Out of the Sixties Prologue

Here’s the prologue from my new book, Out of the Sixties available in the gallery:

 

      It’s a Thursday and it’s a most ordinary day, which becomes most extraordinary as it unfolds. I am working in my home office; as a cost saving measure the software company for which I work has closed their Denver office and has asked each of its employees to begin working from home.   I miss the camaraderie of office life, and I also find it more difficult to separate home life from work life now.  Still, working from home has its advantages.  For one thing, my “commute” is reduced from almost an hour to less than two minutes.

Today I am learning about a new PC database my company is developing, and so I work a little longer than usual.  Around 5:30, my eight-year-old daughter Dawn comes in, sits on my lap, and reminds me that it’s time to quit working and play with her.  

“I’m almost done, Dawn,” I say to her gently.   “Just give me a few more minutes.”  

My wife Jill has gotten home early from her job as a Psychotherapist and has started dinner, so when I finish my work dinner is nearly ready.  After spending a little time with Dawn, I share a simple meal of grilled potatoes and veggie burgers with my family, and then Jill and I take a walk together.  The temperature outside is cool because it has been raining much of the day, but the evening is pleasant enough.  We walk up the street named “Peacechance” in our mountain subdivision in the foothills just west of Denver, then onto the unpaved part of a street called “Whirlaway”, and finally on around the big meadow and back home.  In case you missed it, all the streets in this little piece of paradise are named after racehorses.  We walk the usual loop around the “block”, as we call it, but then take a long cut to have more time to talk.  It’s a beautiful evening strolling beside the wide-open meadow where elk often graze on the edge of a young Ponderosa pine forest.  Birds are singing and we meet an occasional couple moving along in the other direction as we walk.  Jill and I take turns talking, hoping that we can bridge the communication gap between us that has been widening over the summer.  

I speak first and talk about my dreams and aspirations, my frustrations with my corporate job, and my true ambitions around music and writing.  Jill speaks next and I feel myself reacting as she speaks about how she feels stifled and unable to change due to my lack of acceptance of her.  As for my aspirations, she says that I have been saying the same thing for the last eighteen years.  Well, I suppose that is true.  I am still dreaming the same dreams, but I’m making progress with them.  My music is improving and my confidence is growing.  Yes, it’s slow going, but that’s how I am.  It’s my nature to make slow but steady progress.  

After our talk we return home and back to the business of raising three children in the insular environment of the American suburb.  Later in the evening a most remarkable and inexplicable thing happens.  I walk out the front door as I do every night to walk our black and white Cocker Spaniel Maggie; only this time I notice something very strange.  The moment I step outside, everything in my field of view begins shimmering.   The trees, the grass, the rocks, even the mountains in the distance are all alive and super-charged with energy.   Then, as I stand there staring in disbelief, I have the overwhelming perception that I am expanding.   All at once I become huge…  towering over everything as if I were now twenty or thirty feet tall, and I have the distinct impression that I can see over the next hill and then clear into the next county. 

“What’s going on?  Am I tripping?  Am I having a flashback?”  

The experience I’m having is very much like those I have had on L.S.D., only this time I’m not on acid.  In fact I haven’t taken anything like that in almost twenty years.  

“Is it something I ate?”  

No.  I don’t think it can be anything I have eaten.  Dinner was quite ordinary, and as I say, I haven’t taken any magic pill, but here I am in an altered state of consciousness never the less.  As I walk along this country road, I begin to feel embarrassed at being so expanded, so open and so vulnerable, but I soon forget about that as I become captivated by how beautiful everything is.  The trees and the sky and grass are all glistening and pulsating with life, and I can see that all these things are really all one thing, or rather all one energy, and that I’m not separate from it.  I have the strong sense that I am also that very same energy.  

I return to the house full to overflowing with this vibrant aliveness and then approach Jill.   I must sound pretty crazy as I try to explain to her what I am experiencing.  

“I’m feeling really strange, like I’ve taken psychedelics or something.  Everything looks so radiant and alive.”

My wife, the psychotherapist, looks at me as if I were a bug under an entomologist’s magnifying glass. I can see the concern on her face as she asks me the next question.

“How long have you been feeling this way?”  

“I started having this feeling and these perceptions just a few minutes ago,” I tell her, “when I went out to walk Maggie.”

“How do you feel now?” She asks.

“I feel wonderful!  It’s my best psychedelic trip, and I’m not even on anything.  Everything is so clear, so clean.”  

“Perhaps you’re having a panic attack,” Jill says later in the evening as my heightened perception continues.  It’s now well after midnight.

“Do I look panicked,” I say as I sit calmly in my work chair by the computer. “I’ve never felt better in my life!”    

“Well, something is happening to you,” Jill replies.

“Maybe it’s a spiritual awakening…  you know, like Ram Dass used to talk about.  After all my years of yoga practice maybe it’s finally happening to me.”  

Jill doesn’t say anything in response. She just looks at me with obvious concern as I sit down in one of our easy chairs and try to collect myself. 

“I wonder how long it will last?” I say mostly to myself.

Always in the past, I had a little blot or a tiny red see-through square to blame this experience on.  “Take one and see the world.  You can sleep in the morning.”  Coming down was always implied in taking L.S.D.  With the little red tab there was always a timeframe, twelve hours and you’re back to normal.  But what about this experience?  Since I haven’t taken anything, there’s nothing to wear off.   But pill or not, I assume the experience won’t last.  The idea that for every high there’s a low is so ingrained in my psyche.  

“I better use it while I’ve got it,” I tell myself.

Jill finally goes to bed, but I stay up for a couple of more hours in front of my computer and end up writing the prologue and the first draft of an outline for the first fourteen chapters of my autobiography.  As I write I have the overwhelming feeling that if I record everything that has happened in my life leading to this moment, I will be able to understand the purpose of it all and what is happening to me now.  In short, I’ll solve this great mystery, which is my life.  And so I begin.

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