Cycles: Translation of the Unseen
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Behind the mask you wear today, how else do you disguise your frustrations?
I arrive into another zone of dream passage, anticipating a shift of winds to bring me to the next plateau, a welcoming interlude to reorient my dimensional compass. My bags grow heavier, testing my trust in tomorrow, that it will come and the items I carry will serve a purpose. I ponder whether to discard them as I have done with personas and expectations that became too heavy to carry. The passage itself ripples as if reducing itself one dimension less, a subtlety I perceive in a pressure current that tightens my neck and flushes my cheeks with frost. As I pull my chest and legs along the widening chasm of pressure, the once tube-like passage unfurls and flattens into my first fully recognized false plateau.
“It's just you, sitting here alone by yourself,” Cooper observes upon entering the room. I sit on a solitary chair, crunching an apple among haphazardly placed beds and wet drywall stains of a Brooklyn hostel.
“Yes,” I respond, “I'm enjoying the quiet. It’s hard to come by in this city.”
He shuffles and stoops to undress the sheets of one mattress, recently emptied by a fellow traveler. I watch the remnants of warmth vanish in the flurry of fabric. Cooper goes on about the differences between here and Boston, where he grew up. He said something about his wife, whom he refers to as his permanent roommate. And something about finally beating his father, at whom he is still angry post-mortem, what he decides to address by staying married until surpassing his parents' 60-year marriage, but the moment he reaches 61, he will divorce his wife. He wins?
I chuckle awkwardly with each bite of my apple. “Is she in on the plan?” I ask.
“She says I’m crazy.”
I suppose my chuckling encouraged him to continue speaking, detailing the lives of each of his 10 children. His second oldest son resembles him the most, but his oldest and tallest, well, “Mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe.” He has a lawyer in Georgia, two nurses in Virginia, and a basketball player somewhere out West. One daughter he worries about and suggests, “I need to find her a man.”
“Or not,” I state.
“Oh, she needs one. Everyone needs that partner..that somebody for support.”
I grin and respond. “I disagree.” As someone who spent the majority of her childhood hoping her parents would separate..nah, I can imagine other arrangements.
“God has a plan for us and he designed us so that we can have a partner.”
“Hmm, the universe possibly holds many plans –“
“See, without a partner, your life is simply not complete. You need somebody where if they are sick, you are concerned for them and care for them..”
This comes from a man who several statements before bragged about divorcing his wife at age 81.
“If caring for someone else is what makes me complete, I'm set with my career as a health practitioner.”
“No..no, that isn’t the same. See, my wife needs me even though she calls me crazy. We were designed this way.”
“Dear Mr. Cooper, I do not know the plan of the universe, but in my brief life I have seen there are many different paths follow, and whether or not we actively seek a partner has no direct correlation with our ability to be happy.”
“Oh, this isn’t about happiness..”
I mute the rest of his sentence and take notice of heat rising to my temples.
I am somewhere else. The well-trimmed beard, the hollowness of his voice, and the buried sweetness of detergent in the room, altogether reconfigured in a house that creaks with empty familiarity. I hold my tongue because if I express my observations, they will sound like judgements. I just met him, but I know this person. He is up for intellectual discussion and a browse through mementos, but at any prompting for personal disclosure, he will shrug his shoulders. This must be a replica.
I learn false plateaus are fabricated solely from past memories, the temptation of comfort comprised of jigsaw pieces of people and associated experiences. On a true plateau, your comforts are shared among those of a particular dream field. On a false plateau, you are trapped in your own passage, a deja vu that never fully brings you back to the present moment unless you become conscious of the forces that bind the edges of the passage.
Rain taps the pipes outside the window and the replica tells me he has no umbrella to spare. No matter. I make my way through the door. I don't know where I'll be tomorrow. I do know I'll never come back. All the same I turn to utter "see you later" to soften the blow of abandonment. The source of the false plateau, the blueprint of nostalgia may never disengage with "goodbye." The replica knows no difference.
No matter where I go, there will be more replicas, the agitation of uncomfortable familiarity invariably crumbling into noise.
I learn why I find comfort in the unfamiliar. I find hope in hidden potential.
Cooper is still talking. When you talk too much, you forget how to listen, confining life to five senses to ameliorate the situation, yet utilizing none well. You effectively block yourself from the incalculable possibility of ways to experience worlds.
This isn’t about happiness, he believes. Blame the spouse. Equate selective monogamy with a prison sentence. For whatever reason, many submit to the school of thought that removes happiness from the relationship equation, compelled to idolize the ability to stay in unsatisfying relationships and attributing the whole experience to God or some other fault of creation. At all costs, avoid personal accountability.
A fist of conviction thrusts upward from my chest, becomes a blade in my throat, and cuts loose just short of a growl.
“You know, a partner is nice to have, but I am complete on my own accord. For me, this is about happiness, for which completeness is one prerequisite. Perhaps some may attempt to find both in another, but there are so many textures and shades to happiness that to create a mutual dependence for completeness feels far too high of a risk to take on a type of happiness undefined. However, if it is not happiness that concerns you, I suppose you can settle with your God's design."
I lace my boots as Cooper courteously exits. As I create the bow on each ankle the pressure current of the passage recalibrates and zippers back into traversable form.
Folks who haven’t traveled before, through time-space or inner worlds, mistake dream voyages with what they call vacation.
I am not sight-seeing. I am embracing the unseen. I am not allocating time to escape or to squeeze in a few months of joy to help me survive the rest of my wretched life. This is my life. It takes effort to organize dreams, to actively take on opportunity, and to engage with people outside of a safety bubble. I navigate through the intimate permeability of surfaces. A face out of context, a body with no name, becomes inconspicuous enough to witness patterns of replication, what links one bubble, one world, to another. These are fragile ecosystems I intend to leave intact in my transit.
Ahead I step onto a path, strewn with cloaks, hats, and lies, dutifully left by a respected friend. Notably, the combusted fragments of dream fields and lost worlds smoke in his wake.
The strength of shared worlds is as strong as the hope we hold for those imagined, a belief in the potential of what is yet to be created. This is a principle shared between my friend and I. Additionally, he insists the rendering of the new rests upon the decay of the obsolete. I am not yet convinced.