I’d got into this state — I was working as a lab assistant at the school, and what would happen was that I’d make tremendous efforts to push myself up to a level of optimism. I’d do it in the evenings by reading poetry, thinking, writing in my journals, then I’d go back to the school the next day and blaaahhh, right down to the bottom again. This was the feeling of The Mind Parasites — there’s something that waits until you’ve got lots of energy and just sucks you dry like a vampire. This sudden feeling that God was making fun of me made me feel one day, “For God’s sake, let’s not have any more of this nonsense. I’m damned if I’ll be played about with like this. Let me kill myself.” And immediately I felt this, I felt a curious sense of inner strength. So I went off to night school quite determined that what I was going to do was to take down the bottle of potassium cyanide from the reagent shelves and drink it. I knew that cyanide burns a hole in the bottom of the stomach [sic]and kills you within seconds. Well, I went into the classroom quite determined.
There was a group gathered around the professor at the desk. I went over to the reagent shelves, I took down the bottle of potassium cyanide, I uncorked it, and as I started raising this to my lips I suddenly had an extremely clear vision of myself in a few seconds’ time with an agonizing pain inthe pit of my stomach, and at the same time I suddenly turned into two people. I don’t mean that literally, but I mean that there was I, and there beside me was this silly, bloody little idiot called Colin Wilson who was in a state of self-pity and about to kill himself, and I didn’t give a damn whether the fool killed himself or not. The trouble was, if he killed himself he’d kill me too. And quite suddenly a terrific sense of overwhelming happiness came over me.
…ever since then I recognized that the answer lies in crisis. You see, we feel really alive when we are in what you might call “all systems go” states. If you can actually get yourself into this state where adrenalin is flooding in, when you’re really intensely concentrating on something, then you feel fully alive.
… That’s what fascinated me so much, this notion that we are actually free — that we get these curious moments in which freedom floods over us with a kind of explosion that suddenly shakes us awake. It’s what the Buddhists call enlightenment. Whenever it hits you, you get this strange feeling of, “My God, of course.” Then of course you wake up the next morning saying, “Of course what?”
–Colin Wilson on