Chapter 3: A Touch of Utopia

The six of us circled our lawn chairs and waited, exchanging smirks and anxious smiles. Half of us have never done it before. In the moment I had no idea, but I think those who took it had a bit of anxiety too in not knowing how the newbies would react.

20 minutes came and went.

“I don’t know if this is working,” I thought. “Oh. Huh. That’s funny.” I giggled.

I began to notice the things around me that were the same color. “Wow,” I thought, “My friend’s purple shirt is exactly like the purple tent. That’s so bright and beautiful. Or was that tent really purple? That doesn’t seem like it’d be a common tent color. What is common?”

The thoughts were flying in and out of my ear like little purple airplanes. What was real and not real started to get seriously blurry. They beckoned for discussion, and my inhibitions were unreserved. I was relaxed and curious. I felt like a child rediscovering the world.

My friend’s warning flew into my ear. “Don’t think too hard. Just… chill,” I thought to myself.

“What would help me relax? Music. Yes! I love music!” I had my music playing and I changed it to Daft Punk’s “Touch”:

I always felt that if there was one song for me to just totally get lost in, it was this intricately strange, beautiful 8-minute adventure of an electronic song (which is a sort of prelude to their big single, “Get Lucky”).

The song beckoned me with its lyric, “I need something more.” I did need something more. What that was exactly I couldn’t have told you.

Every minute that continued to pass was intensifying my senses, and I had absolutely no control over it.

Side note: Words do not come close to capturing my experience, as if I just read you the lyrics of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or the caption underneath the Mona Lisa. But I’ll do my best here.

I started to have a really hard time staying in what I understood to be reality. What I mean is that things gradually started to change around me that seemed completely implausible. I would start talking to a friend, and they would have the same favorite song as me. Then we talked to another friend, and that too was their favorite song. “What are the odds?!” we said to each other as we shared laughs of disbelief.

Was this really happening, or was it just a utopian ideology born from my mind and broadcasting through my eyes as if my head was a kind of projector? Could everyone really be this unified and at the same time free to express their uniqueness? Amazing! It was such a blissful existence!

Uniqueness. I started to notice we all had the same shirt on. We were starting to become very similar, like cookie cutter people. There seemed to be no conflict, and therefore happiness and peace, but at a sacrifice of individuality and originality.

“Are we all still happily being ourselves and expressing ourselves?” I thought as my mind raced with concerns. “Was everyone still good with this?”

“Is this unity? Or uniformity?” I wondered. There’s a big difference.