Tag Archives: despair

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #43

(Sorry, a bit late on posting this next segment.  Enjoy anyway!)

It is the way of it. 

And I’m sick to death of hearing that damned expression that says it all for all of us.  How can I communicate abstract ideas to these people?  They express white noise for thoughts and they have the limited vocabulary of a three year old Earthian child, exceptions noted.
[end blog post #42]


[begin blog post #43]

Chapter 19 – “Ich diene”

The training session and meal over we are returned to our cages.  Later, Deirdre is let in.  I realize that it is going to be during that interim tomorrow night I’m to be let out of my cage by a Cydroid disguised as a trainer or handler and Deirdre will be carried out into the desert; that I won’t see her after tomorrow.  Even more painful, I’m sworn to silence and cannot tell her that as of tomorrow we won’t be together and may well never see each other again in the flux of space/time.

Long ago I swore to myself I would learn of detachment.  On Altaria I went on many long walks, quests for peace of mind and steadiness of heart.  As I surveyed the beauty of my world I practiced the art of detachment.  Altarians number in the billions all over many worlds.  Only a relative few ever remain on Altaria, for it is not a permanent place for us, just our port in the galactic oceans.  It is a place of rest between assignments we give ourselves.  Some of us, particularly those who are called ‘WindWalkers’ or ‘Avatari’ can be gone for millions of years, even more, before we find our way back home.  We are galactic wanderers, sailors of space.  Yet when we come home we can get attached to its gentleness, softness, peace, tranquility, but mostly it’s the complete lack of pain or suffering or sense of loss we get attached to.  It can become difficult to leave again.  So we are taught detachment by the few ancients who remain there to care for those who return, to heal the minds and encourage those who must leave again. 

I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but allow us to discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron. 

Now I’m losing the love of my life; of this particular life.  I’ve done all I could to see her leave, knowing she has no future here.  And tomorrow evening I’ll watch her go and never see her again.  My heart is already tearing apart as I feel her against me and smell her breath and skin; listen to her soft breathing and the rustling of her toes in the dry straw as is her habit to grasp straws in her toes and twirl them. 

“Practicing dexterity and flexibility.” she explained to me long ago.  “They taught us never to stop pushing our abilities to do things with our bodies, impossible moves are not impossible.”  She can tie knots with her toes; stand straight up with only one hand on the ground.  Do at least ten back flips without missing a beat, even jumping over obstacles while doing it; casually throw a leg over her head and turn her head back almost a full one hundred and eighty degrees.  She makes incredible faces to make the saddest person laugh – if it were permitted here.

“What’s wrong Antierra?”  She breaks into my train of thought, sensing my disquiet and inner pain.

I reply instantly, without hesitation, according to the advice I’ve received from the Cydroid.  ‘Feign anger.’

“I’m angry from today’s sessions.  I think some fighters are getting lazy or stupid and won’t fight properly.  As if they want to die.  I’m upset at the twins for what they have become.  I blame the chakr.  Maybe they get too much.”

“It’s not the drug and you know it.  They can’t help themselves, Antierra.  Once they taste the killer juice inside their heart and find they like it, they are killers.  You should be thankful that you trained them well enough to survive their instinctive drives, no?  And that you were able to change the rules to let them fight as a team?  What more did you hope to accomplish?  They survived their first fight and they were so intensely proud.  They saw they had power too, a power that had been denied them as concubines.  It is the price we all must pay if we would reach a new level of understanding.  All of us, even you, must be prepared to pay a price.”

I want to scream at her when she utters those words.  Indeed, even I must be prepared to pay a price to reach my next level of understanding.  Indeed!  Ha, young one, the things you have yet to learn.  I bite my lip to refrain from saying anything at all.  After I regain some of my composure I say,

“Let’s not talk anymore.  Just be with each other and let this day slip away and the new one come.  Let me hold you.”

We hold each other and eventually fall asleep to be awakened by the handlers as if today was to be just another day.

There is unusual activity in the training compound.  Liveried King’s men come and commandeer a whole squad of guards and they walk off.  Handlers and trainers watch, as dumbfounded as the rest of the fighters and trainees.  Only I (and whatever Cydroids are among us) know what is going on and I try to concentrate on my work.  I drive my charges ruthlessly.  I especially seek out the one I had talked to the day before and take her on.

She whispers to me,

“I think about what you say.  You be correct.  I fight, I live.  I find secret place.  I be best you ever train.  I be no coward.”

“Good.”  That is all I can say.  I’m a welter of scattered emotions projected by feelings I have no control over.  I press the girl a few times, motion for a male trainer to take over and walk to the long line of water-tight cabinets where the real fighting weapons are kept locked.  They have been unlocked for my inspection for I have the eye for damage or imperfection on blades of all sorts.  A gift from some dark past life? More than likely.  I pretend to be absorbed in inspecting each one but really, I feel sick.  I’m afraid.  Truly afraid.  More afraid even than I’d ever experienced back when I was a child on my last natural incarnation on Old Earth in C-20.  Fear: a familiar feeling I never thought I’d encounter again after the horror of the Melkiar wars. 

Suddenly I long for one of those days during the end of those wars when we chased them across parsecs of space, sometimes being chased by them and more often cornering them and destroying them.  My crewmates called me cold then.  I spent all my waking time – considerable because of the Altarian training which can keep the body awake and fully functioning for days on end without food, stims or drugs of any kind – sweeping the deceptive emptiness of space, always searching for our invisible enemy hiding in his energy shielding cloaking devices. 

Speaking of enemy I do not mean only the external enemy.  The great enemy of any ISSA is always beside you; walking with you, shadowing you or chattering in your ear.  I’d lay in my restraining harness in zero-g of a jump scout, feeling the vibrations of the drive through the infrastructure of the machine and ‘it’ would be there with its constant suggestions to give in to personal desires and search for additional comforts or credits for ‘work well done’ as it was wont to repeat.  It would have been easy to fall asleep, not only in the harness, I mean really fall asleep.  To let my mind return to the accepted ways of Old Earth, to the drugs of endless deceptions that lead nowhere; to promises, to trust, to hope, to love, to faith, to anything but hard self-empowerment. 

Some of the male crew at first sought me out for sex and romance… or both; female crew numbered in the minority on most ships and men will be men.  I ignored them.  Those who insisted, I bathed in a frigid aura of Vaxdali polar ice.  What can I say?  I may have looked like an angel to some of those males, but angels have their own personalities and mine missed out when they handed out the “nice, sweet and warm” programming during that reincarnation.  I overdosed on ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ instead. 

I brought it up, so let me explain a bit about ‘Vaxdali.’

Vaxdal (as recorded in the database documents of the Supremacy) is a great ice world at least six times the size of Old Earth and orbits a distant sun beyond the far reaches of Orion.  It’s g-force is a crushing 1.8 times that of Earth.  It is inhabited by ice wraiths, mammoth-sized white to brown, thick-haired humanoid creatures that burrow and live miles under Vaxdal’s ice cover and feed on mineral deposit, so it is believed according to bits of unreliable data picked up from remote sensors. It has been impossible to record the number of Vaxdali who inhabit that world.  Anywhere from a few thousands to possibly a billion or even more.  Again, all computer-generated data not backed by any real solid research.

Despite the terrible dangers of flying low in Vaxdal’s atmosphere and getting trapped and pulled down by its g-force and immense magnetic storms, small groups of human sightseers with more money than brains irregularly charter trips to that place just for a computer-enhanced chance glimpse at a surfaced herd of wraiths, or Vaxdalis.  The Supremacy does not permit landing on this world and no method has yet been devised to safely set down investigators, archaeologists or anthropologists.  It is believed in the non-scientific circles of FreeNet jabber that the Vaxdalis are pseudo-human cannibals.  Who would know?  ‘Final Frontier’ legends, most likely.  But you’d laugh to see the corny and idiotic holorec and infovid F/X they’ve done on that one world alone.  Old Earth is not the only place where people seek mindless entertainment just for a chance to forget their current reality and not have to deal with it.

Back to my story.

I had no desire then for sexual contact with anyone, male, female or other – yes we get ‘other’ in many forms, especially androids who can be very persuasive and seductive.  I had no desire to get close to anyone.  I had a purity of desire to accomplish something.  The wars were dragging on and holding me back and I wanted to end them.  But it wasn’t the Melkiars I sought.  I had something deeper in mind.  I wanted to drink and eat detachment; to be able to function among a close-knit body of humans without being affected by their lower emotions.  I had a vision of the cosmos waiting for me to explore.  Of moving through dimensions without a body, incarnating here and there as needed: unattached yet able to feel, but in a non-personal way.  Seeking knowledge and adding to the great store of it.  Being “me” everywhere and anywhere – always free from any attachment beyond my own quest; my own thirst for knowledge. 

I dreaded the idea of having someone, a mate, a child, in tow.  Love?  No thank you.  Been there, done that; don’t work as we used to say!  What I dreaded more than anything was the inescapable, constant drag of human emotional baggage. 

In a way I got my wish.  We were scouting a round in a complex field of tumbling asteroids and debris caused by the destruction of a moon, I and my android partner A. Kale at the controls of a Class B destroyer when we came under blitzkrieg attack.  Two Melkiars dove at us literally from within a hollowed out asteroid where our sensors had, for a quantum moment, been blinded.  Taking us in a pincer move they jointly blasted us just as we returned a barrage of fire-power that blew up both of the Melkiars and the asteroid to cosmic dust. 

But we had received a killing blow.  Com was dead.  Life support non-functional and the aft section where the suits are kept in readiness had been sliced off along with our drive, not that those suits would have done much good without a ship or contact with fleet. 

All twenty of our crew complement died within minutes from shock and exposure as what remained of our ship careened out of control and pulverized itself in the maze of the asteroid field, along with our three androids who otherwise would have shut themselves down and could have been recovered by the inevitable search that would follow.  Ah, bitter moment to sweet oblivion. 

I reincarnated on Altaria as I had pre-planned.  I felt no loss, no remorse.  For me the wars were over.  I would not be tempted to return.  I planned my next adventure based on some promises I’d made to a world and a people that had given me so much and deserved better than what it was getting from fate. 

Fate, yes.  Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma.  Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again.  The people would never know but she would know.  She would be grateful.  “Ich diene.”

[end blog post #43]

 

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

You can’t stop them from seeing (your broken life)

(Lyrics from the song, Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen)

  [poem from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

City streets can be colder than stone
when you’re vulnerable and all alone
nor ever paved with the rich man’s gold
in threadbare clothes, wet and cold.

She comes to a familiar doorway
in the night when she’s lost her way
remembers the days of her short life
how desperately she’d run from strife
finding a hallway, a basement stair
then running again from every nightmare.

The deskman knows.  She tosses her hood
and puts her hand on the worn wood.
Her words, like a voice from the tomb:
“Please, I need a cheap room.”

He smiles at her – or is it a leer?
He replies, she can smell the stale beer —
“Forty dollars for a night at the inn –
or free, and I’ll tuck you in.”
His hand slips over her cold wrist:
for the mill she will ever be grist.

Through the window, two sheets, a case:
she grabs but he says, “No need for haste.”
Here’s the key – it’s three – o – four –
and don’t forget: don’t lock the door.”

He watches her walk to the rickety stairs,
shoulders slumped, broken by despair
and as she steps on the very first rung
comes a line from a song she’d once sung:

“Baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked the floor
used to live alone before I knew ya
But I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Our love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah”

Is it worth it?

[a short story by Sha’Tara]

          Lanky Andy, Andrew Larkin, walked into “The Odyssey” restaurant at exactly 1800 hours.  He allowed his transitioning photochromic lenses to clear enough so he could scan the seats.  Eddie, Edward Aberhart, was seated in a booth halfway down the window aisle, facing the entrance door.  He waved at Andy.

          “Jees… Jesus Eddie, you look like shit. What’s up?  What’s with the ‘I need to see you right away, like today!’ call?”

          “It’s like this Andy.  I’m at the end of my rope, OK?  I’ve been thinking about things for years now and it’s turned into a bloody nightmare.  I keep asking myself, ‘Is is worth it?  What am I doing here?  What’s the point of anything, anything at all.’ and nothing seems right, feels right, tastes right.”

          “What does Linda have to say about your, um, nightmare?”

          “Linda’s gone.  She packed up, went back to her family down south.  I haven’t spoken to her since she left, that’d be about two months ago.  Just packed up while I went uptown, loaded up the car, took Jessie with her and left me a note on the kitchen table: ‘I’m going to stay with mom for a bit until I can get a job at the hospital down there.  I know a doctor, I’ve got excellent references as an ER nurse, I’ll get a job.  Please, don’t call me, don’t call mom, just vanish from our lives.  If you follow, I’ll get an injunction based on emotional abuse.  I don’t care what you do Eddie, just disappear from my life; from our lives.  You’ve become creepy, sick, but not something I can do anything about.  I won’t let you drag us into your nightmare.  Goodbye Eddie.’ and that’s it.”

          “Well, nothing like a cheery get together to get things rolling.”

          A busty, dark “Greek” looking waitress came by, took their orders and said their drinks would be right up. 

          ‘I sure hope so’ thought Andy.  ‘I need a drink, the kind that helps you put your thoughts together, then wipes them out so you can enjoy life again, if only for a day.’  

          Although the place was three quarters full, it being Saturday evening after all, the drinks miraculously showed up within three minutes.  Eddie fingered the cold condensation on the outside of his glass.  He didn’t pick it up, didn’t drink, just stared as if he was reading a message.  Andy sipped on his, smacked his lips then swallowed the entire glass, waving at a waitress for a refill. 

          “All right, goddamn it Eddie, you got me here.  Don’t tell me you’re just going through another of your emotional bullshit phases.  I had enough of that shit with you in college.  Let’s cut to the chase, what’s eating you?”

          “I’m really sorry Andy but my life sucks.  I hate teaching and I don’t believe anything the curriculum makes me teach the kids so I can’t really motivate them.  Well, how could I?  I can’t motivate myself any longer.

          “You know I used to attend the ‘Life Force’ Pentecostal church, where I met Linda, right?  I thought I had some sort of relationship with God.  It felt good, right, proper and my life made sense.  I joined the Lions’ Club to be of service in the community and that reinforced my belief that life had purpose.  I married Linda and I was sure I really loved her.  Jessie’s birth, now that was some celebration after all the scare that she would be abnormal – nothing wrong with that kid.  I had it all and then it all went away.  I mean it, Andy: it just evaporated.  Like I fell in some big black bottomless hole.  That’s where I’m talking to you from: a black pit of despair, falling with nothing to hang on to.  Can you accept that?  I’m not asking you to understand, just accept this is how it is.”

          “Do you want me to lie to you?”

          “No.”

          “OK then, I can’t – no, let me put it more clearly for you: I won’t accept it.  I’m a rational person, Eddie.  If something fucks up upstairs, it’s up to me to go up there and straighten it up.  There’s no Chimera up there that’s going to take over and fuck up my life – not before now, not now, and not ever in the future.  I wouldn’t let it happen.  That’s my answer to your asking me to accept your current state of mind: I don’t because if I did, then I’d have to try to understand it next – and I’m simply not going there.  I don’t play mind games Eddie.  My own life is controlled; some people say I’m as hard as a rock, well fine, that to me is high praise.  That’s why you stuck with me through college too, you needed that hardness to put grit into your own mush, Eddie. 

          “What the fuck, man.  You are the one who got Linda, you whiny wimp of an excuse for a man.  She went for you because she felt sorry for you most of the time.  But I was the one who loved her Eddie.  How often I imagined what we could have done as a couple, as a team.  A doctor and a nurse, and I would have pushed her to get her medical degree too.  We would have been all over the world, helping people, I mean really helping.  A team on fire.  Fuck you Eddie, you miserable excuse for a human being.  I feel so sorry for you right now I want to punch in that baby face of yours.  Goddam it, I don’t believe this.”

          “Why have you never told me of your feelings for Linda until now?  I didn’t know, honest.”

          “Of course you didn’t know, you self-absorbed little shit.  All that’s ever really mattered to you was you and your precious feelings.  ‘I joined the Lions’ club to be of service to the community.’  Such a crock.  You joined to find support for your insecurities – tell me honestly that isn’t true.”

          “Ah hell Andy, I didn’t call you here for you to beat up on me.  I’m down, Andy.  I can’t take this.  Is this fun for you, crushing what’s left of a total loser?”

          “OK, OK, I’ll back off if you’ll level with me and tell me what’s really the problem.  What’s the cause of your black pit of despair, Eddie?  What’s this Gremlin you’ve got on your back that you can’t shake off this time?”

          “The honest truth, Andy: the world, and my life in it.  Have you followed the news lately?  With all the crap that’s going on and that keeps arising all over, is it really worth it?  Is there some point to it?  The world’s in a shambles, what am I supposed to do?  Ignore it?  Carry on like what’s her name, Pollyanna? 

          “I wake up in the middle of the night and I have visions, terrible visions, of things happening to thousands of people, horrible things.  And I feel guilty about it all, I can’t help myself, and the guilt won’t go away.  It’s like everything bad that happens is my fault.  I’m responsible somehow, as if I were a puppet and I was being played, forced to watch; forced to link my lifestyle to the problems of other people.  If I enjoy something, they go without.  If I eat, they starve.  If I have a house to live in, they are homeless.  If I have rights, they are enslaved.  If I’m free, they are in prison.  I’m cursed, Andy; I’m the other side of the coin.”

          As their food was being served, Andy didn’t answer.  He moved some plates around, ordered another drink, looked up at Eddie and said, “Ed, drink your fucking drink, right now.” 

          The waitress looked up, a shocked look on her face.  “Sorry, that’s between my friend and I here.  Please bring him another drink, he’s going to need it.”

          The waitress almost scampered away.  Andy started eating and felt ravenous.  He swallowed, then started to laugh.  Not so loud as to cause embarrassment but so Eddie would hear it and stare at him. 

          “You find something amusing, Andy?” Eddie put his empty glass down, looked into Andy’s eyes.

          “Yeah, you.”

          “My problems are amusing to you?  I thought doctors were supposed to be empathetic.”

          “Some are but it’s definitely not a trade requirement.  If it was most of us would be out of work tomorrow.  But this has nothing to do with me being a doctor, or you a high school teacher.  We’ve been dancing around a much more serious business called life.  You asked me, is it worth it?  Before I answer that, give me a rational alternative to what you call life.”

          “That’s a nuts question.  How can there be a rational alternative to life?”

          “Ah, got you there haven’t I?”

          “I don’t have any answer for you.  Are you talking about an alternative to life?  How can there be such a thing?”

          “Have you heard of NDE’s or near death experiences that some people claim to have had?”

          “Vaguely.  Here and there.  There’s no proof of such a thing actually happening. Just the brain reacting in a crisis when life is on the line.”

          “Exactly!”  Andy drank some more and it seemed his drinks were tasting better each time.  So did the food.  “Got to congratulate you, Eddie, this is one hell of a fine restaurant.  Not fancy, but you can’t beat this food, or the drinks either.  Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed myself more at a meal.  Go ahead, dig in, dig in.  This is fantastic!”

          “What do you mean, ‘Exactly’?”

          “Mmmm… what?”

          “I said there was no proof that NDE’s are real experiences and you said, ‘Exactly.'”

          “And I meant every word!”  Andy laughed at the puzzled expression in his friend’s face and noticed that outside, the world had gone dark except for street lights and the lampshades over the booths made new shadows.

          “Ease up on the drinks, Andy, you’re losing it.”

          “Actually I’m getting it, Eddie.”

          “Care to explain?”  He took a serious drink and suddenly felt himself unwind.  As if something good was going to happen.  Imagine that: nothing good had seemed to happen for ages.  He knew it wasn’t the drink, nor the food.  Anticipation. He actually felt it.

          “I never realized it until now,” said Andy.  “About you, I mean.  I always thought you were somewhat of a sissy, a wimp you know, going around feeling sorry for yourself, bringing people into your circle to empathize with you.  But that wasn’t it at all.  You were just confused, selling yourself short, unaware of your own nature, thus unable to take advantage of it.”  He seemed to look at Eddie with some sort of awe.  “I never knew; never suspected even.” 

          “Would you tell me what you’re going on about, Andy?  You’re confusing me and I think you’ve had too much to drink.”

          “Oh just wait.  I haven’t had half enough.  I’ve been a fool, Eddie, a complete idiot.  I’m the one who’s been totally self-centered and blind.  You know what you are, buddy?”

          “Hey, this is getting scary.  What am I?  Some sort of Reptilian alien?”  Eddie smiled, ate some, enjoyed it.  “You going to keep me in suspense?”

          “No.  I’ve got it.  You, my very dear friend and pain in the ass, are an empath.  A real, honest to God empath.  That’s what explains your angst, you visions, your despair; your deep questioning of the purpose of life. You feel it man, you feel it all and you have never learned how to deal with it.  You’re supposed the “channel” this stuff, not keep it bottled up.  It’s not about you, it’s about this world, and how life evolves or adapts itself within.  That life needs to communicate; to give itself messages and in human terms, those messages are carried by empaths. 

          “When I said, “exactly” I meant it: it’s all based on empathy.  There’s no need of proof once you pass a certain point, or reach a certain level of evolution – it just is.  I’m a surgeon and I know a bit about NDE’s.  I’ve had talks with quite a few patients who, after thanking me for saving their life, went on to describe their experiences under anaesthesia when they experienced clinical death.  I was interested but never convinced beyond what you said: brain reaction. 

          “But it wasn’t that, don’t you see?  These NDE people are empaths!  They crossed over and came back because their nature provided the bridge between the physical world of their body and the spirit, or mental, world inhabited by their consciousness.  I remember talking about this with Linda.  She didn’t make the connection between NDE’ers and empathy, but she accepted the experience as very real.  Goddam Eddie, she was right!  I just needed to see the connecting thread and you just showed it to me.  Your angst is your connection to others, Eddie.  You’re not cursed, you are blessed, old friend.” 

          “If that’s the case, shouldn’t it have made me selfless and compassionate instead of the loser wimp you see before you?”

          “No, I see it now, that’s not how it works.  You needed teachers and you didn’t get them – luck of the draw I suppose.  You needed to be taught self-empowerment and self-reliance.  That’s where the rubber hits the road I bet.  That’s where it comes together and changes you completely.  Think about it, Eddie.  Think about it long and seriously.  While you’re on top of that, teach yourself about channelling – pass it on, don’t keep it in.  You’re watching the movie, you’re not in the story being chased by those demons, though they are real.  You can sense them but they don’t know you exist.  That’s your key and your power.  You can exert influence upon the stories in your mind if you learn how to transmute the information then upload it in its changed form.  I read about this stuff; it’s amazing I never got it until now.  You: you’re the key.  You’re the Avatar.  You’re the one making it happen now, right now, while you’re outside of yourself.

          “Is that my alternative to life?”

          “Yes.  You see, there isn’t just one form of life, there are infinite types of life.  People like yourself, well, they can slip in and out of any form they choose.  You have the power to do that and that’s how you survive in worlds given over to violence like this one.  You don’t stay in the line of fire, you duck, you live to fight another day.  But you’re always on the front lines regardless of where you go in your mind.”

          “You missed your calling, you should have been a preacher.  I’m sold.  Just hoping it isn’t the drinks talking, or feeling.”

          “It isn’t the drinks.  This is like a revelation.  I’m sold too.  I’m no empath, I know that, but you know who else is?”

          “Linda!”

          “You bet, Linda.  And buddy, I’m going after her.  I love her; I’ve always loved her and I’m going to make it up to her for not pushing my way between the two of you.  Got that?”

          “Yes, I got that.  It’s how it’s got to be.”  He hesitated for a moment, then added,   “I know you’ll be good for her, and you’ll take good care of Jessie.  Let me know when you guys are married, or settled.  I’d like to visit.”

          “I’ll do that.  No, I mean we’ll do that.”