In the waning days of our previous millennium, an envelope arrived at the Dr. Dog Bungalow. Initially misplaced among credit card solicitations and clothing catalogs, it had no postage and smelled of a fusty funk, as if it had once been wet. The return address said simply “Phrases from the Psychedelic Swap.”
Inside was a cassette tape. “Play me,” it said, and “Play Me,” didn’t mean simply “Listen to Me,” but literally “Play Me!” It was a call to action, urging Dr. Dog to record a great pop album.
The message was from Phrases, who they learned, was a man who had been neither happy nor sad, neither success nor failure, during his time on Earth. He just kind of was. Or wasn’t. Was or wasn’t, depending. In his quest for satisfaction, he found himself susceptible to hollow promises and life in the Psychedelic Swamp, a refracted reflection of reality, gave Phrases all that he was looking for. Music took on new dimensions. Food tasted better. Love was sweeter. At least initially. The swamp was draped heavily with abstraction, where there was nothing too garbled, random or chaotic to be separated from the absolute need for meaning.
But soon the same old hollowness crept back into his soul. The romance of harvesting dry rot and herding acorn weevils under the swamp’s moon-sun had dulled into a humdrum kind of workaday existence. He began to regret his decision to leave Earth for the Psychedelic Swamp. Things were not really better there, only different. Remember what the old swamp folks say: The bladderwort is always yellower on the other side of the schist. This was his epiphany. Life, flawed as it is, is meant to embraced.