This came to me in a dream, true story…except the flowers in my pocket part… just wanted a zing! ending *grins*
“Thank you. Thank you for coming,” I say as you sit down. “I’ve just had the most amazing experience… I think. I still don’t believe what I went through, though. I don’t know that it was even real, or just some wild, food coma induced musings.”
We’re at our favorite restaurant. The morning is light, clear, and bright. We’re sitting in a booth, facing each other as the sunlight shines in through a window to your right. It’s a clear, crisp day and you’re curious about what has me so excited. When I called you, you could tell I was excited about something but couldn’t get me to say more until we met face-to-face. I know, me not talking about something, what a concept!
I begin, my face lightly flushed, happy, humbled and excited:
“It happened last night,” I start to say, looking out the window and into the distance, my voice fading for a moment. “It was a dream. It had to be a dream. But it wasn’t like any other dream I’ve ever had before. Maybe it was a vision? But I’ve never been given to visions. My talents lie in other areas.”
I pause, looking back at you, holding your eyes for a moment before continuing. Looking back out the window, my eyes take on a far-away gloss as if I’m seeing a different world as I talk…
Let me set the stage. It was a long night, very intense. You know I’ve been going through some things. Sleep was long in coming, and my brain was actively fighting sleep off no matter how I tried to shut it down. When I finally did drift off, I saw my body sleeping and I was standing next to the bed. You’ve seen my room so you know there’s not a lot of room to stand around. I didn’t think it was strange, standing over myself, next to my bed like that. It occurred to me that I was dead, or I was going on a long journey where I wouldn’t need my body so it was okay to leave it behind. And that seemed perfectly natural, as if I’m given to just leaving my body lying around like a pair of used and now discarded socks. I turned and walked out into the hallway… and I found myself standing at the back of a large room.
I pause for a moment to take a sip of water, turning to look back at you. In my hand, I doodle with a pen on one of the napkins, drawing columns and blocks and lines. Taking a deep breath, I continue:
Well, large room would be a complete understatement. I was standing in the grand foyer of what looked like a huge palace or temple or cathedral.
I was standing under some kind of roof, with a larger dome encasing the entire room. Supporting the roof were marble columns. Looking out past the columns, sunlight streamed in on two sets of dark brown pews. The floor was granite, smooth and dark. As I walked forward, the enormity of the room dominated me. There were white, marble statues of people I didn’t recognize — soldiers, sailors, shepherds, monks, nuns, peasants, kings and queens. It was beautiful, clean lines everywhere — squares, triangles, circles, dodecahedrons (my favorite shape)… and then I noticed the people! There were people everywhere, talking in hushed tones. Some sitting in the pews, some standing to the side, some standing before the statues, some in small alcoves jutting off from the main room. People of all sizes, shapes, creeds, colors, and genders… I realized this was a holy, sacred place but I couldn’t identify the religion. I saw crosses, ankhs, pentacles, pentagrams, swastikas, sauvastikas, the Star of David, the Crescent Moon, the Horns of the Bull, the multi-headed pictogram of Cuthulu, and symbols upon symbols of religions living and long forgotten. I wasn’t scared or confused by the multitude of signs, just surprised… and then I heard it.
I pause for another sip of water.
“Heard what?” you ask.
I heard a small, soft laugh. It was coming from somewhere else, somewhere past the room. It was haunting, at once both happy and melancholy. I’ve never heard a laugh like it before. It drew me to it; I had to know who was laughing in such a way, and what could make that person laugh such a laugh. I followed it. I had to turn my head side-to-side to catch it sometimes, but I followed it through the room, up the stairs to the dais, past the altar, to a side alcove with a little door.
I pushed the door open and I saw an Expanse spread out towards the horizon, a almost barren heath, windblown and desolate.
And I heard the laugh on the wind and I knew I had to move forward, towards that laugh. I stepped out onto the expanse, the breeze playing across the grasses. It felt like early Autumn, my favorite season. You know, when you can smell the change of season on the air, and Summer is losing her grip. As I left the Temple, I looked back. No one else was even aware that I had passed through. They were wrapped up in their own experiences.
I turned back towards the source of the laughter and moved forward. I simply HAD to know the source. As I walked, the clouds — puffy and bright — blew by in the breeze, miles over my head. At times they blocked the sun, making dotted patterns on the ground. The golden grasses danced and played, and I felt a calm, quiet and serene peace as I walked, a solitary figure cut against the horizon. I didn’t see any animals on the ground, or birds in the sky, but I didn’t feel alone — I felt life all around me. Continuing to walk, the weather started to shift and the sky turned darker. I heard the sudden clap of thunder over my head as lightening leapt from cloud to cloud. As the rain started to fall, I had no shelter so I continued to walk forward, soaked to the bone. Then, just as suddenly as it started, the rain stopped and the sun returned. Shivering, I continued to follow the laughter, the Voice.
As I continued to move forward, I saw a massive tent in the distance.
The laughter seemed to be coming from the tent, so that’s where I went. The Tent was huge, with multiple peaks, bigger than an airport! The breeze pushed and pulled at the sides as I walked part of the perimeter, looking for an entrance. It took some doing, but I finally found a way in by sliding between a few of the folds. Once inside, it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Well, it wasn’t really dark; it was just darker than the field I’d been walking through a few moments before. It was warm, almost humid, and smelled of incense and perfume. The tent was a swirl of textures, with pillows and rugs strewn throughout. Lamps on golden chains were hung from the ceilings, giving off a warm light, the smell of burning oil and carbon adding to the mix. And the people — again, every size and shape, creed and color, milling around talking, dancing, arguing, fighting, eating, drinking, loving… and the smell of people, the musk of humanity added to the mix. It seemed to me that there were just about as many people in the Tent as there were in the Temple, only here they seemed more free, more ‘human.’ Not that the people in the Temple weren’t human, the Temple people were just more subdued, and self-contained. Here in the Tent, everyone seemed to be in a rush and a press, a cacophonic, frenetic crowd. And through all the chaos, and confusion, and passion, I still heard the Voice, the quiet and haunting laugh underneath it all, supporting it all. And I felt drawn forward again, through the crowd to something somewhere else.
Moving through the crowd, avoiding and colliding, and crashing, and dancing, and side-stepping, I found my way forward to the edge of the tent. I found the edge of a flap and I lifted it to reveal a huge, well manicured Garden.
I slipped out of the Tent and into the Garden without looking back. As the flap dropped back into place, the sound of birds chirping, bees buzzing, the trickle and splash of water, and subdued murmuring came to my ears — and the laughter was stronger than before. Before me stood a well manicured garden, an explosion of colors neatly arranged, glorious and beautiful. Red roses, white lilies, yellow daffodils, blue forget-me-nots, orange mums, purple orchids, white lotuses, violets and a thousand others were growing all around me. Supporting the structure was an impossible hedge maze, cut to perfect squares standing over 9 feet tall. The sky was a brilliant, azure blue. The ground was bright cobblestone, of a variety I’ve never seen before.
And there were people here — again, of all types, but not as many as before. This group was both quiet and engaged. They were both solitary and connected. Some enjoyed the Garden for itself, some shared the Garden’s delights with each other, and some chatted quietly, sharing the beauty of the place and each other within it. But it still seemed that I, alone, heard the Voice, the laughter — so I continued to look. And then I found it, a soft spot in the hedge. I pushed on it with my hands, feeling it give way, so I pushed with my whole body and slid through. The branches of the hedge scratched my face and hands, one scratch on my face even seeped a little bit of blood but I was through quickly enough.
And I found myself in another garden, a smaller one. It was unkempt and wild.
Things were growing all willy-nilly with no rhyme, reason, or order to it. And the laughter, haunting and joyful and sad all at the same time was loud in this place. The wild garden almost seemed to contain and reflect the laugh on itself. And here in the middle of this wild place, I saw just one person — a child, playing. As I watched him play, he struck me as old, impossibly old but I didn’t see a wrinkle on his face. It was like I expected to see wrinkles but when I looked I just saw the faded memory of a wrinkle and instead saw young skin. He stopped playing and looked up at me. I couldn’t tell the color of his eyes — they seemed to shift as I looked, from blue to green, to brown to tawny and back again… it wasn’t a massive shift, just a highlighting or an ebb and flow. It was magical to watch. Then he spoke to me, in a soft and quiet voice — not high or low, and said: ‘Hi.’
I replied, “Hi..?”
He blinked, then said, “Yes, it’s how people greet each other sometimes. They say ‘Hi,’ so, Hi.”
I paused while I took it all in… He asked, “Do you like it?”
“Like… what?” I asked. “The Temple? The Tent? The Expanse? The Garden? This place…?”
“Yes,” he replied, “all of the above. Do you like it? Not too many people walk this far, and find this place. Most start at the Temple or the Tent, maybe find the Expanse and travel between the two their whole lives. Very rarely do people find the Garden. And almost no one finds this wild place. Most people find their contentment and stop earlier in the journey.”
“But I heard you,” I said to him. “I heard the laughter… or was that crying?” Then I shook my head for a moment before continuing: “I heard a Voice and I had to find out the source. Or the Source. That was you, wasn’t it? I didn’t find the source in those places, so I kept looking.”
“Yes, that was me. Or Me. And it is Me. Or is me. It doesn’t matter to me how you find me, or label me. But you missed me in those other places, i was there too. i am there for other people in other ways in other places. Or Other Places. But i’m here, too, for you, in this place (THIS place) now. There’s one more place further along, a void and you’ve been there too, before. But now, we’re here. Do you like it?” He was hard to follow sometimes, like I was hearing him on two levels at once.
I answered, “I’m still working to understand all of this, but yes — I love it, all of it. Even as I see that I’m not-understanding it and not not-understanding it at the same time. It’s like I have a taste in my mouth, and it’s changing as a savor it, and I can’t share it with anyone, really, but I keep trying. It’s awesome, and humbling, and amazing, and painful, all mixed together.”
His eyes twinkled all the more at my answer, then he said, “Why the sadness? Look at this garden — isn’t it beautiful, all wild and crazy? Everything is free to grow here as it sees fit, to its own satisfaction. In the Garden before this, everything is structured and organized, growing according to some design. There’s a place for that, but there’s also a limiting factor, a forced experience, an abdication of responsibility. It’s the same as in the previous places.”
He explained, “In the Expanse, everything is changeable and Nature is free to flow and be Her own with no one to interfere or control or crash. Life is alive, and spontaneous and dynamic. But it’s also empty and devoid at the same time. In the Temple and the Tent, there’s a mix and a crash, and a reverence, and a crush, and a “need to be” in different ways. And people hold to those ways without looking for more, trying to be a certain way. Most people travel the Expanse between the Tent, the mad press of humanity, and the Temple, the serene but controlled connection to something higher. Few people break free of the extremes and find the Garden, but even there, there is still that abdication and stagnation.”
The he continued, “Here, in this garden,” he spread his hands wide as he spoke, “everything is free to simply be. This is closest to my heart. This is where i’m happiest — and also the saddest. With freedom comes the ability to choose to grow inward, to grow down, to self-destruct. But i love each and every plant, flower, shrub, grub, and insect in this garden. And i love those other places too. It made me sad to be so full of love and joy and excitement and have no one to share it with so i made them all — the places, the people, the seasons, all of it — to experience the joy i see and to share the love i feel. But i won’t make anyone do anything by force, bribery, threat, intimidation, cajolement, or argument. you don’t manipulate what you love, you just love with no conditions. But that doesn’t stop some people from blaming me when things don’t go their way, as if my life was only about ruining theirs, or controlling theirs, or punishing them. Babies die, break ups happen, good people get selfish and hurt the people they love, people make mistakes. That isn’t my plan. Not directly. It’s what comes with freedom to live and love. i would never hurt someone i love, someone i created atom by atom from the bottom of their toes to the hairs in their nose. Every person makes mistakes, honor their mistakes. Learn from their mistakes. Drive forward. But joy and pain must both exist to truly have freedom and choices, and consequences also exist for choices to have meaning.”
Then he pointed at the plants, “Each creature here in this wild garden is free to grow in its own way. All the plants grow — when growing upwards, they sometimes block access to the light for others; when they grow downwards and die they become a source of nutrients for others. i love to see everything grow upwards and downwards. And i am sad when some piece of life decides it doesn’t want to live anymore. But not sad or hurt or angry with them or their decision, just sad because i’ll miss the opportunity to watch them grow, thrive, and become more. Growing upwards or downwards is following their nature.” His eyes were twinkling as he spoke, looking at all the living things around him.
Then he turned magical eyes back to me. I stood there, transfixed. I felt like I could listen to him forever and that I had been listening to him all my life. He smiled, then gently said, “You’ve been walking for a long time, now and before, and i wanted you to see the world through my eyes now: the joy, the growth, the stagnation, the connections, the loss, the emptiness, the misunderstandings, the hurts, the pains… breathe them all in. Enjoy them. Live them. Love them. But you don’t have to suffer for any of it. Suffering is your decision, not something i ever wanted for you, or for anyone. See your options, your choices, your decisions, your directions — own them, face them, repeat them until you’ve truly learned the lesson, test yourself, allow others to test you.”
And as he spoke these words, he and the wild garden started to fade to blackness, and stars, and peace:
“i drew you to me tonight to share this with you, because we are the same: we are the Source, living and loving and dancing Energy moving through Time and Space. You have a human body — enjoy it. And i will continue to laugh, and dance, and play here in the wild garden, happily waiting for you to join me and we can play together again. There is a purpose to your journey. Keep moving forward.”
I pause to take a sip of water. My eyes are moist around the edges. I continue:
“When I woke up this morning, I had the most amazing sense of calm and peace and tranquility and joy and light and pain and sorrow, all mixed together. It was a beautiful feeling, not easy to hold. That’s when I called you. I had to share this with someone, so it would feel more real and so I could hold on to this memory. The weird thing was,” I say, reaching into my pocket, “as I was getting dressed,” I bring my closed hand out on the table, between us, “I found these in my pants pocket.” I open my hand to reveal several, small, delicate forget-me-nots.
You look at my hand, and the flowers, taking one into your hand to feel for yourself. I look up at you, studying your face, wondering to myself: Do you believe me? Have I lost it? Am I deluding myself? You look up from the flower, take a deep breath, then say…