In the ‘90s, everyone was weird. The weirdest among us shuffled off the coil of reality entirely. 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.
The reason for departure differs from person to person. Your parents fought. You had an unusual face or were unsightly. You had weird hair or were full of too many idiosyncrasies. You wanted to learn the ways of technology. You went seeking for greater truths. You were lonely.
Whatever it was, you did not hear the message that the social world would deliver — with tremendous success — to your physical peers. There was a mould, you did not belong in it and so you withdrew. Like millions of others, you found your solace on the Internet.
In the first grade, realization struck an intelligent and charismatic young boy. It was made clear to him that the 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 refuses to let go. Clinging to the legs of freedom and pleading to stay home, he tries to bargain through tears: he’ll be quiet, he’d be good!
It was soon evident to the classroom’s matriarch that this boy had no inclination towards learning, sitting still and behaving like the rest of the faces who were pleasant and neat in their straight and well organized desk rows. She had a way of dealing with these things, a magical bullet that would evolve even the most spirited and wily little creature into a calm and phonetically excellent warm body of learning.
A pill was needed and it was one that was proven to be effective. Unbeknownst to the boy, who would continue to bounce around classes full of far too much energy - audacious in his desire to make friends and see them laugh while speaking out of turn - a discussion took place behind administrative doors with his parents. If he did not begin his regiment of federally approved medicine, they would no longer be interested in attempting to try and educate him.
And so, a boy moves. He meets new friends. He moves again. New friends. A further move… this time things are different. Hormones have set in and he has withdrawn to his bedroom where his eyes are opened and an entirely new life begins. It is made clear that friends can be found in different places. Internet Relay Chat, forums, games, Ventrilo — someone is always there, weirder than the last, willing to share things and listen.
Being in a well-to-do neighbourhood, connected to a computer and a loving family, online activity appears harmless and quietly well intended. Relationships form, hobbies appear, skills develop, and suddenly a boy becomes a name and transcends his flesh; a conduit for information, channelling unfathomable facts large and small to all possible corners of the world.
The seemingly inattentive boy has found an environment that seems to align with the rapidity and creativity of his mind. 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 wizardry comes not without consequence. Reality, the one you wake up to, the one that awaits you when you pack your lunch and leave for work, seems unbothered by fresh revelations and begins to feel further and further away.
Social obligations become just that. Gatherings become set pieces. The people placed within them like actors in a foreign play. Ambition embraced in moonlight fades when the sun is shining. Hands full of gold become a sore back and a commute. Important conversations with fancy titles: “Chiefs”, “Directors”, “Managers”, become an adventure into patience. How much self-important puffery can he absorb before the moon-light warrior snaps a spell or two out from under a bored breath?
Depression is inevitable. A soul exists in one place, the 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. Freedoms in digital exploration are reigned in and friends start to disappear. The voices that used to speak the loudest and clearest suddenly stop signing in and trying to build or fix things.
The boy is a man now… 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 cannot. He feels too broken.
This is how a man winds up in Peru, with a plastic cup full of thick, chocolate coloured, freshly brewed Shamanic potion in his hands. Surrounded by strangers and several traditional medicine men, he feels no fear in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, about to consume the strongest hallucinogenic concoction on Earth. The cup is brought 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 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 and they have begun pounding on drums. Why does he still feel empty? He is still lost. His head is still too full, his government is still too crooked, his culture does not fit right and he still feels like he was born into the wrong planet.
The potion did not work for him.
He stands up and heads to the washroom — his stomach is a little funny, so it will pass and then he will go sleep.
Seated on a toilet in the heart of the Amazon with his pants around his ankles, he allows himself 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 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.
A calm voice brings him an unexpected sense of ease: “These are just your demons speaking”.
“I know that!”, a Man snaps back, not nearly as calm.
The voice smiles: “You asked for this…”
A man dies. A universe shatters. A figure appears — 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 but they communicate with impossible precision and clarity.
Any feeble mental attempt to analyse, interpret, or translate fails to process — the 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 a consciousness.
Time does not exist here. This is where one came from. This is where one 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 a 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.
On some level, he registers being on the floor of a hallway. Someone helps 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 tries to leave the shower but 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. Somewhere a beautiful voice is singing.
A stern yet loving face appears without any earthly attachments. It is clear that this face will be the face who tells him where to go.
A physical body has been returned 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.
Arms of a transcendental length indicate that they are reaching to him from the world he had just returned from. They rub his back… A gentle shush washes away his anxieties as his mind returns to his surroundings.
Has he been 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 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 to pure Love.
The soul 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. As one soul who has traversed deeply into both the darkest and brightest corners of the Internet and the spiritual world will now tell you: our world is sick.
We can make the right choices out of love and trust in the right medicine or we can continue trying to apply material and intellectual solutions to the void that exists inside our being… where our souls used to be.