The Graces

7

Anava followed the drysmus line to the small, cobbled dormitory where she lived while studying at the temple. She was distracted and disjointed from her encounters with Ren and Rana. Her skin prickled with confusion.

Why not give guidance to your own son?

Why me?

The question was plaguing. She felt betrayed. Ren was the entire reason she knew Rana. How gleefully they played as youngsters, imagining this and that and chasing each other about the main courtyard; how Rana would come out in her colored robes and talk to them, enchanting them with stories as they played amongst the fragrant blooms and shrubbery.

How she envied those robes as a girl; robes she never thought she would ever have. They made a strong, gallant impression. They signified respect. They signified knowledge. They signified the Graces.

And now she had them within grasp – no thanks to Rana – but without Ren as an equal, it was a hollow victory. A chasm had appeared, and although she continually tried to brush her errant thoughts aside, they would not leave.

Anava felt herself stray from the narrow path within the tall grass now and again, and focused on letting the magnetic currents push her back. They were especially strong at the drysmus line, and this soft, light push was comforting. Consoling. When she walked the lines she felt a closeness to the world that nothing could compare to.

As she saw the onyx precipice of the dormitory tower come into view through the top of the grass, Anava decided to go to the pavilion and explore her misaligned thoughts further rather than study for ceremonies.

She deviated left and up the hill to a small grove of trees, within which was a small outcropping of rock with stone pillars to surround it. Bells and other chimes were hung around it in the tree branches, marking this as a holy place. Sanctuary.

She entered the circle of pillars and seated herself. The rock was mossy in spots, but firm. There was an older gentleman bowed in prayer at the other side, so she made pains to hush any noises of her arrival.

She focused on breath: in and out, in and out, in and out. She let her emotions come through with no judgement. She observed each one, looked for attachments, and let them fall.

Finally, smooth and unfiltered thoughts started to flow:

Flowers; Small pushes from the drysmus; Rana’s wide and warm smile; Cool breezes and the exhilaration of her dreamtime forest.

Anava’s temple was calling her. The forest was waiting.

This time she did not have to find dreamtime and create her temple – it had found her. All she had to do was slide into the space, and it opened for her as if by request. She was keenly aware of the silence and opening drift of reality that was crystal clear, yet murky at the same time. She was amazed, but quite shaken, at the relative ease and effortlessness of the action.

With a small thrill, and her heart racing, she smiled, and felt the moment blossom.

*

She walked along the same moss and glittering tree canopy as she had before. She stroked the ferns and felt the warm sunlight welcoming her, and she them. She greeted the wind and listened to the chirping chorus of the birds flittering faraway.

As she walked, a stone path appeared through the undergrowth and rotting logs. The ease of this place – responding to her, calling to her – expunged any hesitancy she might have hidden within. She knew she would seek her questions here. A devout, resolute warmth filled her chest, and suddenly every question she had at the forefront of her mind rushed forward in a flurry, simultaneous and all-encompassing:

Why would Rana do this to her son?

She is not that kind of person. Is she?

Am I more talented then Ren?

I didn’t think I was.

Rana loves her son, she would never do anything to hurt him.

Why train me alone, and not others?

Were there others?

Why am I so distraught?

What should I do?

I do not wish to do initiations without Ren by my side.

Should I discuss with Rana?

Should I drop it?

I don’t want to cause a rift – their familial relationship is theirs, and not mine.

But they are family to me.

Why doesn’t this feel right?

 

Her stream of thoughts started to slow, and Anava felt her questions come to a nexus:

 

Please.

Show me what I need to do for healing.

For me. For them.

For Us.

I request Your love and Graces.

 

She continued walking in relative silence. The rocks and trees more familiar now, but still the same forest. There was no destination in her sight, other than the questions. She stayed open and confidant and kept walking.

Nothing different appeared. No new shapes or sounds.

Anava listened and closed her eyes, imagining the drysmus line guiding her and comforting her. She repeated her desire:

 

Show me what I need to do for healing.

For me. For them.

For Us.

I request Your love and Graces.

 

Please.

 

 

Please.

 

 

Please.

 

 

Please.

 

 

And suddenly in her reverie, a scream reverberated through the trees, and the birds and trees grew silent.

Her heart jolted, and she looked to the origin of the sound. The forest moved around her in a blur of color and sound and feeling.

She was transported to a small clearing, and before her was a man, slumped in the dewy plants. He appeared to be distraught, but his arms obscured his face. He radiated agitation, infuriation… and Anava felt the deepest wave of sadness. A wall of grief overcame her.

She gaped for a moment, not sure how to proceed. Maybe he would reveal something to her. Clues, information. The graces were answering her!  She reigned in the triumph, and readjusted her calm, stoic front. She approached him slowly. He seemed to be asleep.

He was wearing nothing of note from which she could discern his identity – no robes from the temple, no marks of the graces, no clarions. But he had a pearly auric shimmer about him that gave her pause. It was beautiful, but jagged.

Anava kneeled beside him. Sweat beaded along his shoulders, and he was breathing rapidly. She thought of a breeze to help cool him down, and the wind obeyed, ruffling his light linen overcoat. He was not enjoying his slumber, and she wished to see his face… do I know him? Is he a clue to my questions?

Abruptly, he lifted his head in a gasp and made eye contact. They stared for an endless moment.

He could see her.

She froze.

 

….

If you wish to read this ongoing story project in order, use the following links to go back to previous posts:

Part 1 – Downed with Despair
Part 2 – Z+B I
Part 3 – Z+B II
Part 4 – Anava
Part 5 – The Promise
Part 6 – The Readers

The Readers

6

“Who is this young cadfly? Shoo! You are shutting out the light!!”

As soon as he entered the threshold of the small and cramped gallery space, an old woman seated near the entry started yelling at him.

“Out, I say! Out!” She was the oldest woman Zerian had ever seen, and he gave pause – her eyes were almost non-existent, swallowed with leathery tanned skin.

“Oh stop, Jahsha, stop!” Another not-quite-as-old woman came out to meet Zerian as he stood on the rug, gaping at the elderly heckler. “Sorry, Sir, don’t mind Jahsha. She is waiting for her escort.”

This other not-as-old woman was tall and on eye-level with Zerian. She had black hair striped with silver, braided carefully down her back, and wore a deep blue robe with black stitching – one of the many colors and styles of robes that were representative of the disciplines studied at the Temple of the Graces.

Zerian knew that the Body Readers were well educated on the nuances of health and how this translated to your field and other bodily systems. Beyond that, nothing else – except that his mother distrusted their practice and did not want him to engage with it. He knew she was somewhat of a traditionalist, and that she had once forayed into discipleship at the temple, but he had never pressed her for more stories. She never seemed to enjoy discussing it.

But suddenly, standing here now in a small dusty gallery with a Body Reader before him, Zerian felt the curiosity of his mother’s past start to rise.

“What is the occasion today, young Sir?”

“I – I came for some consult on my sleep. If you might be able to help and advise?” Zerian kept his voice low as he did not wish to have the unruly elder woman seated nearby hear his personal business.

“Ah yes, sleep diagnostics – you have come to the right place!” She lit up in a warm smile and shook his hand with both of hers. “I can see you right away, if you’d like? Jahsha was my last appointment. What is your name, young Sir?”

“Zerian Ref-Vera. And you, Sira?”

“Please, you can call me Tulla.” Her omittance of her last names immediately made him regret revealing his own.

“Ref-Vera, did you say? You are certainly not from around here! I am not sure I have met anyone from Vera. Do you like Atuva?”

“Yeah, I do. It’s a change of pace, but lots to see for someone like me, I guess.” Zerian managed an awkward smile as Tulla gestured for him to follow her through a back hallway. He hated to give his full name, disclosing his origins and taking him off the table of regular citizen talk. From here on out, everything discussed would be compared in reference to his country roots and Atuva-centric topics avoided.

“Please stand here, on the round rug.” Tulla pointed to the small black and white round rug at the center of the side room she had just led him to. The room was dark, with only two small, narrow windows, shrouded in gauzy midnight-blue curtains that filtered the sunlight. She pulled out a small metal object from a tall stand of drawers once they entered.

“Sorry – I’ve never been to any Reader before. Don’t mind me if I make a mess of it.” Zerian stood on the small rug and made excuses.

“Oh, no issue at all. I’ll talk you through it. We see many levels here – those who have been coming for years, and many more who come only when they need to, when met with dire circumstances,” she glanced up at him with a wink, as she fiddled with the small cylinder in the palm of her hands. She held it up for him to see.

“This is a spinner. It will read your field and take some measurements – then I’ll run the program and get some answers for you – no need to be nervous. With sleep diagnostics, readings usually manifest inside the field itself – no need for direct body readings.” She looked up at Zerian again, who was listening intently. She surveyed his face and space around it. “Your aura appears to be fairly consistent – no visible marks of weakness that I see. What is the sleep issue you are having trouble with specifically? Trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep? Sleep walking?”

“Dreams.” Zerian almost didn’t say it. He almost made up a story about exhaustion and anxiety and working too much, but he blurted it out too quickly.

“Ah – and these are bad dreams I take it?” Tulla didn’t seem fazed.

“Yes, but not really the subject of them.”

“So it’s not about bad dreams?” Tulla paused with adjusting the spinner contraption and searched Zerian with confusion.

“It is. It’s just that – there are none. It’s like…. Nothing. Nothing is there.”

Tulla looked concerned, and furrowed her brow the same as Bess had done earlier that day. “Nothing?” she repeated back.

“Nothing. But it feels like I’m getting pulled around. Or shuffled around. I don’t know how to describe it… I can’t seem to get any rest. I always wake feeling tired. Never rested. But grateful that I’m not sleeping anymore. Does that make sense?”

“Hrmmmmm…” Tulla made a long and low murmur, with no official recognition that she knew what was happening. “How long has this ‘restless’ sleep been occurring?”

“For maybe half of a year. Since coming to the city, actually. At first it was just annoying – every few days. But now it’s every night for the last month. I’m at my wits end.” Zerian gave a half-hearted laugh, as if it was a joke. But it wasn’t.

“And you dreamed plenty back home, in Vera? Did you ever have the same bad dreams there?”

“Yes. Well, no. I mean, I’ve never really dreamed vividly. If I did, I never remembered them fully. They’ve always been vague. But it was never an issue before now. Never like this, where I wake up exhausted.” Zerian recalled Bess telling him about a dream that she had recently during the full moon. He couldn’t believe the monsters she could conjure in her sleep – he had never had such an experience. That he could remember, anyway.

“Well this should set us right,” Tulla said assuredly. “Now, stand straight and hold still.” She adjusted his shoulders a bit, pushing down on one and then the other, and Zerian straightened his neck and looked forward at the masonry wall in front of him, strewn with manuscript shelves and hung with odd instruments. Tulla stood a small distance away, just inside his outer periphery.

“Yes. Just like that. You might sense some uncomfortable buzzing while the spinner takes measurements. It will only take a few seconds.” Tulla clicked the small cylinder in her palm, and threw it up in the air towards Zerian. He winced, but the small device spun to life in a blue glow, and started darting around his auric field like it was connected to it – this way and that, almost too fast for him to track with his eyes.

There was a buzzing he could sense – but very faint. Or maybe it was just the sound vibrations of the machine he was sensing?

Just as the small spinner dashed past his head, it zipped up the crown and flew towards Tulla again. She held out a small metal plate, and the spinner returned to it like a cocoon. She then inserted it upright into the reader on her desk, and a screen of data was projected out from it.

“All done – simple and painless, right?” She smiled and ushered him away from the black and white rug. “Take a seat, I’ll look this over for you.” She motioned to a wooden chair near her small desk and immediately started tilting dials and information on the holographic screen that was waiting for her there. Zerian uneasily sat down.

“Well… the readings look very normal. Robust, actually. And from what I’ve observed, your field isn’t showing the weaknesses that a field would regularly display with the lack of sleep that you’re describing. Usually sleep problems like yours can be seen visually – it is very obvious to the eye, but yours is not… Is this making your everyday routine difficult? Are you falling asleep in the middle of the day?”

“Yes. Well, I am grateful to not be sleeping, really. But I am not feeling myself. I am happy to be awake, though. I feel intoxicated sometimes, or not myself lately – clumsier, not as sharp. But mostly I am just happy to not be asleep.”

Tulla looked quizzical. The data screen in front of her whirred and moved around, apparently betraying the real issue at hand. Zerian didn’t know what else to say. Just make it go away. Please?

“Well, young Zerian Ref-Vera, I think I recommend heading home for a bit. To Vera, in the countryside. See if this episodic dream variance resolves itself. Here,” she collapsed the screen onto a piece of paper and handed it to Zerian. “Take this with you when you go. If there is another Reader in Vera, you can re-test your results and compare. I would be very interested in seeing a comparison.”

Zerian’s heart sank with all his hopes. Running back home was not what he had in mind. He wouldn’t be able to tell his mother about any of this, and especially not this meticulous sheet of magnetic resonance statistics.

“Nothing else?” He managed to request as he stood. “You can’t think of anything else?”

She sighed heavily. “Sorry, no. All the readings looked absolutely normal. Not a strand out of place. Amazing, really. I see a healthy young man before me.” She patted his shoulder and guided him back out to the gallery.

Zerian was in a daze. He was sure this was the solution, he knew it. But nothing. A dead end.

“Is this paid for with your shares then?” Tulla tapped into a holographic screen again when they were in the main gallery.

“Yes, sorry. 0945T,” he recited almost absent-mindedly, and pushed his fingerprint into the screen she presented, which made a blip of recognition.

Tulla seemed to sense his brewing frustration. “You could always try the famous ‘Atuva-tera Tonic.’ Take with honey – you’ll need it! Right before bed. It’s known for it’s soothing properties. Might knock down whatever’s bothering you. You could also try the Luli Chants. I have a dear friend who swears by them, but I’ve never needed to try, you know.”

Zerian sensed her attempt at sympathy. “Thanks. That helps. I’ll try to see about the tonic. Thank you for the recommendation.” He bowed deeply, and she in return.

As he made his way back to the shop, he picked up some of the famous tonic from the apothecary by the canal where it was known to be the best. He walked slowly. He thought of his mother’s promise and wondered what the fuss was all about. A bunch of sophisticated little machines and data lists that were of no help whatsoever.

Maybe this was what she wished to spare him.

Continue to Part 7…

Go back to previous:

Part 1 – Downed with Despair
Part 2 – Z+B I
Part 3 – Z+B II
Part 4 – Anava
Part 5 – The Promise

The ‘Oasis’ of Self-Inquiry

Whose stories are you telling? And why?

Self-inquiry is so much more important now than I ever could have imagined. I take it so dead-seriously these days that I catch myself off guard.

I used to hear the term ‘journaling’ and scoff a little bit. Mostly because I didn’t have the time to do it (or so I told myself), but also because I was a bit jealous of these people who did have time and did take it so seriously.

Earlier in my life, I latched onto the idea and image of journaling steadfastly – I wanted so to be a writer, and how else would I get there then diligently writing the accounts of one’s own life, every day without fail? Duty bound to the written word, and eventually left with a large stack of journals and pen scratches as evidence. Credentials.

Yet inevitably, those old journals of mine from middle school and high school didn’t quite stick as a habit. I became bored with them and barely ever wrote in them regularly. But I was living in the outside world then – I was scribing my daily traverses, but of course it was boring: I was not turning my attention as inward as I should have.

The inward motion makes a difference; it moves mountains and carves universes. It is fluid and ever-changing. Reflecting on the outward side of things, without the inward motion, only reinforces tropes and boxes of cultural and personal constructs that are already evident.

Once I was in college and testing the waters of asking myself deeper questions through writing, journaling – or as I have come to call it, ‘personal essaying’ – finally found its proper niche in my life.

Writing in self-inquiry has taken its place as the rightful oasis it always was and could be. It is NOT the “palace of intellect” or “shrine to craft” like I assumed it was in my youth. No… it is much more modest than that, as it humbles yet enriches me every time I do it. To dip my pen in and drink deep of the waters I find, thirst quenched in surprise and awe, as I hadn’t realized I was parched in the first place.

In this way, self-inquiry is really, really important. And I want to stress that to all people I know and all people I don’t.

As you write, or think, or meditate, or talk your way through hard, tough questions, take care to not repeat the stories you’ve been told previously. Don’t regurgitate. Don’t just reflect back what the world wants and what culture has told you is important. Take the world and bend it through your most important lens – that of your heart.

Whose stories are you telling? And why? 

In a way, I think this sums up my budding interest in Buddhism, and how I feel about it a nutshell.

To me, it is applying self-inquiry to your life to root out those voices that are telling your story for you. That are whispering in your ear the script of what’s already been written; thoughts already outlined and feelings already validated.

Self-inquiry is a path, a road, to understanding and recognizing the true You that exists regardless. The true You that has always been there, the shining kernel at the center of your outward persona and self-constructs.

I want myself and my loved ones to ask these questions of themselves and look deeper, to know that luminous self underneath all the horrible muck that we tell ourselves. The muck that society / family / culture / friends / gender roles / media / and even their own inner critic (the most formidable voice among these) spews at them every day and in every moment. To see and recognize each of these voices and see how they influence our lives and our decisions. To see how these voices are not them. They are not You.

Whose stories are you telling? And why?

“Tell them stories” has always been one of my favorite  “this is the meaning of life” quips from a fiction book series that I’ve ever read, from the third book in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Phillip Pullman. This quote jumped out at me when I read it.  It was one of those truth-y moments that lies with you for the rest of your life.

Stories are a mainstay in our culture and they define us as humans; a unique attribute of our consciousness. And we have the power to harness and tell the stories that we want to tell.

So in a way, Buddhism to me is a vehicle of self-inquiry from which we gather and amass tools and skills to hear and tell the stories of our true self – to hear and tell the stories of the heart.

An oasis that lies within.

A Rejection of the ‘Reactionary Self’

Uncertain and quiet, I still just don’t know.

Lately I feel like I have no authority to be espousing my opinion on the internet, to post blogs, or even to write privately because I feel contaminated.

A deep-seated feeling of perpetuating something that’s not genuine. Of creating something that’s not bore of myself but merely a reaction of external and incongruous things. Something that in the end is just word garbage.

(And as I pointed out in my first blog post here, this was one of my prominent reservations that held me back when I started blogging.)

We all know that pure and unadulterated “reactions” are not always virtuous or the right idea/thought/feeling to hold onto or to emulate.

Perhaps this explains my relative lack of blogging and writing, perhaps not. But it does explain why I have started and stopped MANY different essays, none of which are posted here, and helps to explain why I never felt comfortable doing so.

A lot of my thoughts lately have resembled ‘rants’ of some kind and have been rather depressing and deflating to re-read (even to myself).

In a large sense, they are pure reactions to the pain and grief and anxiety and frustration of the people and situations that surround me and share this life. I’m mixed up in them and these myriad worlds of feeling right now, and therefore do not feel a ‘divinity’ or true connection to my writing space as of late.

The other ‘Me’ that catches words – not creates them.

When I’m writing for myself, I’m elated – because this means I have no agenda but to push my own buttons. But when the world is constantly pushing my buttons for me, I am stuck reacting to them and not my own. I have no thought energy or emotion left for the good stuff: The personal and inner journey.

This one takes effort, too. Much more effort than off-the-cuff reactionary thought.

And after crying and fretting at the news all day, sometimes I don’t want to delve down to the inner recesses of my being. I don’t relish opening up a crisp notebook with empty, white pages staring back at me.

Instead I just want distraction.

I think many of us are feeling this right now. Like a suffocation under chaotic clouds. Disbelief and bewilderment of the swirling, vaudevillian world we are suddenly witness to, manifesting before our eyes and before our children’s eyes.

But my inner voice keeps telling me that my reaction to all this is my choice – and that it is so, so, so important. I’m not sure how, but it is.

My heart swells and whispers to stop reacting and start Being. To stop getting caught in the swirl around me, and to create my own swirl. My own message. My own energy.

To connect to the message and energy that reside at the heart.

This or that tragedy. This or that anarchy. This or that doomsday proclamation of pressure and sadness. This is not you. It is not me. It is not Us.

This isn’t what we truly want. It’s energy gone wild. And I’m reminding myself – and maybe you – not to fall into it.

Be the rock in the swirl. The loving rock that observes and sees all things, accepts them as they are, and lifts them up to know the love that you feel so deeply. The love that exists so infinitely and without condition or borders or feelings or thought.

We are all so cataclysmically loved that we feel torn apart sometimes. But maybe that is ok.

The seams are coming undone. Power for power’s sake is getting ripped with cracks and slivers of truth, and is buckling under the weight.

We crave honesty. We crave connection and spirit. No more fakery. No more facades.

Feel the seams rip and love them all the same. Whether apart in pieces or together as a whole, we need to cover it all in love and fly.

The Promise

5

Zerian slipped out the back alley and into the throngs of mercantile shoppers and shopkeeps, many of whom were milling about during midday meals. He was nervous, but it didn’t deter him. It needed to be done, no matter what his mother had warned him.

Stay away from the Body Readers. They will not help you, only confuse you. They discarded the old ways in favor of the new. They will misdirect and mislead, and plant ideas that will not bear fruit. This is my only wish.  Promise me, Zerian? Please?

Zerian kept walking, playing their conversation over and over again in his mind. With a determined frown he justified himself to her.

“Mom, don’t worry. I know what I’m doing. They can’t pull the lights out of my eyes. I will be vigilant – please trust me. I need help, I need second opinions…. and you’re not here.”

He shook off the last phrase. It wasn’t her fault she wasn’t here. He was here in Atuva-tera of his own accord.

She was the one who didn’t want him to leave.

*

“I need to do this, Mom, I know this is right.” They were on the side terrace of the small farm house where they lived. Zerian had been apprenticing with Sol for almost five years and had mastered everything he needed to know about the terrain, soil conditions, horticultural varieties and breeding the fruit varietals that enjoyed the sloping hills of Verasco. He needed another challenge – and Sol had presented him with a job opportunity.

It was sunset, and late summer. The air was thick and jeweled, and the sunlight held a deeper resonance than it did in springtime. A weightier glow.

A presence of possibility.

“Sol wants me to open a shop in Atuva-tera.” His smile and enthusiasm were not returned, and her eyes had widened.

He would continue on: “He knows someone who excels at sales, who has worked with him before. We can run it ourselves and stock with Sol’s goods. Isn’t this amazing?! This is just what I was talking to you about the other night! A new challenge – taking things up a notch. This isn’t what I was thinking it would be – but I’m going to do it.”

His mother had worn no expression. She had looked shocked and belied, for whatever reason. He remembers feeling disbelief. What mother would not want her son to be an enterprising business owner? To make a name for himself in a great city-state like Atuva-tera? Was it fear of his wellbeing? Fear of loneliness if he went away?

Sure, they lived alone on the small farm, but she wouldn’t be lonely – she had Peri and Dorvi nearby, and not to mention Lufan from the neighboring farm. Oh, how he would miss Lufan.

The minutes had marched by. She wasn’t responding. She had sat down at the garden knee wall, staring at the distant tree line. He remembered the sunlight haloing her shoulders, her green and gold aura swirling and catching its glimmer.

He remembers coming up behind her and giving her a warm embrace, and how she sobbed into his arms as soon as he did.

“I’m not dying Mom – please don’t act like I am.”  She sighed and laughed lightly, and set her hand on the side of his face.

“Right you are, dear Zerian. I’m just surprised. The day has come. I always knew you would never be happy staying here. I think I had convinced myself that this decision was not expedient.” She sniffled and laughed, hugged him tightly, and sobbed quietly into his arm again.

“Just promise me one thing. Please?”

“Anything Mom, anything.”

*

The canal and adjacent thoroughfares leading to the city center were bright and bustling with activity. He smelled the sting of salt water and sweat in the air as he walked. His shop was in the main shopping veranda – the market place proper, with the most competitive prices and best products from around the known world. A very desirable site, indeed – Sol had an excellent relationship with the city proprietor.

Out of the main business district, here by the sunny canal and green grasses full of horses grazing, there were smaller carts and merchants; restaurant stands were numerous, and offered soups and terrines and skewers of meat and greens galore. All of them competing for the mid-day shopper’s attention, kicking up a lot of noise and selling as hard as they could.

Zerian slipped by them without making eye contact. He walked along the canal for a bit before turning into an older and tighter part of the city, closer to the city center and closer to the temple and citadel. Here were the richer residents of the city, many of them a part of the governing body overseeing day to day operations of the city-state, and many of them also disciples, initiates, and students of the temple on high, the Temple of the Graces.

Zerian wasn’t in the mood to ruminate or sightsee in this part of the city that he had rarely ventured. He turned down a smaller alley, only wide enough for pedestrian traffic, and looked for the small gallery with red marble pillars and the distinctive banner on the outside. He had seen it once before, when delivering goods to one of Sol’s smaller subsidiaries.

The noonday sun was hot and heavy, and tugged his eyelids down. He was growing weary when he caught a glimpse of it: a white cloth with a sun, superimposed on the four cardinal directions and surrounded with an aura. The sign and banner symbol of the Readers.

His heart quickened as he started up the steps, drew a sharp breath, and silenced the promise to his mother.

Continue to Part 6 

Go back to:

Part 1 – Downed with Despair
Part 2 – Z+B I
Part 3 – Z+B II
Part 4 – Anava

Time & Existence: a quick manifesto

What is ‘time?’ Why do we perceive it linearly, when science tells us this is an illusion?

*

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. For a couple of months, actually, it has been consuming my thoughts.

I watched the series ‘The Fabric of the Universe with Brian Greene’ (which is streaming free on Amazon Prime, by the way! Drop what you are doing and watch!). Like the studious nerd that I am, I took notes and paused the episode frequently. I ruminated on it quite a bit.

Then I saw the movie ‘Arrival’ a few weeks ago and the concept of time has been on my mind nearly every day constantly ever since. (HIGHLY recommended)

*

So we experience time in a linear fashion, yet science tells us that time in its entirety is actually ALL being experienced in one moment simultaneously. Why don’t we experience time in this all-encompassing way? Why does it need to be linear for us?

This morning I read a theory/belief manifesto posted & written on Twitter (you can pop over to @amie_zor to get a glance) and this moved my theory needle quite a bit. Props to the original poster @PhilosopherK1ng!

This manifesto posited the stance that time as we know it is linear because we are moving more slowly. So slow, in fact, that this in turn allows us to perceive the linear-ness of the moments we are in – which if we were moving faster, or perhaps the better term is if we were existing faster, we would not be able to observe.

In order to perceive this “becoming-ness” and immerse ourselves in this 3D experience on this plane we need to move/exist more slowly in order to perceive the cycles. Better yet – we need to be a visceral part of the cycles. Hence – the human body.

*

I was thinking along these same lines a few weeks ago as I was ruminating on the cycles of nature. In the grand scheme of things, time and our reality is really recycled; therefore existing in one long, extended moment. In terms of atoms and molecules, there is no “death” – they just keep recreating themselves within transformation. The particles that make up our bodies do not leave upon the concept of “death.” They just transform themselves again into something new.

I was thinking about time and how trees and plants might perceive it. Trees grow so slowly – their lifespans easily eclipse ours in many cases – and I wondered what it would be like to exist in that state. Humans and animals scurrying about, the seasons cycling through quite fast in comparison to our own human perception.

Then I wondered if there was life out there that was even slower – or even faster. Like the mayfly, for instance: their life span might be just 30 minutes to 2 days. To them, humans must seem like trees or part of the landscape, maybe.

*

Then I was pondering the concept of sleep. Why is it that we need it so badly? That we need that recharge every night in order to operate so optimally in this world? It feels to me that we actually cannot sustain ourselves here without it – so it’s almost like the dream world is our real home. Our energy center, so to speak. Without it, we could not exist here. We need dreams and REM sleep in our lives, but we really cannot articulate why.

Perhaps the answer is that we cannot exist here without sleep because we cannot FULLY inhabit this waking plane of existence 24/7 because we are not preternaturally inclined to it? Perhaps we inclined to move/exist faster than is normal here, but we need to be ‘locked’ into our human bodies in order to live and perceive this experience. We need the ‘locking’ mechanism that is the human body and waking consciousness in order to see / hear / be here at all?

Without the human body, maybe we would perceive all of everything and inhabit all worlds and all times simultaneously – like we do when we sleep. Perhaps that is our true existence – but somehow it does not stick in our memory the same way as it does here in our plane of existence because it doesn’t adhere to the memory structure. Dream-time existence doesn’t move as slow as our waking consciousness, so our waking consciousness cannot hold onto these memories as well as it can when things are slower.

*

All this considered – this makes me reconsider space travel. I read an article discussing space travel, the ongoing search for exoplanets, and how the nearest one would take us nearly 75,000 years to travel to using our current fastest technology. Needless to say, we move / exist too slowly to conceive of traveling that distance in any perceivable way without artificial intelligence.

But if we could somehow unlock ourselves from our current body-consciousness – this perceived reality that moves slowly enough to appreciate and participate in the unfolding cycles of this world – perhaps we can move faster, and therefore this distance would not be an issue. Maybe we could just manifest ourselves to said exoplanet without issue, since we are perceiving time as one moment?

*

All theory, of course, but I love the puzzle pieces when they seem to fit – even if in fantasy. However, in my mind, fantasy is but the beginning of fact. We cannot go where we have not first imagined.

I will be reflecting much more on this subject and look forward to finding some additional reads that might catapult this further. If there are any readers out there with sources / books / podcasts / etc. that might add to this unwieldy thought-train, please share or add in the comments !

Happy Thursday friends ❤

Z+B – Part II

3

“There was a story I heard one time,” Bess began, “about a grey-haloed woman who should’ve but shan’t.”

Bess’s favorite story. Again. Bess had some favorite sayings and creative stories, but none as strange and nonsensical as the story of the ‘Doorway Witch.’ She recounted it a lot, and always took the performance very seriously.

“She shat where she shouldn’t, and she ate and she stank. And she pittered and pattered and crook’ed and cranked. She belted and bungled, she jambled and jangled, she shambled and tangled and strangled and sank.” Bess was sing-song with the random tale, and she touched the stone walls and weaver’s goods, and held her hand out to any windchimes on strings as she passed them.

“That grey-haloed woman met the old-dark man, with nothing about him but silence began. They roamed and they wandered, and somewhere strange traveled, across the Medovian land. They wove and they whistled, they picked and they thistled, across the people they met. And the grey-haloed woman would tap each bristle, singing a song until set.”

“Set?”

“Yeah. Set.” Bess glanced back at him over her shoulder. “Like, created? Formed? I think that’s your closest word for it. Ssthet.” She said it slower, fully emphasizing her slight lisp. The story of the grey-haloed woman was a Medoin story, and in the Medov language, so Bess was recounting the translated version.

“Z, it’s too bad you don’t know Medov, you would love it. Isphair fye, Eihler lye,” she smiled back at him. They were descending down the stone staircase to the main fishing port, where they were sure to find some fish monger breakfast.

Whatever it was she had just said, she was probably poking fun at him. “I told you before, I tried years ago,” Zerian shot back. “It’s too ‘jambled.’ It didn’t stick.” He smirked at her, as she glanced behind her.

“Because there’s more meaning to it than you’re used to. The double meaning. It gets lost quite a bit when translated. I bet you would get the tongue if you tried harder. Your name comes from Medov – I would think that counts for something!” Bess took the stairs two at a time. Zerian followed as best he could, trying to keep up. Bess was an infuriatingly energetic morning person.

Then he finally caught and processed the last part of what she said.

“Wait – Bess, what do you mean my name is Medov? Hold up!” He panted a little when they landed at the bottom of the stairs. It was a good distance down to the port from the main city walls. In some areas it was vertical ladders built into the cliffs. Luckily, this stairway didn’t have any. “Bess, you never told me that before!”

“Yeah. ‘Zerian’ – Zeriphyn. Means prophet. Or wait, maybe it’s shitface…” She looked into the sky thinking hard.

Zerian glowered and made to punch her shoulder a bit too hard, but she turned away in time to dodge it and kept walking.

“Yup, definitely shitface,” she said, bouncing ahead.

Zerian exhaled and kept after her. She was too quick for him at this time of day. In the back of his mind, he wondered how he ended up here with her, of all people. Someone so enigmatic and… erratic for him to fully grasp. So unlike anyone else he had known. The wonders of life.

She was pulling a few rings off her belt in payment for some fish in a steamy broth, with something green slopped over the side of the bowl and a poached egg on top.

“So glad you agreed on getting fish, Z. And what a beautiful morning.” She handed him a bowl to sip, and they leaned against the ropes on the pier. The sun was just over the horizon, gleaming on the sea and sparkling on the small waves. Bright orange against the blue. It was heart medicine to be sure. Zerian decided to forget she had just called him shitface.

He mumbled agreement under his breath. The sea was so beautiful at this time of day, and he breathed in the calming salty air. They rarely had time to come down here. Zerian thanked his difficult sleep for the early sun rise view. He remembered vaguely something about falling in his dream. Or being yanked in the dark… Whatever it was, he didn’t feel like he slept at all.

“Mmmm, yes,” he agreed, the warm broth hitting his stomach like a torch. “Good call on the fish. Wish I had slept as well as you.”

“You’re still sleep stumbling?” Bess asked, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, ignoring the linen cloth that was wrapped around the bowl.

“Yeah. Stumbling. I guess you can call it that. I just can’t stay rested lately. I keep getting yanked around.”

Bess frowned. “Hmm.” She looked out at the horizon and took a loud slurp of her broth.

“What, no wise saying or prescription of toad-sticks that I should be taking?” Zerian was joking, but he instantly regretted the bit about the toad-sticks.

“Sorry Z. Not this time. But it worries me.” She suddenly turned off her playful demeanor and put on her wiser-than-thou hat. “You should see a Reader.” She paused, and they listened to the hustle of the pier. The sea birds crying out above. The thrash of the waves against the jutting rocks.

“Maybe a Reader will give you the toad-sticks you need.” She slurped up the rest of her eggs and brought her bowl back to the merchant, bowing in thanks.

“Sorry about the toad-sticks Bess,” Zerian followed her, trying to finish his bowl while walking. “But do you really think I should seek a Body Reader? That serious?”

“Maybe. It’s been what, a few months now? Or maybe you just need a punch to the face. I can do that if you want.”

She flashed her smile again.

“No thanks,” he shook his head. “So, maybe after we close up today. Or maybe I could take an hour – would it be OK if stepped out midday? I think I know who I can see about it.” Zerian handed his bowl back to the kindly fish merchant, who was now icing some silvery, gigantic fillets while his fish broth bubbled around behind him.

“Sure, that should be fine,” Bess shrugged. They started up the steps back to the city walls. The air was cold and clear, and as he looked back up at the city the sky was still sparked by a few stars. Specks of glitter winking through the dome of blue.

“But I’m telling you Z, you might like the punch to the face better. A little taste of blood is good for you.”

He laughed, but she was probably serious.

Keep going to Part 4