A thunderstorm is breaking on Storybook Mountain tonight, so I withdraw into my mind-shell like an etheric tortoise, sinking deeper and deeper still. It seems there is no bottom to this depth through which I fall on raindrops of imagination, each one a universe where the hopes and fears of innumerable beings swim and merge in the fanciful synchronicity of a story unfolding out of time.
It’s been said that, within sadness, there may be found a hidden peace, yet within that peace itself there’s a desolate, crumbling ruin of a palace, stripped long ago of any regal treasure. Rain is freely entering, gently soaking the scattered ashes I have become, quietly washing them down my cheeks like dream tears shed for no one – not a sorrow, not release, not anything but rain mixed with ash and no place to land.
If I had the patience for it, I would compassionately evaporate into the cloud-laden sky of myself, merging with the great Cumulonimbus as they rumble through the storyline, renewing an ancient trust in the miracle of moisture by granting all the thirsty things an answer to their prayers. Yes, that would be the selfless thing, but I am still self-conscious, and so must follow this stormy narrative as it deliberately plays itself out.
In the story, I am sliding towards that space which can only be found by those who are trying to get lost. Surely, I could reach out and grab some excuse to delay my fall. I’ve done that so many times before. We all have, because to fall with both hands wide open is terrifying. We don’t know what will happen, and that prospect both thrills and frightens us (even though we came here to do this very thing, to immerse ourselves in a virtual uncertainty, and all the rainy-day stories it can spawn).
As the story goes, a stupendous trick of perception has rendered us captive in our own menagerie, but instead of recognizing that classic mind game for what it is, we collaborate with the beguiling illusion, like compromised traitors to the Real. We tend to be rather accommodating in that way, even when it hurts a lot. Instead of questioning the chronic trance, we busy ourselves customizing our cages with comfortable and distracting paraphernalia – thoughts, sensations, memories, beliefs, emotions – whatever little thing will do to pass the time in the dream of me and mine. When it rains, we hardly even notice, even though each rain drop can be a portal to the world beyond the zoo.
Most of us believe we need to expand until we can encompass the whole cosmos, and that is certainly well and good. Stretch your limbs as far as they can reach, let your feeling soar to infinity! In my story, I will keep growing smaller and smaller, until I can slip right into a raindrop and reunite with my own kind. A shoreless ocean of perpetual bliss is contained within each fluid jewel, and adrift in its transparent depths are exquisite water beings who would astonish any visitors from the star worlds that seek their pleasures there. If you’re still awake and aware by now, that’s the kind of tale I’ll tell!
(Painting by William Holbrook Beard)