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  • Intro: December 2011

    I was half asleep. There was dreaming. An old man in a big robe talking to two children. It was a long time ago, and yet I was aware it never happened. It was a dream in which I was both listening to and telling a tale that used to be told; even in its original telling, it was proposed, offered, not stipulated or dictated as truth. It was always offered with a smile, and there were different varieties. It was understood that no one knew where the tale originated. That it had always been spoken. And the children smiled eager to hear something that was both new but also deeply familiar. After all, how can you hear a story and construct in your own mind the string of events said to have occurred without having the individual components of that serial already in your understanding? And perhaps, somewhere, your mind had already processed/composed that sum total. Already computed and surmised all of the possible permutations. You just haven’t put the words in that order, yet. Have you ever had someone tell you a joke while you were dreaming? And you end up genuinely laughing at the punch line? It’s the same thing. How can the punch line take you by welcome surprise when it comes from the same mind? I have woken up laughing from jokes in my dream. The world is a chain of pearls an infinite number of miles long, all piled up in a great lumped heap. You can only lift a small section of the chain at time, gaze at the glory of a single bead or two, one segment at a time, and then let them fall back into the pile. Pull the chain along to a new segment, gaze again in wonder, and keep going. _____________________________________________________________________________________

    The old man with the beard comes in, sits before the two young ones, and there is a fire place behind him, the wood crackling, breathing warm air into the room. He pulls his robe together as he sits. Of course he has a robe. It’s winter. The boy and the girl sit cross legged on the floor before him. The little girl fumbles with her fingers; the boy pulls his knees up, holds them inside the bends of his elbows, and clasps his hands in front. A comfortable tension climbs into their limbs as they wait for the words of the old man, and he gladly proceeds.
    “In the beginning there was nothing. How could there have been? If there was something there, it wouldn’t be a beginning. It would be later. A continuing. And maybe it is a continuing of sorts, but for us, we’ll call it a beginning. Because we will have to skip over the beginning-beginning, like we always do. Like how could there have been a God if there was nothing? Isn’t he something? Yes and yes. There are indeed mysteries our mind cannot catch up to. There is in some households a leapfrogging game of theologies---an infinite regress into the new and beyond which then becomes again the here and now. We will not go into that debate. We will just say, for now, that there was something, but it is beyond our realm. Let us stay within our realm. Someday, maybe we will be able to venture to that cliff of the beyond, but first, here, to the origins of the expanse of our own realm.
    So, in this tale there was a being, let us call him God. There is no God but God, but when people say this, they usually end up mispronunciation his name. So, we can call him the Nameless or even Steve. It doesn’t matter. Anyhow. The Nameless fashioned the universe out of two fabrics----it may have been one fabric folded over to itself, we are not sure. Different tales tell it differently. What is important was that where the edges of the fabric met, they did not go together smoothly. There was a small gap. Or an overlap. In some places one and in other places the other. An overlap and a gap. He tried to get it worked out. He tugged and he twisted, he folded and crimped the two edges together, almost maybe like a pie crust, but the edges did not go together smoothly. There was always an imperfection where the universe folded over to itself. There was always something to notice when he ran his fingers or his eye across it. It maybe would have been nice if they just went together seamlessly, but that was not the case. It maybe would have been nice. But maybe not. For you see, for us it was a good thing it did not go together smoothly. Because we inhabit that wrinkle, the gap, that overlap where the fabrics come together.
    You see, in this story, that gap between these two fabrics coming together at their edges caused sort of, let’s say an opportunity. Imagine the Nameless maybe holding this creation, and wanting it to be held together by itself. Like if you brought an end of one a sheet of paper around in a tube, and you held the edges together just so. So while he held it he can picture it, how it should be, but if he lets it go, it will unroll and fall apart. The nameless knew he would have to hold it together with something. As he rotated the creation, he knew too that it would have to be held together at all parts, not just here and there, and he also realized that if he looked at the whole of it, it was fine, but if he scrutinized the gap, that would take up his focus, and he would fix one section only to be compelled then to fix another, and beyond that, the fix was never quite perfect; it would help the view from afar, but as he then scrutinized his handy work, he would be pulled down into infinite levels and realms, fixing the fixes and mending the mends. For the universe was not like a simple sheet of paper. It was most vast. And he knew that it was his mind that was truly holding the things together, and he knew that he would have to pay attention to all of the seams, gaps, chasms, and crevices at once, as light bounced down and through to so many layers and layers. He knew, too, that it was his mind that would keep it, otherwise it would unfold.
    So. The Nameless fashioned a special thread. This thread was actually two threads, braided or spiraled together. One strand was pulled from his consciousness and the other from his will, and with it he formed a long thread that he used to stitch the two edges of the universal fabrics together. Picture, maybe like a baseball being stitched together, the cover of the baseball, and the threads crossing tightly from one edge of the fabric to the other.
    And many of the tales say that the Nameless one was struggling a great deal with his creation. That he wasn’t able to get the stitching done right. That when he was trying to braid the threads together, there was a similar problem, another gap between the two threads. And for that, there ended up being a solution. Literally. Apparently, he introduced an amount of fluid to the threads, and the fluid began to flow and create a bond between the thread of will and the thread of consciousness. And with the two working in concert, with the fluid acting as a seal and a lubricant, the thread was able to become one and it was also able to swim and pull together the gaps in the original fabric, allowing the Universe to keep its shape. It should be noted, that the gap itself at this point had a specific name. It was Time. And at some moments it seemed it was held together more by consciousness, and at others that it was more the will that kept it tethered.
    Some tales say that it was out of frustration that the fluid was introduced, that he let out a growl of forfeiture, as fathers sometimes do, and a piece of saliva came out from the back of his throat and landed in the chasms, but wetted the thread on its way, making it possible for the stitching to continue. Another idea was that the saliva was introduced because he was concentrating so fiercely, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, that it just coincidentally dripped this necessary fluid onto the world. And another version says that it wasn’t saliva at all, but that it was a tear.
    Among those in that tear school of thought, there were two groups. Those who believe the tear was out of sadness and regret for what he created, that it was imperfect and sorrowful, and the other that it was a tear of joy, that upon realizing that the final necessary thing needed was a little bit of his own energy, through which the thread of consciousness could swim and bind tighter the gap of time, he knew it would be able to continually swim and bind those fabrics together tighter and tighter. And like someone holding a baseball, following the infinite loop around and around, the seam where the two fabrics come together, he was full of tremendous joy at this creation, because he knew that it was not entirely his. That he had discovered it as something new from within him. That he would have to let go of some of his mind, allow it to work in small increments below on its own. It was indeed something that came from within him, but it was now so much more. Like the punch line of a joke delivered to you by someone you made up in a dream. It seems there is always another piece to the mind that knows more than we do.
    With the notes of all of these parallel truths ringing through him like a beautiful chord, he let go a single tear, which fell into the gap of time, between the two fabrics, and wetted a part the thread on the way down, enabling it to swim across the gap, and hold it together with its will and consciousness.
    It is among the people who used to tell this story where they answer the questions, of why when you are engaged in work, of focusing on what needs to be done, what it is you love, when your awareness is on task why time merely flies by---as it is at these points where you are helping to hold the world and the universe together the best, where the crease from the one fabric to the other is tightest---and there are other times when you may be at a wide gap in the fabric, and unable to focus your will on any task, and your consciousness drifts toward contemplating time itself, as it drifts toward contemplating its own purpose; the thread of awareness is strong and tight, but the thread of the will is slacking, maybe even flailing at these parts, and the awareness seems to search for its role in the universe. When the strand is loose like this over the gap of time, there is a hollow breeze of some sort that blows past the soul, and the soul looks down forever and ever into that canyon, becomes increasingly self focused and often confused, and time does not move very fast at these points. It is during these moments when you have to become creative---the usual stitch that holds the sections of forever together so tight will not do. There is slack in the rope of the will, and you need to take in the slack; you need to create something more beautiful, the hollows of the universe breathing past you, a wide gap at your feet, but in defiance your instinct is to fashion an elaborate series of knots, a bridgework of words, song, imagery, tale, the work that will keep us all united.
    Now, I am not saying there is any truth in this. The Nameless is just that. We can’t put a name on that which is infinite, which has come before us, which will be here after. This is just a tale. Just a myth. But it helps. It helps me explain why I have a round mind but a square jaw, an awareness of crossing infinity, and a will, an appetite to bind the moments of time with something practical; a need to find my next meal, to hold hands with those I love. And it helps explain someone who has gone to the edge, who has felt the breeze. Maybe someone who stands there now. Like in the Paul Simon song, losing love is like a window in your heart, everyone sees you are blown apart. The thread of your will has been untied, and the thread of the awareness is the only thing binding you from one moment to the next, across that chasm of time. And you are looking for Grace. These cosmic winds demand that the loose ends of the will need to be re-tethered. It seems maybe you can tell those who have made the crossing from those who haven’t. Those who have tied their bridges and who have gotten good at it. Those who have struggled; those who are naturally elegant and efficient at it. And those who have a stronger will than an awareness. I encourage you to seek those who laugh but are also always moved by the intricate beauty of this game, even though it be sometimes clumsy and painful.

    Okay. So that’s it. Let’s make sure the fire quiets some before we hit the hay, huh? Tell me, who’s gonna take out the garbage?
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