This phenomenon sneaks up on you like a rat snake. First, you feel the energy level slipping. I initially noticed that about a decade ago when I was in my mid-60s.
That’s when I quit mowing the yard in summertime.
Then your body begins to jig and jag in various ways, nothing that puts you out of commission (yet), but it’s noticeable. Your balance becomes unreliable. You feel this most on standing from a chair or bed.
What separates the sickness of aging from other afflictions like a bad cold, the flu or injuries from a motorcycle accident is that you can recover from a bad cold or flu and, with luck, from accident injuries of every sort.
But there is no recovering from getting old. There is no pill to take. You will not take an aspirin and feel better in the morning. It’s a downhill skid.
This is rather disturbing, that there is no cure for the first time in your life. But I have been fortunate. I can say there is no cure for the first time in my life because — knock on wood — I’ve never had anything incurable befall me. Others are not so lucky.
I have no vices, and I’m skinny svelte. These things work in my favor. I used to have vices. Smoking, drinking. But I quit smoking about 30 years ago, and I quit drinking on a March evening in Houston, 1996.
I started smoking at age 19 when I was in the Air Force. I smoked pipes like David Niven, cigars like Fidel Castro and cigarettes like millions of people. Oddly, it was not very difficult to stop smoking. I tapered off. No cold turkey for this boy. I recommend that method.
I started drinking in my mid-20s when I was married to my first wife. It was moderate at first, and I favored Southern Comfort, which is ghastly now that I think back on it. Syrupy swill.
After the first divorce at 26, I got serious about drinking, switching to alcohol for adults, and I remained serious about 25 years. I wasn’t a falling-down drunk nor a nasty one. But I did drink daily, every single, solitary day. Then I quit. Life improved immensely.
Oddly again, quitting was easy, easier than stopping smoking.
And I was not always skinny svelte either. I weighed about 55 pounds more than I do now until I was in my early 30s. Heftiness is bad for your health, and you’re less likely to reach an advanced age if you’re a meatball.
I weigh now what I weighed at age 21.
So, no smoking, no drinking and skinny svelte, all positive things if you don’t want to die prematurely, and I will not die prematurely.
It’s too late for that. I can only die via the normal schedule.
I’m hanging in there, but I don’t like it. And there’s no good solution. There is only one cure. And you know what that is.
THE MOVIE Roma is receiving lots of hoopla, as is its star, an indigenous schoolteacher from the Mexican state of Oaxaca and first-time actress with the name of Yalitza Aparizio.
The hoopla perhaps is greatest over Aparizio.
At the risk of being labeled a Philistine — I don’t care — I hold a less breathy opinion of the movie and its star who has been nominated for an Academy Award (Best Actress!), something I find silly.
The movie is quite good, but it’s no Casablanca or Sophie’s Choice. It’s not even The Wild Bunch, another movie set in Mexico.
I’ve seen Casablanca maybe three times, Sophie’s Choice twice, and The Wild Bunch about 14 or 15 times. It’s a cult classic. I’m a cultist.
Roma is quite good. It has subtleties I doubt many people outside of Mexico will notice and/or understand. I’ve seen it twice. I did the repeat after reading that lots of nuances are missed the first time, so a second visit is advisable. I liked it more the first time.
But I’ll grant it’s a very good movie. That is if you can make it past the first 20-25 minutes which are glacially slow. Snooze time.
Now let’s move onto the star, Aparizio. For most of the movie her character is as deadpan as Keanu Reeves. It requires little talent to deadpan. However, this is one of the subtleties non-Mexicans will miss. Domestics in Mexico are indeed deadpan more often than not.
This is especially true if they’re indigenous.
The only scene in Roma where Aparizio shines is the segment in the hospital where she has her baby. It’s a gripping scene, and she does a great job of acting. Kudos to her.
Here is why the movie, and Aparizio especially, are receiving so much praise and why she’s laughably been nominated for an Oscar. The movie pushes all the PC buttons for Hollywood types.
Filmed in black and white.
There are subtitles.
The star is Mexican
The star is indigenous and female.
These factors have sent America’s West and Northeast coasts into a swoon. I predict the movie will win the Best Picture Oscar and Aparitzio will win as Best Actress, all for the four reasons just stated.
Recall that the 2013 Best Picture winner was 12 Years a Slave, another movie dear to politically correct hearts. After winning that year, it came to light that a number of Academy members voted for 12 Years a Slave without actually having seen the movie. Incredible.
So Aparizio will take the Oscar home.
And in another year, she will be forgotten, back to teaching in Oaxaca, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Good teachers have value.
The Oscar has become as political as the Nobel Prize, a fact that has rendered them virtually meaningless. Aparizio’s winning as Best Actress will be up there with Barry Obama winning the Peace Prize and Bob Dylan the prize for Literature. Sad.
THINGS HAVE flown out of control above the Rio Bravo since I departed. I hope I am not to blame, the lack of my stabilizing presence.
Every morning, on reading the Gringo news online, I get one new shock after another, and it seems to be worsening.
A few days ago, a teacher in California banned holiday candy canes in her class because they’re shaped like a J, and that could stand for Jesus!
These loony events are legion in the United States, but you do not encounter them in Mexico.
Of particular note is the sex insanity. A subset of that is letting men who are posing as women play in women’s sports. Of course, the fake women always win, and the real women always lose.
The most recent example is a guy namedHannahMouncey who is playing for Australia’s Women’s Handball League, whatever that is. Yes, this happened in Australia, but similar things occur in the United States.
Hannah Mouncey is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds. The women he plays against are, well, not even close.
This lunacy is almost, or probably entirely, confined to the historically white world, the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe where, not coincidentally, political correctness runs amok.
Latin America does not do this, nor does Asia or Africa. It’s a mental disease of the White Man’s World.
The ability to think rationally is necessary for a functioning society, and rationality is vanishing where it matters most. This must make China very happy. Don’t underestimate the importance of that.
(I have mentioned my history with entheogens before, primarily on my previous website, the now-defunct Zapata Tales. A time or two since, readers have asked for details, most recently this week, so here they are. By the way, I don’t do this anymore because there is no need.)
* * * *
I WAS REARED an agnostic. My parents never went to church and never mentioned religion at home.
And I remained an agnostic till January 19, 1997. That was when I first ingested entheogens, first psilocybin mushrooms and, two days later, a mix of mushrooms and LSD.
Why did I do that? I was trying to make some sense out of my life because at that point, age 52, it seemed not to have any. My life, sense. My second divorce was two years behind me, not something I initiated, and it had thrown me into a massive tailspin.
In the space between ages 50 and 52, I had not found any equilibrium. I was drastically adrift, grasping at any semblance of a grounded straw. I looked at dreams. My daughter mentioned a psychologist she knew who was well-versed in dream interpretation.
He lived outside Tallahassee, Florida. We did a phone session about dreams, which was interesting. As the call wound down, I asked if he knew someone with access to peyote because I thought it would help me.
He then said he could help me in that way. I drove to Tallahassee.
And this is what I found out in the woods, a beautiful home where my new friend lived alone, a lifelong, handsome bachelor and truth-seeker, so to speak. A private practitioner with a Ph.D. from Florida State University.
We got started before dawn the next morning. He gave me ecstasy, which had no effect whatsoever, which was revealing. Getting nowhere with that, he mixed a brew of psilocybin mushrooms that he cultivated himself.
Bingo! That did the trick.
I was lying on the living room sofa with my eyes covered with a sleep mask. I descended into a massive cavern where native people danced. The music came from a CD player, but I did not know it at the time. It was The Serpent’s Egg by Dead Can Dance.
Music is an excellent assist to entheogens, a term I prefer over drugs, which is a wider category that usually carries bad connotations.
Entheogens are not addictive.
After the cavern, I fell further into a world so extreme and astonishing that putting it into words cannot be done. About eight hours later, the effects begin to wear off. What remains is the knowledge of having seen the “other side.” It is not an hallucination.
A good book to read is The Secret Chief by Myron J. Stolaroff. The author believes this, and I agree with him: We are born with a faucet connected to our minds, and that faucet is shut tight because if it weren’t, we could not function. Taking entheogens opens the faucet temporarily.
Imagine yourself sitting on the stage of a theater in the round. The curtain is closed, and then it begins to open all around you, and you see for the first time beyond the stage which is your everyday world.
You see what’s really out there.
When the entheogen effects begin to wear off, the curtain starts to shut again till it’s closed entirely, and you’re back to “normal,” sitting on that stage of everyday life. But you remember.
My new friend recommended a recess, which I took the following day, driving around the rural, wooded area of the Florida Panhandle.
* * * *
One more time
As dawn arrived the day after that, I was ready, I thought, for Session Two, which was a combination of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. People with experience say it’s important to state your intention before going on these expeditions. This is true.
For this second event, my intention was that I wanted to dance with love. What did I expect with such a notion? Here’s what I thought would happen based on my experience two days earlier. I thought a beautiful woman would appear, and we would dance.
But the Goddess has her own ideas, so that did not happen. What happened was this: There was no vision. I saw absolutely nothing, but what I felt was stunning. A feeling of extreme caring embraced me. It was like nothing I had ever experienced or imagined.
* * * *
The puma and the woman
Hours later, around midnight, I felt relatively normal again, and I was sitting in my new friend’s living room facing him. I thought it was over, so I told him to go to bed, and I would do the same. He went upstairs.
My bedroom was on the ground floor right off the living room, a short walk. I went in, undressed and lay atop the sheets. The lights were off, and it was the sort of darkness you find in the forest on a moonless night.
Lying there, I turned into a woman. Just like that. I could see nothing due to the lack of light, but I turned into a woman. I felt it. It’s quite different from being a man. I felt an unfamiliar, strong need to be cared for.
And then I turned into a black puma. I moved my long tail from one side to the other at the foot of the bed. My whiskers twitched. I felt incredibly powerful.
And then it ended. I went to sleep.
That episode was about the only one that I recall fairly clearly. I suspect that is due to its happening near the end of that night’s experience. I was not totally under the influence but in a twilight zone.
* * * *
Going home, buckets of blood
My new friend offered a third night of this therapy or whatever you’d call it, but I told him no. I was overwhelmed. I drove back to Texas.
But I returned nine months later for LSD. The second night of my first visit had entailed a mixture of both psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. The psilocybin effect had been the more powerful by far.
I knew this later, not then.
The LSD experience was very different. Psilocybin is softer than LSD. Here’s what stood out about the LSD, the only thing I remember: Buckets of blood. I was under a waterfall of blood that poured over me. A voice told me it was time to grow up, to become a man.
This sounds horrible, but it wasn’t. It was a shove I needed.
Many hours later, after the effects had diminished, my friend told me that I had been laughing loudly, something I was unaware of during the experience. I’ve felt immensely better since that night.
Entheogens have been used for direct religious experiences through human history and beyond. Primitive art shows it.
Indeed, since verbal descriptions of what happens can be next to impossible, art comes into play.
In 1999, I attended an entheogen conference in Palenque, Chiapas. That was a year before I moved to Mexico. Amusingly, one of the attendees was a New York Port Authority cop. Another attendee was a dentist from Tennessee who gave me a dose of 5-MeO-DMT.
5-MeO-DMT provides an experience similar to LSD but it comes on far faster, instantaneously, and only lasts about 15 minutes.
I sat on a bed, smoked it, and collapsed backwards. About 15 minutes later, I was back to normal. It’s the only time I tried 5-MeO-DMT successfully.
In 2000, about eight months after moving to Mexico, I flew to Atlanta, rented a car and drove back to the Panhandle of Florida to participate in a group session in which the entheogen was a chemical analogue of ayahuasca. And that was the end for me.
I was told — you do hear voices — that I didn’t need to do that sort of thing anymore, so I haven’t. By the way, group sessions are far from ideal. Stick to solo sessions with an experienced helper.
* * * *
Many, probably most, people who take psychedelics do it for fun. I take a neutral stance on this matter. There is a consciousness out there — God if you will — and she will let you see her if that is your wish.
However, if your desire is recreational, she will not let you see her, or perhaps not to the same degree. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never done this for fun. Your mindset matters very much.
* * * *
I was an agnostic for most of my adult life. I am not anymore. It would be next to impossible to experience the things entheogens provide and not realize there is something far beyond our daily consciousness.