“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” — Luke 9:62

Typically, when young adults are looking to experience the world of illicit substances, they begin by wetting their toes with marijuana. I, however, elected to begin with a deep dive into the more perilous waters of hallucinogens. I was in high school and I had a friend who had gotten into drugs way before I or the rest of my pals did; his parents had divorced in middle school so he was always looking for ways to lash out and disappoint. One day. he sat down beside me in a class that we shared and told me that he had made connections with a guy who was selling acid, and that he could get us some if I was interested. Of course I was! I, like any other reasonable teenager, wanted to be cool and do drugs. I had wanted to try smoking weed, but it just wasn’t logistical for me. I lived with my two parents and three siblings, so smoking at home was out of the question, and I didn’t have many pothead friends that I could go out and smoke with. Getting underage drunk also wasn’t feasible for the same reasons. But acid was much simpler; it was just a tablet that you swallowed, and if you hid in your room and did it at night, no one in the house would be any the wiser. It also didn’t hurt that the D.A.R.E. propaganda that had been beaten into my skull in elementary school always made hallucinogens seem incredibly attractive. You’re telling me that all I have to do is put a little piece of paper into my mouth and I’ll be transported into an Alice in Wonderland cartoon world? Sign me up!

Of course, when I say “acid,” I don’t necessarily mean LSD. Sometime later, I did get my hands on some of the real stuff, but by that point, it was somewhat disappointing as I had grown accustomed to the much more potent NBome research chemicals. NBome was (and is) highly dangerous, which, to his credit, my friend did inform me about. I had some rocky experiences myself; there was a night where I tripped on NBome and my throat felt very restricted, as if it was going to close. I now shudder to think of what might have happened had I taken a larger dose, but at the time, that experience didn’t slow me down one bit. I was tripping again just a month or two later, I didn’t care about the risks. I was young and invincible.

As anyone who has done acid themselves knows, only the first few hours when you “come up” and “peak” are very interesting and psychedelic, then the subsequent eight hours are mostly spent just waiting for the effects to wear off so that you can finally go to sleep. One day, after I had become a tripping expert in my own mind, I had recklessly decided to drop some acid around noon while my whole family was home. I just figured I’d keep my head down and stay in my room, and things actually went as planned. Later on, it being around four in the afternoon, and the peak being long past, I looked for ways to entertain myself until the comedown was over and I could return to normality. I scanned my room and found a book, 6,000 Years of the Bible. I had a friend who was really into picking up weird stuff at yard sales for whatever reason at the time, so I had acquired this book at one such sale that I had come along with him to. I don’t remember why I had bought it that day, or why I had chosen it to read to kill some time until the trip was over. In both instances, it probably had something to do with the promise of “223 illustrations” on the cover, because who doesn’t love some pretty pictures?

I had been born and raised a Christian, but had never taken my faith very seriously. Like many who are born into a religion rather than being converted, it was not something I thought about very often, and it was more of a cultural thing to me than a serious conviction. I believed in God, but passively. However, as I turned the pages of that book about the Bible while my high was coming down, I was enraptured. It was written in the 50’s, so it wasn’t going out of its way to try to disprove the Bible on every page, but rather it presented the history and archeology of the times surrounding the Bible’s writing in a manner that is considerably more objective and open-minded than similar works of today. I read nearly the entire book that day, and as I read, I realized that although I considered myself a Christian, I had never actually read the Bible. Parts of it, sure, but there was so much of that big book that I had never touched. It became a great mystery: what secrets could be in that holy book that I’d been missing out on? I decided then, as the high faded, that I would read the entire Bible, cover to cover, and I would see for myself what my Christianity really was, and if I truly believed in the faith that I had been brought up in.

It took more than a few months, but after a long while of diligent reading, I had completed my mission and my faith was affirmed. I had a much better understanding of what it was that I had professed to believe, and it had made my belief in it that much stronger. I finally felt like I understood why it was that Jesus Christ had died for my sins, and that I was indeed a sinner. For the first time, I was feeling genuine conviction to get my life right toward God. I stopped swearing, which was extremely difficult for me: I was a Boy Scout, so I had been swearing like a sailor since I was in middle school. I had realized how often I told little white lies out of convenience and put forth an effort to keep myself truthful. I started actually tuning in at church instead of just letting the sermon wash over me while I sat there bored. But there was a rather large stumbling block in my path as I attempted to go the straight way: the acid.

Before I had determined to embark on the journey to rediscover my faith, I had purchased a somewhat large quantity of real LSD, which wasn’t exactly cheap. I had four or five tabs left of it, hiding in a drawer in my room. I knew that I shouldn’t be doing it anymore, but I also didn’t want to throw all that money away. I thought about trying to sell it, but I definitely didn’t want to get involved with drug dealing. And so because I hesitated, the acid lied in wait for when I would finally give in.

It was a freezing cold and icy winter night during my senior year of high school. I received a text from that friend who had introduced me to acid; he told me that he and my other friend were at his dad’s house and that he wanted us all to trip. I had told him before that I wanted to get rid of what I had, so he was giving me an opportunity to use up the last of it (of course, he and my other friend would be getting some of it in the process). I knew that I shouldn’t trip anymore and that I shouldn’t support others doing it either, but I also just really wanted to be done with it without wasting it. Besides, what could one last trip hurt? One final psychedelic experience and then I would be done with it for good. I texted him back and told him that I had to pick up my little brother from a church youth group, but after that I would come over and we would do the deed.

It’s around eight o’clock now. Dark clouds stretch across the sky; neither the stars nor the moon give their shine. I’m in my car, on the highway, driving my little brother home from church. I have some music playing on the radio, but my mind is elsewhere, still conflicted about what I had agreed to later that night. Snow falls down and coats the ground so quickly that I can barely see the lines on the road to stay in my lane. Is it really okay to trip just one more time? Of course it is; it’ll be fine. Every other car on the road is going much slower than me, but I don’t notice it. This isn’t what God would want me to do. Oh well, it’s just this one last time; what’s the big deal? The sound of my windshield wipers desperately trying to clear the snow from my vision becomes deafening.

Suddenly, for just a fraction of a second, I feel myself lose control of the car.

Then I lose myself.

They say that your life flashes before your eyes, but mine didn’t. It simply went to black. If I had died right then, I never would have known it.

I regained my consciousness after having lost it for a single moment and found myself on the side of the road, facing the opposite direction. My whole body was shaking; my adrenaline was through the roof. I turned around to face my little brother in the back seat and asked him if he was alright; to my relief he was just fine. I got out to assess the damage to the vehicle, but I thankfully couldn’t find a scratch. Slowly, the gears in my head started turning and I was able to piece together what had happened in that second of lost time: I had been driving far too fast on the snow and had gone out of control, spinning completely around and ending up on the right shoulder. I could have just as easily spun in the other direction, toward the left, and I would have smashed into the guardrail, then been plowed into by an oncoming car that was driving too fast to slow down in time. As I turned the car around and got back on the road, driving much slower now, I considered these things and counted my blessings.

I made it home safely, and with a clear mind, I did what I needed to do. I messaged my friends and told them that I wasn’t going to make it; the roads were too bad. Then, before I could have any second thoughts about it, I took the acid and flushed it down the toilet. Perhaps not the best option for disposal in retrospect, but one that offered absolute finality. It was over: I would never be getting it back.

And I was glad.