We Are Not Alone, by Charles Carreon
It was maybe five years ago, I was sitting on the mattress on the floor of my bedroom, that was plastered in a cool garden green, with the sliding glass door open to the deck where the Oregon weather was wearing its most benign appearance, complete with birdsong, winds soughing through the neighbor's huge poplars, and the sound of an occasional goose or a private plane sputtering into the tiny airport across the road.
"I am ultimately alone in my existence." The thought occurred to me as I was sitting there on my mattress. There seemed to be no way around it. None at all. The box was foolproof. No one could experience what I experience, and I cannot experience what they experience. The whole phenomenon of torture is based on exploiting that separateness of two beings. One in agony, the other not, or not precisely. "A warm man cannot understand a cold man." Solzhenitzyn puts this thought in his protagonist's head in "A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich," after a warm man puts him back out into the cold without a qualm. I had accepted the ineluctable logic of this experiment, because I had been a subject in a similar experiment at a Catholic military school run by Benedictine sisters, very Southern in their discipline, that ran to torturing children by forcing them to march and play on a windswept blacktop in freezing cold as "recreation." I noticed the sisters stayed indoors, and shivered the less for it.
This early experiment slammed home the lesson that I was alone. I remember asking Sister Bernadette, who could've been a trucker's wife and loved it, I suspect, if I could please come in since the wind-chill factor was turning every gust, and there was an endless string of them, into an icy razor, and I had no hat or gloves, being the type to lose such winter accoutrements perhaps to theft, but in any event leaving myself without them. She never had much sympathy for me, I realized in that moment, as she simply peered down from her lofty height from under the stiff, starched crown of white linen, about five inches high, holding a stick in her hand, and said no. Her heart didn't come close to melting, and I realized that this lady was as dry as wood inside.
That was one of my early experiments, and certainly it confirmed the supposition that I was alone, but no one had offered me this theory explicitly, and I didn't formulate the thought independently. In fact, through childhood and into my late teens, I would have denied believing in my alone-ness. I took lots of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD and mescaline, and like lots of other people who took them, I had many experiences of oneness in which I also felt free of desire and rather amused by the notion of holding a particularized identity. I had a problem finding models to fit these experiences, that formed themselves into the core of a religious orientation that I had never felt before as a child, when I was a happy little materialist chocked full of information and excitement about rockets and weapons, a typical cold-war gee-whiz kid. At sixteen I was a serious peyote eater, yoga student, and exfundamentalist Christian, capable of dropping acid and quoting from Matthew in the same afternoon.
Trying to get some advice from my elders in the realm of psychic exploration that I'd unexpectedly flipped into due to Tim Leary's acid initiative, that caused me to realize that LSD was, as Tim said, a substance known to cause insanity in those who had not taken it. The substance had clearly thrown the Establishment for a loop. The Press was frothing, the parents were talking, the Enquirer was enquiring, and eyes were bulging when the topic came 'round to the Beatles and that song, "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds," an acronym for an illegal drug, hidden in the title of a song! And I was all like "IMAGINE YOURSELF IN A TRAIN ON A STATION WITH PLASTICENE PORTERS WITH LOOKING GLASS EYES," and I knew I knew I knew that this was coming out of somewhere that no one else had come from, to my knowledge, to that day. I had to get some for myself.