Isit on a rooftop in Bushwick, on a sweaty and buzzing Fourth of July afternoon. I chat with a few friends, all decked out in fly and glittering looks. Our party itinerary is long and filled with logistical concerns about who’s listed where and who’s working what door and the best times to arrive at each location. We pass a bag of mushrooms around as well as another with MDMA, our toothy smiles decorated with bits of earthy funk and our burps punctuated by chemical winces. We forget what we’ve done as soon as our cocktails have rinsed out our mouths and the conversation turns to sex and gossip, politics and the weather.
When it starts kicking in, my brain reels and I feel like I’m drowning in sensation. The cavalier attitude we had but 30 minutes before is mocking us. Our plans disintegrate and we take to the streets, passing through neighborhoods on foot—watching diasporas of people melt into one another as fireworks crack and shake above us in the sky. Human geography, architecture, urban nature, friendship, world histories…the very beauty and terror of the world sits matter-of-factly in front of us, almost dancing to the rhythms of crotch-rocket revs and 2 Chainz. Barbequed burnt flesh, gunpowder, beer, and sweat fill the air and we laugh at our own insignificance. This mode and strategy of drug consumption—casual, hedonistic, and spontaneous—I have begun to call “mindlessness.”
Mindlessness, as a concept, sits in opposition to the modern push in drug culture toward what is commonly referred to as “mindfulness” or “intentionality.” This trend is, in many ways, a means to avoid discomfort and the darker emotions associated with the psychedelic experience. It’s no secret that common barriers for people in psychedelic exploration are phobia and anxiety. This emotional response to the prospect of experimentation is, for most, a byproduct of hyperbolic cautionary tales in pop culture, governmental propaganda—dating back to the Reefer Madness era—and media accounts of the dreaded bad trip. These cultural beliefs, wrapped in the human fear of losing control, deter many a prospective partaker. As a form of anxiety mitigation, many trippers, both novice and seasoned, rely on set, setting, company, and ritual to assuage their paranoia—many times assigning inherent political, spiritual, or therapeutic benefits to this mode of consumption. Managing these factors allows humans to feel a greater sense of control within the experience. I’d argue that a more spontaneous strategy in the consumption of psychedelic drugs can aid in reducing anxiety and provide more fulfilling experiences without intrinsically increasing the risks of social or neurological consequences.