Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

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14 thoughts on “Listening in Time

  1. Regis Auffray

    Such a deeply meaningful and honest sharing, Sha’Tara. Well written too as usual but that is not important. The message is what counts, and I love the hopeful and optimistic ending. I needed this today. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Lisa R. Palmer

    You’ve done it again, on so many levels, Sha’Tara! Thank you…

    I have read this so often now, I feel like I could quote it from memory, and now, ready at last to share my thoughts and feelings about it, and… the story has changed! Hmm…

    I’ve been trying to explain to a few close people in my life what I have been experiencing. Time-less moments during which I somehow see through time; other times becoming present in my vision. But, for the first time I can remember (in decades at least), I have found my words inadequate to describe, much less explain, what is happening. Everything I say, or write, publicly or privately, comes out wrong somehow; baffling and bemusing both…

    Then I read this and thought, “yes! Yes!” I read it again. And then again. And then over and over again… So much of the “feeling” is captured in this story, along with the weight of honesty; not my place to interpret or change what I see. I witness. I learn. That is enough… But not.

    So finally, wanting to express something to you, the author, I return and read it once more… And while the “message” remains unchanged, the story itself is different. Gone are the conversations I read before with others in different times. Gone are the successful efforts to communicate through time with other listeners. Gone are the personal revelations the archeologist shared. All gone…

    Yet when I read it again, I see there is no place within the story for all I read before. It isn’t necessary to the message; it adds no real depth. The parts I notice are missing now were more detail than you usually include, as you are a master of truth-telling: straightforward, blunt, avoiding fluff and feel-good stuff…

    I’m rambling now, as I often do. Lol! I’m leaving now, retreating to my rabbit hole… But thanks again for posting this; it was an eye-opener for me. 😉

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for that in-depth comment, Lisa. The best stories, the living ones, morph into what the reader seeks in the collected words, so you gave this short story quite a compliment: it is a chameleon. I’m learning to pull what you call fluff and feel-good stuff out of the stories, “selling” a jigsaw puzzle with more and more pieces missing to allow for the reader to re-create it in whatever way s/he wants; i.e., let it tell your story superimposed on mine thereby challenging and enriching the reader and through comments, the writer also. As you say, “So much of the “feeling” is captured in this story, along with the weight of honesty; not my place to interpret or change what I see. I witness. I learn. That is enough… But not.” The “but not” is all important. We should be able to plug into a living story, like walking along a path and joining a stranger walking in our direction, assuming we’re both heading for the beach. If the assumption is wrong, at least we’ll have a meeting to take to the beach, perhaps even a new friend.
      Quote: “But, for the first time I can remember (in decades at least), I have found my words inadequate to describe, much less explain, what is happening. Everything I say, or write, publicly or privately, comes out wrong somehow; baffling and bemusing both…”
      I think that “everything” is changing around us, not just “us” as a crashing civilization that has outlived its reason to continue, but the earth, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe and finally, the cosmos. While I reject the strictly scientific concept of material evolution, I sense that it is mind that is evolving: our personal mindand “The Mind” that I call life. We find ourselves somewhere in this evolutionary force and quite naturally some of us will move with it much more readily than others – your ability to see through time, much like mine – and many of those we exchange ideas with are still stuck in the smaller parts of the event, thus our visions will leave them convinced we are mad, found some really cool drugs or living in denial because we can’t cope with reality. Rapid mental evolution creates rifts in our “normal” sense of reality, and part of our “ascension” as the New Ageys call it, is learning to accept these rifts and drop expectations for understanding or acceptance. We’re increasingly square pegs in the old smooth round holes (the System, Matrix) most people find not only comfortable, but in need of protecting and maintaining. Why I was taught to express myself towards others with compassion, not with emotion. Compassion does many wonderful things to the psyche that nothing else will. It cancels out loneliness; it eschews condemnatory judgment and allows for increased meaningful detachment (which is the opposite of apathy!) as well as bringing us closer to a healthy balance of awareness of both joy and sorrow. That, of course, translates into developing a self-empowered sense of self. {Thank goodness this is my blog so I don’t have to apologize for such a lengthy and grandiose comment. – take it with a grain of salt, as I know you will.}

      Reply
      1. Lisa R. Palmer

        This… this, at least, feels “right,” so much so that I have real tears in my eyes as I read, and re-read it. I can only say thank you for giving me something, however obscure or tenuous, to focus on, as everything spirals out of control (and out of my grasp) around me. The ironic (or not) part of it all, is that I have no true desire to change any of it. Just riding along, detached but not unfeeling…

        Compassion… Not pity. Yes. I do not feel sorry for people, especially for what they bring upon themselves. I ache somewhere deep inside for the suffering so many are experiencing. But I am not obligated, motivated, or empowered to alleviate that suffering; only to witness it, and endure my own…

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Quote: “But I am not obligated, motivated, or empowered to alleviate that suffering; only to witness it, and endure my own…” This is also where I find myself, and that’s quite a change from where I started “helping” when I was yet a child. I was born an empath and anyone who has that awakened sense will know what a terrible curse it is on a world such as this: who can stand it? So much pain and suffering that needs to be transmuted into sorrow so one isn’t overwhelmed by it day and night! The vision… the terror… the helplessness. But to start feeling pity is to commit suicide, and I’m “not permitted” by agreement with the Teachers, to go the route of self-destruction come hell or high water. So… here I am and here I remain, chained to the rock by the ocean, like Andromeda waiting for I don’t know what sort of monster to come and devour me, from the inside out.

  3. Phil Huston

    “They” say that the way you’ll know when your mission here is accomplished is when you are no longer here. As long as you’re here, you have experiences remaining that are only available where you are. Stars may wink and blink and die. The sky goes on forever.

    Reply

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