Who We Are
The Douglas firs, in long rows on either side of the track, ticked by, their rhythm settling Kate into herself. She rode the train into the city for a meeting with the publishers of a book she was editing. She was grateful for something to fill the day.
In the dark early morning, she had woken in a gap that stretched around and through her. She didn’t know who she was. She knew her name, sure: Kate Elder. She knew she was an editor and a writer. She felt her body, light and nearly floating in the bed. And inside, she felt vast space. Gone was her felt sense of self–it was as if she had woken up inside of someone else, or no–not inside of someone, nor inside of something, but inside of nothing.
A single point of awareness stretched until it filled every space, within, without. She tried to reason that it was change-of-life, a new hormonal cocktail that brought new feelings, new sensation, new emotions. But the words came to her, “You have lost your karma. Now there is only dharma.”
Her dog heaved a sigh beside her and pushed her solid back against her legs. Kate matched her breathing to the hound’s. She woke when the sun poured in through the east window, her dog looking at her intently as she opened her eyes.
“So, Speckles,” she said. “You know who you are, don’t you?”
Morning yoga helped bring her into herself, the sun salutations returning sensation to her back, her thighs, her shoulders. But she still had this new empty feeling.
She googled “symptoms of enlightenment,” and found:
“A disquieting sense that everything in your life feels new and altered, that you have left your old self behind.”
She didn’t google, “symptoms of growing up in a neglectful environment” or “symptoms of psychosis.”
She made it through her meeting as if playing a role: she was focused, her mind clear, her speech articulate, her sense of logic heightened, yet that feeling that she wasn’t herself, that she didn’t know who she was, lingered.
When she shook Dan’s hand after the meeting, she felt she didn’t belong–at the same time, she felt connected. She didn’t belong as a member of the staff of Moonstruck Publishing as opposed to Harold House Publishing. But she belonged to everything. The space in her was the space in Dan, in the room, out the building, over the bay.
“Then, we’ll see you in two weeks,” Dan said. “Let us know if there’s any change to the schedule.”
She realized that she would have to discover a way to keep track of time, for the idea of two weeks seemed as illusive as the concept that she was a separate entity.
She had a few hours before the train home, according to the clock tower and the time table.
Everything looked bright: the sunlight on the bay, the mosaic in the courtyard, people’s hair, the leaves. Everything sparkled. Everything was lit up.
A gray-haired man sat on a piece of cardboard in the dappled shade, nodding his head to the music of a violinist. Kate dropped a few dollars in his hat. “You’ve lost your karma,” the man said. “All’s that’s left for you is dharma.”
“Is that a bad thing?” she asked.
He shook his head and grinned.
The violinist played Bach’s Partita Number 2. The space inside of Kate grew until it absorbed all the music. She was empty again, within and without, and the music filled every gap. The music was light–it carried energy. Through her, through her crown, through the musician, through the air, flowed this golden river of light–this love.
Kate knew who she was–who the musician was, who the man on the cardboard was, who we all are. We are containers for this golden river of light–nothing more, nothing less. This was Bach’s secret: we are the vehicles for love, for energy, for the divine.
The intensity found expression in tears, and the light exploded in a prism.
And then, the violinist hit a wrong note, followed by another, and another. She lost her intonation. She stumbled through the piece, but in that moment, the beauty increased. Kate felt her body, firm and solid and healthy. And the concrete beneath her feet was solid. And it was both true simultaneously: the divine and the human.
This was what it meant to be alive: the blend of perfection and imperfection. This was who we were.
Prompt for May 6: “Retell a story you’ve told before, in a new way,” from StoryADay.org
Author’s note: This is really three or so stories I’ve tried to tell before, braided together. I’ll keep trying. This is a tricky one to get right!
Source for quotation: “How Many Of These 51 Spiritual Awakening Symptoms Do YOU Have?”