Nothing Dies – Part 2 – e

I wake up on the grass. A brilliant sun is in the eastern sky. Allover patterns remain in my eyes and over everything I see. I feel a cool mist upon my face and hands. It sparkles everywhere in this green valley.

He is beside me, sleeping still. I recall only the tropical place and the moment we silently agreed to revisit the cave. My mind strains to make sense of what I am experiencing.

He stirs.

“Keith.”

“Art…I guess we fell asleep.”

Smiling, he looks around and says it is morning and we must have slept all night. I find the thought strangely soothing. The way he acts and the clarity of his statements create a sense of reality, of normalcy, in me.

And then, I feel a sense of panic.

“Oh man. That means the car was on the side of the road all night. I didn’t lock it when we stopped!”

He grins as I run back through the brightening woods to check. There, about 10-feet off the roadway I see the copper color of the Mustang and feel calm. I reach the car. It is shining, studded with dewdrops.

He has followed me back here.

“Everything’s OK, right?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

“So let’s go check out the cave,” he says.

My tongue feels so thick I can barely speak. The sound of each faltering word echoes in my head.

“Keith. Do you know what’s going on? What kind of reality is this, man? Are you really here?

“Why does all that still matter to you, Art?”

I see him standing just a few feet in front of me yet he speaks as a disembodied voice.

“Just stop trying to make sense of everything.”

I can’t let it go. “Can we just talk about this for a minute?”

“We’ve been talking about it for hours. Look at the tape.”

There, on the hood of the car, is a micro-cassette player. The tape is pegged at the stop position with the full 90 minutes of recording time expended. He tells me that the tape ran out over an hour ago.

The dew has disappeared and the mid afternoon sun is on our backs. I have no idea what has occurred in the past hours. This analog tape recorder is from the 1980s. It is the little Panasonic I used to record our dialogs. But that was thirty years ago. I use a digital recorder, not this ancient relic.

“…this ancient relic…” I hear the words repeated as echoing sounds in my head. The words collide, reverberate and…slow…down. Time stops.

Shifting memories swirl through me. I experience, in an instant, a concatenation of moments, once discrete, separated by decades, but flooding me in a tide of recall. I strain to arrange them in some sequence so that I may study them, see them in some chain of causality – to have something make sense.

“Wait a minute. Listen. We’re on our way back to the city, right? You want me to pullover. We stop, park on the side of the road, and stand by that fence over there. I look at you and see you looking back at me. OK? After that though, it’s just flashes, scenes in my mind. Like a dream. And anyway…this trip…the whole thing – it happened a long time ago.”

He does not respond. For an instant, he stands silent, as if frozen in place. Then, from somewhere else, I hear his voice as though it is coming toward me fast and from a great distance.

“This trip…is all there is.”

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Nothing Dies – Part 2 – d

 

The balcony is strewn with scattered detritus of a day at the beach – porous coral, pearlescent cowrie shells, sandals, and scattered sand reflecting moonlight. The air above the canal is warm, sweet and pungent. The Scorpion, well above the horizon at this latitude, seems to crawl across a billion suns of the Milky Way. A bit above and to the left of the stellar arachnid, I search for Sagittarius A. I home in on that nebulous area at the center of our galaxy as a familiar and mysteriously comforting place to rest my eyes.

An instant before I hear his voice, I know I will hear it. I feel the familiar onrush of sensation, waves of pressure arising from within me, and the inexorable refashioning of my field of vision into rhythmical patterns. All this signals his arrival. And yet I cannot avert my gaze from the night sky.

“I am here beside you now, Art. You don’t need to look at me. Just keep your eyes where they are.” I hear his voice as a soft echo within me.

A thousand nights lost in dreaming, scanning each fluorescent horizon for a glimpse of him, wondering, wondering why, and wondering when I would see him again.

“You’re still with me, then, Keith.”

This conversation takes place inside of my body. The soft earth-bound sounds of night birds, crickets, and splashing water are not interrupted by our words.

“Sure, what do you think?”

“I think…I’m ready. What do you want to do?”

“Let’s go back to the cave,” he whispers.

 

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Nothing Dies – Part 2 – c

Aloft in a dream, I scan the expanse below – windswept sand in scalloped patterns mirrors my movements. The hypnotic undulations induce uneasiness, vertigo. Soon I am spinning wildly, uncontrollably. I repeat the phrase that has served me throughout my life, “This is a dream. This is a dream.” but it does not calm me. I am aware I am dreaming but I am unable to steady myself.

My eyes are moist. I am swept up in a maelstrom of emotion. Weeping now, I reach up to wipe away the tears. Upon withdrawing my hands I see blood-red. I am bleeding from my eyes!

My tongue swells. I am drifting in and out of consciousness and I can feel myself falling earthward. A cocoon-like darkness engulfs me and stifles my onrushing panic. Soothed, I understand I have achieved a threshold – a dream within a dream.

Looking down at the sun-bleached desert, I come upon a vast blue-black crescent that cuts directly across my view of the landscape. All movement stops and for a moment I am poised above the dark arc. One half of my body is in the area of the light and the other half in darkness.

An instant later and I am spinning above the terminator making countless transitions from day to night. On the light side, I can see the sun speeding by, completing hundreds, thousands of iterations from west to east. In the darkness the stars move in their paths at an ever-accelerating pace.

After a desperate effort to fix my gaze on something stable, I locate Polaris. Rapidly, it traces a full circle around the dome of the universe. The idea of precession of the equinoxes occurs to me and I calculate a passage of twenty-four thousand years.

As the thought of this enormous timespan takes hold of my mind, I start to decelerate. Soon I am hovering again above the dividing arc. The sun, the stars, the moon, and planets take their places in the new epoch. Rushing forward now, I feel the cool dry air of this nocturnal space – so very different from the tropical atmosphere from which this dream was spawned.

Miles later, in the star-flecked darkness, I find myself once more moving toward high ground. This time though, the higher I climb the colder I feel. Ahead, near the side of a bare hill, I see another entrance to still another cave. I hear my thoughts: “But I’m still inside the cavern on the warm plateau. Is an exit up ahead or another entrance?”

The hillside is split before me. Before I can consider the slim dimensions of the aperture, I am through. This is no exit. I am in a new chamber, surrounded by wet rock walls, smooth and shining. Rippling reflections from pools of water ricochet around the perimeter and I catch quick glimpses of dripping stalactites, ceiling, and walls.

And suddenly – without warning – I awaken. The sheet I kicked down at bedtime is now wrapped tightly around my torso. It is too sheer to have warmed me in this chilled bedroom. The air conditioner is stuck – pumping out cold air. The room temperature reads 55 degrees. Out into the hall, I press the reset button. The machine shudders to a halt, the fan stops, and the unit falls silent. Grabbing a towel to wrap around me, I walk out on the balcony into the damp heat of the island at night.

 

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Nothing Dies – Part 2 – b

The cave entrance is at the summit of an insurmountable highland. I am far below, moving within a tropical forest. My eyes trace the shapes of foreign alphabets among stringy vines, moss covered branches, and sharp palm fronds. I’m scanning the vegetation for each patch of radiance that manages to pierce the canopy.

Soon though, I sense light throughout my entire being and feel myself moving more quickly. My feet are barely touching the ground. The jungle seems to clear slightly. More light shines through and I am surrounded by a warming wind.

A flurry of butterflies circles my perimeter and swirls upward in airy gyres. As the humid valley fills with the beating of countless fluttering wings, their upward motion endows the environment with a sense of weightlessness. The airborne Monarchs, Clippers, Sulphers, Julias, and Swallowtails create a vacuum in which I feel myself lifted up and through the verdant landscape. Joyfully, I hear myself repeating the phrase, “I’m flying!”

Soaring toward the distant plateau, my confidence builds until I am able to maneuver easily. Before me lies an ancient cavern. The sharp crack of the cave mouth is too slim, yet I seem to slide in with ease. And instead of the utter darkness I had anticipated, the space before me is endless, bright, and open.

In the far distance, a gateway appears, comprised of two pillars of flowering cactus rising a hundred feet or more into the air and covered by a floral arch. The sight of it rushing toward me stuns me into the sudden realization that I am free to let go, to explore, to fly ever farther through this infinite moment.

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Nothing Dies – Part 2 – a

Insubstantial as an apparition, I arise from a deep sleep. Gazing downward, I glimpse my body. It is not breathing. I am aware of my incorporeal existence but unaware of what awaits me. I decide to allow this dream to unfold without intervention and to simply observe events as they occur.

With curiosity and anticipation, I am borne upward from a coal black chamber. Though I’m in a roomful of animals whose attention is focused upon me, I feel calm and have no fear. They are kept at bay by the blaze of an unseen fire that seems to emanate from my skin.

I float above the beasts, transported through brilliant architectural structures suffused with beams of light. Moving throughout the maze of lambent passageways and tunnels, there is time to reflect upon my situation. Slowly it becomes clear – from utter emptiness and entombment to this liberating sense of moving upward and outward from what must have been a burial chamber – this is my death. The thought that I have died is curiously devoid of emotion. It is simply a way of describing a particular state of being.

Quickly now, the brilliance of the surrounding light increases and I am bathed in the warmth and luminance of the sun. I float freely in a transparent space, content in the knowledge that I have arrived at an end and also that I am at the beginning of a series of infinite journeys.

The notion of being lucid and aware in my dream and making a conscious decision not to control its direction is exhilarating. It allows me to proceed through a dream world simply observing what happens next. I have a heightened sense of anticipation for what lies ahead.

 

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The Sign in the Cave

 

The_Sign_in_the_Cave_Tullio_2014
“The Sign in the Cave” – Tullio – 2014
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“The Sign in the Cave” – Tullio – 2014 – UV light
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World Changer

World_Changer_Tullio_2014

“World Changer” – Tullio – 2014
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World_Changer_Tullio_2014_UV

“World Changer” – Tullio – 2014 – UV light
(Click image for larger view)

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