I throw myself for a loop. See if you follow me.
It's Halloween, and I've been licking the soft stretch of flesh between my thumb and forefinger for an hour now. Phish is about to cover The Rolling Stones album, Exile on Main St. with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings helping them out. I am in the Hunky Dory campground vaguely waiting for my group of friends when I am irresistibly pulled toward the concert field. A moment before I wander away, I say aloud, "I need a babysitter," but no one hears me and so off I go alone into the wild dark night.
As I walk I cannot be sure whether I am about to vomit violently, spewing undigested pulled pork all over the pedestrian path, or if everything is fine just fine and so I can only wait to see what happens and my legs keep moving me forward so I have to guess everything is fine.
Things begin to get different as I approach the entrance to the venue. There are bars creating lines that funnel people toward security personnel who expect you to doff your hat for them as they grope your pockets. As I'm passing through this section, I get caught in a border war. With a mass of people at my back, I am approaching an invisible line, across which there are guards demanding my retreat. I scramble for my passport, and to my dismay, have left it back at the campground. About now the chain-link fence begins to curl around me and my border crossing companions, twisting tighter until we are being herded in close circles, forced to continue circling or be trampled. We are livestock: aware and terrified of our captivity but too dumb and disoriented to combat it.
There is a snap of light like a flash grenade and my vision is temporarily blurred. I can feel the discordant sound waves pumping through the air, engineered to disrupt normal brain functioning. The high-pitched whine in my mind prevents any cohesive thought from forming. In the confusion I ask someone for a drink, I take it quickly, then think, "O shit, who can be trusted?" And when I ask the person about it they say rather ominously, "Well you just drank what I gave you," as if he were not quite the stranger I'd first thought him to be. As we circle our corral, there are throngs of evil red-necks who jeer at us, welcoming us to our new detention camp, calling us gullible hippies, druggies who are finally going to jail for good while they take over the country and run it right, with ground beef and Bud light for all. I say, "How can you do this?" and they respond, "It was easy. You walked right into it," and I see they are right. We herded ourselves into their trap, and now here we are out in the middle of a desert, being held like cows outside the slaughterhouse.
The terror is overwhelming. I kneel, and weep. There are Arab pimps or Persian playboys taunting me, asking, "Who's country do you think you're in?" and I don't know. I'm in the desert. There are elegant shelters and beautiful bright lights gleaming beyond the palms, but I am being held against my will with these other people, some of whom are not even panicking, some of whom have crying children, some of whom appear to be eating grass. I want to know where I am, where's my stuff? It seems that the whole thing is a set up, my flight, my tent, my pack, have all been swindled, as has been intended from the start. Someone yells something pejorative about getting attached to my nice new gear and I grit my teeth. Then I feel funneled toward a covered area. Echoes of slamming plastic doors emanate from the shelter like the muffled dropping of a team of guillotines. It smells like hell. As I approach the entrance, it begins to glow red, and I hear the red-necks heckling me, saying sarcastic goodbye's, gleeful as they watch us wander down the path ahead of us.
Here, I say No, and turn around. I do not want to go in there, I think. I go back, and, still feeling trapped, look up and ask for help. I yell for help, and ask the people around me, Am I wrong? I seem to have their support. A young man runs up to me and gives his encouragement. I am standing as tall as I can, watching the moon and stars. Patterns are revealed, alignments become obvious. The warm moon is full in Aries. It is all hallows eve, when demons arise and are appeased. I hold a white band in my hand, wet with the sweat from my head. I hold it out in a desperate gesture for peace.
There are helicopters buzzing overhead. They are transports for the controllers who will escape this place and leave us here to, to, I don't want to think about it. I ask if there is a helicopter for me and the Arabs just laugh and continue dancing on their luscious carpets. Help.
Coordinated thrusts of flame blast out from the wooden structures encircling us, momentarily enlightening the entire scene. I stand alone amidst the crowd. One among many, mesmerized by the fire until big invisible voices begin explaining how it's just a joke, this is not a death camp, but a surprise party in my honor. They thank me for being a good sport, congratulations for being brave. They say that this is a grand celebration, universal in its scope of attendance, that this moment has been long awaited, and that simply by cultivating and allowing harmonization within myself, I have blessed the earth and those around me, and brought an end to thirteen-thousand years of discord and war.
At this moment, I see myself in profile, giant in the sky, being crowned in golden light which radiates instantly outward to encompass the whole globe, and it is a joyful moment for all. A procession of dignitaries, kings and princesses surround me now, and I say in wonderment, "That's all that was needed, really, for all this to end?" And they all smile and tell me, Yes. Then a girl carrying a gourd of water looks up to me and says that she would like to be on whatever I am on.
I walk forward again, feeling better, until I realize I am still not safe. I am now a target. I can feel the crosshairs trained on my temple. A forceful yet intimate voice arrives in my mind, directing my every step, telling me when to stop, turn, forward two steps, now SIT. I think I cry again. Things go dark.
Then someone is sitting next to me. I ask, "So I die here today?" He calmly says, No, you're just having a difficult moment, it'll pass. And it did. Or, it had. And I stand up, and there I am among the bright lights and elegant shelters. The people around me are happy, and dancing. I ask if I'll be allowed to dance. Yes, was the resounding answer. So I dance a little jig.
Later on, some evil Arab elites brush my shoulder as I pass and ask me, Where you at, playboy, but I give them no response, because they are obviously far more wealthy than I am and it isn't worth arguing over.
Finally, an anonymous friend reassures me that in fact, the universe is benevolent, and gives us the free will to create terrifying trouble for ourselves as a catalyst for soul-growth. I think I went through a great cleansing, willfully excavating the darkest depths of my human ego in order to let all that fear and self-suspicion pass up and out to be absorbed and transformed by the infinite creative force underlying all consciousness. I can't shake the intensity of awe I felt at the fear, and then at its instant disappearance just as soon as I asked for help from the stars. And I do believe I received it.
If that makes me crazy, you might be insane.
"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society."