I was hit by a taxi on my bicycle about a year ago. All I can remember about the crash is a large yellow hood and thinking, “no way out of this one.” After that, I have some brief memories of the ambulance and being pushed into the MRI machine. Each time I asked about my wallet.
It happened about two days after an extremely emotional and weepy psychedelic experience. I was riding my bike before dawn around Manhattan. As I rode through Central Park after about an hour of pedaling, the same emotions from the trip were starting to well up. The last I remember was leaving the park towards foot bridge to Ward’s Island. I suspect the accident was my fault, that I was riding the wrong way down a one-way street. It happened at an intersection that I normally avoid because the one-way streets all go the wrong way.
A couple of months later I read John C. Lilly’s account in The Center of the Cyclone of how he had injected himself with soap bubbles after his second (bad) LSD trip, putting himself in the hospital in a coma for two weeks. He could only remember intending to inject himself with a sleep medicine, but not the actual injection, and certainly not filling the syringe with soap. He was convinced that the LSD had awakened a self-destructive urge within himself. While unconscious, he had also spoken with unearthly beings who had helped him on to the right path.
Nothing so exciting happened during my blackout. My face was pretty well scraped, and my brain felt like it was rattling a bit loosely in my head (no concussion they said). But the recovery was pretty easy—even enjoyable. The oxycontin was nice. After the initial pain subsided, I saved the rest up to eat in a couple of large doses (I’d been reading about oxycontin addiction in a class I was teaching and wanted some firsthand experience). Nothing much happened the first time. I got a pleasant buzz the second time, but nothing so nice as to make me want to do it again. Much more pleasant was that, whenever I exercised (I was doing long walks of over an hour and a half to work, rather than bicycling) my sense of smell became much stronger and I felt very emotional. I quite enjoyed that and was disappointed when it stopped.
I often thought about the idea that I had gotten into the accident on purpose. During my ayahuasca sessions several months later, I saw myself bouncing and rolling over the taxi. It was a very unlikely scenario given the pattern of my scrapes. But the flamboyance was very appealing. I need some dramatic gesture in my life.
I could never find my bike. After several calls to the police, I just gave up. I still haven’t bought a new one. I had had another (smaller) accident several months before. After that one I had promised myself to pay more attention when I am riding. It was clearly a promise I could not keep. I also am not willing to ride with a helmet. So it seems like a good idea to stop riding for a while. And I found that I enjoyed the walking even more. I realized that I was alway a bit tense on the bicycle, trying to make the lights, worrying about cars, dodging potholes. Walking is a more human pace.
I’ve recently bought a kick scooter, so I can ride with my daughter. I’ve started commuting by scooter. It’s bit over an hour to the office. As my muscles get stronger and I develop a rhythm, I like it more and more. Doesn’t seem much safer than a bicycle.
I don’t know if I’ve learned anything from this accident at all.