Trying psychedelics


The sunset in Puerto Vallarta

I've always been a bit intrigued by the outsized presence of psychedelics in tech circles on Twitter and in SF. I would think to myself that perhaps it was like many other topics that straddle the line between niche and taboo: there's bound to be advocates and die-hard fans who preach its life-changing impacts. I wasn't completely dismissive about the effects of psychedelics on one's psyche, but I had my reservations regardless.

During my last day at a group house in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the opportunity presented itself for me to try some chocolate spiked with mushrooms. Someone at the house had taken the effort to fly to San Francisco to acquire them and sneak them through the Mexican border, so I was like, why not?

I'd like to note that I'm very cautious about doing substances. The first time I drank, I slowly sipped a cup of beer over an hour. When I tried edibles for the first time, I was so scared that I only ate 0.2mg (standard THC dosage is 5mg) and naturally felt nothing. So this time, I ate 1 gram to stay on the safe side.


Slowly, over the first two hours, I developed a stomachache. At its worst, I wanted to puke, but then the feeling slowly dissipated.

Rotating snakes

Cloud fractals
This optical illusion of snakes makes it seem like they are moving even when they are not. The same effect started to happen to me, but to patterns in nature. The wood grain of a floorboard would swirl about and leaves would appear to grow outwards and clouds floated to dissipate. My stomachache dissolved, so I ate another gram of psychobillin.

Fractals and baroque paintings

The ceiling painting in palace of versailles
Three hours in, I was captivated by the sights of the outdoors. The clouds entranced me the most: if I waited a bit, I could see copies of each cloud expand into the sky, forming a tunnel of sorts. Half an hour later, the show really got going. It became second-nature to see shapes from the clouds. From my perspective, every cloud morphed into figures reminiscent to Greek sculpture form, creating a real-life version of the ceiling painting in the Palace of Versailles. I was especially moved by the passion and struggle that was expressed by the facial emotions and poses of the human forms. From young men straining towards a direction to mothers protecting their children, each figure was an epic projection of the human condition.

Later I learned that the shapes I saw were not universal. Beside me, my physics buff friend saw angles, fractals, and other mathematical forms in the clouds.

Return to monke

By this point I was feeling an overwhelming wonder and inspiration for the sights I was seeing. If I had to distill it to words, it would probably be a conscious awareness of my humanity and the human condition mixed with an awe of the scale and beauty of the nature surrounding me. I felt a primal distaste for the indoors and for anything synthetic. I took off my shoes, and ran through the golf course behind our home, felt the wind blow through my hair, and jumped into the backyard pool. I was totally relishing in the moment; my senses were in high resolution and I felt like I was truly alive.

Fading ego

The unbearable lightness of being
During the course of the trip I started to lose my sense of ego. I felt removed from the concerns and perspectives of the individual, and experienced a great empathy for the conscious condition at large. In particular, I felt a sadness towards the fragility of life, and the psychological pains that too many people go through in their futile struggles against the nature of being. At the same time I was acutely grateful for the absurdity of being alive at all, the richness of it, and of being able to this brief moment with those around me.

Closing thoughts

This trip was probably one of the best psychological experiences I've ever had. With a nod to what people say about psychedelics offering a life-changing experience, I do agree that it makes you think in new ways and discover new things about yourself. If you act upon your revelations after the fact, your life could definitely change for the better.

This whole experience felt much longer than it really was. My perception of time was warped so that an hour felt like 3 or 4. This high experience to time ratio might also be a reason for why psychedelics are so popular in time-starved Silicon Valley. Also because it offers a much-needed mental reset in a place that is far disconnected from what is real and normal.

I can clearly see the possibilities of psychobillin as a tool to help with mental health. I feel no side effects, and no craving for shrooms either. Granted, there's a fraction of a minority that actually feel long-term side effects after the fact, but I suppose that's a risk you'll have to take, as with any type of substance. When I'm at a different point in life in the future I'd like to try it again in a moment of premeditated reflection.

Many of the images used in this post were generated by the Dalle-2 model.

Sitting on the hill, I gaze up in awe at a most spectacular scene of nature's creation. In the backdrop, the setting sun peeks over the silhouette of some coconut trees, spreading its golden rays across a gradient that turns bubblegum pink then magenta then blue. The art lessons of my youth come back to me, as I observe a mighty battle of color and shade; an infinite battalion of red-bellied sleek clouds storming the massive citadel of a cumulonimbus.

Under this epic display unfolding before me, I feel small like an ant. In this moment of clarity, the past and future fade away. The only thing that's real is the view, the Mexican wind on my face, and the wet grass in my hands. Beside me, someone says quietly: “This is how I'd like to die”. Surrounded by my friends, I was in the most beautiful place on Earth. Sighing a little, I lie down and cry tears of joy.