I’d only been in Babylon about a week before an energy healer approached me in the parking lot asking if I had any carpentry experience.
I told her I had a limited skill-set, no college education, and a flamethrower in my van so, chances were, I could probably help her with whatever.
“Glorious, for I am moving this week and I just have this shelf I can’t get down. I only live a block away.”
On the trip to her house (We made a few detours along the way. Out of nowhere she produced an Otter-Skin shawl and instructed me to take off all my clothes right there on the last highway meridian in the clinical mid-day swelter of Walden’s Pant and put it on, but without thinking about the animal skin itself, just the act of putting it on. I would think about the day I put that animal skin on for the first time for countless, unbroken years; she then proceeded to apply heavy eye shadow and stage make-up meant to simulate the look of honest mountain dirt all over my parts not newly concealed by the Otter Skin.
“Now, before we start dismantling anything, you’re going to have to disassociate manually. We’ll have to run a few errands.”
Old Man’s Old Man had made a fortune fixing tools. He was perpetually one extraneous step removed than the rest of us of ever were from dismantling anything. He built building, and was better for it, they’d have you believe. I happen to.
We made our way through several formative episodes, few of which resembled the way I had been syndicating them internally for millions of years, mostly by virtue of the fact that, this time, everyone involved was generally reacting more to the presence of a heavily made-up Otter-clad caveman flanked by an energy healer incapable of not irreversibly flipping real-estate in other people’s subconscious, than they were at, what was, the ever expanding bulls-eye of my reanimated adolescence. We watched the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades combined-aged manifestation of me get punched in the stomach by Kristin on the first day of 4th, 5th, and 6th grades combined. I immediately hit the ground, hoping to convince everyone assembled that the force of the blow had been such that it had not been unreasonable for me to instantaneously begin sobbing. Not the “me” of the memory, but the “I” in the animal skin.
“There you are” she said, bending over my blubbering, beaten body. “You must protect yourself. See, he’s fine. He’s laughing.”
I looked over and saw me laughing cruelly.
Once I had volunteered my body completely to the service of retroactively absorbing every modicum of physical and non-physical disservice I had ever been thrown in front of, I approached myself full of grace.
“I don’t mind, I’m glad I could help” I managed thoughtfully through the blisters, ruffling his blond-turning-brown hair. I was finally learning how to really love myself selflessly.
He apparently wasn’t as conscious of the sub-text as I was and replied impishly, “You’ve made me a monster. All so you can live free. I didn’t need you to do that. This is my experience, like it or not. I wish you hadn’t interfered.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, head down. “I sacrificed your autonomy so I could dismantle this lady’s stupid shelving.”
“Well, it’s not just her shelving, is it? It’s everybody’s. You just can’t resist. I hope it’s really satisfying.”) she asked what-it-is-I-do-exactly other than listen to energy healers with defective shelves make uncannily-accurate unintentional metaphors regarding the way I perceive the energy healing profession in general for a few hours every afternoon.
“I’m writing a book,” I said.
“Oh, crystals, how wonderful! What is it about?”
“It’s a non-linear, multi-format, adventure-satire attempting to dismantle the infrastructure of ownership, as told by several quasi-fictional unreliable narrators.”
The healer presumably refrained from rolling her multiple eyes, though she had her back turned to me when she proclaimed on a conversationally unrelated note, “This place looked so much better with all my beautiful stuff in it!”
I pointed out that her observation seemed a little base given her spiritual responsibilities.
“Oh no, I don’t mean ‘stuff’ stuff!” She laughed to acknowledge the obvious potential for confusion, on my part. “I mean, my oils, my beads, my sea otter jawbones, my teas, my feathers, my vibrations, my purpose, my energy, my camera phone, my dreams, my dream journal, my nightmare voicemail, my jihad kit, my Thoreu cards, a signed copy of “Deeply Damaged: What Perpetually Discrediting My Personal Mythology Failed to Teach Me”, you know, things that are laden with so many spiritual abstractions as to render them totally immaterial. ‘Television’, for example, is stuff.”
“I don’t know. Sounds like knick-knacks,” I might as well have said to no one.
There were some crystals going absolutely ape-shit on the floor.
“Fear!” she screamed at the crystals. “Fear! Fear! Fear!”
The crystals abruptly stopped vibrating.
“That’s better. Yes, television, for example, is stuff. Unless, of course, you are watching a Shamanic instructional video or a sunset. The process by which ‘knick-knacks’ are alchemized into magical tools that can interface with alternate realities is called ‘traumatic-conception’ and…”
I was examining the unbelievably convoluted network of shelves lining the walls. I could only assume they had been installed by a fellow energy healer.
“I’m not totally sure where to begin with this,” I interjected.
“Just start anywhere. We have to address the spiritual component of the shelves first, anyway.”
She rang some bells, unwrapped and ignited a package of instant sage and accidentally set the shelves on fire. She stood back and cooed, “You have to account for alternate realities.”
“But you’re just ringing bells and burning sage in this reality,” I observed.
(The truly alternate reality was one wherein a competent craftsman with cabinetry experience dealt with this.)
“See how the shelves just disappear effortlessly?” she asked.
“Well, they’re on fire,” I said, without accounting for the alternate reality wherein we burn her house down and die.
Changing gears before any clarifying dialogue could occur, she clarified, “Well, it doesn’t really matter where we begin.” She added, “Do you realize planes are technically off-course ninety percent of the time?”
I pointed out that, sometime in the near future, navigational software will undoubtedly be able to assure that planes are technically on-course all the time, and that particular metaphor for the, or any, journey will be obsolete.
“No, it will still work. There will always be something that’s off-course.”
“So you think maybe evolution is off-course ninety percent of the time?”
“Do you think our perceptive faculties dedicated to the observation of potential realities fall into that percentage?”
“Well, if we are constantly manufacturing things, like planes and hypothetical future vehicles, like jet-packs or something; that are consistently ninety percent off-course, doesn’t that in some way imply that the people designing them and subsequently generating metaphors with a cultural expiration date are systemically flawed?”
“Fear!” she screamed at me.
I stopped talking.
“See, fear has a low vibration level. That’s why you stopped talking.”
“I stopped talking because you screamed at me.”
“Well, in part, but mostly due to variables you are too untrained to recognize. Please bear in mind: I have science and magic on my side of this argument.”
“Ten percent of them.”
“No, it’s possible to be one hundred percent sure of spiritual issues. Technology is wholly different.”
“Isn’t language a technology?”
“No, language is poetry, and poetry is magic.”
“What differentiates airplanes and poetry, exactly?”
“One is guided by the spirit and one is guided by man. It’s important to learn how to identify the two, for one is far more real than the other.”
“So if we started manufacturing airplanes according to spiritual specifications they would be on-course all the time.”
“Why isn’t the spirit interested in revealing itself through more pragmatic means, like accurate air traffic control?”
“Because being off-course teaches us how to be more on-course. That is the spirit’s purpose.”
“Then why use the off-course metaphor in the first place? Once you become ‘on-course’ do you stop being able to discern ways in which being ‘off-course’ is trying to show you how to be more ‘on-course’?”
She smiled and nodded with eyes closed as if to say, “Now you’re getting it. The question is the answer, because you and I are not really talking about anything, anyway.” and proceeded to sum things up.
“Well, you’re off-course until you believe what I believe, and then the, or any, metaphor becomes obsolete because at that point you realize the metaphor is the reality and vice versa.”
“If you demote this whole waking existence to a metaphor for what’s only potentially occurring internally, isn’t that dangerously close to nihilism?”
The shelves were roaring, and no one seemed to care.
The energy healer shrugged her shoulders indifferently.
“So, if people come into contact with what you believe they’ll be transformed, just by the inherently transformative component of your information, beyond the need for metaphors?” I asked.
“Yes. It turns out metaphors are far more real than the things they are meant to clarify.”
“So, it’s just a matter of exposing as many people as possible to your beliefs.”
“Yes, but, unfortunately, there’s no efficient way to do that.”
“What about television?”
“I’ve tried that, but technology is ninety percent flawed.”
“That requires an airplane, and they’re never where they’re supposed to be.”
“Have you ever had a pilot as a client?”
“Yes, but typically, they immediately cease to be pilots and become energy healers. Interestingly enough, I was originally a commercial airline pilot. I don’t even need my hands for flying anymore.”
Unfortunately, as mentioned before, one of Hell’s ‘A’ markets were airport Eating Promenades, which explained the Death-Euphoria induced terminal case of ‘off-course’ headed towards the energy healer’s house, manned by somebody exactly where they needed to be in their life. I hallucinated in awe as the cabinets were effectively removed from the walls. I didn’t have time to tally, but I wouldn’t need it. I only had an instant to reflect on the realization that I never truly appreciated the actual nature of a violent impact. Every explosion I had ever watched for View-Tainment purposes seemed fluffy and lethargic. Somewhere in my unconscious I had collected hundreds of instances where I had seen archival blockbuster footage of a bomb or an absolute evil obliterating something and thought, “That doesn’t seem so bad.” I didn’t realize then I was entertaining that thought simultaneously every time my powdered wig, harpsicord, fingers-greasy-with-white-tiger-meat brand of anemic, worthless sympathy would gurgle in my bowels and belch absentmindedly through my obscenely straightened teeth which had been corrected via more money than it would take to rebuild a village. As ashamed as anyone living in the sweet spot of human history, and ultimately complicit with more heinous crimes than Patented Life has ever witnessed, due to the literally awesome (Surf’s up!) disproportionate relationship between the world’s ills and the relative ease with which a laughable percentile of the wealth and technology abundant in the landscaped campuses of the civilization could relieve them, I managed somehow to massage the aesthetic details of what I assumed an explosion must feel like into something not dissimilar from sitting in a crowded hot tub, bobbing for shrapnel in slow motion.
Among the passengers of said airplane, on which it was never confirmed whether any major characters were on board, were two people headed somewhere so boring to do such boring things that the even most boring of conversations imaginable offered a brief respite from aforementioned boredom.
“What you reading there?” one of the passengers asked once the flight entered its terminal phase wherein small talk is guaranteed to brief and ended by forces outside the contributors control.
“This here? It’s a self-help book called ‘Humpy Tantrum’s Attempted Rituals’. I felt so alone in the world until I read this book about how ultimately we’re all profoundly alone in the world, and realized there were others out there who felt just like me. It’s more or less a humanist screed. And you?”
“Why I’m reading ‘Humpy Tantrum’s Attempted Rituals’ as well.” He then proceeded to open the emergency hatch and fall uniformly through space so as to not have wasted his revelation that he was, truly, all alone in the world.
The fire never registered as hot, the volume never registered as loud exactly, mass never seemed to be displaced too violently and the structure (hut, prison, whatever) that had been there moments before (mostly as a inevitable variable in a physical manifestation of an ideological object lesson) never resembled anything all that significantly permanent.