Nitty gritty observations of life's
illusions & human folly
Into the Rabbit Hole
The Birthday Gift
The wildflowers next to the lake were primarily yellow, rendered fluorescently more brilliant beneath a slate-grey sky that was threatening to
drop rain. On the choppy surface of the water, a miniature pirate boat sailed
through wisps of silver fog which manifested with the appearance of an army of
ghosts dancing on the dusky blue sea.
Patrons of the renaissance faire milled about in 15th century attire, while
drums pounded a Middle Eastern rhythm not far away. A baby was crying; seagulls
wailed mournfully; and my sandals rendered an odd squeaking sound as I made my
way through the dew-slick grass.
It occurred to me that it was my birthday - a
fact I noted without any particular attachment. Made me chuckle to myself just a
little - this arbitrary demarcation of time in an infinite sea of utterly
meaningless moments. No difference whatsoever between yesterday, today and
tomorrow, yet because we have been working these events for so long and become
somewhat well-known among the other participants and merchants, I was greeted
with smiles and the traditional calls of "Happy birthday!" as I made my way from
one side of the faire to the other.
"Why are you so unhappy?" a woman’s voice inquired from out of nowhere.
I glanced up from where I had been looking at a path of tree roots and dewdrops
and spilled fairy dust, to find myself face to face with Kara - one of the
psychics who does card & palm readings at the faire. At first, it didn't
register that she had been speaking to me, but as our eyes met, she quickly
brushed her own words aside, and added, "Not that it's any of my business, of
course..." It surprised her that she had spoken, that much was immediately
obvious, for her face flushed and she put a hand to her mouth as if to staunch
her own words – not the typical mannerisms of a seasoned and self-assured crone.
What I found odd was how time slowed down and back-flipped and ran through its
system of checks and balances. Presented with the question, I quickly ran an
inventory, and came back with the realization that I was not unhappy in the
least. Being a seer myself, it stands to reason that I can read Kara
every bit as well as she believed she was reading me, and what I immediately saw
in her was an edge of very real hostility tempered only slightly by genuine
curiosity. Though we have been at most of the same events for the past 6 years,
she is not someone with whom I have made a connection, and so to my perceptions,
her question seemed to come straight out of that sky overhead.
Difficult to wrap words around what I am attempting to convey here, but what
struck me was that she was "seeing" something about me, yet failing to
understand what she was seeing, and so she could only interpret it in the
traditional 2-dimensional manner. She had read me as someone out of step with
the usual drummers, and so her conclusion automatically became one of believing
me to be unhappy. Hmmm. Not the first time this has happened - from family
members to former friends. And, indeed, I suspect this is a pattern with most
warriors who have been on their path for any length of time.
Because I had no reason to take her question personally, I stopped to talk with
her. I told her first what she wanted to hear - for that's the stalker in me -
which was the down and dirty truth that I was experiencing some physical pain
from an old back injury, which is neither here nor there in the big picture.
Just part of the inventory. That seemed to answer some question in her mind, for
I saw her relax - and yet, even as we stood there with all the beauty of the
lake surrounding us, I realized with a deep sense of Knowing that we were in two
definition of "happy" and mine are not the same - and so she could
not reconcile within herself that my silence and preference to be
alone do not automatically mean I am "unhappy". It occurred to me to
attempt to explain my path to her, yet even as that thought crossed
my mind, I knew it would be futile.
How could I tell her that the world is a vast, magnificent
and mysterious stage peopled primarily by phantoms; and I am an immortal mortal
who walks among them, knowing I am a being who is going to die? To Kara, my
words would undoubtedly sound like the demented mumblings of a depressed
schizophrenic... and yet, to my seeing, her "love and light" philosophy
is only an extension of the illusions of the consensual reality – and so again I
found myself looking out over the lake and the wildflowers, having the very
solid realization that her world and mine were literally worlds apart even
though we were standing only inches away from one another, breathing the same
crisp morning air.
It was also one of those instances wherein I simply knew I was standing at a
crossroads in my life. I could defend myself. I could take offense. I could walk
away. The possibilities were endless – but perhaps the most dangerous was that I
could surrender to the implications in the question itself. It wasn’t a question
of am I unhappy, but the conclusion that I am, and the question of why this is
so. Have you stopped beating your wife yet? The nature of the question
Spirit has a habit of testing us – or perhaps it could be perceived that we
put ourselves in the path of our tests. Had I walked down any other row that
morning, I never would have encountered Kara; and there was something about the
energetically-charged nature of her question that awakened me to the fact that
this was a test. It wasn’t Kara who was asking me why I was unhappy. It was mySelf asking the question by placing the words in the mouth of an extant being.
Either that, or it was Kara asking herself the same question. Who knows, maybe
it was both.
As I was standing there in that space between question and response, another
long-time acquaintance passed by, smacked me unexpectedly on the rump, hugged me
hard from behind, and planted a gruff kiss on my neck – far more intimate and
familiar than I would have expected from this young man, but nonetheless sensual
and erotically pleasant. (I’m older, not quite dead yet.). “Happy birthday, ye
ol’ buccaneer,” he said with a piratical grin – a reference to my attire. “If ye
can’t live forever, give ‘em hell in heaven!”
Sounded like good advice. He embraced me a second time, ran his scruffy chin
across my neck in a gesture that would have brought me to my knees 20 years ago,
then disappeared with a hearty “Arrrgh!” into the morning mist with the long
black feather from his 3-cornered hat bobbing along behind his tall, lean form.
I looked at Kara for a moment, her inquiry still ringing in my ears, and finally
I simply said, “What’s inside is good. It’s the wrapper that’s starting to fray
a bit at the edges.” Her look said she didn’t understand, and there wasn’t
enough time just then to explain the sorcerer’s way, the shaman’s path, the
heartbeat of the eternal double in the body of the infinite. “Out of curiosity,
what did you see that caused you to ask?” Another stalker trait – return the
question to the questioner.
My inquiry seemed to surprise her, for her brows lifted, then furrowed. Her head
tilted. “You walk alone, inside yourself, even when you’re in a group,” she said
with a shrug, and seemed defensive for a moment. “I can’t see your aura – or
when I do, it’s… black.”
And I knew then I had passed the test, for I felt a little smile tug at the
corners of my lips and a raven swooped low, casting its shadow over my right
shoulder. When I see a warrior or a wo/man of Knowledge, that is how they appear
to me – like a cut-away in the fabric of reality, a shiny black egg that is
reminiscent of a black hole: an anomaly so cohesive unto itself that not even
light can escape.
'That is the singularity of consciousness,'
Orlando’s voice whispered in my ear, masquerading as a gust of wind blowing cold
and unexpected off the surface of the lake. 'The
validation of it is my gift to you. Happy birthday, you ol’ buccaneer.'
Not far away, silhouetted against the morning sun, the man who had embraced me
only moments before stood looking in our direction, and for no reason
whatsoever, bowed elegantly from the waist before turning to disappear into the
The nagual glinted on the dark surface of the lake, reflecting that which cannot
be named, that which cannot be explained. In that glint is my joy and my sadness
and all that I-Am.
That is my happiness.
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