#5 The Answer to the World’s Problems | Donick Cary

July 21, 2020
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Donick Cary uses celebrity psychedelic experiences to tell hilarious stories and mind-opening anecdotes about tripping in the documentary ‘Have a Good Trip’. Donick joins Ronan to discuss the resurgence of psychedelics, how they create human connections, and why these powerful tools need to be approached responsibility. Then, what it’s like to talk with an armadillo from the jungle, and how loving others will let you love yourself. Plus, Donick shares his formative experience writing on ‘The Simpsons’ and reflects on a few of his favorite episodes.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Psychedelics are like rocket ships – and there is sufficient preparation needed before launch. Question yourself beforehand and ask what you want to get out of it.
  • Donick talks about his ayahuasca trip deep in the jungle – where animals came out to speak with him, including a dancing armadillo.
  • If you can see the world through the eyes of others, you can automatically treat them better. Loving and empathizing with others allows for self-love; these outcomes go hand-in-hand.
  • How psychedelics can create human connections and keep you tethered to the world.
  • Donick cautions that psychedelics are not for everyone – don’t take a handful and go on the subway! Be safe and smart about the set and setting for your trip.
  • Donick grew up in the ‘just so you know’ era and how that anti-drug message was a silly and ineffective deterrent, which ultimately contributed to the misinformation around psychedelics that we cope with today.
  • The making of ‘Have a Good Trip’ as an 11-year project for Donick – and what’s next for him.
  • Why mental health needs new therapies. Addiction, depression, homelessness, and other outcomes are all interconnected. New tools – administered by professionals coupled with methods to integrate psychedelic insights into your life – are worth exploring.
  • How humor makes tough topics more approachable and digestible – and why this is important to Donick. Getting people to laugh about psychedelics is a way to break through and de-stigmatize the conversation. But there is an important place for science in it all and psychedelics are not the answer to the world’s problems…but maybe a start.
  • What it was like to be a writer on ‘The Simpsons’ and how it was a special space to let his imagination run free – plus some of Donick’s favorite episodes.

Transcripts

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Donick: [00:00:00] I do think that often the people who are selling psychedelics as the answer to these things are evangelical about it, and it's always a little scary when people are evangelical. Like Sting, I thought said it in a great way. He's like, I don't think they're the answer to all the world's problems, but they might be a start. And that's like the perfect way to go. Like, yeah, let's not be evangelical like they're going to change everything and save everybody, you know, but they're a tool that can help with a lot of stuff. So let's have a rational conversation about that. [00:00:27][27.9]

Ronan: [00:00:32] This is Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. Writer producer Donick Cary has spent his whole career near the top of the showbiz comedy heap from stints on Late Show with David Letterman and The Simpsons to sitcoms like Just Shoot Me, New Girl, Parks and Rec and Silicon Valley. His first directorial feature Have a Good Trip on Netflix is a dive into the world of hallucinogens as celebrities share hilarious tales about tripping. [00:01:06][34.7]

Ronan: [00:01:12] Welcome to Field Tripping Donick. [00:01:13][1.1]

Donick: [00:01:14] It's great to be here. [00:01:15][0.7]

Ronan: [00:01:15] I notice that you're wearing a tie dye t shirt today. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? [00:01:20][4.3]

Donick: [00:01:20] We were so excited as we got this movie out into the universe, a variety of people reached out to us and we're like, we're into this for such fans. And one of them was a amazing tie dye guy. I believe his handle is the tie dye guy, but he makes these tie dye shirts lovingly, one at a time. So he slapped our title on some for us and we put them up on the web for all to consume. [00:01:42][21.6]

Ronan: [00:01:43] So I guess tie dye is one of those things that need to be lovingly crafted if you're really going to appreciate the art of them, isn't it? [00:01:48][5.5]

Donick: [00:01:49] Absolutely. Like everything true. [00:01:51][1.8]

Ronan: [00:01:51] Very true. Everything should be crafted so thoughtfully. So let's start by talking about have a good trip. Tell me about the inspiration for the documentary. It's such an amazing concept and it's so fun and thoughtful and funny, but would love to hear the background story to it. [00:02:07][15.8]

Donick: [00:02:07] A long time ago, about 11 years ago, seemed like a way to explore a funny area. It's gotten better, but it was a very taboo subject 10 years ago that's opened a little bit more. But still, a lot of people don't want to talk about their trips. And I happen to have a lunch with Ben Stiller 10, 11 years ago, and he shared a story about taking LSD that was so funny and so unexpected because I didn't think like, oh, Ben's a guy who's taken lots acid. It was right after that movie The Aristocrats have come out. And I thought, oh, what a wonderful, wonderful way to tell a story and get a whole bunch of people all on one topic sharing these stories. We'll get a whole bunch of different takes on psychedelics. So that's kind of where it started. And then I just started throwing it out to celebrities and it took time to get everybody, everybody on camera. [00:02:53][46.0]

Ronan: [00:02:54] I think you said it took like 11 years for this to come together, right? [00:02:57][2.9]

Donick: [00:02:57] Yeah. [00:02:57][0.0]

Ronan: [00:02:58] It's amazing how it timed with the renaissance of psychedelics that seems to be happening right now. These things seem to happen for a reason. So it's amazing and congratulations. It's so funny and thoughtful. But I guess one of my questions I have for you is whose story of a trip did you like the most? [00:03:12][14.6]

Donick: [00:03:13] You know, we interviewed close to one hundred people. It's not actually exactly one hundred. [00:03:17][3.9]

Ronan: [00:03:17] Wow. It's a lot of people. Yeah, it's a lot of trips to go through. [00:03:20][2.7]

Donick: [00:03:21] It was, as an interviewer, you really try to get inside the head of the subject, right. So you're getting inside of an acid trip over and over and over, and your brain starts to go into these places that people are taking you, which is kind of cool. As far as it was interesting you know, when you get into these stories and start talking to people, a lot of them are certainly people have funny moments, but those don't necessarily translate. So there was a little bit of like, oh, these aren't automatically funny. The other thing that happened was a lot of these are life changing or profound. So suddenly I was going like, oh, well, I can't really dismiss these profound revelations from people that I really admire, whether it's Shepard Fairey or Sting or whoever you sit down with, like whoa this changed their life. [00:04:01][40.7]

Ronan: [00:04:02] But it doesn't necessarily make for good television or documentary eh? [00:04:04][2.3]

Donick: [00:04:05] It well, yeah, it started to morph this idea that I'm like I guess I'm not just sharing funny stories. I'm sharing what these psychonauts or whatever you want to call have gone and learned. And then let's figure out what that is. I think the one that surprised me the most was Carrie Fisher tells it in a good way. She's like, you can't tell an orderly acid story, which makes sense. You know, these are like you get a whole bunch of information and then it is what it is. And the one that really surprised me, I had no idea what to expect was Rosie Perez. I sat down with her and she told this epic story. She was never into drugs. She got dosed at a club, but had the best time, then found out she was tripping and had the worst time. And it went on for days because she drank cups of acid by accident. She broke her ankle, she was naked. But she told this in the most wonderful, fun, crazy way. It was a complete epic tale. And then she had these big revelations about being raised Catholic in this Catholic guilt she had and had to reexamine how she was wired as a person. That was so interesting and wonderfully told. [00:05:06][61.3]

Ronan: [00:05:07] It's amazing how can blend such deep themes from something as light and irreverent as humor and acting silly or stupid, to having deeply, profoundly and moving experiences that just change your perspective of your entire upbringing in the entire world. [00:05:21][14.4]

Donick: [00:05:22] I've thought about a lot like there's always that moment and tripping where everything is incredibly funny and like so funny. Why is that part of this? Realizing the absurdity of it all is part of the entry into whatever journey you're about to go on. Humour has this way of lowering your guard to accept things. If you're laughing, you're more open to it. This idea that you're being let in on a joke that cavemen knew that's been around forever and ever, and suddenly you finally get the joke. [00:05:50][28.3]

Ronan: [00:05:51] You know, the funny thing is I have that exact feeling in my first large dose of psilocybin. I remember listening to the music and the music changed at one point. And I remember laughing my ass off being like the guy who was singing is in Spanish. So I didn't understand a word of it was like, this guy gets it. It's all a big. Universal joke, and this guy gets it. It's interesting, it's the first time anyone's commented about humor being such an essential precursor to a really meaningful trip. I hadn't thought about that before, but-. [00:06:21][30.0]

Donick: [00:06:21] Well, I think about it a lot with documentary storytelling and certainly like working on things like The Simpsons, where just because they're funny and they're cartoons, it sort of lowers your guard as a person to take on new information in through episodes of The Simpsons, for example, we do about Catholicism or gun control or whatever that you could not do in a live action sitcom. Yeah, and get people laughing. And then suddenly you're taking in information that you didn't know you were up for. [00:06:46][25.0]

Ronan: [00:06:47] But speaking of people's strips, you told us of what the trip that was sort of most interesting to you of all the celebrities you spoke to in Have a Good Trip. But what about you? Can you tell us about your most meaningful trip or a funny one or anything that sort of stands out to you? [00:07:01][13.8]

Donick: [00:07:01] I will say, you know, I had a really interesting experience with a shaman in Peru about 15 years ago where we just happened to be at this place where we had an opportunity to try ayahuasca. And the way it was described to me is that you'll take a little bit of this stuff and then the animals from the jungle will come and talk to you and tell you what you need to know. OK, that sounds cool. We had a really interesting evening. It was I did have some wolves come out of the jungle first. Guys like, oh, here come the animals. A bunch of wolves came out and kind of circled and then walked off. And I felt like they were like checking me out, making sure I was cool and I was going to be OK to take this thing. And then I had a couple of things that were veering very dark and like X-ray vision and black and oily, this imagery and stuff. And I was like, I don't think I want to go there right now. And somehow this magically didn't make me go there. There was like a channel change. And I suddenly in a very colorful jungle setting tropical paradise where an armadillo, the fun part of this is an armadillo, came out of the woods and just danced and walked around and smile, big smile. And we had a lot of laughs. And we talked about stuff for three or four hours. And that was the gist of it. I downloaded with a shaman later through a variety of languages and tried to figure out what it was. [00:08:15][74.0]

Ronan: [00:08:15] Is there ever a situation where an armadillo isn't fun is the real question. [00:08:19][3.1]

Donick: [00:08:19] Somehow that was a jester character of some kind that came out to dance and amuse me. I had a blast. [00:08:25][5.7]

Ronan: [00:08:27] I think it's so wonderful what you've done with Have a Good Trip, because one of the things I've learned through my own work is that there's something profoundly powerful about sharing these experiences and sharing these insights. And I know a lot of the meditation workshops I've done in my life. You know, at first I was pretty resistant to the whole sharing thing because we'd spend half a day listening to other people's meditations. And then, you know, I started opening my eyes and realized that there are learnings that could be taken from everybody's experiences, maybe not all, but that I could really apply. Like I could feel the empathy, I could feel the understanding, and it became meaningful to me. And so I think this is a great opportunity. I think you did a great job with Have a Good Trip. And certainly I want to give you the forum now being like, what did you take away is their thoughts and insights you can share? [00:09:10][43.5]

Donick: [00:09:11] I think what you're talking about, which really resonates, is this idea of human connection that we're all made of the same stuff that we're connected and feeling that in a profound way is tough. I think you can get there through lots of different practices, like fully turning yourself over to a music show or fully turning yourself over to a book and really getting inside those characters or a movie, having shared experience over a meal with somebody else. Even you can have these sort of transcendent experiences if you really commit to them and let it go. So, you know, these drugs are rocketships that take you to places that remind you of these things. I think what was interesting for me is getting back into some of that stuff that psychedelics reminds you of and sort of in a profound way digs to which is we're connected. If you listen, I've done a lot of thinking about this as far as raising kids and going like what we're really trying to teach them is empathy. If you can see through other people's eyes, then you will automatically treat them better. And what you're really talking about is loving them. And if you can see through other people's eyes, you can look back on yourself and treat yourself better and self-love and all those things are kind of wrapped up together. So that stuff is really important to me. The one thing I just want to throw out, because I think it goes to what you're talking about with listening, is I think that we create tethers to the planet. We've all created this reality that we live in, and then we find ways to connect to that reality. And one way we do that is make connections with other people. And I had this sort of realization when my mom passed away, I was like, it really felt like, oh, I lost, like one of those tethers to this sort of plane that we live on. And I realized that that she is one of many tethers that you you are part of creating for yourself that are through connections with other people and institutions, whatever it is here, that if you do the work to make those good and strong, then you're more connected to this place. I think a really profound one that has only been a part of my life because my mother was in AA for 40 years. You know, I never been in AA, but I went to meetings with her. I supported her through that 12 step programs were a big part of her life. And so. Bill, who created AA, many of his concepts, came from an acid trip, which is counterintuitive in our culture, because we go like, oh, that's a drug. But it's amazing because he felt this connection with other people from an acid trip. Right. And then went like, oh, if I can get all a bunch of people in the same room together, share their trauma and their pain, then they'll start to make these connections that help alleviate that trauma and pain. And that was a very psychedelic thought. AA is crazily like this template for how we can deal with almost everything, which is if we all get in a room and talk about what's grieving us, it goes away, you know, and it's shared. So I always thought that was like very cool and very underrated thing that is is helping save so many people, you know? [00:11:54][162.8]

Ronan: [00:11:54] Totally. Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, there's many levels of consistency there. But again, speaking of that trip, I went on and I was mentioning before, one of the sensations both physically and emotionally I had was that I was processing all of these harboured emotions that I had and they were literally coming out of my body physically. I was like retching even though I wasn't throwing up and didn't feel like I was throwing out my body was going through all of these things. So I think you're you're totally on point, which is it's about sharing feelings and moving them through and feeling that sense of connectedness. And certainly there's a lot of power in doing that in a group setting and sharing those feelings with people. What was it like to have a mother going through AA for 40 years? It's going to open your eyes to a lot of things. [00:12:33][38.3]

Donick: [00:12:33] It's an interesting perspective on things. And, you know, when you're a kid, you don't it's not like, oh, this is weird or this is different. It's just what it is, you know? So in a weird way, I was very accepting of that. I also, of course, was a teenager who was like, well, screw that. I'm going to go drink as much as I can, in a atmosphere that really encouraged that. So that was not necessarily even healthy or good or whatever, but I had to figure that out on my own, on my own. I think one interesting thing for me was when I was probably eight or nine, my parents went through a divorce and my mom got into AA and was like part of the problem she was having was alcohol and prescription drugs. And we didn't have any money. So I would just go along with her and color at these meetings, like in my coloring book. And we're in a very small town. And I'd be like, oh, that's my third grade teacher and whatever, you know, like there were members of the whole community sharing these stories that were like, you know, I don't know if I should be hearing all of this, what a crazy thing. But it was an interesting way to not only have a sense of how this community was built and what it was built on and that these people were sharing and helping each other. [00:13:35][62.1]

Ronan: [00:13:36] Sure. [00:13:36][0.0]

Donick: [00:13:36] Was pretty powerful. [00:13:36][0.3]

Ronan: [00:13:37] Yeah, absolutely. And have a good trip. You interview two people who have been well, one of whom was very explicit with her mental health conditions. The other one, and certainly the end of his life, flagged a lot of his mental health issues, which were Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain. And it's one of the things that I've been kind of reflecting on is you have these people talking about psychedelic experiences. You have this renaissance happening where, you know, I think some people are seeing psychedelics as a panacea, which is a is a dangerous perspective to take to this world. But then you see two people who had incredible experiences with psychedelics and extensive experience with psychedelics, both of whom carried mental health issues all the way until the end of their lives. Do you have any perspectives on that? Because it's kind of a cautionary tale, right? Which is psychedelics can open your eyes quite a bit, but they're not the end of the road by any stretch of the imagination. And I was just wondering how you felt. [00:14:29][52.7]

Donick: [00:14:30] Yeah. And we debated a lot after both of them passed. We had these wonderful interviews and were like, jeez, is it somehow a bummer to have them in the movie? Is it somehow not fair now that they're gone or something? And both of them wonderfully long and intimate interviews and shared many stories. Carrie might have been almost three and a half hours. Four hours. She brought us into our house and showed us around. And we hung out all day and just shared story after story. It was wonderful. And where we came down was like both of these people were sharing these wonderful points of view and stories from their life that they cared about. And and they spoke passionately about these things. And, you know, for example, Carrie talked about the first time she did LSD that was bipolar and the first time she did LSD, it really made the world feel like it made sense for the first time. Right. And she says very eloquently in the movie that she wouldn't recommend these for everyone now, wouldn't do them cavalierly. You know, like drugs were not the drugs that were her downfall. She actually says the movie, which was haunting afterwards, was like opiates were. [00:15:30][60.0]

Ronan: [00:15:31] Sure. [00:15:31][0.0]

Donick: [00:15:31] And Anthony Bourdain, I mean, both of these people I was big fans of in general, I think Anthony made his life work, this idea of human connection with through food and music and travel and like things that I believe in and live, you know, it's devastating that he felt like he had to get out, but I wouldn't discount his life's work because of that like that. This stuff he did was so important for us. We all need to keep that spirit alive and do more connection and together more and eat together more and share our culture together more. And, you know, so I was really excited that we had these two people that we could still share, even though they weren't here. This wisdom that they left left with us, you know. [00:16:09][38.2]

Ronan: [00:16:10] Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely, I think that I think that makes a lot of sense and there's a number of ways to reflect on it and all that kind of stuff. Like the coach I work with talks about how suicide is the ultimate expression of reality creation, right. It's like you're making the choice of when you want to leave. Tom Robbins, my favorite author, talks about how he doesn't fear death. He resents death because it shows up on your doorstep unexpected and barges in, whether you're in the shower or not. And so there's something quite powerful and tragic, but also fulfilling, I guess, on some levels about suicide. And it's interesting how psychedelics may have, you know, helped them get to where they are, who knows when they last had experiences with psychedelics before they died or anything along those lines. But it was just really poignant to me about speaking, seeing those people talking about these experiences, especially when contrasted about the excitement that's happening around psychedelics and how what potential they have. It was just interesting. [00:17:03][53.2]

Donick: [00:17:04] Yeah, we debated it a lot. And I really would love to at some point find a platform to put like a two hour version of Carrie's interview out there and she really took her through her life through the psychedelic lens, which when I was talking to her, felt like one of the fondest lenses she could put on it. And I was like, oh, what a cool opportunity for all of us to get to share that with her rather than talking about addiction and talking about things that were depressants and things that stopped her from growing, you know. [00:17:31][27.9]

Ronan: [00:17:34] Throughout my conversation with Donick, I couldn't help but to keep coming back to how he felt about releasing a movie about psychedelics that features Anthony Bourdain after he committed suicide. And Carrie Fisher, who, although she didn't commit suicide, struggled with mental health challenges for much of her adult life. Truthfully, it scared me. I've now committed my life to advancing the therapeutic applications of psychedelics through Field Trip, and Donick has now committed his career on a documentary about psychedelics. And it can sometimes feel like psychedelics can fix so much that's wrong with our world. And when you add fame and wealth and success with psychedelics like Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher experienced, it seems like it's almost unstoppable conversation for an incredible life. But here we are. Both Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher are gone from the planet. It's a good reminder that psychedelics are not a panacea. They offer a lot of hope, but they are only a ticket to ride. In the end, you have to hold on. You have to do the work. They can open the door, but you have to step through. It isn't always short or direct or easy, and even the best of us can trip and fall along the way. [00:18:44][70.3]

Ronan: [00:18:48] Now, you were a writer for The Simpsons for a number of years and talk about how The Simpsons in some ways were psychedelic, and I think you kind of touched on this about how you can get away with things through cartoons that you can't get away with live action. I think about The Simpsons as more psychedelic because I think they offered an incredible perspective on the world. And in fact, many people think that The Simpsons predicted the future in many ways. What was it like working on The Simpsons? I'm curious. Like I was such a big fan. [00:19:14][26.4]

Donick: [00:19:15] Yeah. I mean, look, I was very lucky to find a spot of The Simpsons after I had been at the Letterman Show for about six years. And it was really burning out on the daily grind of just producing a daily talk show, you know, and having material every day. And I got to the room at The Simpsons and it was like they had to, like, settle me down, like, dude, we got nine we have nine months to craft a story, get it animated, send it to Korea, comes back, we tweak it. And I had to learn that, like, storytelling is a process rather than just like crank it out. Go, go, go, go, go. That was the first wonderful lesson is like we have time. Let's figure out what we want to do. The other thing is it's animated. So you're not restrained by when you do any kind of show, you're usually restrained by the budget. So if you go in with a script that's like there at the carnival, then they have Aerosmith there and then they fly to the moon and then we're going inside his brain. You have to build all the sets and cast all those people and pay for all the songs. On The Simpsons, you could just draw it. It was the same as them sitting around the kitchen table. So there was this incredibly freeing element to storytelling. But I also think is an element that leads you into psychedelic spaces. You can think out of the box when you write that show, which you can't do on a lot of shows. I was really lucky in that they had written that it was the chili pepper chili cook off episode where Homer eats the chili and then he goes on the soul quest for find his soul mate and Johnny Cash does the voice of a spirit animal. They had written that episode they were at this phase called the Animatic, which is sort of a pencil drawing of the episode that is sort of half movements. So you can kind of see how it's working and then the writers get to do a rewrite on it based on the timing of how it's looking. And that was like my first week there. That animatic came in and I was like, what? The show is so much cooler than I even know. Like we had Johnny Cash is doing like a peyote trip. Like what? What? So that was really exciting that I was like, oh, I can even think even more of the box with how stories are told. The first episode I wrote had the Mr. Sparkle in it, which was very surreal. [00:21:16][120.9]

Ronan: [00:21:17] One of my favorites. [00:21:17][0.5]

Donick: [00:21:18] Yeah, it was very surreal. And that was Japanese culture at the time was these crazy commercials. But they were hallucinations for us in American culture. So that was really fun to explore and start to get in this other another way of doing something slightly psychedelic. And then I also wrote an episode called Going in the Wind, where Homer harvests, it's sort of a Ben and Jerry's team who make juices and he tries to help them out by harvesting everything in their garden and making juice for everyone in town. And of course, it's filled with unspecified mix of mushrooms and whatever, but is a full town trip. And then it was fun to, like, make that trippy. But then also think about like, what would Homer think is blowing minds, which took us to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl. Like that would be that would be the most psychedelic song. I was like, Oh, we want to blow minds, that song changed everything. So putting it in the head of a sometimes dumb guy, sometimes genius, like, yeah, I think it was just like a space where you could roam to the corners of your imagination is what that show has always been. [00:22:18][60.6]

Ronan: [00:22:19] So I have to ask it. Did psychedelics inspire any of the episodes or was this just a creative genius coming from you and your co writers? [00:22:26][6.7]

Donick: [00:22:27] It's funny. Like I can directly point to things that happened in my childhood that would make it into a show. That would be the impetus for stuff. You know, you often look for real human observation like things that real humans do. And then that's somehow better than cartoon characters being crazy, you know. But as far as psychedelics, I mean, you know, psychedelics, I think inform this idea or reinforce this idea that these are all cliches. But go with the flow. Follow something where it goes. Let it take you there. Let's take a look at this from the moon back to Earth and see what that looks like. And The Simpsons was a space. You could really do that in a bunch of ways. [00:23:02][35.0]

Ronan: [00:23:02] So that's amazing. Was there any pushback? Was there any political backlash or anything along those lines when those episodes came out? Because we're talking twenty plus years ago when things weren't as commonplace. You know, even twenty years ago, the conversation around cannabis, which seems to be so mainstream these days, wasn't even close to happening. So was there any pushback? [00:23:20][18.3]

Donick: [00:23:21] It's funny with the so I had this wonderful experience of starting at Letterman and then working on The Simpsons. So I work for about twelve years in show business in these two bubbles where there were no executive notes, no network notes, both of the shows made enough money that they were left alone. And this was just it was like we'd all sit around the table and debate whether we thought it was a good story or whether we thought it was funny and then that would go on TV. So there was almost no pushback. It was amazing. And then I left that going like. All right, I'm going to go to some other stuff, and it was like, oh, wow, Hollywood's really different than being in these like golden bubbles. [00:23:53][32.4]

Ronan: [00:23:54] You know, you touched on this earlier, being careful to navigate how you talk to your kids about how old are your kids and how have you spoken to your kids about psychedelics? [00:24:02][8.3]

Donick: [00:24:03] Yeah. So I have a 17 year old daughter and 11 year old son. My son plays Captain Good Trips in the movies, a little guy in a white tuxedo. But he pops up with some tips here and there through the movie including don't look in the mirror and do look in the mirror. My daughter was the we call her the is it the Ray of Hope girl. She's the girl that Steve Agee looks to for like, oh my God, she can get me out of here. And then she gives him the I'm going to kill you. I'm he's like, oh my God, she's in on it. And she flipped him the bird. And the way that happened was Steve was here at the house just sharing the story. And I was like, oh, we could just reenact this now I have a little girl in the house. My daughter, Amhedi come down here, can you flip this guy off? And she is like, what does that dad? She was probably six. And so one of my fondest memories was teaching my daughter how to flip off somebody and getting that she couldn't get that muscle at the time. She's like uh Dad. So here's how we handle that. So over the course of making this, of course, they were growing up. They started to grow and be fully questioning humans. And I was like, oh, I do want this movie to be fair, balanced. Talk about harm reduction, talk about how you can make mistakes. This isn't for everybody's brain that taking a handful of this and wandering around on subway tracks is not a good idea. There's responsible ways. These are powerful tools. Do it with caution, do it in safe spaces, all all of those things. So and then the other side of that is being a parent is what I grew up in was the just say no era, which was if you even take a drug, you'll jump out a window, you'll be addicted to crack, you'll you'll try to fly and die. And I was like as a skeptical teenager, I'm going to Grateful Dead shows. I'm going to Dead Kennedy shows I'm seeing psychedelics being used in a variety of ways, but I'm not seeing them just killing everybody who touches them. I know that's bullshit. And I know my kids. I want to raise smart questioning humans or be a part of it. I barely feel like I'm raising them. They're kind of doing it themselves. But I want them to have information and make informed decisions. That's all. All I can hope for. So I hope that the movie, some of that got into the movie, which was like, let's share a bunch of different opinions. These are real people. These are their opinions. But it was a variety of ways that this can go. As far as psychedelics go, there's no rush. I would say there's probably a thousand hours of reading you can do before you even start to think about taking drugs. You know, like like so many so many people have gone to interesting places, gained knowledge, and then shared it with us eloquently, whether it's William Burroughs or Hunter Thompson, and made terrible mistakes, by the way, and shared it in hilarious, amusing and fun ways. Read all of that and then figure out what why you're even considering it, what you're looking for, really question yourself. It's the same. I would say, you know, I always use the with kids. I go like if my daughter came to me because, like, I'm thinking about choosing a religion, I'd go like, OK, that's a big one. I'll tell you what I've learned over my lifetime. And I would say, like, do your homework first, like really examine what these do. They can be powerful stuff. They can do bad things, but in some cases they could do good things. But figure out what you need and what you're looking for and then do it the right way. You have you'll have in your gut what the right way is for you. [00:27:10][186.5]

Ronan: [00:27:10] Yeah, that's a very thoughtful answer to the conversation that I've had with my stepkids to this point has largely been similar, which is, you know, explore, understand what you're getting into, be informed, don't be reckless, but try to find the therapeutic uses out of this and not just be totally recreational go party, but teenagers are teenagers. And they're going to do it. They're going to do. But I think if you have an open conversation but it's hard, you don't know how people are going to take it. And ultimately, I guess they are their own individuals. And all you can do is, is try to share honestly and empathetically and support them in whatever their journey is. [00:27:44][33.4]

Donick: [00:27:44] I think we were really um, we were really educated by having children and having babies suddenly in our life, it was like this moment of like, all right, now I think we have to take them to Disneyland and we have to get them these Mozart videos and we have to do it like there's this whole list of stuff you're supposed to do. And there was like about six months into having our daughter, Ahmedi. There's a moment where she was just sitting in the backyard looking at like her hand or a leaf or whatever. And I was like, oh, yeah, right. Like her neural pathways are so wide open and just everything is making stuff fire off. She's on acid right now and she probably is for five or six years. She doesn't need much else then to just really look at a leaf and figure out what an ant does. And like, we don't need to overstimulate at all. You know, there's no rush to do a thousand things all at once. Take your time. [00:28:31][47.0]

Ronan: [00:28:32] You've maybe unwittingly, maybe wittingly kind of become a spokesman for for the psychedelics industry or the psychedelic renaissance that's happening right now. And I know you interview Dr. Charles Grobe in the documentary who shares his perspectives on on the way he would like to see psychedelic therapies emerge, but now that you've become a voice and a thought leader in this, curious to know how you would like to see things evolve if you have an opinion or whether your current seat right now is something that you're enjoying but don't necessarily need to carry into the future about how this space evolves. [00:29:05][32.9]

Donick: [00:29:05] There were some mistakes made in the late 60s, early 70s with people becoming authorities, because I think this is a very individualized experience and it really is not for everyone you know like but that's OK. It's a beautiful idea that if everyone took acid, we'd all like get the wisdom and connect or something. But our brains are not all wired in a way that that's helpful. I really love what Dr. Charles Grobe says, and I do think he is an expert. Like I think people should read read his research. I see and feel the mental health crisis that we have and the and the planetary crisis that we're in and this great division that we have that we don't talk to each other and we don't listen to each other. And I do think that there is some powerful help in this space, especially with mental health. I mean, so many of those things are connected, addiction and depression and and the suicide rates and homelessness like that these things all just feed into the next one. And we are out of ideas like the therapies that we've come up with in the last 50 years have hit a wall that these tools can really help in that space and with people who are going into it understanding, not going in scared, like I'm not sure what I'm doing, but understanding what they're doing, understanding how to integrate it back into their lives, having help and assistance from people who understand that space is is hugely powerful and positive. And I love that Charles Grobe is like I want therapeutic centers in nature because he gets, you know, with good music. But it's not a it's not a dance party either, though. You can dance if you need to, if that's part of your thing. I love how he's been exploring that and what he's pushing for and that some of that's coming to fruition, too, in different places. [00:30:44][98.4]

Ronan: [00:30:45] We've developed a world where we've become so focused on experts, like somehow experts know more than the average person. And I find that more and more becoming a mistake. And especially in the psychedelic sphere, it feels like you have two spectrums: people who are scientific or people who are uber just grassroots, lots of experience and not a whole lot in between. And I see humor as potentially a huge missing component in this dialog of just leveling it right and making it more approachable. So how do we how do we infuse more humor into the conversation around psychedelics without trivializing it, but also making it approachable and a little easier to digest? [00:31:26][41.7]

Donick: [00:31:27] Humor in general for anything is like one of the temples that I would say is like if you don't have a sense of humor, you're really going to be swimming upstream in a somewhat absurd and chaotic universe. You know, I do think as far as the conversations around psychedelics, getting people to be able to laugh about some of this stuff is huge. We have a tendency, like you were saying with science, we're very data driven. And yet we also dismiss scientists outright in our pop culture, conversations about stuff like, right, we have global warming. That's what scientists say. But I have this opinion. So it's somewhere in the middle and you're like, well, wait, now science is the reality, actually. So there's a place for science in this for sure. And understanding the brain, there's a lot of science that can help us, just like we barely know what our brains do and how we process stuff. And this stuff opens up some pathways that we haven't explored yet. The humor also helps with the destigmatizion. And I think the celebrities that we had help with that is that this stuff, whole bunch of people have had experiences and that they are fine and that they learn stuff. I do think that often the people who are selling psychedelics as the answer to things are evangelical about it. And it's always a little scary when people are evangelical because you're like like Sting, I thought said it in a great way. He's like I don't think they're the answer to all the world's problems, but they might be a start. And that's like the perfect way to go. Like, yeah, let's not the evangelicals, they're going to change everything and save everybody. And, you know, but they're a tool that can help with a lot of stuff. So let's have a rational conversation about that. And humor. If we can shrug and laugh about like, yeah, that's funny. Sometimes people just stare at the hand. That's ridiculous in this reality. But inside their brain, they might be figuring some shit out. That's really profound, you know. So both of those things can exist at the same time. And that is funny. [00:33:16][108.7]

Ronan: [00:33:18] Tom Robbins once wrote that a sense of humor, properly developed is superior to any religion yet devised. But he also goes on to say that religion is not only the opiate of the masses, it's the cyanide. And I think in some ways, humor, as Donick reflects on it, can be that, too. Well, I totally agree that humor can act as a doorway to open people up to seeing things from a different perspective. Too often we use it as a defense mechanism to hide from or at least avert from facing the truth head on. It like opioids numbs the pain of truth and can actually cause us to separate from who we truly are or want to be. We see this most often in sarcastic responses from friends or family that, though couched in humor, often reflect an underlying pain or hurt or discomfort. What I aspire to is a world in which we can all just be open and honest without fear of rejection, about our feelings, about our emotions. Hell, about psychedelics instead of having to hide behind humor to shield ourselves or those around us from the truth? Because as Tom Robbins also says, there are some folks who want to know and aren't afraid to look and won't turn tail should they find it. And if they never do, they'll have a good time anyway, because nothing, neither the terrible truth nor the absence of it, is going to cheat them out of one honest breath of Earth's sweet guess. [00:34:39][81.0]

Ronan: [00:34:43] I think you've done an amazing job of really introducing that dynamic to the conversation around psychedelics. So as a person who's involved in this truth of the work we're doing at fieldtrip psychedelics, I'm grateful for it and I'm grateful for your time today. This conversation has been incredibly fantastic and thoughtful and I appreciate it. I do have one or two more questions for you before we go. The first is if you could strap anyone to a table and force them to take a trip right now, who would that be? [00:35:12][28.9]

Donick: [00:35:13] Oh my God, I mean, in a hypothetical fun way. [00:35:16][3.2]

Ronan: [00:35:16] If this were a Simpsons episode. [00:35:17][1.0]

Donick: [00:35:18] Right. Right. I mean, the first thing I go to is like, you know, I look, I would never want to see Donald Trump on LSD. I don't want to know. Like his brain is so it's not nothing is good on that brain. One thing I regret is before my mom passed away, I was she had cancer and went through a lot of end of life anxiety and stuff. And I was like, I really wish that I had found the right therapeutic setting. You know, take a psilocybin either trip not necessarily with her, but like walk her through that and see what she found. She was a really interesting person who, you know, saw the world as an inspiration to create and feel things. And I was like, oh, you've been really nice to have done that. So my mom too. [00:36:01][42.8]

Ronan: [00:36:01] Now, the timing of that comment is actually quite germane because just this week, actually, a nonprofit organization in Canada has applied to the minister of health and gone public asking for the ability to be able to administer psilocybin to end of life patients outside of a clinical trial, because these people are suffering with end of life stress and Field Trip is actually a big supporter of that as well. So, you know, it's a very thoughtful and touching about your mom. [00:36:26][24.5]

Donick: [00:36:26] Yeah. [00:36:26][0.0]

Ronan: [00:36:26] We're talking right now in the midst of the covid pandemic. It seems to be winding down or maybe just getting started, to be quite honest, depending on your perspective. And some people have referred to this as the great pause. Question to you is, how have you spent the great pause and what reflections and insights have you had about yourself over the last couple of months that have been enabled through the current circumstances, whether it's the pandemic or even the Black Lives Matter movement, which is becoming so germane right now? They're so, so relevant and so important. So I think breaking it out of our molds exactly as psychedelics really do. So wondering where your head has been at through this time? [00:37:05][38.4]

Donick: [00:37:05] You know, I think there's one big one is be kind to yourself. It's OK that you didn't get everything done today or this week. The idea of one day at a time has really been profoundly felt for the first time. I think my mom always said that when she was learning a 12 step and that now I'm like, all right, that's all we got to do, just do today. That's what we're doing. Let's try to have some meaningful moments. Let's try to be kind to the people we can be kind to, maybe reach out to somebody haven't said hi to in a while or whatever. The other one that for me, I feel good on days where I make something. Where I'm part of a creative force in the world and trying to make something, whether it's whether it's even as simple as like, oh, I worked on a documentary that I had an idea of. I wrote some pages. I worked on a script. When I make stuff, I feel like I'm contributing to this plane in some way, not in a big way necessarily, but just even in a little way. You know? [00:38:00][54.5]

Ronan: [00:38:00] No, that's amazing. I think one of the unique positions you have as a creator, as a creative, is that you get to make maps, you know, you get to extend the way people think and push beyond boundaries. So I think it's wonderful. So on that note, one final question. Can we expect a Have a Good Trip, part two at any point in the future? [00:38:18][17.3]

Donick: [00:38:18] We are so excited to potentially make a series out of this. We did a lot of interviews. We at some point had to just decide like, all right, let's just use this for the movie. That's enough for this movie. But we saved amazing stories from people like Patton Oswalt and Bootsy Collins and 50 other just great people who aren't in the movie, not because they didn't have something good to say just because we were like, we want to let these breathe. We also think that there's there's so many people like Charles Grobe, who would be fun to talk to and include whether it's a shaman in Peru or the team at Field Trip, just like what you're doing, what you're exploring, have that be part of it. Know that you're coming into a comedic space to talk about this and you can let have some levity about it. [00:39:01][42.5]

Ronan: [00:39:01] I could if I had hair, let my hair down in that circumstance. [00:39:03][2.1]

Donick: [00:39:04] Exactly right. [00:39:05][0.8]

Ronan: [00:39:05] Please let us know what we can do to support you on that, because I would love to see that happen. To have you along for the ride, certainly appreciative of your time today and joining me and looking forward to continuing the dialog. It's a great time for change to be happening. And it's super exciting to see psychedelics really be, I think, instrumental to the future evolution of our consciousness and humanity. And I think you're playing a huge part in it through your voice and through Have a Good Trip. And looking forward to continuing this. [00:39:31][25.4]

Donick: [00:39:32] Right on, thanks Ronan. [00:39:32][0.3]

Ronan: [00:39:36] My discussion with Donick unveiled several key points about human connection and our ability to learn from one another. First, humor is one of the greatest delights in life, but it can also be used as a defense mechanism to avoid the truth. Have a Good Trip is a perfect example. Funny, insightful, but also framed in a way so as not to offend or to be too provocative. Psychedelics are an amazing tool, but they're only that a tool. At the end of the day, they help us get on a path to a happier, more empathetic and more creative life. But we still have to do the work. That's a wonderful but lifelong gift and journey. Finally, the relationships you keep are reflection of how you see yourself in your place in the world. Relationships can characterize the life we're currently living and can always cultivate learning and awareness. For me, positive relationships start with empathy for ourselves and for others. And if we're able to see the world through someone else's eyes, we can gain perspective into our own behaviors and emotions. If you can look at your relationships with empathy and sometimes humor, you'll learn an incredible amount about yourself. [00:40:43][67.3]

Ronan: [00:40:50] Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. Until next time. Stay curious. Breathe properly. And remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy and produced by Conrad Page. Our researcher is Sharon Bhella. Special thanks to Quill. And of course, many thanks to Donick Cary for joining me on this episode. Let's stay connected and keep this field trip going. Subscribe to our podcast. Tell us what you think about it and sign up for our newsletter at www.fieldtripping.fm. [00:40:50][0.0]

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About Ronan

An entrepreneur and a visionary, Ronan is one the founders of Field Trip – with a mission to bring the world to life through psychedelics and psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy. Concurrent with his work at Field Trip, he is a partner at Grassfed Ventures, a venture capital and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotech industries and is Chief Strategy Officer and Member of the Board of Directors for Trait Biosciences Inc., a leading biotech company in the hemp and cannabis industries. Prior to his current roles, Ronan co-founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx Inc., the latter of which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) in 2016, after which he served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs for Aurora. A lawyer by training, Ronan started his career as a corporate lawyer at Blake, Cassels Graydon LLP and Legal Counsel at CTVglobemedia Inc. (now Bell Media Inc.) He holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, both from the University of Toronto.