I would never have taken that 1983 Esalen workshop if not for the experiences I had two decades before, during the most eventful and intense period of my life during the decade of the 1960s.
The late, highly respected historian Arnold Toynbee comments on this period in American history, “I have visited the United States since 1925. Before my last visit, I had been absent for two years, and I came away with the impression that in those two years there has been more change in American life than in all the previous forty.
Growing up in the LA suburbs in the 1950s, I felt like I was on a conveyor belt in an industrial factory, being molded and shaped into what my parents and society wanted me to become. But as I emerged from adolescence, the hippie culture blossomed all around me.
I had the psychedelic experience and jumped off the conveyor belt. Instead of predictable normality, my life became a phantasmagoria of experiences, sometimes ecstatic and at other times scary and chaotic I became a hitchhiking vagabond in search of wisdom.
I was twelve years old when the ‘Sixties began and twenty-two when it ended. I made successive transformations from student to radical to hippie, I turned on to LSD. Tuned into the hippie scene and dropped out during that most amazing of times.
I first heard about LSD in 1964 in my tenth grade biology class. My instructor, a young physician named Dr. Kody, had been in experiments conducted at UCLA with LSD. His experience with this then legal and little known experimental drug had been an adventure and the young instructor’s eyes beamed with energy as he told the class about his adventures in the world inside his mind.
He also spent a lot of time talking about the then amazing unraveling of the DNA code. The class made chemical models with alphabet soup names and among them was a three-dimensional model of d-lysergic acid diethyl amide – dubbed LSD for short.
To a young man who had dealt with the boredom of suburban youth growing up in the ‘Fifties by chain-reading hundreds of pulp science fiction books, I felt that this LSD was the stuff that the future was made of. Along with DNA of course and space travel, which is why, the kids called me The Professor. I was the original nerd before it was fashionable, with a complete collection of pocket protectors.
Subsections of a Flashback