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Guest Blog: Chimaira Frontman Mark Hunter, “Ego"

Guest Blog: Chimaira Frontman Mark Hunter, “Ego

Mark Hunter is the vocalist and founding member of Cleveland metal act Chimaira. For more than a decade, Chimaira has been imposing its gravity on the metal community by continually touring the globe and selling more than a million albums worldwide. Their brand of heavy music has evolved and transcended both itself and the trends while maintaining its persistent, bludgeoning force. The band released its new album, Crown of Phantoms, on July 30th. Watch the video for the new song “No Mercy” at the bottom of this post.

ego |ˈēgō|

“I like the moment when I break a man’s ego.” -- Bobby Fische

Date: July 4th 2011
Location: Farmland – Middle of Nowhere

The second it hit my tongue I felt my entire body tingle…although it was probably adrenaline. Either way, I was in for a ride.  After studying psychedelics for years, I was past the point of ready and it was time to have my own experience.

LSD can act like a computer or the Internet, this infinite world full of information blasting through your psyche at the speed of light, changing your thought patterns. What seemed implausible is somehow real. New questions emerge. Time stops.

For the first few hours I had the time of my life. Everything around me was alive and vibrant. I saw the world in new and bizarre yet titillating ways. There was a moment where a dragonfly buzzed around near me in what seemed like 3D IMAX. I was in awe.

Synesthesia. I saw and felt music. I heard colors.

Isolation. Wandering the vast farmland. Breathing with the flowers. Their beauty engulfed me.

I met God.

It felt like the front of my brain exploded with wonder and love. Harmony. Zen. The clouds were a perfect orange, purple, and green. The sun radiated and filled my soul with the warmth I so desperately needed.

The hippies were right…it’s all there. Life is love!

Hold up.

Hour five and things started to turn. God was dead.

I became a biological accident with limited time on a spinning rock. I controlled nothing. Beauty was impossible to find. We destroy.  Our world is a virus eating itself from the inside.

My ego shattered. Demolished. I was a worthless carbon life form, an invisible spec of dust in the multiverse. Nothing mattered.

I panicked. Vomit spewed as fireworks blasted. “How long would this last?” I pondered frantically. I lost control of my nervous system and the ability to think rationally. Flight or fight was activated…but where am I running to and how? I then realized I was “tripping my balls off”.

The next ten plus hours were spent on an illusory cliff observing Hell. The Hell I created for myself over the past 30 some years, and my role in any wrongdoing. Could I handle it? What could I do to fix it? How could I use my ego when I need it vs. trying to control the impossible?

Why did I put myself through this craziness? There is a lot of medical data showing the positive effects hallucinogens in treating depression and anxiety. It’s not news that they are tools musicians have used over the years to enhance creativity. They’ve also been used as Shamanic practices for thousands of years to heal and the evidence of use in ancient religion is overwhelming. The list goes on and on.

There was a lot in my head that needed rearranging. I had problems with anger, ego, and generally being out of touch with my inner soul. Being the singer of a band – LSD means something entirely different. Lead Singer’s Disorder.  It’s hard to escape it… even if you try.

I couldn’t find a reason not to try and improve.

The next day I felt reborn. I barely remembered “the old me”. It was as if I walked on the left side of the street for the first time. Did I step up a level in evolution? Was my brain turned on in new ways like the guy in Limitless? It sure felt like it.

My first trip was life changing similar to how Steve Jobs said it was one of the most important experiences of his life. But it would be a lie to say it was perfect. There was a lot of rearranging and rebuilding after. The ego pyramid was destroyed. Rumination and heartache took front and center.

Ego is important. It’s part of what makes us human. But it can get us in trouble. While I don’t condone the methods I used to learn how to control it, they helped me understand it and get a grip on it. The filters of my own bullshit were stripped away long enough to see how I could help myself.

If you’re going to play around with psychedelics  - and evidence suggests you are - then do it smart. It’s highly rewarding to learn about yourself…but should you encounter inner demons and learn from them. Change.  I also recommend waiting until your brain is fully developed.

I love this article by neuroscientist and author Sam Harris. He breaks down psychedelics eloquently and it was an essential guide to my re-entry.

Have you “turned on”? What was it like?

There’s a lot of ego floating around. Look in the mirror from time to time.  Shatter it. Rebuild.

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