(Continued from part twenty-five)
Sleeping in front of that grand window, I began a dream. And what it brought to me was something I don’t think I could have grasped to the depth I did anywhere else… that the problem with our present world is not so much mayhem and destruction, but the fact that scope of thought and scope of action are so miserably limited within it. The problem, as H.L. Mencken described in his own way, is not that life is tragic, but that it’s a bore.
The world of my space friends – of the grown-up portions of our galaxy – is unconstrained. They run from one interest to another. I don’t get the impression that it’s some silly fantasy life, but they do what they choose, and even when necessities press upon them, there is no other will being imposed, only the necessities of circumstance.
My days on the spaceship seemed to funnel into that revelation. (Yes, I know revelation is a packed word, but that’s what it was to me.) Being away – far, far away – from the billions of minds who think it’s good and right for some smooth-talking thug to order them around and take their earnings… who are confused day and night by idolatries that their neighbors are willing to suffer for and sometimes to die for… who have no inkling of the treasures they hold inside themselves.
Being clear of that, the stupidity of the present Earth life was palpable. In fact, it struck me in the dream as a particular unpleasant odor, as strange as that sounds.
Please believe me that once mankind can transcend its worship of the dominance hierarchy and its perverted overlords, we’ll view it as we now see our dark, ancient eras. If you take nothing else away from this reading, please believe this: We are now in the dark ages, and most of us don’t belong here.
* * * * *
The funny thing about the dream was that it shifted, markedly, as I came back to my 2018 existence. I shifted from a clean and open place to a ghetto scene; in particular, to a ghetto house I once worked at, back in the early 1980s. I remember telling people not to limit themselves… that they were identifying themselves with their unfortunate surroundings… that all the universe was not like this little slice of barbarity… that if they looked beyond it they’d see that they were made for magic and wonder.
Yes, I know how that sounds to minds fixed within the present rulership hive. People in the better parts of the galaxy, however, would take it as an obvious truth. And I think we should choose to see their way rather than to prefer this planet’s overlords.
* * * * *
All that said, I woke up in my bed the morning of April 1st, 2018, with the sun starting to stream through the cracks in our window shades. This time, however, the experience took a toll on me. I wasn’t precisely sick, but I felt like hell, and according to my wife I looked like it.
For two days I barely left our bed. I felt like I had the world’s worst case of jet-lag. My stomach and back hurt on top of it, plus I had a headache. It was not fun. On the third day I tried to go back to normal, but only made a half day. By the fifth day I was mostly normal, but discovered that I was an odd kind of bi-polar.
I don’t mean bi-polar in the proper sense of the term, but rather that I had strong, polarized reactions to things, powerfully loving them or being powerfully disgusted my them. We went to a family gathering and I found myself needing to walk away from some conversations (not even politely; just turning and walking) and pouring myself into others unreservedly… animatedly telling everything on my heart and going well beyond the comfort level of the people I was talking to. My wife pulled me out of there early, and I thanked her for it. They all seemed to forget about it afterward, but it could have made a social mess.
* * * * *
Within another week I seemed to be normal enough, but for at least a month I had strong emotional surges, often involving either disgust or laughter.
I mourned for young Paul. I felt my loss of him as if it were a death. I started saying to myself, “It’s okay, he lives on in me,” but that’s what people say at funerals, bring more depth to my loss. I loved that kid. That’s a very healthy thing, I suppose, but it wasn’t a blind love; I had been surprised by the depth of his stupidities. Having grown out of them, I had forgotten, and was surprised at how far he took some of them.
My mourning for young Paul lost its sting as I began to forgive him… forgive myself… for my errors and dark patches. The sadness left in full as I began to forgive my friends from that era, who ended up making a lot worse mistakes than my young self made.
I was also sorry that I never made it back to Hosanna Tabernacle. I was ready to do them a great deal of good (or so it seemed to me), and they deserved it. The net benefit to the universe was probably greater by not forcing myself to go, and I might try harder to maintain some emotional distance next time, but these were fully real people, even if they’d only exist for a number of days.
The final difficult effect of the trip is one that I grappled with almost till the end of writing this book. It began with the comment Walter made to when he met young Paul: Walter said he looked “kind of like you,” not “just like you, but younger.” And the thing is, I think my appearance did change, and that at least part of it was intentional. I know that also sounds strange, and this description is very crude, but I think it really did happen.
More than that, spending several days with my young self clarified to me that I had changed internally. Now, I think I’ve changed for the better, but the truth is that I’m not quite the same person I was. It was I who made myself different, to be sure, but I wasn’t the same person, and I found that subtly but significantly troubling. If you can, imagine waking up tomorrow morning being someone else – your next door neighbor, perhaps – not only living his or her life but thinking their thoughts. That may point you in the direction of what I was feeling.