It began with an argument and just got more complicated. I vanished and was whooshed up somewhere. I had no idea who, what, where, even when and certainly not how. I thought I had fallen asleep and had one of those out of body experiences. Then I figured I had suddenly died and was leaving the body at a remarkable speed but I was convinced very shortly that was not the case. Then I felt I may be dreaming the whole thing. It was not an actual out of body experience but a dream with that as a prominent feature.
I remember objects and light, speech even, a gesture and then I was gone. I spent a good deal of time in utter fright trying to figure it out. I kept feeling for my body. It seemed to be there. But I wasn't wearing any apparatus that would keep me alive in the anger of space. I always viewed it as the silent machine that would take everything in the end. I knew I was in a definite coordinate because there, below me, was Earth. The brilliance of Earth!
I kept asking myself, "why haven't I been annihilated yet?" Funny how that phrase kept entering my mind since I had read a bit of modern physics and was told, with conviction, that the universe was a great void, a vacuum and was not sustainable for life. Only precious pockets like Earth could provide the sustenance necessary to let the living live. Later I learned how to maneuver so that I could go down to the surface but at first I was lost; a pathetic newbie to the old salt less ocean of space. And even though I was not by nature a conspiratorial type I believed it was not a coincidence I was here or that more were involved in this strange occurrence.
So much at the pivot to turn so the flint gives the spark and the wheel is lifted into a new angle of attack. So that little Earth fades and all our markings so much endearing nonsense we salute it on our way into the darkness. And the darkness was a coiling thing so we couldn't avoid the feeling a being spun at incredible speed so that what we thought was ourselves peeled off in layers, along with parts of our body and we saw it all floating without, as yet, a voice to make it real.
We wanted to shout, "goodbye you rat world! You fools paradise!" And the faster we spun and the more disembodied we became we could see so precisely down there, down into the all-know, the totality of it like looked to me, at that moment, like a shined up beggar bowl with colorful worms trying to get inside. And then the ice flew by like a huge planet itself.
There is a terrifying moment when the polarities reverse and the next face you see is gruesome.
"Are we expanding?" we have already asked. "Or are we imploding and will be crushed by our own material?" We wanted to know but there was silence. It was a good silence, a fair silence considering the vast night we were in. It was a spectacular island of nothingness lit up here and there but we already knew those lights were huge.
We wanted to see the surface of Mars but there was nothing but the taste of ions. Mars would come with some good structure I was certain of that. But it didn't come and I felt a bit betrayed as if I had been put me harm's way and then of perp had run off somewhere.
In this sudden turn of events what had been so familiar became shattered. It produced a sinking feeling, a nauseated sense that perhaps all those who I thought were wrong were right after all. Perhaps there was more to things than the obvious. The women I knew had odd theories they had attempted to foist on me. "There are spaceships behind Halley's comet," one said. Another believed that flying saucers were seen going and coming in the cone of Mt. Lassen, a mountain I had climbed around in my youth. Another female acquaintance insisted that in the ancient days extraterrestrials had come down and had intercourse with human women to produce a new species. And I had lived with a woman who believed she could telepathically communicate with a "space being," as she called it named Zogar. She had printed some of his messages in the margins of dictionaries she had on the bookshelf. "Zogar says the Earth is disliked in the rest of the universe." "Zogar dreams of black Earth women."
In a moment of horror I thought that this sudden voyage would meet up with all of these entities that the women I knew believed in and the universe would be revealed as something different than I thought it was.
And it was a blazing light and I did light up, unprepared for the joy that filled me as though, at that moment, I truly knew what I had always wanted to know.
My fleeting glances of Earth proved to me that it was a shimmering beauty with this odd symmetry to it made me feel homesick even moments after the event. "If this is the last I see of you," I cried out, "you have left a wonderful impression."
My life on the surface had been difficult and painful. I had known the misery that one has when they know they are something but treated as if they are nothing. I had known poverty in bad cities and broken relationships that meant the heart flares out quickly and what is left? Buildings and roads. Steel and asphalt.
I felt myself tumbling but strangely, not sick, not yet at any rate. I expected to run into something or fall into an infinite hole I had read about while on earth. There was no opposition, only sensation. And while it happened I became very happy with the situation and wanted to continue the voyage in this manner. But just as soon as I felt everything was good, nearly perfect, I felt that odd resistance I had felt as a young man venturing out among the people. "Look down, look through this guy and don't let him up," so the song seemed to go. It didn't bother me until I wanted to do something positive, then it was as if this opposition had the power to eradicate everything that was good in myself, everything that was struggling to get out. That's how I remembered it in the tumbling state at any rate.
I never questioned why I was alert, breathing (apparently) and thinking thoughts. I knew I was dead. That was the size of it. So this is it, this is what people fear so much! But it was so much fun I thought. Then I thought, no it is like those dreams I had when younger and under extreme pressure when I would sleep and at some point would feel myself rush out of my body and fly into space to meet up with horrendous monsters that preyed on my naivete and who scorned me rather than harm me. But now, in those instances I simply opened my eyes and I was back in bed good as new. "The mind is a terrible place," I would think to myself then think again as I woke up. "There is something sublime in the old brain," and then I would forget the event as the day caught up with me.
Then it struck me that I was not dead. That for some reason I was chosen to fly out and meet the universe on its own terms. That seemed to be a logical event to occur considering that we were exploring it.
"Yes, our mind goes where the probes go whether there are people on board or not."
Out to where the structure is sublime and darkness dominates.
We wrap our way around it in a good senseless style figuring the goal will be met.
What tensile strength as we approach some solid object! There are no creatures, only invisibilities.
So there it was. Everything I had known and felt. All those battles that seemed to tear the living energy out of me, all the aspiration, all the heart-ache. There, an almost infinitesimal spot covered by a cloud or clump of trees. It was Eden for a while, then a Hell. I shook myself from the Hell and entered a middle phase that had neither angels nor devils but ate up time like some invisible ghoul hee-heeing in the background. "Please don't do this to me," I would plead, silently at first. I heard nothing but the roll of tires and a jet travelling high above me. Then I would get hungry or had to do some menial chore and did my duty.
I did love it so! Even the treachery had a bit of poetry in it. Someone had conceived of a large plan and I had been the victim. My insides tumbled like I was falling from the tallest building but the effect wore off soon enough.
The further removed I was from Earth the more nostalgic I got for my time spent there. A brief sigh, that was it. But what radiance poured through my brain! We were more than just animals, I convinced myself of that long before. Not better, mind you, but different.
I sped around, out here, I had no consciousness of time, even of space. Well, especially of space. It was a permanent darkness, cool, bearable but I felt free and without a care.
I thought of my brother and how he never believed in much of anything. He should be out here now, I thought so that his heart and mind could feel what life is capable of. It was not power but freedom, liberation that was the thing.
He always wanted to beat me at anything, a game, a test, the quality of our lives. It could be anything and he always wanted to be the best. I didn’t care too much. When I did better I assumed that was the way it should be and that made him even angrier. I guess it was anger. That was a part of the beast I could never figure out. What drove him to want to beat me every time?
Did I say I knew Eden? Yes, Eden a place where the unrelenting halts and music takes place. And in the context of the music so much loveliness, so much of a good thing; richness dropped note by note and I felt wonderfully large and happy. That was Eden, perhaps a slight one. It was one the media would never pick up on. "Man Finds Eden in a Few Pieces of Music." And then the tale that would make the audience laugh at another goofball who slipped over the edge because life was too much.
But I knew Eden and the world sailed on without me. What a happy stand I made! It was that one fatal step though, the one to Hell that did me in or, at least, sobered me of the idea Eden was real or attainable. Maybe once but never again after the trip through Hell. It was a most frightening thing. Yet I had jobs and met with people all during that trip through Hell. I had no control over it. I was there and suddenly surrounded by its inhabitants, its secrets and strangeness. The inhabitants were monsters, yes, or evil gnome creatures but it was their convincing arguments that I was in the real world, the one that actually counted that got to me.
I don't like thinking on those days. Bad things happened. I sold items not belonging to me, I disgraced my own talents and was embarrassed by myself. I lacked all self-respect and went through the streets like a lost puppy. I began to understand the nature of things. I suddenly knew why men murder and women scheme. And before I knew it the world was filled with murderers and schemers. It was nothing else! That's when I did a few bad things. "I am one of them!" I thought to myself. "I've been tricked into becoming one of them." This thought drove me nuts for a long time. I had seen them in Eden as one see's crowds of the anonymous from a steel and glass building. But now I was among them. And they all knew where I had been and where I had come from so I felt helpless.
From the long-away darkness Eden appeared as the goad of necessity. And I could hear them on the surface chanting, "now it is heaven, now it is earth, now heaven, now earth." It went on and on. It could be a shock to the system to see how the disillusionments of heaven and earth moved the creature. But they always snapped into place, almost by design I finally figured out.
I never felt my eyes damaged or changed by the swift movement of my body, apparently rushing out into space. But those eyes were like the lenses of Mount Hamilton. Or in the Hawaiian Islands. They zoomed right down on the most meticulous detail of life. Images were cast up and away like refuse and they would blow by me at amazing speed, almost alive I thought as though they had a shred of consciousness and knew their new destination. I could see them coming at me and then a sensation went through me as the flushed images seemed to merge and pass through as though I were a mote or shadow.
I did enjoy watching the global pratfalls and silent comedies played out daily on the planet that I had once belonged to. Grimaces driving freeways, averted distrusting eyes on elevators, bums pissing in gutters along beautiful city avenues, the wonderful poor fixing their next meal on hibachi's in some Asian monstrosity, housewives smelling husbands shirts for a hint of indiscretion, Hollywood star masturbating in front of TV while alternating between tears and laughter, an old woman who can't read does the crossword puzzle all day and night, oh on and on it went. The Earth was now a spinning thing, almost a song the way it rotated in the lustrous black surrounding it, the cool white caps like to keep the thing holding together although science told me it was a different property.
Well, who hasn't become a poet when he has zoomed outside the confines of the Earth? With the knowledge that it is not the cleverness of other human beings propelling him but some invisible spirit he has believed in.
I had become a rather sardonic poet because it was obvious to me that everything on Earth was false and the poor men and women wondering about didn't have a clue, would die clueless perhaps to be reborn again into another clueless body. I wasn't sure about the theology but they simply didn't realize that all they held in high esteem had been destroyed eons ago yet here they were worshipping it as if it had come down yesterday. And I don't mean ancient astronauts who are real but have never been to Earth.
It is simply an endless gauze.
I was thrilled to discover if I said a word it would continue out in the same tone through the darkness in front of me forever or so it seemed. I would say, "good" and each letter would traipse out and say itself as well as the word, the four letters, even the two oo's would say themselves and the word itself and be a chain that was very articulate to the ends of space.
A word would float on and on but I so wanted to hear a timpani or a small bell and listen to it carry away through the waves and waves of stuff we were moving through. I would chase that sound to the end of time! I would make that a goal and glide behind it hearing it forever, gliding swiftly in the uncanny spaces where sounds stand still.
My mind had developed a terrible habit though. Every time I went through the raptures of sound all the sounds I was familiar with on Earth came rushing around my head and pressed me in toward this sick feeling, this nauseating sense that I was being oppressed. Of this terrible cacophony several noises stood out. One was the constant slurp of water brushing against a boat at berth. Another was a boom box from my days living in wonderful cities and travelling by bus to different vital destinations. And, for some reason, the sound this machine made that I saw by the side of the street. It leapt up and down, side to side and emitted what sounded like enormous farts, high pitched and long. The normal noises of engines, wheels, conveyor belts, horns, sirens and such didn't appear out of the mess but they were there.
At that time I had no desire to find out the constituent matter or what made up the universe. I could sense the physicists were quite wrong and had concocted ideas based on an initial fallacy but that was neither here nor there with me. It was something. It wasn't God. It was but it wasn't. I didn't know. Nothing told me it was so. Nothing told me it wasn't so. The physicists had plucked off the top layer but there were many layers to go and surprises to be met.
In these spaces the emotions are clean and thorough. It is not a mystery why we weep. And laughter is our finest guide.
I never once forgot how it felt to walk along the pathway of a great park, in the summer, attacked by flies and bugs of every description while trying to keep the sun at bay. Even though I seemed as though I could whisk around far distances in short times, I noted the significance of feeling bound and physical. "When the heat goes deep in your lungs and you want to taste a drop of water from your canteen."
The Earth called back to me to remember her physicality. That meant especially what was wild, raging, and uninhabited. There were places where cred was established by the number of bodies it had claimed whether a river, mountain, or desert. The Earth seemed pleased at this for some odd reason. "Oh Earth that can not speak, are you that filled with revenge on these poor creatures?"
It was as if the hole she had let the humans escape from shamed her and gave her nothing but regrets.
There were clearly (and I didn't know this as I stood on the Earth all those years) phantoms and ghosts crisscrossing the planet the reason for which I couldn't make clear. They would hover and then zoom down and disappear. I never saw any expressions but they had body like shapes. I laughed and remembered who had called it right on that score. Ah, they had been visited without knowing the reason for the visit. I had listened to a woman describe her molestation by the ghost with disdain and was partly sorry that I didn't provide any comfort for her. It seemed so silly that a ghost could molest a living being.
Once in a while an old movie would jet right next to me the actor or actress, long dead, saying a platitude or cliche while made up to look like minor gods. Strangely it was not the movies I had seen or was familiar with but those I didn't know had existed. Movies about tugboats or femme fatales in China and so on. When the camera locked onto a picture of a city skyline I would lock on it with great concentration and imagine walking in and among the city even as it had been built over several times over the generations. What is life without knowledge of the tongue of buildings? And always a kind of futility as the picture flit, held, then vanished as quickly. "This made livings for people. The audience was sincere and believed most of what they saw. Didn't they know how vain it all was?" Perhaps they did I didn't think too hard on the question as the movie image disappeared before I was able to fully comprehend it. I knew now what they meant about the transmission of images radiating out into space. When I focused on it the Earth was streaming enormous amounts of information from the poles and equator region that, in itself, would have made a decent story.
I was, frankly, more impressed with the clouds I observed then effluvia upchucking from various regions of the planet. Later I found out there were some in the universe who used those gassed out images as resources. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I knew now why gobs of information were created daily, where it went to, how it ejected into space and how it was used by others, not necessarily smarter than humans but more needy in a way unfathomable to the human being.
There was emergence I could see that plainly. Developments occurred. It led up to the very moment I left, in a manner of speaking, and went out here where, frankly, there was nothing to hold onto. All things that happened were seeded in the beginning. Yes, I saw that. It became it's own kind of proof. As was our consciousness that we knew that and what followed. I could say what followed but that would ruin an interesting story. We had developed far enough along to realize that the scales that once determined were no longer on us and we were free. The sadness in seeing how this freedom was first used! I was beyond crying about it but it was as sad a tale, really a series of them and I spent a few moments, that could have been centuries, observing the ways we had used freedom. It was shameful until I realized that we were at the beginning and at the beginning there is error and awkwardness so it made a bit of sense. It was a mocking kind of sincerity, this freedom. It was empty without retrieving rare instances of truth and resource from the lived past. The few who grasped this were grimacing all the time and concerned that they'd be found out and humiliated in ways to knock them silly.
I could see those who hands described the parameters of something they believed would contain significance. No, I laughed. It was a good old fashioned belly laugh. "First you align, then you peer into the smallest aperture, then you see infinity." And then all possibility returns to the disillusioned spirit and the mind knows God. It was an embarrassment to say that word. Not because it didn't seem real as a word but that it was realer than real. The word failed at the full dimension of what it described.
"Oh men down there, you must see through what surrounds you and get on the other side of it." I was cheering them on as they raced through the day, not the blinding speed they would reach but certainly quicker than anything precious on the planet. They were running so they wouldn't get crushed. But they needed to flow into it and let it do its deeds and flow through it and turn and understand.
I wanted to return. I thought, "on the one hand if I'm dead I'm glad I'm here, apparently free. Death is a delight." And laughed. "But then if this is a dream or some weird thing I can't explain, I would love to return to Earth."
About that time the Earth disappeared and I was flying towards a cluster of lights I had no idea of identifying. I rushed past those, past light after light until I was emptied into this dark blue space that was still like the bay was when I sailed under the bridge and the water appeared like a still, shimmering glass.
It was a huge chamber I felt. I couldn't really see the rest of the universe. This was nested within it apparently. Lines of force were visible, quite beautiful but I had no way to know the meaning of them or their function. They danced this way, now that way, come towards me, passed through me, made noises and then vanished.
"It wanted to know everything I thought." I tried to whisper this to myself but failed to do so. And I didn't know if it was true or not. There was silence and space but also movement. Marvelous and without rhyme or reason, quite wonderful juxtaposed as it was to the silence and space. A dart. A dash. A long sigh that could have been a year. A leap not of my own doing. A shot through the silent dark. So much of the Earth is brought with one, his experience at any rate, as though all the movements I had participated in were now abstract lines and the context, the connections were all removed. And that included the strange dreams I had when I was under terrible stress during one part of my life and I begged my dreams to show me the way out. They would show me the way out but always come back in, so even dreams had the property of frustration.
I did what any ordinarily human being would do under the circumstances. I started looking for others of my own kind. "There must be others, I can't be special, and this is probably a common occurrence..." I lit up with hope!
I needed guides or someone to tell me what to expect. The disorientation was immense, a nightmare of sorts. It had its delightful aspects but ultimately I tried to figure out where I was, why I was where I was and so on. I couldn't get a fix anywhere. I would see a light and then it would disappear. I would see a mass of light but when I got closer they all separated and showered me with it, the light that is. I said to myself well where does the light, itself, come from? Is that a stupid question? I asked this as if there were someone to answer it.
Oh voices, silence is only one Voice. It was a Voice tempered by stuff I was hardly cognizant of. Notice I said Voice, not words. You learn out in the catacombs of space that there are no words but speakable sounds nonetheless. It was garbage noise at first and then I noticed a few patterns, some things were repeated even if from different angles. It was as if fine-tuned instruments had been turned into grinding machines of some kind. Grind, ground, growl, goosing it, however you wanted to describe it is was the fine and high going to the low. A hollow bottom sounded in the rotten noisome beat. A klug dangled above my head it seemed. Something I would describe as a zart crossed me, crossed back and made me feel my heart. It was the first time I had felt that heart. It had weight and seemed to be pumping. "I can't be dead if the heart is still pumping," I thought. Not dead but not dreaming. Removed for some purpose that hadn't been revealed to me yet. Homeless and yet having ease of movement. It's very strange to try and convey the sense of things at the beginning. How odd it was discovering what I was capable of in this new environment.
I thought of the alien angle; aliens zapping me up for some experiment. That had been a popular myth for a time. Oh I had been studying the mystical traditions and this was some private joke played on me by an anonymous master who wanted to establish the materiality of the mystical tradition. It was a creepy feeling and I would call out from time to time, "show yourself, you've had your fun, I give up, I submit to you, come on be a man about it, laugh at me he he he, I'm a little bug-a-bee," and so on. I never felt suspended by wires being whisked through space by an invisible hand. There was presence though, without question.
Along with Voice was Presence and I tried to penetrate that with every bit of insight I could gather in myself.
I was contained in something, that's one thing the Presence said to me. In fact I was contained in many things and they were not symmetrical by any means. It was as though if I felt along the contours of what contained me I could stick some memory in my head and keep it there, a virgin memory so to speak. My first memories in the universe! But they were generated by a kind of intuitive feelings along these containers or contours that could be rounded, or sharp, occasionally as thin as a hair and long, so long it seemed to me days even weeks before I slipped out into another container. And what was a day or week in this place? It was non-existent. It literally didn't matter whether it was a day or year, a thousand years. I had lost my orientation. What was time to me or to what contained me?
I saw no sun. I saw horizons. I kept looking for a sky to comfort me, to orientate me but there was nothing. I began to partition what I saw using whatever dot or flash was apparent to me to, at least, provide boundaries. It helped. Oh sun I used to say to myself old friend good old light you taught us everything, you were the father of us, you put yourself in us from the beginning and we walked with you inside us and were giddy for the friendship of you, sun.
I noted the stunning silence after every thought I had along those lines. It was silly to sing of the sun as a being but why not? It was the indifference to my little chants and whimsical thoughts that always got to me. Well, who am I to disturb this blasted place? Who I am to sing to you I said? I was a mere sport of nature and I was missing very little back on Earth and was probably being missed little in turn. It did cross my mind a few times. "Do they know I've been taken in this way? Perhaps even been chosen for some great project we can't figure out yet?" They get up, go to the patio, look for me, I'm not there. They are jolted at first, I'm sure of it. But then they begin to see the advantage of me not being there. How much easier life is without me in the way. And I suppose I was a kind of jagged edge at times. They would look and holler my name and then go back inside and close the curtains, the brown ones that hadn't been changed in fifty years and write a note to themselves to notify the cops I was missing or had run away. And they always believed I was going to run away and get away from them but that was never my intention. I rather liked the group and the patio and trees.
I have been declared dead I decided. I knew them so well. And here is where my knowledge of physics came into play. I knew all this time/space continuum stuff and that if I went in the speeds I thought I had been going then thousands of years would have passed on Earth. It would be a dark creature now. I wouldn't want to return. I made it very clear to myself that I didn't want to see that far ahead because I knew I would have no place there in fact, would go crazy trying to adjust to whatever humans had concocted. Maybe time was only a huge adumbration breaking down what thought was permanent and then making the impermanent the real thing that became forever. So each generation, if they had generations, would destroy the previous one in anticipation or, really, as a duty to the permanent impermanence. And then I would squeal in laughter and leave off for a while.
Human beings had had a tough time of it. They never considered the fact that all their doings and beliefs were fits and starts, mere beginnings to a long stay on the surface. "Think long brothers and live well." That's what I wanted to shout down to them. They were all gone by now, the ones I knew at any rate. And why they were different than the billions that preceded me was a good question. They invented new explosives. They could talk to each other with interesting angles. They didn't want for anything but were always miserable and restless. Ah, they were attempting to leap from the surface. That gesture is something I had noticed long before. I don't think many had the insight. But it was apparent that the movements of people were seeded in the desire to leave the planet and all the frustration came about because they never did. They left home. They left work. They left friends. They left well enough alone. They never leapt out from the surface. So from the possibility to the actuality was a gap, a serious gap that made the mind mute with anger.
Was Earth an accident? I finally understood it didn't matter one way or the other because the mind didn't want it to be an accident. It was better, in the long run, if Earth was merely the back of a tortoise shell than an accident. Although an accident could have meaning, could even produce that odd feeling of joy. An accident! Well, you entertain the thought for a time then let it go for something else or ignore the whole topic and focus on what is really important to you. I for one needed to find a way to stop hovering all the time. I didn't feel right or comfortable in the environment I was in and hovering seemed to put me at ease as if, in a moment, something would be revealed to me. And I admit I wanted something revealed to me because it was all too much for my humble self. I couldn't make out the limits of anything so I cowered and hovered and played little tricks on myself, little word and image games.
An infinite green box. Little things were demanding that I do things. It was as if they were saying, "we know who you are and you must suffer a bit or, at least, admit your guilt." They were little buggers and I felt them attacking me from every direction. No voices only sense. I sensed what they were thinking I didn't know for sure. Then I thought I saw a flash of my late mother's face and when I recovered from that I knew they had powers and it worried me. I had cried out to my mother as her image flipped on by in an insidious way, not at all pleasant. She appeared as a death mask although she didn't have one of those made, in fact, she was incinerated in a manner of speaking. Such feeling to see her again! She had had it as a life on the planet and gave up the ghost. I was told this by people who knew her in the end. She wanted to make sure I was ok, I remember them telling me that. And it wasn't as if she decided to haunt me although I had been told to prepare for anything because a part of you dies when the mother dies. The death mask flashed and I heard the little buggers tee-heeing and felt pressure on my rear-end.
Then I felt myself plunging down. I felt elongated although couldn't see myself, I didn't even know whether I had a body or not. I swooped something and then a liquid began to drip on me and no matter what I did I couldn't escape it. "So this is the punishment," I heard myself thinking. I began to harden myself to anything that could be sprung on me. I began to understand I was dealing with larger forces than mere physical ones and it made me both curious and frightened that, in this position, seeing so many powerful things I was the most powerless around. I fought and fought. I began to think of beautiful women I had known. They were all professional women and didn't know how powerful their beauty was. They had traded that in for mere money and by the time they discovered the truth had lost some of the beauty. But I thought of their beauty. How stimulating it was! How necessary for life, for music and art. And I was modern enough to throw in "soul" as beauty. No where now. I began to think, in my new context that human beings, their form, had a purpose. I mentally built a human form from nothing using only the forces I knew contributed to its design. Unattainable! Well, I entertained myself and then found a kind of leveling off taking place still surrounded by the dried green color but surrounded in a spacious way that was not intimidating at all.
I had no appetites, I had no excretions. I didn't feel pure and after a time I totally forgot the appetites and the excretions. I felt something if not my body the weight of something lost down there among the lights. Lights even thousands of years in the future! Now they probably understand the lights were there to attract attention but back in the day it for different reasons. And those cavemen had a good intuition when they ascribed light to the gods. We knew light as a property of nature. But to illuminate the planet was the hidden plan all along, driven by the genetic make up. Light as a measure for reaching out and saying, "yes, we are ready now." It must have passed through the mind of one or a few of them but they did find out in due time.
There were reasons for everything. It made for a joke of sorts, sometimes a tragic one but, in the end, would be laughter. In the beginning I didn't care one way or the other. I wanted to test things out but I found it difficult. I didn't know the parameters of anything, of what my body was capable of in that new state of being. I remember my childhood filled with Superman and Mighty Mouse. How I wanted to fly! One full summer I fantasized having a whole airport under the little court I lived on and I could miniaturize myself and get into my jet and fly off. But I knew the parameters of flight. This thing, now, was not flight. It was the suspension in a black bowl of howling nothing with something, maybe the brain itself, zipping and zapping as if I were watching a huge dark screen and each frame instantly provided another backdrop.
No, flying was not the apt description. It was all connected together I figured that out. Flying in dream and fact, flying at the lip of sleep when you rushed out into space and met with horror and delight, flying in the small planes my father took us up in, the big jets, even the pretends we had as kids waving our arms, stretching them out and running around some neighbors lawn or building a wooden space capsule and going off to Mars. We weren't meant to stand pat and now I was in this mysterious state that was neither flying nor standing pat.
It wasn't as if one could say, "ah, I will go to Alpha Centauri now," and speed off like a bullet to shoot through its atmosphere and liven the self up with the sophisticated chemistry it contained, zapping through gas to the core and knowing the life there. And, believe me, there was life on every entity I had contact with if I looked hard enough. It was a sublime art that required a kind of metanoia moment that yes life manifested differently and was conscious in all kinds of states. I had heard of theories I guess they were theories along these lines but to actually experience the fact of it is indescribable. It's humbling and ennobling at the same time and a necessary step to getting it as they used to say.
I always liked saying when I was down on Earth, "we are all in the universe now," and I meant it as an initiation into our new situation down there. We were trapped in a way, we were figuring that out. We congratulated ourselves on describing the nature of the trap but regardless, those of us who could feel knew we were rats running wild in very predictable paths long figured out by whomever. We were trapped and rushing through something we'd never thought about before. It was us, we were it, who can explain the inexplicable? We got lodged up in the future someplace meeting with our own projections out in the inexplicable, entertaining ourselves with tales of conquest even though we were trapped like the proverbial rat. I would think about it, laugh and then try to enjoy my day the best I could. I wanted to fly spaceships as a kid like science fiction heroes. I wanted to levitate and buzz along without hindrance. I wanted to fire laser guns and meet beautiful women from Jupiter. I never thought of the glories of the past whatever they were. So now we rush through the inexplicable I can see it now but when I was fastened down there like the other rats it meant a great deal to me.
It was either silence or poetry I thought. But what is silence? What is poetry? I had nothing profound to say and began to figure out why I had that thought. Why would I think it was either silence or poetry? Well, I had a prejudice against noise that was certain. Noise had driven me from the city. But everywhere I went there were giant noises, sometimes a jackhammer in the street or a jet flying an approach to the airport. Silence explained things in its own way. Poetry was just wild celebration for being alive disciplined by the need to be self-ruling. It was that tension that created music and color.
Spinning in the loquacious colors that have no name. A kind of new vibrancy you get to see if you do it right. Animals with thoughts or forms with eyes. So blackness turns a horizon down to see the splendid fellowship of matter. Where is the heart? That thought appears. In this babbling, watery substance there must be a heart. It must be living. Heek! Thrak. So done the gods go down to the twisting down spout so. "They have pulled us apart madam." Ah, frozen faces billions staring embedded flattened. So my own. Eyes fierce like warrior. He-beast swollen in empty pride. Tongue sticking out. So feral are those tongues! Tiny hands carrying us down into the blackness. Boldness! Required of us. So said the dead.
I admit that I had one moment when I laughed at the people of Earth and enjoyed their suffering. Not the true sufferers but those who hadn't gotten out of life what they wanted and so demanded everyone suffer as they suffered. A long and lingering moment. It wasn't noble if that word still has any coinage left to it. "They have no idea," and left it at that. They could not yet see the rotation of the planet and what that meant on a daily basis. Each rotation was an era of its own. And it implicated every breathing thing. If they knew this and were conscious of it at all times, in a kind of meditation they would know much more than they thought they did. I got to the point where it didn't matter any more. The life on Earth was only a stage, a puzzle that was revealed to those prepared for the next stage. Ah, so many swept under the ground and to the center of the planet where they were memories for some special type able to suck these things up and use them for his own purposes.
I felt I loved all humanity for a moment. It lingered and then settled back like a tired lover in a bed of flowers. All men and all women in their struggles, their pains, joys were perfect as they were. Why didn't it last? And I saw them I swear I saw them each and every one of them pass from the ancient days to the present. Old compassionate faces, new startled faces, pained faces, free faces and all combinations one could imagine floated by me in this sudden desire to know and love humanity. And their acts appeared and we laughed together.
"And is this heaven"? I asked to no one in particular. I knew in the vacuum of space a word goes a long way. No answer. Clearly it wasn't heaven but someplace not normal or regular. Was it even a place?
There are layers and layers to that Earth. Slice it in thin wafers and you'd discover all kinds of interesting new things. A big rotating rock with nests of pure beauty. And sea-wash from one end to the other until it freezes up at the poles. A man could climb over that rock for fifty lifetimes and still not know it all. And that didn't include the cities and towns, the highways and shopping malls. I had never learned how to insert that thing in my heart and let it lodge there. I took it for granted and then sort of resented the damn thing when I knew what death was and how encased we are by its pressures. Everything sort of pushed in to keep things low and rooted and I didn't like it. But then you venture out a bit and you realize you can't do it yourself and a lot of it is lost so you imagine, maybe the worst, maybe a frightful imagining but there it is and so you slink to the familiar territory and start to hate the whole thing.
But I lost that hate in the new configuration and tried to fit that ball into my heart and said, "Earth enter me like a pleasant object captured by the surprised eye." And it sat there rotating in that slow, uneventful, dutiful way as if signaling, "I'm trapped too, be predictable as I am." But I fixed on it because I experienced vertigo when I looked elsewhere, into the dark that took my mind and stretched it long and silent and frightfully so I looked and looked at that Earth and never let it out of sight.
Slowly I began to learn to disengage and leave off that mark.
Abstractions didn't exactly please me at this time but I needed some form of orientation. And to battle the universe abstraction seemed a great weapon. We want to know our destroyers. Lord, let us know who will destroy us. That catapulted a few abstractions out of the bodiless state I seemed to be in although I saw my body and felt it from time to time. Why I wasn't destroyed me got me thinking that maybe there was some purpose to this whole adventure. Ah, Earth will be destroyed and they need a witness to fly off to another world and report on what has been destroyed. No, I was hit by a car on the way to the stadium and was in a deep coma, hovering between life and death. No, the environment was too life-like, wrapped me up in a substance that was grim but utterly real. "This is who I am," it seemed to say. I was scared and fascinated all at once.
I was like a beam of light and could put myself in the most specific place, looking in so that suddenly the mundane looked huge and imposing. I zapped into a living room and watched a harmless conversation between two middle-aged people their faces like giant planets before zapping back to my new home. I found I could do this to anything, anywhere and visited a lot of my old haunts. I went to a few ballparks and spied on a small battle in a war zone I had never heard of. I couldn't say why I felt such disappointment but that was certainly there. No question. I would intrude, invade and be kind of smart-aleky about it, thinking I was getting away with something but then I would return home and say to myself, "I don't miss anything," and before long this ability left me and I looked at Earth for a very long time understanding that it would sprout with the same stuff over and over again and it was beautiful in its way.
I had spent one summer on an island in the northwest, away from city lights and haze, looking at the stars as though they were old friends. I lay in a small meadow with a rock for a pillow and thought about it some. I suppose we were supposed to do this. We faced the universe and didn't have to go searching for it. At that time it was very opaque. Was there life in the universe? It had to be proven that was my answer at that time. "Mrs. Farley claimed she had been abducted by aliens and been violated in a sexual way." Well, did you believe her? "Craft spotted doing zizzags at a million miles per hour by Korean fisherman." Did you believe him? Now I could say that their intuitions were headed in the right direction but they were still too roped to their silly selves that wanted to feel wanted or unique. Perhaps the stars were nothing more than signposts, infinitesimal horizons into something else. Perhaps the forces we thought so absolute were mere illusions created by our instruments and ignorance. I didn't think that in the lovely meadow that summer I didn't have the experience at that time.
I spent a long time purging myself while facing the planet. I found myself timing my breathing with the rotation of the planet on its axis. I would breathe in until I saw the other side of Earth, then breathe out as the hidden side came into view. All the while I hurled old-time epithets down at the place, down at my enemies and people I had blamed for one thing or the other. If my thoughts had been thunderbolts the solid planet would have been split apart.
Sometimes I would think on all the speculations men and women had looking up here, in this place, saturated by the black and the empty. If only they knew! Everything from the primitive to the sublime peopled the dark universe with alien life forms, monsters, space craft, and was the backdrop to dramatic themes of loneliness, camaraderie, courage, even love. I remembered, no I actually saw it take place, the time my friends and I talked about whether love making was possible in the vacuum of space. We laughed. We hardly knew what the activity was much less how it would happen in space. We concluded that there would be no such activity in space, therefore there would be no children born in space. I saw myself, my friends as we were, in real time making this conversation after one of us had heard a radio report. I was happy to see all the things possible that had happened in my life, in the life of the planet. So many! So violent and diverse! So absurd and meaningful! Layers and layers buried into the nooks and crannies of more layers, operating at one time but not recognizing it, shielded from it by strict adherence to some fabrication. Some did not want the people to know the fundament and to realize that all is one, one is all. We lay down our lives forever, an imprint is made, it gains its own form of reality and moves around in its own dimension. There is Christ on the cross, there is Caesar stabbed in the forum, there is the Japanese woman listening to Basho, the wanderer to his cave before the snows come, the kid in Mexico taking a leak out his backyard on and on; after a while I couldn't look yet I knew it was all contained in myself. Was I simply projecting what I knew down on the surface of the earth? Or, was it more? It was a happy mystery but I did look long and hard at my own actions on the planet right before I disappeared. And that was still a mystery.
I didn't judge myself but realized that I would not have lived or done many of the things I did had I known the universe has intimately as I got to know it.
The Earth, certainly, was a privileged point of view. It saw itself as the only large thing glowing with life. We did at any rate, we who inhabited her, the many who were spewed out in various generations, among various tendencies and clothing, among different enemies and structures. We had all pissed on the ground, we had all played with toys. There was the same moon. The water tasted fresh. The blackberries smelled good. We saw hideous things but the bountifulness of life always took us away from the hideous. The fathers always said this, the mothers always said that. Light and shimmering dark. Sun seed in everyday doings. The clatter of utensils intermingled with excited voices, far, near. We knew little else.
It rotated with aplomb, its awakeners and sleepers. There was a blanket of light and then clouds. Light from itself, we, lit up and daily winding along the grind and light from the sun flecking off a bit to shower a tell-tale half a day.
Privilege, of course, is a pretext to keeping doubt out of the way. So when we escaped the gravitational pull and saw the dear planet whole as they used to say there was doubt. Not about the beauty of the thing experienced but of its singularity as an event in the life of the universe. A few went nuts trying to figure it out or came up with lame imaginings used to sell books and tapes. They didn't know. Their hearts were in the right place, their intuitions were right on target but they always got the grand configuration wrong.
Around and around it went puffed out with its light, forgetful of itself, mocking the worlds, knowing how long she had been, how much longer she would be.
Did we ever suspect that Earth was actually ugly compared to all the other earths in the universe? Few people thought about it and assumed, as I did, that Earth was beautiful because of its life and color beating out to a black, sullen universe, surrounded by bland objects like the moon and Venus, Mercury and the rest of them. If they knew though how impossibly beautiful some places are in the universe, a beauty we can't contemplate because we don't have the visual language to compute the shapes and colors. Perhaps it wouldn't move people one way or the other but I knew better. I had seen the other side. I knew the facts of the matter. It wasn't that Earth was ugly but that it was plain in the scheme of things. But as I used to hear from time to time, "what they don't know doesn't hurt them."
I loved her. She had been sustenance. She had taught me the rudiments of cold and heat, light and dark, color and whiteness. She had exposed me to some interesting mountain ranges and life in the ocean depths. She had put me on an ice sheet as the sun passed. She had been a companion. She had claimed all those I had known and would claim the rest. Graveyard and seed source. That's what she was. She had taught our eyes how to see precisely and separate light from objects so I was delighted when the precise and separate met in surprising ways.
But I needed to move on. I needed to know my new environment, huge as it was. I was an awkward idiot and knew little at that time but something urged me to go on, to let the Earth go, that I would return.
Many times I wanted to stop thinking. It was enough to try and figure out what was happening but I didn't want the mind to get nutty on me as it would taken out of its comfort zone. I finally figured out that if I simply observed the thing around me I would settle with the brain chatter and lay quiet up like a kid in a hammock and rock back and forth or so it seemed and look at the light and feel the darkness and depth of it that was the deal, falling through it for all time it felt like some times, just falling on empty air that had no stir to it but heavy and a presence.
I did feel special or brought out of the litter so to say for some reason. That I would never return to Earth the same as I left it and would never experience things the same way. No, I was taken up and away for a reason and that thought kept me going for a time.
I thought it probable that there were others and that I would run into them at some point.
It was magnificent to see simple survival. What a miracle! Out where we weren't supposed to survive without the benefits of clever artifacts every moment was, as they used to say, surreal. I knew I had witnessed the reason why it happened this way, that is, on the surface of the Earth with its billions of souls and hearty build ups over thousands of years to produce this light and smudged thing. They came over the mountain passes and settled around lakes and rivers. They hunted on the plains and steppes. They huddled and laughed, pointed and made comments. Brazen and proud, laid low and humbled by a lover or an enemy. The pride in craft and honor! At every turn there was murder and treachery and those who hated murder and treachery. Celebrations and dances! The nude turning around the fire of dark men. Absurd tales from the wild mind shaped by the intervals of love making. Endless tears and endless contortions and leaping to try and get off, to separate and become something new. And men were reasonable for a day before the wrath came.
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