At birth, the child carries the womb out and unfurls it, but it keeps unfurling as the child grows into an adult, and never ceases unfolding until the material is rolled back up like a rug put back into a box with other rolls in deep storage. Patterns interlock across endless fabrics knitting themselves together into a greater common rug known as existence. The inside is always the outside. No matter how deep one unfolds into the experience of consciousness, a surface awaits, for the interior is its own exterior. The womb was never left behind but carried out with the other countless re-wombings that populate the planet, the greatest womb through which all of her wombs birth themselves into a singular consciousness segmented only by the illusion of corporeal cells called bodies. The spin of the great mutual unfurling of all wombs coincides with and inhabits the greatest womb hurling through the deep space of greater wombs yet to be eventually carried through the vacuum of a black hole again otherwise known as the rebirth canal.
Once there was a village where babies and kids had to live outside the cave in the sun world. Only when they were old enough could they live in the cave and as each person got older there were deeper caves to live in. The oldest became the blindest of all and craved nothing but darkness and silence. Food and water were passed along to them through the chain of the ages, as they called it. Those who did not follow this order and feared this willful progression toward blindness were threatened with endless wandering and no chain to depend on.
There was a man who disregarded the warning and ran away. He found other villages with other ways of living. He would go from village to village in search of anything new to learn until one day, village after village, had nothing left for him to know. And that is when he realized that he had already entered a cave within himself. And he wondered if his people were right all along and it was he that was foolish not to listen to them.
And when he was older he returned to his home and they were happy to see him again and they let him go as deep in the cave system as his age would allow. And there they fed him something he had never had before. Something held secret by the elders. And new visions appeared within him of not only of villages but worlds he never could have known outside the cave in the sun world.
And when he slipped back into the great fold, as they called dying, he had gone to the deepest cave yet and passed along stories that helped his people deepen their understanding of their chain of ages
traverses an impasse
softens an unforgiving
invites a reluctant
inverts a blind
Once there was a wise old woman who found a bell in the woods and it was hanging from a tree. She knew such a bell had to be important and so she respected it enough to take a seat and wait for someone else to come by and ring it. And when it was rung by someone else, the man who rang it stood still as it rang inside and out. The sound filled every space with the brilliance of the sun shining on every part of the sea. And he fell to the ground with a smile on his face.
She returned to the bell many years later when she knew her time had come. She rang it so gracefully that the forest wept a gentle rain. And in an instant so powerful, it felt as if the universe had exploded and collapsed at the same time as she saw the entire life of this husk completed and was reunited with the light shed by the sound of the bell.
I wrote this fairy tale and 49 others in the course of two weeks last year. And I put together a schedule based on three categories that made sense to me after I had written them: order, chaos, and cosmic (a truer unity than order). Each week, I look at the list and post one. By now, I’ve forgotten the list’s order and so every week holds a bit of a self-induced surprise. This week, before consulting the list, I was walking in my neighborhood and heard the bell ring on the campus nearby. Due to the stay at home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the poem (within a passage included below) For Whom the Bell Tolls came instantly to mind. Two days later, I looked up my story list and it was none other than this one! In the last week, I’ve had nothing but tears for all the stories I’ve heard in the news especially the diabetic ones because I share that affliction (and have suffered through near-fatal pneumonia once). And I hope the suffering only brings to light the strength of our compassion for others and ourselves.
Here is John Donne’s larger section of the meditation (XVII) from which the well known poem is derived (in the public domain from www.gutenberg.org):
Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.
Once there were two lovers who met at a cascading waterfall with three pools. It was love at first sight at the top pool which was crystal clear. The sandy bed cushioned their feet and the surface sparkled in their eyes. The waterfall made the pool full of bubbles tickling their bodies as they swam in bliss.
Eventually they wandered down to the middle pool where the waterfall flowed with less power than at the top. It was warm and pleasant. This emerald green pool mirrored the canopy of the trees. It was so serene that the lovers knew their lives could be spent there. It seemed as if each were a part of the other. Their bodies swam together in perfect synchronicity.
Then they wandered down to the bottom pool, or really more a black pond where the waterfall came to a trickle. It was so dark there under the heavy canopy that it could’ve been a cave.
The lovers accidentally fell into the black pond. It became thick and sticky. The lovers argued about what to do and who got them in this situation as the water became a sludge. Transfixed, they could see faint traces of skeletons intertwined at the center.
When they escaped the black pond and made it back to the middle pool, it appeared differently to them. Not as serene as before. The emerald green pool lost its luster. The canopy was dull and sagging. It was as if the black pond had oozed upstream.
The lovers ran desperately to the top pool. Somehow the top pool had changed but it had become even richer. The effervescence broke on their skin. And as they swam in that most blissful of pools, their bodies transformed into caustics of light.