My two eyes are open, yet a third seems to emerge eager to join the fun.
It possesses a chemical clarity afforded only to those with a curiosity about what’s behind reality’s curtain.
That, or anyone with a spare ten bucks.
Two tabs on the tongue, salty air in a pair of young lungs. I approach the sand-scratched sliding glass door to our rented beach house and step outside onto the balcony overlooking the water. Looking out into the now undulating world, the ocean breeze fans my hair with a whispered howl, calling for me to join it in the sky. Though no matter how many eyes it feels like I have, I’m still well aware I’ve yet to sprout the feathered appendages necessary for such a feat. I sigh as I accept this fate and return to the chattering static of my sun-burnt friends.
We pour more shots and raise the 80-proof spirits in salutary fashion — a cheers to our youth and fortitude as we actively participate in its degeneration, though the irony is lost within the hedonistic haze.
After fueling and refueling our respective brains and bellies, we drip-drop down the back steps until we flipflop our way to the shore. Chairs unsheathed, towels unfurled, and laid upon the sand like flags upon a coffin, we lay our worries to rest. Our calculated home base is primed and ready for ultimate relaxation. Yet, no one remains sitting down for long. There’s just too much to explore, too much sand to traverse, too many angles to see the ocean, and we want it all.
A small group of us branches off from the rest and makes our way down the coast. To our left, the melted mirror water of our primordial birth, on our right, the deep-breathing dunes of countless smashed sandcastles. Empires sculpted and fallen by nature and bullies alike. The comfort permeating the air and minds of my friends and I is palpable. It’s as obvious and rolling as the tide lapping our feet.
As we look down at the impressions our footprints are making, we notice how every time a wave rolls in, it brings with it an army of tiny seashells. Mollusks not yet halved and dead, but whole and alive. Swaths of them at every wash, all the size of a pinky nail. As each wave again rolls out, we watch as every single baby tilts itself sideways and vibrates itself back into the sand. Leaving behind the tiniest of bubbles as the only hint to its new hideaway. This, of course, lasts merely a few moments before another bucket of suds rips through the sand and evicts them all over again. As this is happening, we also notice how each little creature is a completely different color. It’s as if the ocean is scattering handfuls of Fruity Pebbles at our feet. Only for those sea-soaked cereal pieces to burrow themselves back into the Mother’s Big Box before any witnesses lick their lips and grab a spoon. It’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen in my life.
Eventually, our attention is pulled away from the runaway breakfast and back to our slowly cooking bodies. It’s hot. Very hot. So, we decide to make our way into the endless forbidden beverage.
Floating in a cool ocean on a hot day is already one of the most enjoyable things a human can experience. But when your soul is already on fire with a pupil-dilating compound capable of revelatory connective magic, it’s a kind of ecstasy that’s hard to put into words. There’s a moment, while you’re floating on your back upon a gelatin prism. Staring up at an orchestra of living cloud formations, that you feel so at peace with yourself and so content with the moment, you actually feel an inner ripple of disappointment that you’re unable to literally melt into the sea. If only you could disintegrate right then and there. To return your form to the tides that shaped your bones and crafted the very structure of your cells. If only you could offer your very being to be swallowed by the Great Shaper. It’s the least you could do to say thanks.
This too shall pass.
We leave nirvana and allow ourselves to be spewed back onto the same sand as our colorfully shelled cousins. Our group walks back to the safe haven of our coolers and sand-cracked buddies, toxin-riddled lollygaggers each lost within their personalized kaleidoscopes. It feels as if we’ve been gone for a little under an hour. Apparently, it’s been nearly four. It just goes to show that when the veil is lifted, and you can truly see the unfiltered beauty of a single natural formation. It feels like an honor to stare at a flower until you die.
The gratitude I felt for such an experience permeated my being. It soaked into my skeleton as I laid upon a frayed beach towel and let the sun warm my skin. Colored fractals played behind my eyelids as I listened to the breathing fuzz of the water and the brain-plucking electric guitar coming from the radio as it wrestled with the wind for my attention. I couldn’t have asked for a better day with the people I loved most in this world. Chemically induced or not, the connection I felt before and after was everlasting and still holds to this day. It’s hard to find people in this life to share your most intimate and vulnerable moments. And in that moment, I knew I had always been surrounded by love and that I always would be. That time and distance mean little to the heart when it truly loves those who take residence there.
I opened my eyes to watch the clouds. I could feel my mind beginning to clear of abstractions and a more finely-tuned world taking shape again. Yet, as I watched the swirling cumulus, I noticed how much it looked like the world was actually inverted. It was as if I was stuck to a sandy ceiling looking down upon a blue ballroom of wispy spirits. They danced in pairs, waltzing and spiraling into and out of each other. Reaching for any other ghostly arm that happened to be there to twirl them into the next. It was astonishingly beautiful. So much so, that although my body had dried from the saltwater, my eyes couldn’t help but create a little of their own.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I couldn’t help but think, if that’s what heaven looks like, an infinity of souls endlessly dancing in the rapture of eternal euphoria. Well, it seemed like a pretty good time.