And now, for something completely different.
Certain to be my longest post ever, this is a story I wrote a while back. Since I'm not much in the writing mode of late, just to keep the blog active while I come back to myself, I thought I'd post it.
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Cory walked into the therapist’s office right on time, at exactly four o’clock. Saying hello to the doctor, already sitting in his armchair, he walked across to the new leather couch under the window and sat down. The leather was smooth and felt very cool at first, but soon warmed under his body.
He had been coming to therapy for a couple of months now. His mother felt her sixteen year old son odd, talking about unusual things and always full of strange ideas, and spending a lot of time alone, reading or just staring off into space. He had few friends and seemed to show no interest in normal boy stuff: cars, football. She worried about this, and so had signed him up for therapy, hoping that having him talk to a professional might straighten him out.
“How are you today, Cory,” asked the doctor, beginning the session.
“Not bad, I guess, thanks. How’re you?”
“Fine, fine.” He settled back in his high backed leather chair. “What would you like to talk about today?”
After a brief pause, he answered, “Well, last night I had a really weird dream. But it’s not like most dreams, where you forget them real quick. This one stuck, as clear now as when I was dreaming it last night.”
“Lay back and tell me about it. Every detail you can remember,” the doctor said, encouragingly. He was a Neo-Freudian, an expert at psychoanalysis and particularly interested in dreams. He picked up his pen and pad and waited.
* * *
I don’t know how long I’d been asleep when I suddenly woke up, except, I wasn’t me. I don’t know what I was, besides some kind of disembodied awareness or consciousness; a Mind. I was in a small dark place, a fleshy place, and I realized it was plant flesh. I somehow knew one thing, and one thing only. I was inside a tiny apple, barely formed, fresh from the flower.
Immediately, I was full of questions. “Who am I? Where did I come from? How did I get here?” I asked aloud to no one in particular. There was no one to answer, so I sat there, thinking. There was nothing else to do but wonder, nothing to think about besides what I was, where I came from, what I was here for. Alone in the dark asking questions to myself, they slowly coalesced to form one supreme Mystery, the answer to which would answer all lesser questions: “what is my Source?” I worried and puzzled over it for what seemed a long time. I began to intuit that the answers were not to be found where I was presently. I decided to leave on a foray, if I could, to try to learn some things, answers I hoped. I knew that if I stayed put, I would know no rest or peace.
I went out slowly through the end of the tiny apple, and found myself suddenly in a much smaller space, like a very narrow tunnel. It was far more constricting than the little bulge of the apple that I’d been used to, and I was seized by fear and uncertainty. I fled back and didn’t move for a long time, considering the tunnel of the stem from the far side of the tiny fruit.
But my questions gnawed at me, and I decided I had to give the stem another try. I moved across the apple, pausing briefly at the core in a sort of goodbye, then took up again my position at the beginning of the stem, steeling myself for leaving. Then slowly, I began to notice a strange sensation; the sensation of light bleeding through the stem. It was dim, and though it grew somewhat for a while, the stem remained rather dark. Still, in some way it gave me courage, and I steeled myself, and continued.
It was not nearly so terrible as I’d thought it would be; the stem was not very long, and soon met in a larger space with several other stems that led off in other directions. I considered them, but my interest ran towards the twig into… well, into something, I didn’t know what.
As I began moving along it, I noticed that something about this twig felt familiar, as if I’d been there before. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and tried to put it out of my mind, though I was not able to forget it completely. I followed down through the twig for a while, then retraced my steps and went home to my apple for the night. The next day, as soon as the stem became light, I went out again, intending to go farther than before. I covered the now familiar twig much faster than yesterday, and began pushing forward into more unknown areas, following the gentle curves and bends. Again I reached a point where I felt satisfied for the day, and returned to the apple.
This went on for several days, until I had explored down almost to the trunk. At last I entered it, though not without noticing that I did not notice exactly when. It had been like this for days; I could never say just when a twig became a branch, or when a branch became a larger branch. It was like how one day you suddenly realize it’s Autumn; you can’t say just when it happened, but you know you’re in it. The air is cooler, the sky isn’t full of summer haze, and the leaves are beginning to look ready to fall; you don’t know how it happened, only that you’ve passed some sort of turning point which you didn’t know was there until you’d passed it. It was all very gradual, but the noticing was always sudden.
At around this time I stopped going back to the apple at night. Not only was night hard to sense under the thick bark, and not only was the distance getting farther every day, but the caution and fear I had felt were mostly gone. I felt safe, almost at home, in the branches and trunk, such that I could stay out and let the apple wait for later; there was no reason to keep going back.
Down the trunk I went, nearing and then passing the place where trunk becomes root. I paused, and went back, feeling I may be near the Source. But again there was no definite point where the division occurred, just a smooth, blurred transition from one to the other. This was not what I was looking for; my journey was not over.
So I continued down into the roots, still searching. Things began to narrow again, from taproot to branch root to rootlet. Again I found in every phase and every place some vague sense of familiarity, like déjà vu. I kept going, all the way down into the tiniest roots, pale and moist, then into a root hair, the smallest, narrowest place I’d ever been. There I felt hardly any boundary existed at all between the tree and what was outside of it, only the slightest film of a skin. I could sense water outside the root, water and clay and humus. I sensed also all manner of life, thousands of beings in the soil just outside, bacteria and fungi, insects and worms, all the soil dwellers.
I was fascinated but unsatisfied; these things were not my answer; though I felt a sense of connectedness to all of it— the creatures, the water, the grains of sand— they were not exactly the source I was looking for. I had gone from one extremity to another, and the answer remained unanswered. I began to work my way back upwards, at a loss, feeling I had failed.