Conversations With Ayahuasca
The Last Resort
by Ol Serbon
Genre: Nonfiction Memoir, Spiritual Realism
When all known roads lead to a dead end, it is time to explore the unknowable.
“So, why are you here?” I heard the question addressed to me. The shaman was looking at me with genuine interest emanating from his one good eye while his question was being translated for me. His other eye was completely white, which gave him an enigmatic appearance. He was smoking a mapacho beady while cozily observing me from a hammock attached to the wall.
I sat in front of an audience comprised of four facilitators, three shamans, and a couple of other people who seemed to be volunteers. They were all quizzically looking at me, some apparently ready to take notes. One of the facilitators translated the question from Spanish to English. Now it was my turn
I had a whole speech prepared, but instead of giving it, something else came out of my mouth. “I want to know what reality is,” I heard myself say, and my comment was immediately translated to the shaman. He continued smoking his mapacho and nodded in response to what I said.
I left the intention-setting session pondering the words that came out of my mouth. The question that had always been at the back of my mind somehow came forward, and as I was uttering it, it became clear to me that this was what I needed to know. It was the missing piece I had been looking for. Nothing would make sense until I knew the answer.
Q: Tell us about yourself:
A: Originally from Russia, I grew up behind the “Iron Curtain” dreaming about one day living life to its fullest. At the age of nineteen, I came to America, thrilled about finally reaching the “Land of the Free.” I embraced the idea of the American Dream with my whole heart, and for some time I thought that I was living that dream, until my reality began showing cracks.
On the outside, my life seemed perfect. I graduated from Tufts University magna cum laude with the intention to go to medical school, I got married, and I did what I most loved to do: I danced. But after volunteering at a cancer research center, my vision about western medicine began to fall apart. Things didn’t add up. Confused, I decided to take a year off and ponder my decision about going into medicine. I continued dancing and I never looked back.
As a dancer, I traveled the world, competed, performed, and taught dancing. I built a successful business out of my passion. A rare blessing in a world where most people do what they dislike just to make ends meet. Soon, however, my personal relationships and my health spun out of control. Devastated, I started searching for new ways to heal my body and mind. Among other things, books by Carlos Castaneda appeared. Then, after trying all conventional methods, I decided to give la madre ayahuasca a chance. It was my last resort.
Finally, in 2016, I found my way to the Amazon jungle.
Q: What childhood memory has had the best impact on you?
A: I recall the miserable expression on the face of my high school history teacher as she stormed into the classroom one day, acting discombobulated, and announced that there would be no history exam . . . as history itself had changed. What? Her comment made me think.
Q: What is the name of your latest book, and what inspired it?
A: ”Conversations with Ayahuasca” is the first book that I have written. It was inspired by four years of annual journeys to the Amazon jungle to partake in indigenous shamanic ceremonies involving ayahuasca.
Q: Do you have any unusual writing habits?
A: A part of “Conversations with Ayahuasca” was written automatically.
Q: What is that dream goal you want to achieve before you die?
A: I would like to know what reality is.
Q: What’s next for you as a writer?
A: Next is my trip to the Amazon, where I will continue my inner exploration. I am sure that I will write a lot.
Q: What was your ambition when you were a child?
A: I was three years old when my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer was that I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater. When grandma inquired whether I preferred to skate by myself or with a partner, my childish response was: “With a partner, of course! What am I going to do without a husband?”
A long story short – I got pretty close to manifesting my childhood dream, only instead of figure skating, I picked ballroom dancing. I have danced most of my life professionally and even went to a couple of world championships with a partner, just as I imagined as a little girl.
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