~ a short story
I’m in a hurry here.
Places to be, things to do. I drove in this morning. What am I driving at? Walking through the streets, not gaining any ground, any insight; I am lost. And no one is looking for me. The meeting would soon start. What was the purpose of the meeting? Almost out of batteries, no service anyway. What an opportunity, to be free of those digital shackles. Can’t find my way; I am getting anxious. Nothing new. People are relying on me, can’t let them down. Never seemed to stop you before.
I see someone not unfamiliar. They step into a complex. I follow them with untapped sincerity. Some of the anxiety drips away.
Maybe it’s in here.
I step into the complex, some place new. The floors are clean, untread, but the walls are old, pillaring a great unknown. How many levels are there? I have certainly never been here, but there is something recognizable about it. It is a place I could see myself in, on another day, in another time. Through the threshold, I await the presence of this unfolding relation. Before I relent to my penchant to think, I walk in.
As I walk further down, the walls seem to narrow. My steps pick up speed but I am necessarily unconscious of it. Eventually, I am forced to turn a corner from the singular passage. I stop and see the full enveloping realm of this place. An array of interlocking pathways wind out in every conceivable direction. A maze, in appearance. Alone, I stand at the crossroads and consider my purpose.
~ art by Joseph Thompson
Overwhelmed by the grandiosity of the endeavor before me, but with a goal in hand — I start.
The initial passage I take is illuminated by warmth. I discover new forms of art via paintings on the walls of the hall.
<Portraits of a beautiful person>
The imagery is real enough to affect me.
<The scenery of a long forgotten getaway>
Sights and sounds from lifetimes ago flood back to me in comfortable silence.
<Landscapes of a kind not yet ventured, but certainly dreamed of>
I deign to go to these places, with cooperative beauty in hand. Am I worthy?
The further I go, the more intricately intimate they become. I slow down for closer inspections, unheeding to the timeline of my presence so long in this place. Given ample time with each rectangular receptacle of artistry, I can deliver an understanding for why each was undertaken. Of course, it’s just an intuition, an interpretation, an attempt at something I have no business with. But this is my walk, my passage, for now, and my art for the taking. These walls are freeing me, in some manner, with their portals to reveries I can choose among. One thing is for sure: All of it is clearly derived from an unchecked passion. The kind of thing all of us desire. The world created on the canvas is one of unlimiting discovery. I learn of myself here. I enjoy it especially because of its inherent novelty. I have never engaged with art of this kind. I pleasantly discover I am predisposed to it.
I turn another corner, and unfortunately, the gallery has reached its conclusion.
Taking a deep breath, I forge ahead into this strange place. Ahead of me I see the one I followed in. They are moving swiftly. Appearing to glance back furtively, their actions lend an air of avoidance. Where are they escaping off to? Acknowledging the thought with fervor, I also wish to go there, wherever there is, because they are here. I trust them, for some reason. Perhaps for their efforts thus far in leading me onward into such new vistas of experience. Will this trust be recompensed? Has it already been?
This is all unlike me. Why am I being so manic? This isn’t me. What has possibly changed? There can be no way that such a short-lived experience as my time in this place could’ve irrevocably changed me so. There is just no way. But alas, I have to reign all of this in and forge ahead. I don’t have time to unpack whether I like the changes after all. Have I changed? What —
I step into shadows. They are here before I can see them. The passage widens out. My eyes struggle to adjust. The nameless leader before me is unseen, unheard, and uninvoked by my blindness. It’s up to me to navigate this. For better or worse, I am alone again. Or was I always alone? What made me think it would last —
I run into something heavy. Immovable, I work my way around it, using all of my senses except for the one best suited for it. The more I move, the more I realize how much trouble I am in. In the darkness, there are just as many twists, turns, and angles as there are in the light. The walls are tighter, the potential drop-offs steeper. Confusion compounds without end given the lack of foresight. There is no communication, only pain; there is no negotiation, only uncompromising fortunes foretold before falling yet again. Again and again, obstacles wade into my chosen route — they threaten to merely infuriate me until they begin to thwart any progress at all. My steps falter in the onset of penumbran horizons. I have become weary.
My sight never adjusts, the tenebrous passageways remain impenetrable, in spite of any fortitude I can muster; something else is required here, and it is something I do not yet wield. Nothing to build upon, no confidence to afford, I lose composure alongside my method for steering the snags. My failure is resolutely continuous. I fear being lost for a time unending. My own dogged space unchanging, I cannot find the force to forgive myself for this wasteful ignorance.
I am in between responsibilities. My presence is required here but elsewhere; and I reside within neither. So much time is being lost in this meantime.
I decide I should never have ventured here. It was a mistake to follow this person in here. If only I could return from whence I had entered, back out into the even streets, back out into reasonable reality — everything could return to like it was. I would no longer be lost in this place, with no hope of escaping. I forgot why I came in here at all, in fact. Purpose was meaningless if you were adrift without a current, and I don’t have either. But finding my way back, I know, would be a more difficult feat than finding my way through. So what is there to do? Only one option — I continue. If only (I had known this would be some path of no recourse.)
After what feels like an eternity, I stumble out into some kind of light. That great dark is behind me. The rays piercing into my eyes are not kind. My sight returned, my senses heightened to the change, I begin to understand my place once more. But alongside coherency comes another challenge. What is before me now is a mirrorwork. Up is down and right is left? It looks as an abstract painting imbued to a vivid life, an optical illusion reaching out to accost me, a damnable sight of the Underworld in my own kitchen… A matrix of reflections makes up the next stage, rising and falling among stairways — how many of these paths are true and not just inversions? How far am I really seeing? What would it take to shatter this fate?
I see my self. I also see the person, the one just up ahead, the one I followed in. They reflect infinitely along these paths, along the omnidirectional channels of this realm. We are moving among the infinite, yet I see my one self, is not moving. So, I try my best to keep up.
Stepping through this with cogency I begin to realize something. It matters not the analysis or the predictions your calculations afford: there is just the decisions, and the making of them. With conviction, I can stride over, under, and into new realms to learn of their parameters, their deceptions, and their limitations. And then I move on. My time there is less important than I think it to be. Keep winding and winding around like this and certain truths come to you. I begin to unwind these preparations awaiting my footfalls. With every turn I gain confidence. I can work with this.
There is another arresting possibility resting upon my mantle, it is coming up against this increasingly uneven realm of echoes and spent light. The stages only become more complex, there is no turning back. There is no de-escalation. There is a steady incline of escalating propositions before me. Or rather, before us, together. We are communicating in a continuous chain of residual experience. The movement through this place, the leading and the following, the art and the darkness, the fear and madness — all of it was a dance of interpersonal understanding. Yes, I see that now. I was unconscious before. But no more.
We are together, in this. We have to do our best to navigate what looks to be impossible. I see you up ahead, we cycle these together. You keep looking back because you have to make sure. We are resolving each other through the unknown passages of this valley. Leaning back and taking in the full view, apart and without resource to comprehend it — it is damning to our psyche. There’s just too much to see, too much to do, too much to engage with. We are in this together. We are in this together. The mantra makes it no more believable. The words spoken aloud make it all more manageable. There is a madness in here, with ecstasy along for the ride. However, we now believe we can take it.
Despite this resolution on the shores of some kind of enlightenment. It begs the question: who would willingly submit to such fate? Such capricious and cruelly irrational wiles of fate are at work here! Can’t we see? What kind of rational person would enter this complex and harsh domain of puzzles, half-truths, and dissimulation? What lunacy have I entangled my self within?
Well, I think it’s the wrong question. And it’s one, together, we don’t ever have to ask. This is our choice.
A third revelation falls upon the deep-seated consciousness of this anomic traveler: there is no escape now / there is no going back / there is nothing but the forward journey unto.. hopefully.. some kind of.. imaginary or real.. L~…
I awaken staring into a person’s eyes. We are horizontal, our focus is one another.
This is our choice. This is our choice.
This isn’t the end, but it’s nigh the beginning either. This is a journey, into uncharted territory, endlessly winding into something like Love. ~
~ adapted from a dream