Monthly Archives: November 2009

A New Universe: I Heal Myself: Part Three

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“I love you, Art”

In unison, from across the void, their voices enter and echo within this dreamless sleep. And then there is silence…

…silence and emptiness devoid of attributes – devoid even of the attribute of emptiness. There is no thing. It is not opaque, not black. It is not transparent, not white. It is not experienced, it simply…is…and is not.

Such vast and all-encompassing vacuity is burdened by improbability. Ultimate emptiness inevitably moves toward a more probable state. Becoming a field of potential existence, vibration ensues, slowly at first, with an infinitesimal frequency and a wavelength of infinite extension. More subtle than light, it is a form of nascent thought – thought with no mind to contain or restrain it.

Unbounded thought expands and generates resonant frequencies. Ethereal reverberations multiply. Layers of vibration create being, harmony, tranquility, and illumination.

Energy increases at the boundaries of infinite and infinitesimal scale, forming rudimentary matter. A cosmic alphabet of elementary particles, thin plumes of hydrogen, specks of cosmic flotsam organize themselves into larger and larger phenomena along multi-dimensional paths and tidal lines of gravitational tension.

Eons pass. Stellar pyres and their aggregations of orbs spin seas of planetary protein into primeval life. Trees fall in forests. Sounds are heard. Countless births and deaths give rise to increasing instability, improbability, and complexity.

New minds form, minds adrift within the vast ocean of consciousness. Awareness expands to experience the overwhelming pulsations of the surrounding space as living heartbeats.

I am born to a new universe.

*
Image: “New Universe,” digitally enhanced original drawing by Tullio DeSantis, 2009.
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I Heal Myself: Part Two

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“Art… how are you feeling? You’ve been asleep for a whole day, love…Are you OK? …Art?”

I feel the soft touch of Dawn upon my shoulder. I want to move, to tell her I am all right but still very tired. I want to speak – to touch her…but I cannot.

Layers of quiet thought, like the enfolding petals of a dark flower, encircle and close one at a time around my conscious mind. I sense an opening, a deep tunnel turning downward. My awareness drifts there as if riding a descending wind.

Faster now, down through a shimmering well of images, I pass successive stages of awareness. I hear the mantra of my meditation echoing through the chamber for a brief moment. It is soon replaced by the ancient Vedic vibration I learned in my youth and have since trained myself to recite repeatedly in my subconscious mind.

I pass the brilliant floral gardens, smooth cobblestone steps, and forest paths conjured up while moving through realms of imagination and self-guided visualization. All my metaphysical practices exist at once here within me. They slip past my inner vision as I come ever closer to what I comprehend as the center – the space of non-duality and pure awareness.

As time slows to a stop, I am confronted by the sight of myself lying in the bedroom, between the sheets. Hovering somewhere up near the ceiling, I peer down at Dawn by my bedside. She leans over and touches me. Mia is walking down the hall toward my room. She arrives at my side. Dawn tells her I have not stirred, even though she has been trying to awaken me.

Suddenly I see my eyes open and my lips move. I say I am feeling well but that I am still very tired and want to sleep a while longer.

Then I lose sight of them both. Swept up into a whirlwind of energy, I am propelled outward, right through the roof and over the house. Gazing back toward the Earth, I see our moonlit valley shrink to a pinpoint of light in a swath of nocturnal woodland. I am carried far out into the blackness of deep space.

In this moment, there are no distinctions between myself and my experience. The only identity I feel is the universe itself beating like a dark star-studded heart in an infinite empty void. And the pulsations I feel are those of my own heart beating. And I am born. I am a child again. I live a billion lives. I die a billion deaths. There is nothing but this moment. I am you and you are me. Things are just the way we want them to be. We are the result of our desire. We are doing what we always do.

I know this now. And because you are here with me…reading this…you know it too. You have always known this… you have been waiting for me to say it… and you know now that I will say it …I am going back…back in…back inside…back to my body…back to life…

I breathe.
I open my eyes.
You are here.

I love you.

*
Image: “I Heal Myself: Part Two,” digitally altered original painting by Tullio DeSantis, 2009.

 

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I Heal Myself: Part One

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Lying flat, between bed sheets, I am just another layer of material. Stacked on steel and wood, the bed on the floor and the floor suspended a story above the ground, the lower layers of my world continue on toward the evolving edge of the universe. Above me as well are layers – ceiling, rooftop, clouds, and sky. They extend outward toward the center of the galaxy and beyond to untold strata of time and space.

I am pinioned here in the hypnagogic state between wakefulness and sleep. I can not move an eyelash. Morning light pressures my closed eyes and triggers energetic flashes within their liquid darkness. I wonder how many hours have passed since I surrendered to this paralysis of sleep.

Dawn and Mia have come up here to check on me and I have been aware of their presence. At times, I hear their voices filtering throughout the house. But when my active consciousness is separated from them by just a few feet – or mere inches when they touch me – I am not able to muster the force of will to respond in any noticeable way. Soon they will begin to worry that I am not waking up.

I have dreamed many times in these contiguous hours and just as many times I have reentered this place of trance. It has become a dark cave from which I can not escape. Each dream is a kind of tendril that streams out through the darkness – a conduit to an extended dimension of spacetime. Slipping out through these dream portals affords me opportunities to explore worlds of virtual experience.

Inevitably, full lucidity occurs. I am aware and conscious of the changing nature of this entranced state and yet I cannot actually wake up from it. I try moving my eyelids – just a little at first. I feel a flutter and the slightest sensation of separation between them. Methodically, I pursue this effort slowly at first until a little more sunlight enters. I see shifting aspects of the bedroom and catch a glimpse of one of our housecats, the sleek grey lady, named Pearl. Sitting in a beam of sunlight, she gazes at me with ever inscrutable eyes.

Ultimately though, I slip back toward sleep. The next iteration of this cycle brings me closer to the sensation of waking up into the so-called “real world.” Through partially open eyes I can read the bright-red digits of the clock on my nightstand. It is 11:07 a.m. Just before I slip back into unconsciousness, I note the visual configuration of numbers so that I will remember this moment for keeping time: a pair of upright strokes, followed by a four-bar rectangle, and a line over a diagonal slash.

I slip back toward sleep but focus my will to remain aware. With a shudder of intensity I manage to expand the space between my eyelids once again in order to take in the daylight. My vision moves to the clock and to my astonishment, it now reads 11: 55. Forty-eight minutes have passed in the actual blinking of my actual eyes!

Pearl remains statue-like and positioned in the same place she was three-quarters of an hour ago. The fact that I hear a feline speaking in a soft human voice that emanates from somewhere behind her eyes, is proof enough to me that I am still dreaming.

“Get up,” she says. “Move around. You don’t need to wake up.”

As if on her command, I feel empowered to move my body for the first time since I found myself trapped here between the sheets. Slowly, with deliberate effort, I manage to slide to the edge of the bed and attain a sitting position. My eyes, half-open, are suffused with the blue light of midday. My head echoes with sensations of imbalance, even vertigo. Once the shock of what I am doing passes, I proceed slowly down the hall and close the bathroom door behind me.

Back in bed, it occurs to me that this experience is not totally unique. I recall nights where I acted similarly – having had only hazy recollections of nighttime walks down the hallway and the sensation that I seemed to accomplish them without actually waking up.

I resolve to continue following doctor’s orders and rest. Pearl jumps on to the bed and curls up beside me. I am engulfed by the soft enfolding darkness of dreamless sleep.

*
Image: “I Heal Myself: Part One,” digital mashup of human neuron images and original drawing and painting by Tullio DeSantis, 2009.

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a whole in my head

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We are together in the kitchen. Shadoe is at my feet looking up at me with the transparent concern of a female mammal. After we made a fuss over her and gave her some food and water, she forgave us for her day of plight and reacted with a protective attitude as soon as we entered the house.
“Everything’s OK, Shadoe. Good girl.”

“How are you feeling, Art”

The women are united in their love and concern for me in ways that I can never take for granted. This night, I have a sense they are holding back genuine fear.

“Better. I can’t remember much about today. I mean I remember you guys coming home. You kept asking me what happened and I was trying to tell you about an accident…somebody dying… and Shadoe being trapped and all.”

They both look at each other. Then they look at me. Dawn speaks first.

“Well not really, I mean all you were saying was that you had drawings and papers to hand back and you had to go to class. I kept telling you I had already called in and cancelled your classes. Then you would get upset and just kept repeating you had to teach tonight.”

Mia nods her head.

“You were all upset and emotional. And you kept forgetting everything you said. And then you would just start over and say the same exact thing all over again. That’s what was so hard to deal with. We didn’t know what to do. So we just walked you out the door into the car. We knew we had to get you to the emergency room.”

I’m grasping at straws now – desperate to hold on to reason, to sanity…

“I remember the ER…the waiting room…watching TV…before we left, the doctor not explaining anything. Then we just left. I can see parts of the ride back home but they’re just disconnected scenes.”

“Why don’t you just rest,” says Dawn. “Just get some sleep and see how you feel in the morning. Don’t worry about things right now.”

“Yeah. OK… I’m so glad you both came home when you did. I think it was going on for hours before I called you.”

Drifting off. The day remains impenetrable, impervious to my yearnings for memory, yet I can not cease from dwelling on what might have occurred – what actually occurred. And today, these are one and the same thing. I know actual events transpired but to me they are merely possibilities. As I have no clear memory of them, they may as well have been hallucinations, fantasies, dreamt events.

Dawn and Mia’s muffled voices filter upstairs. I hear them speaking softly about today- about me. I can tell they are more than a little frightened. I want to go back down and reassure them. But I can not move a muscle. Time slows. Their voices, deeper now, drift more slowly through my mind.

“What was he trying to do when he grabbed the wheel? All I could do was to pull off the road.”

“I know… God, it was so scary. We almost hit that car.”

“He doesn’t remember. Just don’t mention it…for now…”

The bones of my skull seem to slide beneath the skin of my cheek. Fluid pressure pulses behind my eyelids. I intend to push down the covers to hear more of what they are saying but it doesn’t work… It’s no use. I am paralyzed. And I can’t keep my mind focused for more than a moment. Consciousness ebbs and flows.

I recognize this as a state between waking and dreaming. But that knowledge disappears as soon as the thought takes form. My senses move back and forth through mindfulness like foam on the shoreline. Waves of awareness form a momentary front. I cling for a while to the edge of specific thoughts or sensations only to be pulled back through the turbid tide.

I comprehend this nebulous space by forming metaphors. A palpable emptiness engulfs the mind. It is as if layers of thought, anxiety, impulse, sensation, and emotion are becoming more tenuous and transparent. They drop away and disappear as I dive more deeply within the softening darkness. I am suspended. I contact an inner sense of self- a place where I can find rest…and peace.

Night moves. Torn between loops of time and timelessness, I go uncontrollably in and out of dreams. I am pulled back through the same mind scenes for excruciating continuations of isolate events. And even within the concatenating discontinuities, I see that somehow, everything connects.

Much later now, I can sense the brilliant warmth of the morning sun. I strain toward the light but I cannot open my eyes. I fear I will never again be able to awaken. I am lost in some ambiguous space. It hardens in response to my struggle to evade it. Succumbing softens it. I drift inward, toward the ether of dreams.

*
Image: “a whole in my head,” digital mashup of human neuron image and original drawing and painting by Tullio DeSantis, 2009.

*

Blinded by Thought

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“STOP!”

 

In an instant, Dawn checks the rearview mirror and hits the brake pedal. Seatbelts tighten. Thankfully, there’s no one behind us.

 

She glares at me in the mirror wide-eyed and white-knuckled.

 

“Sorry, baby…I mean… just pull over a minute.”

 

We pull on to the shoulder. Mia turns toward me from the passenger seat.

 

“Art…what’s…?”

 

Before she can finish her sentence, a car speeds through the intersection without stopping for the light. If we had not pulled over, we’d have been hit broadside.

 

That’s all I can remember of the trip to the Emergency Room…

 

*

 

Earlier this afternoon, Dawn and Mia arrive home. I have a memory of them standing on either side of me. Later they describe the situation as one of near-panic. They had no idea what happened to me – except that I was barely coherent. I kept repeating the same few sentences over and over again – forgetting immediately that I had just uttered them.

 

I was saying absurd things…things which I seemed completely to believe. I spoke of a woman crying, someone dying, a dog trapped somewhere clawing to get free. They were trying to calm me, to find out if I had hit my head, fallen down, overdosed, or taken the wrong prescription. They kept asking me what happened and I continued talking nonsense.

 

Here I was, insisting that ridiculous things were true and showing no concern for my own well-being. Later they admitted they feared I had experienced a stroke and had sustained permanent brain damage.

 

I don’t remember much of the hours we spent at the hospital. In the waiting room, a news bulletin of a traffic accident was on the local station. The car looked familiar – it was the car in the intersection.

 

The story of the accident appeared in the newspaper the next day. Two people in a late-model Mustang sped through town running red lights until they crashed into a parked car. The man died instantly. The woman was unharmed.

 

Dawn and Mia stay in the waiting room while I am tested, scanned, imaged, and examined. I have just a few memories of all that: cold stainless steel surfaces, clean while sheets, the high-tech sounds of electro-mechanical devices, snippets of speech, a succession of inquisitive looks, and the gentle pressure of reassuring hands.

 

And then we wait…and wait. By this time it is ten hours since I spoke to Mia and told her I was in trouble. I feel marginally better – at least my sense of imminent panic has passed. 

 

The attending physician reappears, pronounces his diagnosis of TGA (Transient Global Amnesia), and explains that the causes of the condition are largely unknown and there is nothing to be done. He tells me to rest and I should feel better in a couple of days. That’s it. Our many questions go unanswered. I leave the hospital as confounded as when I entered it.

 

Back home now, descending the driveway, we hear our black retriever, Shadoe, barking and scratching at the barn door. It must have blown shut behind her. No one recalls seeing her when we left. She has been trapped in there all day.
*
Image: “Blinded by Thought,” digitally altered image detail of original painting by Tullio DeSantis, 2009.

 

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