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“Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.”

—From Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Try walking around with a little puppy in your arms or on a leash, all fresh and fluffy. Everyone who sees you will come over and want to pet it and get licked in the face. They will make delighted sounds, sighs, gestures. The love will leak out and get all over you. You will feel wonderful.

Walk around empty-handed; see what kind of love you get.

Maybe I’m being cynical. Isn’t there plenty of love in the world? We don’t need to carry puppies and kittens around to feel it. And what is it anyway, this, how do you say it . . . . LOVE?

One night, a long time ago, I tripped on mushrooms with some friends. During the “experience,” I got hung up on the word LOVE. What does it really mean, LOVE? I was pestering my companions, trying to get someone to engage with me, and they of course wanted nothing to do with my question or the dark place to which it was taking me.

Rule #1 on mushrooms: No troublesome questions.

My friends were busy making faces at each other in the glare of a light bulb; they were passing around an upturned desk lamp. They held it under their chins to cast dramatic shadows. Lots of laughs.
But I wanted to talk about LOVE. What is it?
Eventually I gave up and took my turn with the desk lamp. Unfortunately, I stretched my mouth too wide and burned the bottom of my chin on the hot bulb.

Rule #2 on mushrooms: Don’t cut, burn, or hurt yourself in any way.

So my next brilliant move was to retreat, alone, to the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror.

Rule #3 on mushrooms: NO MIRRORS!

Well, a layer of skin was missing from my face. It was the tiniest of surface burns, maybe 1 cm in diameter. Hardly worth worrying about. But I was on mushrooms. So it was a big problem. Luckily, two friends came to find me in the bathroom and fish me out of my spiraling horror.


Enough love to keep me going. And I have always been one to settle for enough. Let’s not be greedy.

But I’m starting to think it’s okay to be greedy, when it comes to love. As they say, there’s plenty to go around. It’s self-generating, or replicating, or something like that. Or it should be. The good stuff certainly replenishes, the “self love.” That’s the kind that multiplies and eventually starts to spread outward, turning you into a human puppy. At least that’s what I’ve heard. Or maybe I dreamed it.

If I want to be a human puppy, and of course I do, then I have to go inside, I have to get in there somehow, and ask a few important questions. And that’s like taking a journey to the center of the earth.

So. How do I get to the center of the earth?