there. You experience things you can’t explain. You see more of yourself than you’ve ever seen before. Your body watches, in awe, as your mind feels and sees and smells and tastes and hears itself.
I say this a lot on this sub, but I love you guys. I love myself too. I love the world we live in and the world we think in. I love this life and I have no answers to anything, but I’m always trying. I’m always looking. I do know that we’re in this together though, and I have a newfound appreciation for that this year too. So keep up the good work, be good to yourself and to your fellow humans, be good to the earth and to the animals and plants, and never ever stop exploring your mind. I truly believe we’re living in a psychonautic revolution, as we see drugs and other forms of reality lenses come back into popular culture we are fueling a new world and new discovery. That feels good. It really does.
Until next time everyone.