Ayahuasca #3: Little boy

Little boy in shadow

Memories, thoughts, and visions of the universe were all swimming through my mind in rapid succession. I couldn’t keep up. So many different sparks of thought and emotion vying for my attention. My ego was trying futilely to make sense of it, incorporate it, integrate it into something coherent, something sensical. It was failing and I was on the brink of complete overwhelm.

All the competing thoughts and energy created a dull roar of confusion and static in my mind.

But below the noise, I was beginning to make out a distinct sound, just a low, faint whimper in the distance amid the chaos. It was so faint and weak that it would have been easy to just drop it, let it blend and fade into the chaos.

“Help!”

I couldn’t hear the words, but I felt them.

“Help!” the “voice” persisted.

“Help me.”

The words kept coming, in the voice of a small boy, no older than five or six.

They were just barely discernable, drowning in the chaos of thought and energy around them, clinging to a raft, mouth just barely above water. Something compelled me to keep listening to this boy, but it felt almost impossible. I couldn’t seem to overcome the forcefulness of all the other voices whooshing around my being, pulling at my attention. I felt a deep internal struggle between competing desires and focuses, pulled in twenty different directions at once.

“QUIET!”



All of a sudden, a voice I had never before heard, much older, wiser, and forceful than the first, shouted. It demanded silence from everything in my being. Everything inside me immediately went quiet, a stillness I had never experienced before. Soon enough, the boy started up crying, pleading for help, pleading to be seen.

After a few moments of silence, the voices and chaos around me started up again.

“QUIET! We will all listen to the boy and only the boy now,” the voice insisted again.

This time they remained silent for good.

I crept up to the boy. I could sense now that the boy was me, as a young boy. I could now feel what the little boy was feeling. I became him. He felt invisible to all around, sad, the kind of sadness that can’t fully be explained or described.

I enveloped him in my arms, cradled him in a long embrace, telling him I was here and he had nothing to worry about. I sat there soothing him, comforting him anyway I knew how. He began to cry. And then I began to cry, both in my psyche and in my physical body visible to all around me in the circle. I hadn’t cried this hard in years.

I told the boy he was safe now. He had nothing to worry about. He would never have to be alone again. I was here now and I’d always be here with him. He would never be alone, invisible again. He smiled and went to sleep.


That night was a night of firsts. It was the first time I truly came upon the little boy that lives inside me, that still carries all the insecurities and awkwardnesses of my childhood, that still has no idea how to operate in the world, that still finds a way to influence my thoughts and behaviors today without me realizing it. It was also the first time I had fully acknowledged that while that young boy is part of me, I am also now a completely different person, separate from all the insecurities and weaknesses that plagued him. I can leave them behind now and step more fully into the real me. And it was the first time I heard and felt my king, the knowing in the deepest part of my being that guides me, that knows instinctively what is best for me, that is the most essential me before all thought and ego.

A year later, in another ceremony, I happened upon that same little boy. He was in a field in the sun running around, playing, rejoicing. He was finally in a place where he felt seen and that he belonged. He smiled at me and turned around to continue playing.


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Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA with his partner Sara, child Owen, and cat Winnie.

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