Men Who Take Baths

Dillan Ponders

Canada, 2021
Psychedelics made me face me.

When you hear the term toxic masculinity, what comes to mind for you?

Toxic masculinity opens the gates to homophobia, misogyny, and all types of discriminatory behaviors. It's toxic because it doesn't necessarily uplift anyone around that energy. It does the exact opposite. It's frustrating.

What are you doing in your life to try to dismantle some of these ideas? 

When you look at the problem and how big it is, it gets discouraging. It's easier to kind of be the example that you want to see. I'm sure that sounds a little cliché, but I really mean it. I try to guide and lead everything I do with love and openness and patience for all types of people and perspectives. I feel like if I do that, whether or not I have a platform, it gives people permission to do the same in their own life, in their own way. So I guess living it, trying to be the change I want to see….

…in the world? Did you come up with that?

I actually just thought of that.

I thought so.

I'm going to get ready for the zingers today.

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What comes to mind when I say mental health?

I feel like the first thing I think about with mental health is that your health depends on how you treat your mental. 

When it comes to men's mental health, I feel like we live in this box where we, as men, care too much about how we're perceived and if we're manly enough. The things that are equated with not being manly is opening up about depression. There are so many barriers. I don't really know where to start. I'm not sure. That's a big one.

It is.

You guys put me in lava.

Do you want to put some cold water in there?

I'm really sweating. I’m so hot. At first, I'm like 'this is nice, I can do this.' Then I started to hear my skin sizzle, and I'm like something's off. I can't articulate my thoughts while I'm burning alive! 


Who or what taught you about the importance of mental health?

It wasn't necessarily a class or seminar. It was watching my parents closely. They're both very loving, caring, and open-minded people. My dad would always take time at the end of his shift to go outside and read or smoke or take time to himself to process, so as not to take out his day-to-day frustrations on the family, which is really easy to do when you see them every day.

My mom was very similar. She always found a way to step back and take in everything but not necessarily let it take over her.

Learning by example through my parents and my older sister, who now lives in Sweden. My parents never sat down and said "mental health is important because..." It was just a given in our household. Like, if you're not right mentally, you can't necessarily put forth your best foot. 

When my parents divorced, I made the conscious decision not to resent them for where life took them. My dad didn't grow up with a dad, and I think that made him want to be everything that wasn't there for him. I think not even consciously, but subconsciously, it's like he was thinking "I didn't have someone to be there for me after school, to come to defend me when I was getting bullied, or to talk to me about what to say and what not to say." I think that's what gave my dad the ammunition to be such an amazing father.

Both my parents are great. They're really great examples of human beings. I'm very proud to be related to them. 

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What in your life has had a profound impact on who you are today?

Psychedelics broke down the narrative and the perspective I had built around myself. When you walk through this planet, you're very conscious of how you're perceived or how you want to be perceived; at least most people are, I would assume. When I say psychedelics, I'm specifically referencing mushrooms, but I've dibble-dabbled in a couple of others like dimethyltryptamine and LSD, which are great.

But I didn't just get together with some frat boys, eat acid, and go look at boobs. I went into the trips with intention. I have some childhood trauma I want to face that I don't really face on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, when you get into a deep psychedelic trip, you have no choice but to face all of yourself, even the things that you shove under the rug.

Recently I went on a trip with a shaman. I went blindfolded and I drank psilocybin in liquid form and laid down for about six hours, which felt like a lifetime, and chased myself through my mind. I don't really have a way to articulate the effect it had on my routines, but it was pretty profound. For me, they were a tool rather than just something to experiment with.


What do you think it is about psychedelics that allowed you to work through some blockades that you had within yourself?

There's something about the psychedelic membrane that forces you to face you, plainly. I'm not sure what it is.

I love mushrooms. But I'm not here saying "do psychedelics it'll be great for you." Everyone has their own journey. A lot of people have bad trips because they weren't ready for the trip. It's hard to be really ready for something like that, but at least, mentally prepared. 

Psychedelics made me face me. I mean, my brain naturally hides traumatizing experiences as time passes. It's just like, "you don't want to think about this." You kind of swing through the vines of your brain when you're on a deep trip: the childhood traumas, the first breakup, your first kiss. The good and the bad, it's all kind of happening. Having to face those things was just really, really profoundly positive in my life.

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I think for anybody that has done psychedelics, they understand, or at least have an idea of, the importance of an integration period. Can you talk to me about your experience with that?

When you go into a trip, it's really good to have an intention, whether it's to face something you haven't thought about in years or anything along those lines.

The integration period is equally as important because a lot of people will go to Peru with the idea of doing ayahuasca like it's going to change their life. So, they have this profound experience and then they come back to their lives and go back to the same routine, same habits, same day-to-day things that got them stressed out and wanting to escape in the first place.

The integration period is a time when you can reflect on your trip, what you learned, the parts of yourself that you want to keep and grow, and the parts of yourself that you want to shed and leave behind.

The integration period offers that kind of clarity as to how you want to take your next steps in life and how you want to guide those steps. Are they going to be guided by fear or are they going to be guided by love? Are they going to be guided by excitement? 

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Do you think psychedelics could help men access and express deeper parts of themselves?

Yes, I do. But there are two sides to that coin too because not everyone is in a place in their life where they're ready to be profoundly affected by psychedelics in a positive way. I do definitely think that psychedelics are an amazing tool to enhance the progression of helping people get through their mental health issues. But, every individual is different.

I have a buddy who's microdosed and macrodosed mushrooms, and he said he's just never had a good experience. I'm not exactly sure what his upbringing was like, but they're just not really for him. He finds other ways to try and get through whatever he's going through. What works for me might not necessarily work for you, or the next person.

But I do definitely think there are some healing principles, both mentally and physically in psychedelics, for sure.

Can you talk to me about the toll of cancel culture and how we can start to truly heal?

It's crazy because, with cancel culture, a lot of people are judged in a very small keyhole. Like, they don't necessarily get to see the bigger picture that led to whatever this person is being canceled for. When you just kind of leave someone in the wind and say, "You're canceled, you don't matter anymore," that will significantly affect how that person goes through the rest of their life. It'll affect how secure they are with who they are as a person. It will affect their confidence and how they speak to people.

We have this mass, this large amount of information coming in all the time, but no ways to properly process the validity of all the incoming information. So, we take everything at face value and then we judge and we shun.

Cancel culture has been around before social media, it has just taken a new form now. I think that's the opposite of how you get people to heal and how you get people to own up to the mistake they made. I'm not really a big fan of the concept, but I do know that it exists. I try to maneuver through it as best I can and be patient with people.


What does being a man mean to you in our current time?

I think being a man represents being someone that people feel safe around. You represent strength, but not physically, more emotionally and mentally. Even if you're going through mental health issues, being a man, to me, represents someone you feel safe around.

Being a good human, be it a man or woman, means having an inviting personality, being open to different perspectives, not believing in the hierarchy of people based on race or sexual preference or gender. 

To put it in a nutshell, it's being someone people of all backgrounds feel comfortable around no matter what your size or stature. I think that's the best way I can answer that question.

What does equality look like?

It's the understanding that we'll never fully understand each other. With that comes patience. I mean, we all are just flesh and blood with beating hearts. That's everything we need to have in common and everything else is background noise. I think equality kind of revolves around that notion, which is that we are all actually equal.

A lot of people don't believe in equality. How can you start to have that conversation if you think you're more important than someone who lives in a Third World nation or someone who lives in a trailer, or whatever the example is? You can't even address that conversation if you don't even believe in the actual idea. In reality, we are all equal. 

What is your personal philosophy? How do you choose to move through this world?

I always wonder why my soul was placed in this flesh vehicle. That question is going to be burning in my soul forever.

I do genuinely believe that there is more to life than what we read and what we see. What I move through this plane of existence with, is trying to be the best version of Dillan, whatever that looks like to me.

I feel like when I walk into a room, I want everyone to feel excited, motivated, and happy. Not that I live my life for other people, but I think in a sense, I kind of do. I don't wake up and think, "I need to wear this today so I'm not judged by this person," but I do hope that said person feels good when I enter the room. I hope they feel safe.

It's more like being of service.

As a musician, it's beautiful to be able to capture my perspective and put it out and have people enjoy it. They smile when they hear it, they tell their friends about it, and it feels good. Time just completely disappears when you're listening to a song you love, or you're watching something you enjoy. Creatively, that excites me.

I want to set an example for future generations of what it is to be a solid human. Like, just a decent, flawed human being, and it's OK. There's no omnipresent judge watching over everything you're doing. You're the one watching you all the time, you know? Try to make yourself feel good. 

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Are you the man you want to be now? Are you living how you want to be living?

Totally. Absolutely. And that's not to say I'm perfect. That's not to say that at all. I have a lot of growing to do in so many ways.

I recently got out of a really long relationship, but how we ended was amicable and respectful because I've known this person for about 20 years. I wish her the best.

I think in my lifetime, I've experienced true love unconditionally from my family and in this relationship. Being able to become someone who is in service of someone and uplift them every day and be there through all of the ugly parts of life, that's a new tool in my kit. I can be like, "Oh, I did that." I still got this person's back anytime she calls me. I got her back for life.

Things like that make me proud of myself. You have to have moments where you're like, "Hey, that was stupid, Dillan" or, "Yo, that was sick." You have to even it out.

I think I'm living in my purpose and I definitely have a lot of growing to do. I will continue to do it at the pace that I desire, which is rapidly. I do think that I'm slowly becoming the person that I want to see in this world. I'm becoming that. 

Yes, it's good. We should high five.

Did we nail it?

We nailed it.

Champagne time?


Rubber duckies?

I have a giant bowl of rubber duckies ready to deploy.

This can't be life.

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