In the ‘90s, everyone was weird. We were the age-less, culture-less, state-less, God-less generation raised by the Internet. Which is to say, we were raised by each other. We marched through life together. And some of us marched right off the coil of reality together.
The steps off the cliff differed from person to person. Maybe your parents fought, or you had an unusual face. Perhaps it was weird hair, or too many idiosyncrasies. Or maybe you wanted just wanted to learn. About technology, about culture, about whatever. The great hunt for an even greater truth. The hunt was lonely.
Whatever your trap, your physical peers heard a message that you did not. There was a mould. You did not belong in it. That’s it, that’s all. And so you withdrew. Like millions of others, you found your solace on the Internet.
There’s a story somewhere in the text somewhere about a boy. In the tender first grade, realization struck him. It became clear that his previous years’ institutional sentence was not a one-off occurrence. It was, in fact, a pattern that would continue for the foreseeable future.
Upon delivery to his classroom and a farewell from his mother, he refused to let go. He clung to her legs for freedom and pleaded to stay home. He tried to bargain through tears: I’ll be quiet, I’ll be good! But to no avail. Back again.
Mother was no help, and neither was the other. The classroom’s matriarch knew that this boy had no inclination towards learning. She had seen the type before and knew that simply sitting still was beyond him. But she had methods. She had a magical bullet that would evolve even the most spirited and wily little creature into a calm and phonetically excellent warm body of learning.
Unbeknownst to the boy, who would continue to bounce around his classroom, a discussion took place behind administrative doors with his parents. If he did not begin his regiment of federally approved medicine, then they would no longer be interested in attempting to try and educate him.
End of story. Right?
But for him, it was not to be so. Instead, the boy moved. He met new friends. He moved again. Met newer friends, better friends. Then a further move… And well, this time things for him felt off. His hormones arrived and he withdrew to his bedroom.
But it was there, with electric glass twinkling late into the night, that his eyes opened and an entirely new life began. It turned out friends are out there. The best ones yet, each weirder than the last, all willing to share things and to listen. To play, and to fight.
Being in a well-to-do neighbourhood, connected to a computer and a loving family, online activity appeared harmless and quietly well intended. Relationships formed, hobbies appeared, skills developed, and suddenly the boy became a name and transcended his flesh. He arose anew through the wires, a conduit for information, channelling unfathomable facts large and small to all possible corners of the world.
This once inattentive boy had found an environment aligned with the rapidity and creativity of his mind. He learned secrets. So many secrets. Wisdom, bordering on magic. Some of it dark, manipulative and dangerous. Much of it light: bright, helpful, inspired and altruistic. But this wizardry, as is so often the case, came not without consequence.
He grew up. Reality, the one he’d wake up to, the one that awaited him when he packed his lunch to leave for work, seemed unbothered by his fresh revelations and it began to feel further and further away.
Social obligations became just that. Gatherings became careful set pieces, the people drifting within them like ghostly actors in a foreign play. His ambition, embraced in moonlight, faded when the morning sun shone.
His hands, once full of glittering gold, melted into a sore back, wary fingers and a commute. There he endured important conversations, with very fancy titles: “Chiefs”, “Directors”, “Managers”, and he learned patience as best he could. But how much self-important puffery can he endure before the moon-light warrior appears and snaps a spell or two out from under a bored breath?
Depression is inevitable. A soul existed in one place, its body in another. A lost scroll of technical talents and anonymous international accomplishments, a resume destined to find a place as a cog in a spirit-less machine. And times change.
Freedoms in digital exploration are reigned in, and friends start to disappear. The voices that used to speak the loudest and clearest suddenly stopped signing in and trying to build or fix things.
The boy became a man. And men need to find ways to provide for their families and loved ones. Men need to learn how to fit into modern existence. But he couldn’t. He was too broken.
There he sits in misery. Years later, desperation sets in and one night he cries out for help. Something answered. And this is how a man winds up in Peru of all places, with a plastic cup full of thick, chocolate coloured, freshly brewed potion in his hands.
Surrounded by strangers and a pair of traditional Amazonian medicine men, he felt no fear in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, about to consume the strongest hallucinogenic concoction yet known. He brings the cup to his lips and he drinks.
Comparisons to chocolate exist only in colour. A bitter, bean-like, basic flavour sludges down his throat. The shamans begin to sing in ethereal tones, and shake their leaf rattles.
An hour passes. A second hour is close. He feels nothing. Maybe he should drink more. The shamans continue to sing; they have begun pounding on drums. This must be it, this must be the medicine.
But why does he still feel empty?
Why does he still feel lost?
His head is still too full, his government is still too crooked, his culture still doesn’t fit right, and he still feels like he was born into the wrong planet. Hurry up, he thinks. This is expensive. This is dangerous. This is foolish. This isn’t science. And the potion does not work for him.
Then he stands up and heads to the washroom. His stomach is a little funny. It will pass, and then he will go sleep. And then he’ll go home. What a waste.
Seated on a toilet in the heart of the Amazon with his pants around his ankles, he surrenders himself to anger.
Anger for thinking there were any answers in the Jungle that the Internet and a life-sentence of unfiltered knowledge could not have provided him.
Anger for being naive enough to dream there was something better and brighter in the world, something that could help him.
Anger for being unable to fit in with peers who have such different, material motivation.
Anger for being helpless, and unable to change a world so thoroughly broken.
Anger and disappointment for being unable to just shut up, be normal, and love those in his life who have loved him. He cries.
A calm voice appears on the breeze, bringing him an unexpected sense of ease: “These are just your demons speaking”.
“I know that!”, he snaps back through snot and salt, not nearly as calm.
The voice smiles at him: “You asked for this…”
Then the man dies. His universe shatters. A figure appears before him — or is it two figures? One male, one female. They exist together, infinitely, in an indescribable labyrinth of statelessness.
They encompass everything there ever is, was, and will be. Past, future, and present possibility appear with them — in them, part of them, behind them, above them, through them. They do not speak, they instead communicate to his very being with impossible precision and clarity.
Any feeble mental attempt to analyze, interpret, or translate fails to process — his mechanisms of observation have departed and no capacities remain to contemplate whether they may ever return.
An ancient, patient being exists — as it always has — where the mind of a single man used to be. Understandings beyond comprehension and recollection are folded with immense weight into memory as human emotion and symbolic circumstance. A depth of presence too deep to fathom elegantly weaves the realities of an interconnected and unified existence deep into his consciousness.
Time does not exist here. This is where he came from. This is where he will go. This is where one is right at this moment, and in all moments.
A man is aware of his mind again and the entity is still with him. Their communication appears to be over, but their work is not. The shattered threads of his human-being are wrung out then straightened with grace and love. The entity performs their work with such joyful ease; each twist bleeding out darkness, each re-arranged thread brighter than sunlight. Its work gruesome yet not toil; it is pure joy.
On some level, the man registered being on the floor of a hallway. Someone helped him into a shower. He is covered in vomit, yet immaculate. He is clean to the pure centre of a soul he never knew existed. He tried to leave the shower, his face glowing in the light of an unseen sun before a young boy almost forgotten dives head first into his heart. He falls to the floor complete and crushed with an absolute unawareness of who, what, or where is occurring at present.
What are these clothes for?
What language is this? He hears communication.
Does he speak the same language? He tries to vocalize…
Hmmm. That did not sound the same. And somewhere a beautiful voice is singing. His physical body returns to its space. Its location, its purpose, its feeling of identity, still too far outside the grasp of any of its senses. An ensemble of beings now stands before him. Tall, feminine, angelic, bright, loving, joyful and a bit silly.
They sing for him, and just for him. He’s embarrassed, he doesn’t deserve it. He tries to hide from the love, but it is futile. He doesn’t deserve it, he tells them, he urges to them. This is the truth, he knows it and knows it deep, as deep as it goes. But you do! They insist. You do! For you are living. You are being.
Arms of a transcendental length reach to him from the world from which he just returned. They rub his back… A gentle shush washes away his anxieties as his mind returns to his surroundings.
Am I broken?
“…Shhh…”… they giggle and embrace him.
Who was that?!
“…Shhh…”, they giggle again, beautiful and full of music.
They laugh because they know his soul is going to be back within his body soon, the prior question an indication that his two-eyed humanity is taking hold again.
They stay with him for an eternity. Capable of nothing but love, they accompany every thought back into his mind as he slowly comes to grips with who he is… where he is… what he is. A soul has returned and whatever existed in its place has been released into pure love.
His soul now returns to the world of the technical, where countless internet packets stream across borders and into homes, carrying lost spirits. The shamans call it medicine, an honest and accurate description. To the medicine, the man now makes a promise.
He promises to make choices out of love, for himself and for others. He promises to remember. He promises to tell the truth.