Long Odyssey

This is important! I must write it down while I can still remember. If I don’t, I may forget and lose it forever.

I can hardly believe this! How is it possible that I could have lived most of my life without knowing who I am? It is so out of the ordinary that I am wondering if I am suffering some form of delusion, or perhaps even madness?

Strangely, that is not important. I don’t feel mad. What I do feel is that I might slip once more into the forgetfulness that has held me captive all my life. That is why I must explain myself to myself by writing it down. Then, if I slip back into the darkness, I will at least wonder why I have written this story.

I am not sure what brought it on. I haven’t been stressed. In fact I have been happy lately. But I began to have fluttering feelings as if I were remembering, or trying to remember something that was on the verge of forming. It was very frustrating, because I was on the very edge of knowing, and yet couldn’t quite grasp what it was I knew.

I have always been a very imaginative person, and I suppose that is why I have given myself so fully to painting. Well, I have made a success of it in a commercial sense. But that isn’t the point. The reason I paint is to make something real that lives inside of me, that I feel intensely and want to give expression to. And that’s how I felt with these whisperings of memory. I would be going about my work and then be overcome by feeling I had forgotten something important. It nagged me. There were even feelings of excitement and joy. At times it was like a beautiful presence, as if somebody I loved dearly was near but I couldn’t see them. I couldn’t see them, but I could smell their perfume, and felt the joy of them being near, the excitement of perhaps meeting them, holding them. That’s how it was.

Then, this morning, the perfume was there intensely, but instead of frustration I suddenly remembered, I suddenly knew!

How can I explain this even to myself? How can I begin to describe what I know myself to be?

Perhaps I can start by saying that if an old friend were standing looking at me, what they would see in front of them is not who I am. If I looked into a mirror and took at the details of my face and my body, and if I thought that to be me, I would be mistaken. That is not who I now know I am.

This is ridiculous – I am going around in circles without saying anything.

I will try again.

I suppose the point of my writing this is an attempt at helping me understand if the forgetfulness claims me again. That is difficult. I cannot say that before I arrived at this memory I would believe what I am about to say. Nevertheless, I must try.

I remembered my home.

No, it isn’t a country, it isn’t a city, it isn’t a mountain or an island in the sea. It is a condition.

How I long to be home now, as I remember it. There, with my kin, naked and without form, flowing with them in the torrential rivers of space – moving and playing as multitudes of birds play in the sky, or fish in shoals dance and whirl. If thoughts were music, then we are like music playing through the world’s, touching living beings, moving their bodies and their lives. In the great body of life stretching through galaxies we are the blood in its veins. And our playing and our movements are an anthem singing through the stars.

Can I have imagined that? For I hear them calling me now. I feel their laughter and their joy reaching for me to be with them. “Come. Come,” they are saying. “Flow with us in the great currents of life again. Leave this life behind. Soon it will be done. Your tasks here will be finished. Let others carry them on, for then you can be with us. ”

And I weep as I feel the tug of their love.

That was my life before this forgetfulness. And I look around and I see that when wild beauty touches people, when drama opens the heart, or song plays through them, they are remembering that star-life. Then they are restless in this sleep of forgetting. They are trying to wake and find their way home.

To remember where you have come from is one thing; to find your way home and to recall your journey to the present is another.

One day, many years ago, I stood high on a cliff a thousand feet above the sea. The air was clear and I could see miles across the ocean to distant hills and mountains. But it is what stood in between that has left such an indelible memory. For across the ocean, in that vast space of sea and sky, all manner of things existed. There were great areas of clear blue sky from which the sun shone onto sparkling waves. The brilliant light gave life to myriad colours, highlighting tiny ships dwarfed by the immensity of the waters. In other places huge dark clouds hung dripping rain, scouring the surface of the sea. And clouds and ships, and sky, and sun gave depth, qualities and distance to the colossal and unimaginable space in which we all exist. Before me the dimensions of dark, of light, of colour, of grey dismal coldness, of enormous space made mighty by tiny ships; huge clouds, themselves dwarfed by the emptiness between them, and distance drawing awe onto the spread of ocean and sky, stretching everything I could see from that hill into space beyond imagining.

And that, in some dim way, describes my awareness of the journey made from home. Instead of immensity of sea and clouds, its enormity was in time, in an unfolding of lives, in a sensing of an ancient past. My being has woven its pattern in and out of the strands of life-and-death. I have been mother and mothered, father and fathered, in all manner of relationships. The spirit of me that lives in all those times has known the flesh of red race and yellow, black and white. But it is the thread that changes its colour and its gender to create the pattern that tells the real story of the journey. And that pattern is akin to standing on that high cliff, knowing the immensity of space, seeing the dark scouring places of pain, and the brilliant colour in times of wonder; knowing the humanity of my existence, its failure and its power, and arriving at humility.

I said in the beginning that I did not know what had brought remembrance to me. But now, as I write, I realise that is not correct. The years have gradually brought me growing awareness of all that I owed to my ancestors. The weather and storms of my life, the sunshine and rain, the loss and the seeking of love, had slowly revealed the roots of the tree that I am. Through those roots I knew my being to be feeding upon the rich soil formed out of all that had lived in the past. I knew I lived on the nourishment of the dead and had entered into the house of the ancestors. And in the grandeur of that house I had found previous dwelling places, ancient graves, the buried drama, the numbed agony and the living spirit of the long dead. The guardian of the threshold led me into my forgotten past. And there beside me in her spirit form my love explored with me.

The rising and falling waves of life; time unfolding from the timeless; the gradual knowing of everything in nothing; the slow realisation of the dance in utter stillness. In essence that is the journey.

And here I now sit in the present wondering why the being that I was vast ages ago journeyed away from home.

As I reach these searching fingers of my mind through the delicate traces of the past to find the answer, I am awed by the enormity of the question. It is so easy to think of our life as existing separate and apart – except perhaps when we act in obvious cooperation through love or work. But my remembrance of things makes that a lie. I have spoken of a thread and a pattern woven through time, and that is near the truth. But even if we grasp that image clearly it is an impoverished view of the reality my vision shows me. For in the long sight that I now have, I see the tapestry of the past and present through which my lives thread their colours, is no less than the multitude of galaxies and dimensions in which we live and breathe. Each twist and turn in the weaving of the thread that I am is never less than an expression of total permeation by the whole. No movement of mine, no act, no thought or moment of existence begins or ends alone. The universe itself, the galaxy, the solar system and the earth, along with all the many creatures and beings who share this moment with me, are the very stage upon which I act, and the life and passions with which I act it. As for the drama I might act upon that stage, how much of it am I the author of?

Tapestry – weaving – thread? They are all inadequate words to describe the fabric of my existence. But these are all I have to tell of the substance, the stuff of which I am made. That cloth of my weaving, patterned as it is by my beliefs, my thoughts and strivings, my fears and longings, is connected in every way, totally enmeshed with every small part of the tapestry of life. My every thought is a twisting loom creating out of the mind of past sages and idiots; my every moment draws from what has been before; all is a dance in the spiral of change. Does not every part of me intermingle with you? Do not my thoughts play at times in your own mind? And you, tell me, are not the strength of my hands and body at times your strength, your power to build and shape? You know my genitals as part of your own body isnt that so? We are always woven together in that way, touching each other, and so on and on into other lives till we see, if we stand back, the whole wonder of the tapestry.

So, the leaving of home? Well, here is the paradox. The falling away from that many dimensioned life came both from personal direction and also out of the changing cycles of the Great Life.

Can there ever be a defined answer to the question of why? Who knows why, when on a journey with a defined destination, we meet someone, or an event happens, and the direction of our life changes. Why? Perhaps there is an answer, but it would need such a total awareness of all that exists to know it, that our rationalisations are vain.

There is a river on which the craft of my existence flowed. And that river was the stream of life. I was a swimmer in it, delighting in its movements, and a kin to all the creatures in it, loved and loving, creating and forming worlds and beings; at one with Creator and creation. Even now my heart leaps at the remembering. My emotions start to sing once more the anthem of our song.

Do you remember too? You and I, in the river that flowed into things? And we became involved in playing, involved in the body of things. The current was strong and we didn’t fight it. We were curious to know each other in the flesh. We knew then with the infinite knowing that was natural to us, that even if we became immersed in the creations of time and space, we would emerge again.

Time and eternity – another paradox. Time gives us beginnings and ends. It brings duration, distance through the sequence of events, and from that partings and meetings, togetherness and loss. And eternity has no beginning and no end. In it there can be no duration and no loss. Time is a gap in eternity. Time enables us to play the extraordinary game of meeting, when there was no real separation; endings when there were never really any beginnings; the experience of death that is really a birth.

So here I am, sharing with you the strange paradox of time and eternity. Here I am, sometimes feeling distant from you when there can never be any real separation. Here we are, experiencing the strange wonder of love between a man and a woman, yet knowing in our essence we are forever merged in bliss.

Here I am, existing without body, without family ties. Yet I am still living the life of someone in this century. Without love I am nothing. Love is the key, and many peoples life is like a prison when they lack it. But without form I have access to everyones life. I can enter into your being, or into that of your children. When I meet you in this way you are all wonderful, shining from your core. Your struggle is unique and I love you and take you into myself. I exist out of each of you. I do not have an existence outside of you. I came into being out of countless lives that cannot be called my own. I am the fire of life in its many forms. I do not organise life, I am life. I am totally out of control. I have no security, only an awareness of each moment, life living and dying each moment, constantly, forever.

Yes, here we are sharing this long yet timeless odyssey.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved