I’m one of the flower children of the 60’s, who actually got the miracle. When you’re talking about miracles, you’re talking about God. I never knew how much I already knew Him. I also never knew how much I needed Him to be an advocate for me in so many ways. Been sober coming up on 30 years now, I realize I could have died a thousand times over, like countless other flower children already did. A lot of them didn’t make it. I never went to Woodstock or Height Asbury, but those who had the toughest times in those places, went through what I went through. My mind went for a walk, big time.
The hallucinogenic experience was widely spread among the flower children. Timothy Leary had things pretty well sealed where our futures were concerned. The Pope of Dope had the corner on whatever we planned to do, as far as Tuning In, Turning On, and Dropping Out, regardless of what any consequences were for any of us. Anything hallucinogenic was heralded as the most wonderful thing since sliced cheese, by the late, great Timothy Leary. We were all caught up in trying to emulate that one man. Even though there were people who didn’t know who he was, we were caught up in the cult.
The diagnosis we were given by the doctors, whenever we had a bad reaction to any hallucinogenic drug, was summarily called an Acute Toxic Psychotic. I was hospitalized in North Carolina, where I’d been a music student in a North Carolina University. They gave me endless needles of major tranquilizers, in an isolation chamber, where I was locked down for my own safety’s sake. I was the youngest patient at that part of that hospital, at the tender young age of twenty. I, like so many others, would be high for the remainder of my days. Being high has never been fun, believe it or not.
Also part of the sharing among total strangers, was that if we got the Acute Toxic Psychosis, it was very likely that we also got some sort of chronic chemical imbalance in our brains. That made a big difference for all of us, because it was not something we would all have for the remainder of our lives. However much the chemical imbalance, and the chemical we took; it took over our intelligence and our talents until those things became subjugated to that one reality, according to Leary. In fact, what became subjugated was our perception of an unreality, and one could scarcely separate the two.
One hotspot was in Upstate New York, the other was in downtown San Francisco. The thing I never did in those days, which was what a lot of flower children were doing, was to starve. I got to do my starving a little later in my miserable existence. In my case, I ended up with a chemical imbalance in my brain, because I got a hold of something that was too strong for me. I dropped the chocolate acid, which had been going around at Woodstock. This happened to be something a very great majority of the flower children dropped in both places. One chemical I, personally, always avoided was heroin.
I did mescaline once, and LSD over a lot of years of doing my best to avoid reality. I found out, after a long time, that the way the doctors think of a blatant psychosis, is defined as when the patient is perceiving an unreality. That means he’s having a psychosis. I did a lot more LSD than I ever did mescaline. I only took it once, and I never wanted another hit of mescaline. I would pursue LSD to the absurd, just to be chasing a buzz. I also did a lot of PCP, which, I learned a long time later, is nothing but horse tranquilizer. Horse breeders use a lot of PCP to overdose horses, to kill them.
I’ve learned since then, that hallucinogenic drugs were the traumatic experience, which triggered my mind’s need for endless psychiatric medications. I was compliant with my med’s for the longest period of time, from 1972, till 2010. Then, I finally became monumentally confused about how to take them. I went through a prolonged overdose, until I almost died. It certainly caused a cognitive blackout in my thinking; and I was absolutely mute for quite awhile. By this time I was staying sober long term, and abstinent from all mind-altering substances. I lost control over all of my psychiatric medications. The only option was assisted living. Doing any complicated mental manipulations was impossible.
I’ll have this chemical imbalance in my brain for the rest of my life. That means I’m going to have to have a certain amounts of psychiatric medications for a lifetime. Sometimes it’s tough to have to put up with it. There is no honor, no glory in the stark reality of what so many of us flower children have done to ourselves. This year my chemical imbalance has been remarkably unstable. Although I’ve taken my medications like clockwork, not only have I lost a place to stay, I must have offended many people I had no intention to offend. I’ve been to the psych hospital twice already. It’s only the spring of the year. My generation sacrificed an awful lot of brain power to get less than nowhere.
There is an awful lot of creativity, intelligence and talent squandered on the back wards of the state hospitals, just to achieve one look over the rainbow. We’re never coming back from looking over the rainbow, either. Those of us who are still alive have ourselves caught in this treadmill, like perpetually looking down at the Grand Canyon. An absurd simile, since most flower children will always be locked down in a back ward somewhere. The thing we took back in the early 70’s, was the chocolate acid, the chocolate mescaline. At Woodstock they made an announcement that the chocolate acid was not really very good. They said it on the videotape of Woodstock. Walt Disney never saw colors like I do. One can watch the Wizard of Oz a thousand times, and still never see what I see.
It’s because of what happened to us. It happened to our minds. Our abilities and talents disintegrated into our LSD trip. Any of us can remember, in the farthest reaches of our minds, the day our own minds caved in. That chemical only left us a facsimile of ourselves. The remainder of what we once were survives only in our memories, such that when we do our best to look down the barrel of what we once were, what we get is only a mockery of that semblance of ourselves. I’ve known performers and graphic artists who will never be more than a shadow of the person they once were. That chocolate stuff we were all so fascinated with, has managed to disintegrated us, more effectively than anything.
I thought I wanted to be a high school band director. That’s an absurd notion. I was a practicing drug addict in those days. Sometimes I’ve suspected that my career was on the rocks because God had something better for me to do. They weren’t going to give a teaching certificate to a guy like me. I resented it, too. Another idea I had was to become Christopher Parkening on guitar. I wrote a lot of nice guitar solos, but didn’t have the knack for the marketing. Then I was suddenly out of ideas. I was trying to live another man’s dreams, while I was pumping myself full of mind altering chemicals. That’s what it amounted to. What I began to realize before I died altogether, was that I needed to get straight and stay straight.