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  • Ash Stryker

25, or Finding Love



This piece was originally going to be a poem about death. I've scrapped it, because I fear in my fixation with death people will fear I'm suicidal (or a bit too macabre to be tasteful.) But I'm still going to speak about death. And my experiences and fears. And the deep appreciation I've found for my God, Love, in the last few years.


So a bit about me: in 2018 I overdosed on DMT, a powerful hallucinogen. Many lovingly refer to it as the God Molecule. I have my grievances with this characterisation, but that's because of the fluidity in which I view life and experiential reality. Ironically enough, however, DMT was my God Molecule. I'm a much different person post-DMT. I'm not here to sing its praises; I had a whirlwind, unsafe experience with the compound. But the experience shaped me. Namely, I'm much more concerned with death.


Or maybe, I should say, I'm much more concerned with life.


I had a conversation with myself during my trip. I carefully refer to my touch with DMT as a near-death experience. This is neither truthful nor inaccurate. I experienced my own death on this substance, however physically I was breathing and my heart kept beating. It scared the shit out of me. I had spent the months leading up to it in an adolescent existentialist stupor, and figured my foray into psychedelia would cure my nihilistic agnosticism. I felt so out-of-touch with a world of reason and order. Everything seemed chaotic and cruel, and how could such a world carry the presence of divine love?


Yet divine love was never far. I just had to begin seeing it.


I am still agnostic, though I don't dare see the world with grey in my eyes anymore. That was a place I inhabited for the years following the near-death experience, and it was even more dreary than my curious absurdist musings before. Now, the world is a colourful mystery I don't wish to unravel. Now, life is a symphony of light, deigning to be felt. To be seen. To be breathed in and drank like a well of pulsating is-ness.

I am not a Christian nor Muslim nor Sikh. I have love in my heart for all religious doctrines that aim to create unity and peace between us. But my God is a little simpler. I call Her "Love."


See, Love is everywhere. It's a special place that erupts when you least expect it. Love caught my attention in the woods as I admired a bushel of leaves, green as can be, dewey with early-spring rain. Love sang my name as the sun cast over billows of clouds under my plane, milky swaths of orange and pink. Love holds me dear late at night when the world lulls to sleep, and it's just us, communicating while my eyes are still open, and my heart yet beats.

Love, I think, is. It just... is. Love is being awake. Love is seeing the colors of a murky road after snowfall. Love is rolling out of bed with a throbbing head. Love is barely keeping your thoughts at bay as you talk to someone you haven't seen in years. Love is the smell of onions in a sizzling cast-iron. Love is myself in the mirror. Love is you.


I just turned 25, and I am exhilarated by the many chances ahead to encounter Love. To be able to be. My only hope, as vain and optimistic as it may be, is to be here as long as possible. I'd love to make it another 70 years. To feel heartaches so deep I think I'll die. To see sights too beautiful to conceive. To hold my child in my arms for the first time. To bake the perfect pie. To paint what I thought I never could.


And so, after being so painfully verbose, I want to say thank you. For contributing to this Love. For accepting and holding me near. If you are reading this, you likely are a part of the beauty I see in life. I hope very much for you to be happy and healthy. And I hope we can share in Love together.

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