An American Mystagogue

If I were to die…

Feb
27

death
As you have probably surmised, the prospect of death and mortality is something that frequently comes to mind for me. This is not because I am terrified of it, quite contrarily I simply recognize that it is inevitable and as far as human affairs are concerned it can be quite unexpected. Indeed, Death waits for no one to get their affairs in order, unless it happens that you have a long illness, or whatnot. But unlike many people seem to think, it is not something that happens to you in the future. Death always arrives in the Present.

As such, and upon mortality contemplations (part of a regiment of meditations I indulge in) I realized that, since Death occurs in the Present, and never in the Future, that it would be most regretful if I died without saying anything with Death in mind. One can hope that their Death would approach them visibly, over a long period of time so that one could get their things in order, but this is not always the case. Therefor, I have decided that before my Death, I will at least endeavor to say the things that I would say should I have found out that I had some illness (which I have not discovered, in truth) and that I should say so in a public manner, which is how I would wish it to be in some aspects. The individual things I would say to intimates will of course, remain outside of the scope of this post but I think people would find overlaps, without specifics.

As such, I will be writing the below in the style as if I were facing immanent Death.

But aren’t we all?

Friends, allies, family, peers, acquaintances, antagonists, enemies and neutral unknowns, I say all of these things to you equally, and none of the things I say are withheld from you equally. I would want my harshest critics and deepest adversaries to hear them as much as my closest friends. Death is upon me, no one knows the hour or time.

Firstly, death does not come to you in the future. It always comes to you in the present. Understanding this, learn to accept that at all times death will (at least very, very likely) come upon you while you are in the midst of things. Things will always be interrupted, and sacrifices you made for future gains may very well be for naught. This is not a reason to forgo sacrifice of the present for a better present. It is simply a gamble, and knowing this take the time to consider if you are acting as a wise gambler, or a poor one.

Secondly, while you may not agree, consider that any belief you have held, no matter how much evidence you have seen to infer the existence and ‘rightness’ of such a belief, consider that you have seen what you have been looking for in the world. Also consider you are not wholly in control of what you look for; that is, what you expect to see.

Thirdly, consider the fact that we cannot attest to the objective existence of anything outside of human perception, but more specifically consider the fact that most things we have opinions on would not exist without a perceiver. Ugliness, beauty, stupidity, genius, artful, disgusting acts of depravity, charitable acts, good acts, evil acts, etc, have no proof of existence beyond the scope of human perception. Likewise, consider that it is not a “thing” or a ‘person” that is evil, good, disgusting, beautiful, intelligent or stupid in any objective sense, but that rather we each have a criteria of valuation, a system that we use constantly to weight and measure the things which we experience. Consider that it may be more accurate to say “That disgust me!” or “That seems stupid to me!” rather than “That is disgusting!” or “That is stupid!”, because these things are more accurate.

Fourthly, consider that contentment with a way of thinking or satisfaction (whether practical, sentimental or intellectual) with any belief system, even a ‘meta’ system, is always going to be lacking. Consider that any beliefs, even ‘meta’ beliefs, will always have some “truth” and some ‘falsity’, and that contentment with them means you are accepting them both. Consider that it is okay for people to be content with their beliefs, consider that beliefs are to serve humanity and not humanity to serve beliefs. Consider that what you have to offer others in rhetoric may not be useful to them, even if it is more accurate and empirical. Consider that it may indeed be useful to them, and that perhaps there are ways of gauging what beliefs may be useful to what people. Consider that the attempt towards ‘purity’ of belief, whether scientific, philosophical or religious is an ultimately unwinnable battle, and consider that perhaps this is perfectly okay, and perhaps even beneficial that we will never reach ‘purity of truth’.

Fifthly, consider that you are not the equivalent to anything you cannot keep against all attempt at seizure from outside forces or calamity.

Sixthly, consider that you cannot keep from being taken away from you by external forces anything you identify with, whether objects, ideals, memories, family, friends, projects, personality or anything else.

Seventhly, consider that there are things you have never questioned, no matter how much of a seeker of knowledge you are, because you have never noticed them to ask questions about them.

Eightly, consider that if you actually were other people, you would do everything that they themselves did. Whether violent, mean spirited, kindly or fairly.

Ninthly, consider these words and their value; Fairness of judgement and opinion, Sincerity of thoughts and words that you speak unto yourself, and Moderation (which is simply another word of control, not specifically ascetic) of actions.

Tenthly, consider that everything you think, own, or do is completely dependent on the universe, its laws, and its catalystic, causal and external impacts. You have stood on the shoulders of giants for everything you have accomplished. You have driven on roads built by other people. You eat the food others grow. Your shit and piss is processed by others, so that you do not have deathly disease.  You have gained the majority of your knowledge from the hard work of millions upon millions of other people. You have gained the abilities to exercise power through use of technology that has a direct lineage back unto the first people of the Earth, and you have not accomplished anything alone, and because of this you can do more than any of them ever have. Consider gratitude. Consider that they too had to observe the laws of the cosmos, had to stand on the shoulders of giants, and had to rely upon external catalystic environments to spur their philosophies, their sciences, and their arts. Consider that nothing is disconnected from the chain of history and nothing we do will be outside of this chain unto the infinite future and that will impact and act as catalysts for generations to come.

tumblr_static_flower_skeleton                         (Artist unknown, tried searching through reverse image search, no luck) 

Eleventhly, consider that humans are rational beings, but that like any computing machine, when bad information is put in, bad results occur. Consider the cyclical nature of this problem, when glitches are passed on from parent to child over generations. Consider that logically this does not mean allowing them to continue to do so, but that they cannot be blamed objectively. Consider that one can rehabilitate, and discipline, without hating or blaming it on someones ‘free will’. Consider that all abilities to cope with stress, to deal with actions, to react to situations, to contemplate, are mental, psychic technologies that are not equally accessible to all humans if they have not been taught them.

Twelfthly, consider that time is subjective, and that time is not ‘stuff’. If it is not stuff, and if it is the perception of frequency of change, that it is subjective, because one person does not see as much change as others. Consider that the things you do are burning your finite vitality up far faster than you could ever imagine, because you are not seeing the intricacy of changes. Consider that you can live ten lifetimes in one life, if you only slowed down your perception so that you notice the information rich world.

Thirteenthly, consider that communication is a carefully trained skill that is not inherently accessible to people. Consider the fact that you may have deluded yourself about the majority of intentions behind peoples words, and that you have often not had the means or the desire to check or verify if what you interpreted was correctly matched with their intention.

Fourteenthly, consider that all people are somewhat right, somewhat wrong, and that to deny any group of people even the smallest speck of ‘rightness’ will only ensure that you will have enemies until the day you die, and that no communication will be had between you and them.

Fifteenthly, consider that the power of words is such that you could change the opinions of most humanity, if only you were skilled enough, and that you could convince them of “bad/false/stupidity”  just as sure as you could convince them of “good/truth/intelligence”. As such, consider that when someone does not agree with you, it is no inherent mark of evil or stupidity on their part, but rather that it is you yourself that lack the necessary faculties.

Sixteenthly, consider the words you speak to others, especially those you value. Consider that everything has an effect on a person, that they experience. If you value a person, watch your tongue always. Always.

Seventeenthly, consider that it is okay to fail, only insomuch as you use this failure to fuel your advancement towards self-oriented goals. If you simply wait to feel better, and then do nothing afterwards, the same problem will most likely arise.

Eighteenthly, consider that Nothing is Free, Everything has a Toll. Consider that every single thought you think, opinions you say, action you take, food you eat, drugs you take, books you read, movies you see, and in short, everything you do, has a price. It will affect you. It will change you. Nothing is free, and everything has a toll.

Ninteenthly, consider that things of scarcity you want stand less chance of actualization should you take avenues that necessitate competition with multitudes of others. Consider the merit of doing things without safety nets, safety nets which will bring far more people to compete with than other avenues of actualization.

Finally, I have to say that it has been a wonderful experience. I cannot hate or regret a single second of my life, even if I should feel guilty about not doing the right thing at all times, simply because everything that exists, in my mind, must exist for everything else to exist. It must all exist exactly the way it does, or nothing would. There is no ‘could be’ in my mind. There is what is, and I am happy to say that I am a being that has the power of choice, and options, even if these choices and options are inherently limited by myself and my environment.

I am glad to have had my beliefs shattered time and time again, because it has shown me that there is no end to it all. The world never gets objectively boring. If it gets boring, it is the fault of the perciever, not the world. There is always more, over the proverbial horizon.

I am thankful for the external catalysts, be they people or situations, that have prompted me to move forwards to where I am today. I am thankful for human beings in general. I consider you all inherently capable of  magic, beauty, awfulness and numinousity. You are in short, awe-inspiring.

And so, it is my sadness to depart from this world. I do so knowing that it was inevitable, and necessary for the perpetual novelty of the world.

Do your best.

Seth Moris

 

 

The Mesa: Part Two

Feb
13

mesa2

~ A photograph from the top of the  Mesa, taken at unknown time by Mila. Towns can be seen in the distance around the base of another mesa.

 

Above me, who knows how many hundreds of feet, was a giant Eye made out of cloud. It was shaped like an eye, pinched down at the sides, white and perfect on the outside. It had a dark grey iris, and a deep, voidlike pupil. It was staring directly into me.

“Boz.” I said weakly. “Do you see that?” I asked him. He looked up.

“It’s an eye.” He said. We both saw it and stood in awe.

Building in pressure underneath that awe was a feeling I couldn’t quite make out. My attention was solely on the giant eye, which continued to exist in its shape above us. The emotion that soon bubbled out of me was of complete joy and child-like bewilderment.

“I think…”I said hesitantly, words feeling like strange empty echoes, “That its a Good Cloud.” I couldn’t keep from smiling. We had a guardian. I looked at all the clouds around in the distance, large and fluffy white on stark blue skies. “I think they are good clouds.” And soon, the Eye had floated away, and could not be seen.

We continued walking towards a part of the Mesa we had yet to discover, the long grass in certain places swaying and distorting my vision, my eyes focused into sharp clarity and unfocused into a blurred visual cacophony. We were in the thick of the primeval rocks and plants and insects, red, brown, red. The greens of cactus that dotted the ground. I knew I was not in the same world I had left. I had gone someplace else. Someplace…liminal. Someplace between two places.

The Axis Mundi, I thought reverently, though I had never before placed any importance on the concept, I felt sure that was where I was, physically and mentally. On the threshold. The Eye and the ants had been our welcome.

It was about this time that we saw something growing in the distance. My eyes, or brain, couldn’t decipher it. In the distance, on the other side of the Mesa to which we had headed, was a wall of darkness. There is no way to explain fully how big that wall was, but I could see Denver from the mesa like a splotch of gray and squared shapes in the distance. I could see other mesas and I could see clouds bigger than the town below. This wall was bigger, wider, than anything else within eyesight.

Someone, I think probably Boz, pointed out that it was a wall of rain, topped by thick, gray and black clouds.

“Those are not good clouds.” I grumbled, only half paying attention to the words, and a fear gripped me. It didn’t matter that I had not only walked, lived but slept in rain with sometimes little more than a pine tree to keep the moisture off of me, while Tiggle curled up in my jacket. It didn’t matter that  I had been stuck on the Appalachian trail and had to endure nights of non-stop rain and intermittent thunderstorms. This was not a storm like those. I would only realize later that this was a special kind of storm. A desert storm.

“Fuck!” Someone cursed, perhaps all of us. “We should head back to the camp” Boz suggested earnestly. We walked as fast as we could, but the wall of darkness was rushing at us quickly. I had never seen a wall of rain from the side. Everything beyond it was lost to sight. Soon the dry, desiccated Mesa would be muddied.

Then we saw the lightning, streaking down through the wall of darkness every few minutes. Not good, I thought. I realized where we were. Not only elevated, but there was not much that would be taller than the few trees that we had tented up at.

When we returned to the camp, Mila and Boz had situated themselves under the tarp canopy. They were discussing whether or not we should try to exit the Mesa, but all agreed there wasn’t much point. The storm would be upon us before we could make the long walk back into town, and even if we could have made it, where would we have gone?

What they didn’t see was the Shoggoth that was circling the campsite. A large, amorphous tunnel of distorted light and ephemera, without face or end, made its way around behind them, and avoided their gazes should they turn, sinking into the landscape. I decided not to tell them, and instead chose to ignore the thing, knowing for some reason it could not penetrate the camp boundaries. It was getting dark now, the storm was nearly on top of us, thunder was echoing out across the valleys between the shelf mountains and lightening began to light up the sky with even more frequency.

I turned and looked at the town around the Mesa. I saw dark buildings, I saw bright lights. I saw something start to come out of the drains and sewers in the streets, a thick green goo. It rose up through the streets, engulfing the buildings and everything around, except for the lights of the houses and streets lamps, which were like pinpricks that swam around in the goo, like a million eyes, and it kept rising.

“What is that?!” I asked, because I was sure I didn’t know. But they didn’t see what I saw.

Then the storm hit like a fist.

(Definitely didn’t mean for this to be drawn out so long! Not too much more to go until the end of the anecdote, but I think putting it all into one post might make it hard to read, so I will have to write a short third section.)

~ Seth Moris

 

 

 

The Alleyway People

Feb
09

 

alley

 

[This was part of a ‘one hour writing challenge” done with fellow Infinity Network friend Mad Queen.]

The Alleyway People

By: Seth Moris

 

It was one of many decaying metropolises. But it was their home. A chromatic desert, the sight of grays, whites, blacks and chipped fading paints whitewashed by the sun and the rain. Their eyes pulsated with longing, for reds, oranges, purples, blues and greens. The sky was gray. The buildings were gray. The people were gray, huddled into their dark coats with high collars. Adapted to the grayness, to the pervasive chill. They were of it, and it was of them. Like begets like.
But what was that, you ask, in the distance? You will see them, you have seen them. They are like human soapstone, like moss covered rocks. Your mind has lost its grip on them seconds after seeing them. This is altogether different from being invisible; the black-globed cameras have no issue picking them up, their colors muted like the rest of the world into a dull electronic farce. This is the blessing and curse of being dim. No one saw you until you made a racket, and afterwards you were forgotten.

 

They dressed in primary colors, they dressed in synthetic colors the likes of which are only had because of petroleum alchemy, they dressed in overwhelming rustic tones, earth colors, and they dressed in blacks that were so deep they made even the darkest sight seem almost filmy. They dressed in ruined clothes patched over or sewn together or left to decay, and they dressed in expensive shoes, ironed suits. They could afford these extravagances because they were dim. And if they were gray they were the most fantastic, awe-ful depth of gray; the essence of grayness, not the half-assed gray and muck speckled urban sights.

 

 
And here they come, in the distance, walking between two strip of storefronts. You know the storefronts, smashed together so closely so as to resemble a broken, trailer-park smile. Slipping like phantoms posterior to these shoppes was an uncannily dense group of people. Made even more offensive to the senses was the fact they did not look the same. A young woman at the head of the pack was dressed in expensive business attire, and (god forbid a cliché) complete with a clipboard she held clutched in her arms, her black hair tied up into a knot, her designer contact eyes glinting even in the dull light.

 
Behind her! A young man with half a head of hair shaved off, with threadbare clothes held together by what appeared to be fishing line and safety pins; crudely printed cloth patches marked his leather vest like the ancient protective sigils of some lost civilization. In one hand he held a beaten up bottle of water; in the other was a cigarette. There were more! An old woman who looked as if she had walked straight out of a fairy tale, little purple shawl covering her body and clutched in wrinkled, bony hands. A man with sagging pants and straight brimmed baseball cap. A woman with colorful dreads that shone like the rainbow, with clothes to match. An older man who could have passed for any of our gym-teachers, or perhaps a construction worker; his thick arms bunching with muscle from a time long ago, his stomach protruding over his belt, but only slightly; and there were more people!

 
But their mere presence was enough to confuse the mind, to distort perceptions. How many were there in that little crowd? No one with eyes could say. They might have been oil and water, or like tea and milk. Their rapid progress seemed itself to be in slow motion, amid soggy and abandoned containers and paper parcels, soda cans and cigarette butts. Amid the garbage cans and dumpsters that smelled like month old fish. The woman with the clipboard stepped over a used condom, not a hint of disgust penetrating her stoic appearance. The young man with the ramshackle clothes laughed at the rubber, thinking to himself how they always look like deflated alien slugs. The rest of the crowd, its multicolored swirl of races and cultures and aesthetics convulsed like some sort of heart beat. Brain-beats.

 
When they approached the end of the alleyway, the woman with the clipboard turned and faced the crowd behind her. The group stopped immediately, snapping to attention. She was not their leader, but she was most definitely their organizer, and as they all had the respect of each other for their various merits. This was her ground. With all of the commotion, the group barely noticed a small boy had been chalking the sidewalk at the end of the alley with words that would have (probably) gotten him in trouble with his parents. The young lad had a backwards baseball cap; above the visor was a clear, blazing red “B”.

 
“Ok folks.” She said with a crack in her voice. Clearing her throat, she tried again. “Ok folks. You know why we are here. Do you all have your parts memorized? We have to get the timing difference on this down. We have to shave at least fifteen seconds off of our runtime. Questions?” The crowd stood silent, even the older woman with the purple shawl seemed more than content to proceed. It was then that a hand shot up, from the woman with the rainbow dreadlocks.

 
“What happens if the uh…” The woman with the rainbow dreads hesitated, looking for the words. “What happens if we see people trying to do things that uh…counter the whole deal.” The woman with a clipboard smiled, breaking the mask of equanimity; she was clearly excited to be there.
“Let them try. This is why we have Margie here. Right Marge?” The question was directed to the elderly woman, whose smile crinkled her watery eyes.

 
“Yes Ms. Williams.” The elderly woman said in a voice that managed to be high and soft and the same time. “I will make sure to run interference, so to speak.” She giggled at this. The woman with the clipboard turned to the rest of the crowd.

 
“Any other questions? Comments?” She asked briefly, but professionally. The man who could have been a gym teacher, or your friend’s army dad, coughed and raised his hand.
“Yes?” The woman called Ms. Williams asked curtly.

 
“Just to make sure, it was east street right? My zone? I know its silly but I keep thinking maybe it was wheasome street. Or west street?” He stated, turning the pitch up at the last second, turning the statement into a question. Beads of sweat, subtle, were growing on his forehead, his hands wrung nervously. The woman with the clipboard nodded.

 
“Yes, that would be east street. You shouldn’t second guess yourself so much Rudy. We can do this. Ok, anyone else?” No one spoke up.

 
The little boy who had been watching from the alleyway had snuck around the side of the alleyway with his little head half leaned across the corner, watching intently. The woman with the tied-up-hair and clipboard seemed to be in charge to the little boy, and he watched as they ceased talking and the crowd (so many people in such a small alleyway! thought the little boy) started to break apart and in small groups the people in the alleyway had begun to leave and turn right, or left, or any direction back out into the city.

 
The little boy drew back his head and pretended to be interested in the giant chalked “FUK PIGGS” graffito, while the crowd dispersed. What had been a crowd, what had been a crowded alleyway was now bare, save for the woman with the clipboard, who the little boy could had her face set in a small, but powerful, smile. The little boy felt lost in the ferocity of that miniscule smile, and didn’t realize he was staring at the woman until she fixed her eyes upon him and smiled even more widely.

 
“Why, hello there.” She said, and the little boy whisked his head around the corner to stare at the street full of cars and exhaust fumes, of dog walkers and women pushing baby strollers. The sudden contrast made his head spin, and when he heard her voice from around the corner, he stepped out.

 
“Its ok, I’m not going to yell at you.” The woman said. The boy stepped into the alleyway.
“Who’se you all?” He asked her, obviously meaning the crowd that had since disintegrated.
“We are just people. Like you.” She said, still smiling. Ms. Williams walked over to the exit of the alley, and crossed her arms around the clipboard that was hugged tightly to her chest.
“Whatchu guys doin’?” The little boy asked, his eyes wide. “Is it some sorta parade?” At this response, Ms. Williams actually let loose a laugh, which sounded like music among a cacophony.
“No, not a parade. Do you want to know a secret?” She asked the boy, who nodded. “We just want to make the world a better, or uh…nicer place. We want to make the world nicer. Put simply.”

 
The boy screwed up his face and peered at her suspiciously. “What’aya mean? Dad says that people tryin’ to fix the world are why stuffs so crappy. Mom says people should ’stay out of other peoples business’. That’s what they say.” The woman nodded.

 
“What if I told you, that we all think the way to make the world nicer, is to give people a reason to do what they really want to do?” She asked the boy, who stared at her with a clearly puzzled look.

 
“Well,” Ms Williams continued, “People get sad. They get afraid. They end up mean, because they are afraid. They end up hurt because they are mean, and they end up hating people. Did your parents ever talk about hate?”

 
The little boy pondered for a moment. “Mom says hating is a sin, but Dad hates people who are wrong.”

 
“Well, we think that people are mostly sad. They hate, but they don’t have to. What we do, is…well…look at this.” Ms Williams said, and when the boy watched her pointed finger, he understood.

 
The rainbow haired girl was helping a woman who had dropped a grocery bag. Ms. Williams finger moved, and the boy could see that the coach-like man was playing football with some kids down the street, on the outlet of the main road. Ms Williams finger moved, and the young man with patched clothes was playing a guitar and singing in a sweet voice that they could hear even from down the way, and people gathered around him in awe of such talent, and walked away with smiles. A group of rowdy young men who were talking loudly and impolitely about the proprietor of a business were being led away by the elderly woman with a purple shawl, who was begging their help while also giving them a subtle lesson in respect. The men looked guilty, chastised. All this and more, the little boy could see these alley-way people changing the entire mood of the street. Suddenly, the chill seemed less oppressive. People smiled.
And the boy saw that the people these alley-way people touched, who smiled when they departed, were being kind. They were helping other people, they were passing on the mood.
“This is all we do. But we do our best.” Ms Williams said, and the boy nodded, understanding.

The Balm Fails

Feb
08

Candle in church

 

(Inspired by readings on antibiotic resistant microbes)

The Balm Fails 

By: Seth Moris

I stepped into the chamber of the healer, one bare
foot stepping hesitantly upon the cool stone floor,
and then another.

The guardian of the temple grunted at me from the
doorway to proceed. Clothed in my threadbare
‘observation’ robes, I felt naked.

I walked forward until I reached the laying-table.
The sores covering my body felt like a blaze, red
And seeping, pulsating against the chill.

The healer entered the room, as if whisked by devils
And he took one glance at the sores, quickly consulted
The holy book of healing, and scribbled glyphs.

“You will have to use the Sacred Balm” The Healer croaked
The Sacred Balm. They say it is of the gods own tears.
But we have lost the gods favors, all know the balm fails now.

The Mesa

Feb
08

800px-North_Table_Mountain_from_Lookout_Mountain

~ North Table Mountain, Golden Colorado

I recently decided to put the topic of this next post to the people who read this blog. After taking a vote in a few online groups/forums and such, the winner with the most votes was “an anecdote from my travels”. So here we go.

As I discussed in the blog entry “Realization of Mortality”  at a certain point in my life I had hit an existential crises, dealing namely with the thought of the unalterable fact I would die, and could die anytime that I’m alive. It made me start questioning what death was, what dying was. And of course, questions about what I should spend my time doing.

Well, part of this crises ended with an ever growing amount of stress. You could say the circumstances of my life had convalesced in a way that made this stress nearly unavoidable. I had not learned to implement most of the standard self-administrations I would learn later in life, and having no escape valve, eventually decided to stop working and ‘walk across the country’. I can’t credit a lone factor with all of the force behind the decision. Truth be told it didn’t feel like a decision at all, anymore than pulling your hand out of a fire is a decision.

My time spent traveling had many sub-plots and mishaps, but I feel that the ‘climax‘ was when my two traveling companions (Pope Boz and Mila)  at the time and I had climbed up on what I am fairly certain is called “North Table Mountain” after having eaten our share of some mushrooms of unknown kind, procured in our mysterious ways. Three companions if you count my dog, Tiggle (he came named).

[ The following account is the best remembered version of my ‘phenomenological’ experience]

It was a hot day, I remember distinctly feeling as if some great pressure were pushing down upon me. This force was the intensity of the heat and sun and dust. When we had been down in the little town, it had been hot but it had been familiar. The trees were ‘normal’, the grass was ‘normal’ in the town. Boz had a friend who lived in the area, and his friend had driven us from Boulder to Golden, with the intent to show us “The Mesa”.

We drove through a picturesque American town, where other than the mountains in the distance and perhaps the color of the dirt were the only things that really reminded me I was in a place far from my native New England. The same stores dotted the sides of the road. The same looking people walked on the sidewalks. The normality of it would only later come to mind, after I had left the Mesa.

We drove through a small community of nice houses and lawn ornaments. After winding left and right through the thin streets we came to a dirt road and our host pulled over and let us out. We engaged in the common ritual of removing the tetris-like piled traveling packs out of the trunk, disentangling the straps and ropes that hung loose on the outside of the backpacks.

A light rain had been falling and stopping, falling and stopping. Our host had asked us if we were sure we wanted to camp on the Mesa, and offered to let us stay under his roof for a night. We declined appreciatively; living outside in the rain had become just another part of our lives and we had the equipment to protect ourselves from it. I wasn’t worried. It wouldn’t occur until later to me that we were in a desert climate, and the rain was a precursor for what was to come.

We bid farewell to our guest, and left the neighborhood behind and below us; the dirt path beyond it rose steadily upwards and towards the top of the Mesa. Our feet kicked up red-tinted dirt and subsequently dust, which stuck to our clothes and sweat lightly. I was thankful for the water we had procured before the ascent. The path grew steeper and steeper, and more riddled with stones and gravel that would kick out from underneath our soles without warning. Tiggle was the only one who didn’t seem to have a problem with it, and with his chest-harness equipped he even managed to pull me up somewhat.

Eventually, after coming to a plateau in the trail we set our bags down to take a rest and re-up on some hydration. We still had a ways to go, and I had an idea.

“Why don’t we eat them now, and then walk the rest of the way while we come up?” I had suggested. Boz didn’t seem convinced this was the best idea (it probably wasn’t) but he, Mila and I did a short sort of ceremony, with themes of a fungal nature. Mila drew symbols on our foreheads with water mixed into the red dirt. We divided up the mushrooms and consumed our portion, and continued our advance.

mesa

~ A photo taken after reaching the top of the Mesa, before the ceremony

After the brief rest and ceremony, we continued down the path which was now thankfully flat. Or mostly flat. The sun was still shining, but our rise in altitude (mesas being shelf mountains) didn’t seem to affect it much. If anything I noticed a stronger breeze. But there was no place with shade in sight, and we decided to try to find something to shelter under. While we walked, the large bump in the Mesa’s top obscuring our vision of what lay ahead, it suddenly struck me; Nothing Alive Around Us I Had Ever Seen Before. The dirt had gone from a lightly mixed red into heavy brown earth to mostly dusty, almost brickish red. The grass was primeval, there were cacti dotting the brush. Even the insects around us seemed bigger, different, and more primeval. They were of no species I had ever seen.

Caught up in these sights, I walked into a small, grass-like plant and felt sharp pricks of pain lance up my thigh.

“Fuck!” I cursed and looked down at the plant. It reminded me of my fathers spider-plant that was around when I was growing up, except for the pointed tips of the leaves were sharp, and hard. This was not a soft place. Red rocks jutted out of the ground in the distance, like old rusted bones. Everything was completely Alien.

After we reached the small hill, we saw to our delight a trio of scrubby looking trees not too far away. They would serve as the perfect place to tie up our tarps and to make a giant, ramshackle tent to keep us out of the sun. I felt great, as I pulled ropes out from my pack and unrolled tarps. The heat was no longer felt; or if it was felt, it was delighted in, sucked up by my body like water into a dry sponge.  Underneath the trees, were large itchy grasses, which we flattened to the sides and laid another tarp for the floor. Mila and I had sat upon this tarp while Boz walked closely around the campsite. This was when the winged ants came.

Out of the ground, and out of the grass we had moved aside, large, fat, ant-looking insects with wings crawled up and over onto the tarp and our seated legs. Boz took notice.

“Shit, ants are all over you.” He said, and it was true. But I didn’t panic, and even though I realized I was covered in little lifeforms, it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

“They’re nice.” Mila said. I nodded and agreed.

“Fuck that.” Boz said, backing away.

“Join us Boz!” Me and Mila joked, our arms covered in the ‘flying ants’. Eventually they would fall off and we would toss them into the adjacent grasses. I was feeling amazing. Powerful. Free.

Boz suggested that we should explore, and Mila and I (post-ants) had risen to join him. We walked through the red alien landscape, and I felt as if I had left this planet entirely. It was about this time we all sort of wandered off slightly, into our own little worlds; we splintered from the main branch of the world, even between ourselves.

But one thing suddenly hit me, more important than anything in the universe, alien or domestic. I had to piss. Badly. I said something in airy, light, too-weak-and-soft-to-really-be-speech-holy-shit-I’m-making-monkey-noises-talk, excused myself and tried to find someplace to urinate in this other dimension. When I looked out into the distance, the landscape would look both sharply in focus and horribly distorted, one after another. I have horrible vision, and my eyesight was actually improving past normal, only to get worse. I decided to ignore this shifting background, but realized I couldn’t see if someone was also on the Mesa, and didn’t want cops called by some yokel because I was caught pissing in the middle of no-where.

So I laid beside a red-rock that stuck a few feet into the air and pissed beside it. I saw my body, I saw the act of urination. I was some sort of rodent, animal, primate thing, lost in a hard, sharp world. The sun shone like a beacon. My skin looked saggy, and porous. I could almost see the moisture being sucked out of me by the dry environment around me; the desert was greedy for moisture.

I finished up and met back up with the others. Tiggle ran around us, unleashed and loyal, never straying more than fifteen feet away from any of us. Boz and Mila were watching some diving and soaring, screeching bird. It was warning us. We thought maybe it was angry with us. It was around then that I looked into the sky and realized I could see the sides of clouds. That was how high up we were. I saw how clouds have a flat bottom, and soar around on unseen pressures. I was lost in the clouds, when suddenly I look directly above me, into the stark blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.

Above me, who knows how many hundreds of feet, was a giant Eye made out of cloud. It was shaped like an eye, pinched down at the sides, white and perfect on the outside. It had a dark grey iris, and a deep, voidlike pupil. It was staring directly into me.

“Boz.” I said weakly. “Do you see that?” I asked him. He looked up.

“It’s an eye.” He said. We both saw it and stood in awe.

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(Didn’t realize how long this story was! I will complete the second half soon and release! Stay tuned! ~ Seth Moris)