So, I spent the day pondering life once more. I don’t know how far I got on that particular road today, but at the end it seems fitting to post this little story.
He said his Name was Jack
[a short story by ~ Sha’Tara ~ ]
It was a hot and dry day up near the end of the canyon when my old half-ton blew the rear driver side tire. Fortunately I was taking it easy on the old thing as the going had been mostly uphill, something the old crankcase didn’t like much, so after a bit of swerving to gain control in the hard packed wash-board gravelly surface, I was able to pull up beside the road, on a dry patch of sandy dried mud.
I got out to assess my situation. I had no food and no drinking water Hadn’t thought of that since I was only going a couple of hundred miles. An inaccessible half mile below me the river glistened mockingly in the noon day sun. All around was dead silence except for a few crickets telling each other to shut up, and heat waves made everything shimmer. The scent of scrub pine and sage brush filled the air and under almost any other condition that would have been enough to give me complete pleasure. At that moment though, and perhaps understandingly, I failed to appreciate nature’s simple offering.
There wasn’t much traffic in those days, as the conditions of the highway were still quite primitive so I wasn’t expecting help anytime soon. I went to the back and looked with some apprehension at the dried cake of mud that hid the spare hanging under the box. I found a rusty tire iron behind the torn seat, some cracked gloves and a short carpenter’s pry bar and went to work loosening and dropping the spare.
After some time it came loose and I was able to slide the lifter chain off and drag the spare out. Sure enough, it was as flat as flat can be. Who thinks of making sure spares are kept up? Wouldn’t have mattered anyway, I couldn’t find any sort of jack and looking up or down the surrounding countryside quickly told me that I wouldn’t find anything resembling a suitable lever to lift the truck. Plenty of large rocks to use as fulcrums and supports, but nothing resembling a useful pole.
Well, what to do? I scanned both sides of the road for any sort of habitation and didn’t see anything. Only one thing left to do: start walking. I knew there was nothing behind me, so I decided it was best to head north, into the unknown. At least this way there would exist the possibility of some sort of home or homestead or a highway maintenance yard showing up.
Being eighteen at the time and having been raised on a homestead, my survivor mentality was pretty well honed and possessed of a bit of matching philosophy. The one thing I was sure of, I would never give in to the problem. I knew by reasoning based on certain experiences, that life entails problems, that problems require solutions and that these solutions are always available, one way or the other, though none of that alters reality. Going with the flow is not always the easiest path but it usually is the wisest.
As I trudged along I became very thirsty. The river surface down below continued to mock my thirst so I looked for berries but the only thing I saw were bunches of dangling blue elderberries. Bird feed at best and not ripe in any case. Too early in the season for anything else. As I walked on uphill, each curve showing more endless climb, my feet began to throb in the heavy work boots so I stopped by a rounded rock to sit and loosen the laces. A dull ache in my head made me want to stretch out by the side of the road and sleep, which is exactly what I did. I didn’t feel like walking any longer.
That I lay in dusty sand would not matter much to my dirty white tee shirt or my tattered greasy blue jeans nor to my over-length hair which was several days in need of a serious wash and many weeks in need of cutting. At least there were no flies and sleep came easy despite the choking heat.
That’s when I had the dream that would puzzle, haunt, thrill and bother me for the rest of my life. How could a dream manifest in reality? How could events in a dream become events in real life which changed not only my mind, but my physical reality as well? These were, and remain, unanswerable questions, of course. So let me recap the events instead of getting into the mind-twisting impossibilities remembering always brings up.
I had just fallen asleep (at least it seemed so) when someone called my name and said, Hey Levi, get up. It’s time to go. The name Levi was given to me as a joke after I was stupid enough the mention that I’d wanted to be a priest in my Catholic school days, and there happened to be a defrocked Bible thumper in our logging crew who yelled, “Levi!” My real name is Logan Learned which was also quite entertaining in my school years: “Hey, what have you Learned today?” Laughter. But now, Levi? I had to ask why. Matt, the ex-Bible guy said, “Don’t you know about Levi in the Old testament? The priesthood of the Levites?
“Afraid not, never read the Old Testament. Only know the Catholic catechism and some bits and pieces of the gospels.”
Instead of commenting further, he just laughed and the rest joined in, including me. Nothing wrong with Levi, so I became Levi the Levite to my logging crew. So now I was, in a sense, a priest. I’m sure my Catholic confessors would not have taken it so lightly, but that didn’t matter to me; I hadn’t been to church in several years and had no intention of ever returning. Bad memories best left behind, along with my upbringing. The more baggage you drag along with you, the more your life is stifled and I had too much to live for to let that happen.
I opened my eyes and I wasn’t dreaming. An obviously native man, dressed in a western shirt, clean faded jeans and cowboy boots, was standing over me, offering me his hand. I took it and he held me firmly as I stood up. He handed me a bottle of cold water which I gladly took. Half was gone before I felt sated and thought that maybe that was all the water he had. He smiled, the skin around his eyes crinkling.
He must have sensed my concern for his precious water and replied as if I’d asked:
“Lots of water here Levi. Lots. Don’t you worry about that.”
“You know my nickname, how come?”
“It’s the name you go by now, isn’t it?”
“Okay then. Mine is Jack.”
“Okay, fine. Thanks for the water, Jack. I was parched.”
“Yeah, I know. Maybe we should walk back to your truck now, or would you like some food first?”
Out of a growing sense of curiosity I looked around. Except for “Jack” nothing had changed. The sun hadn’t even moved; the heat was just as intense and I saw no food, nor did “Jack” carry any kind of pack. He wasn’t even holding the water bottle anymore.
“I could use some food, Jack, if you have something without meat or fish, I’m vegetarian and I get sick on meat or fish.”
From what appeared to be nowhere (sorry about the oxymoron!) he produced a fresh sandwich, loaded with vegetables and cheese. I took it with expressed gratitude and ate it in four bites. It tasted like “more” and sure enough, Jack produced another one, just as delicious.
“Ok, I’m really curious now Jack. Where did this food come from?”
“You people always ask these same small questions. Where do you think it comes from?”
“I have no idea, that’s why I asked.”
“Ever heard of the continuum, Levi?”
“The continuum. You know, what your religions call eternity? What some people call heaven? What science calls the abstract concept of infinity with that lazy eight symbol (8)? If you’ve read the Bible you would know that the Hebrew God fed them what is called “manna from heaven” while they lived in the desert. Connect with your nickname and look into your memories, Levi, third son of Jacob, founder of the Levite tribe. Can you see anything there?”
“Afraid I can’t, Jack. Are you telling me that you pulled that water and food out of nothing, like God dropping food from heaven on the Hebrews?”
“Actually at that point in history we should refer to them as Israelites rather than Hebrews. But yes, why not? But not out of nothing as you think. Out of another reality. We’re always part of the continuum and it’s what feeds the material order. Without this bleed through of energy, these worlds, your reality, could not exist. All it takes is for an intelligent mind to image or invent material/physical reality from an endless supply of free energy we call the continuum. It’s really very simple if you think about it.”
“Well Jack, I am thinking about it and the more I think about it, the less sense it makes to me. This is too much like fantasy; science fiction, a fairy tale. If it was that easy everybody would be doing it; everybody would have her or his way and you know what? It would spell utter chaos, that’s what.”
“They realized this long ago when intelligent beings discovered the ability of manifestation; when the material order came into being and problems simultaneously appeared, as you were so quick to perceive. So “they” – the ones who discovered this ability decided to put a block on manifestation. Only one would be allowed to manifest reality, that was their solution. Basically “They” created the concept of “God”and through the eons the concept remained. “God” gets to decide what is, what isn’t; when it begins; when it ends and all the reasons for it are also God’s reasons, no one else’s. At least that’s the theory.”
“Is God accountable to no one then?”
“Oh yes, God is accountable, but only to his peers; to the “They” who started it all. And also, God isn’t always the same person on the divine throne. They hold periodic elections and take turns running things. Hence why you discover “jumps” and “bumps” – sudden bursts – or what your scientist love to call “big bangs” in the process of creation or material expansion and destruction.”
“This is very interesting Jack, but how do you know all of this for a fact? Didn’t you just say it was a theory?”
“We go by what works, see? You and I, we’re the same with one specific difference: I’m from the other side of the continuum, you’re on this side. I was on this side long ago, but I, shall we say, translated to the other side gradually, over many incarnations. It began with a glimpse of the continuum, what you might call a near death experience. Only it wasn’t near but fatal and total. That was my first awareness of how much freedom there is in living without a body. After being given a chance to look around, someone simply sent me back. I had fallen and broken my neck. They fixed me up, good as new and I was left with a permanent question mark that became a single-minded focused quest. I would find this place I’d glimpsed and live there.”
“Then there should be literally billions of people like you out here now!”
“Not really. You have to understand how the thing works if you want to, say, commute from the outside to the inside. From the wholly non-material to the material. After my return I began to earnestly study shamanism, witchcraft, the concepts hinted at by every established religion on this world. I contemplated anything to do with the so-called after-life. I discovered that only those who were able to pass through with their material bodies were said to be empowered to return and manifest back in the physical. So I cheated: I found the trick that allowed me to slip out of this realm into the other with my material body. Oh, it was immediately changed, transformed if you will, but it wasn’t killed. There’s no termination over there, see? Once you’re in, you’re in. Then it’s up to you to make it work. Luckily for me, bodies don’t need to be fed or even exercised over there. They are what you make them to be and they remain that way until you change them. You couldn’t begin imagine the different “things” I’ve been since I translated.”
“Time out, Jack, hey? I can’t absorb all this stuff. Besides, I’m still not convinced you are what you claim to be. You could be an illusionist; some sort of con artist and my question remains: how do you know about this theory of yours regarding God?”
“Of course, I could be an impostor. Not impossible but I never asked you to trust me, did I? But think on this, see if it rings a bell or two: “You were thirsty and I gave you water to drink; you were hungry and I fed you.”
“You’re quoting the gospels. You sure don’t look like him!”
“Like whom, Levi Logan Learned?”
“You know who I mean, and I am really confused now.”
“Excellent. It’s good to be confused on materiality. Confusion and doubt prevent dogmatism which is astigmatism of the soul, a blurring which prevents clear understanding and appreciation of what actually is.”
“Ok, so there is a God? Or is that only your theory about the “Ruler” of materiality? Answer me that!”
“I can’t answer the God question simply because no matter how it is answered it will satisfy no one. Your people are too dogmatic to allow free information to flow through their minds unimpeded by belief systems, you see. Even you, not knowing whether to believe or not to believe; not knowing if you’re an atheist, a theist, deist or anti-theist, won’t let the God question flow unchallenged. For you it’s just too big a question fraught with too much emotion to be allowed its freedom to answer itself.
Now listen to this. “There is a God” is the truism that proves there is no such a being as God. God, as religion preaches and teaches, is categorically impossible. But according to all I have seen, studied, contemplated and worked with, there is a “Ruler” that guides material reality, not always for the best. It’s not God, of course, but it acts as if it were, and appears as God to less-understanding entities. It is “all powerful” in that it can prevent almost anyone, certainly anyone without the necessary qualifications, from participating in manifestation. Already explained why that must be.
Unfortunately, power begets power and as intelligence expanded in the “created” (manifested) realms, some of these individual intelligences sought power. Since you can only express power by dictating to others, usually of lesser minds, these intelligences became totalitarian in nature and “evil” was born in, and bred from them, oozing right down to your own tin-pot rulers and dictators, right down to your school yard bully. Down to your racist, your misogynist, your bigot. Down to your greedy, planet-eating sociopathic corporate management. Do you get the picture, Levi?”
“Huh, yes, I’m sure that I get it. It’s not a subtle point you are making. But now, where does that leave me?”
“Exactly where you are, or as you were if you choose to ignore this unexpected interference in your rather uneventful System-controlled life. But don’t you have a truck to drive up the road another hundred miles or so?”
Out of habit I struck my forehead with my right hand. “Ah yes, the truck. Well, it’s down the road about a half-hour’s walk. Or maybe you can transport us there and fix it for me?”
“Would you like me to do that?”
(No shit, I felt like saying. Instead I replied,) “Sure, why not?”
And I thought to myself, well, that ought to be a good one. What happens next?
That’s when I woke up. I mean I really woke up. I could feel the heat, the stink of my sweat, feel the swelling of my feet in my boots. Overhead the sun was still blazing at its zenith as if no time had passed. I did notice a couple of things that were different. I wasn’t thirsty nor hungry and I felt, well, completely blissful. And then I noticed that my truck was parked just below me, without a flat, apparently ready to go on. I shook my head and let the dizziness pass before I stood up and took another good look around. No Jack. Just the same empty countryside, and the river surface reflecting silver from the bottom of a very deep, dark canyon. Silent as the grave.
Being a “child of the land” as they say, I looked around carefully for tracks in the sandy soil. Tthere were only mine which indicated the point where I sat down, then laid down. Nothing had changed and everything had. And the only witness I had that “Jack” had been there was my old pickup with four healthy tires and except for the cracking of cooling dissimilar metals rubbing angrily against each other under the hood, it wasn’t saying a word either.