Jonah’s Frying Pan
The bird is gone altogether and I am indeed encased in water. The blue that made up Garrruda’s world has maintained its color but become liquid.
It seems odd to be breathing in water and odder yet to not be worried about it, or anything else for that matter. An all-pervasive comfort surrounds me, along with the feeling that everything is better than fine and exactly the way it is supposed to be.
A multicolored fish about ten feet in length and weighing nearly three hundred pounds joins me. My new friend has a very pleasant nature, a happy demeanor, and a smile as wide as a boat.
I greet my Piscean buddy in what feels as if it might be his native language. “Jah be good, mon!”
“Oh, you’re Caribbean!” says the fish.
“No,” I answer, “but I have a lot of family that is.”
“Hhhhmmmm,” said the fish, “Must be a big family.”
“Indeed it is, sir.”
This fish seems to be a very advanced and venerable creature. The “sir” feels appropriate.
“Me too,” said the fish, and points a fin behind us. Thousands of fish in various colors and sizes hang out around him, “Humans call it a school. Actually, it’s an extended family.”
As comfortable as the whole situation is, there are a few more questions that need asking, “How come we’re talking but I’m not moving my lips, and please sir, why is the lack of air not bothering me?”
Fish winks and then answers.
“It has to do with something you might call an advanced version of telepathy, lad. As close as we can get to explaining it in your language, telepathy would be the answer to both of your questions. We are communicating by thought, albeit a different kind of thought than you are used to. A mental process is also responsible for my being able to transfer to you the temporary ability to draw oxygen from water without suffocating. It also has something to do with how I have learned to manipulate this liquid medium that is my home. When one is in tune with the deepest qualities of water it can become quite a useful medium for any number of things, up to and including the transmutation and transport of energies. Humans would consider these processes magic or supernatural, but they are actually very scientific, if you know the true nature of Science!”
Fish’s last thought is accompanied by a chuckle. (Have you ever seen a fish laugh? It is very cool.)
My host continues. “Well, actually, what you are perceiving may be the result of my sort of telepathic processes. Then again, it could just be your own withdrawal psychosis. You’re the only one who can figure that out. Neither bird, fish, nor human can decide that for you. It’s definitely your own inside job to do.”
That’s what they all say. I’ve never had a god, dream, sage, hallucination, or messenger give me a direct answer. They may give a hint or point in a right direction, but the actual sorting out of life, it seems, is always left up to the individual whose life it is.
These bits of musing make me feel a little more philosophical. “Mr. Fish, does all this thinking and deciding go on forever? Does it ever actually end?”
“No, Mr. Human. Nothing actually ends, but everything certainly changes—and pretty much constantly at that!” Fish laughs. “Sometimes the changes are obviously due to our own attitudes and actions, sometimes it seems that external factors are more responsible for the changes, but…”
I’m in a frying pan with olive oil, garlic, and basil. The big fish is cooking me. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t provoke any fear in me, either.
Fish speaks. “Transmutation of energy, lad! Yours to mine, mine to yours—it’s all the same. With an absence of malice toward any of its component parts, the singular energy that is everything—yes Every Thing— is constantly changing form. Becoming this and unbecoming that, and doing it all the time. A worm comes into being and then passes out of being as it becomes part of the fish that has eaten it. That fish had come into being a while earlier and will surely pass out of being later. It may die of old age, fertilize the sea’s floor, and become nutrients for a plant, which may feed the next worm! Humans may possibly eat that fish. At that point the fish transmutes its energy to become part of humanity. One thing for sure is that whatever arises and lives will pass on and die, but only within the context of the body or form that it occupies! The energy inherent in living creatures survives. Everything we can conceive of (and much more!) shares this fate.”
Sure enough. My surroundings instantly change from blue liquid into ordinary solid land and blue sky. These would be normal surroundings, were it not for the fact that I am upside down with my feet firmly planted in the sky and my head dangling a good half mile or so above (what appears to be) the earth. There is no blood rushing to my head or any other form of discomfort. It feels perfectly natural to be in this position.
Quite suddenly and about three feet from my face, the outline of human toes appear. It expands into the full outline of a human about my size. The outline contains nothing. The blue sky visible within it is exactly the same as the blue sky around it.
I literally hang out there in silence for a few minutes with the form of a human, both apparent and invisible, a mere yard in length away from me. Its head faces my toes and my head faces its toes, like the Pisces or yin/yang Taoist symbol.
The outline breaks the silence. “Aren’t you going to say hello?”
Embarrassed by my poor manners, I make amends. “Why, of course. Pardon me, and hello! How are you? And if I may ask—who are you?”
“Why, I am you, of course. Our favorite color has always been the color clear,” it laughed, “so it seemed appropriate to manifest in clear form. A little too clear? Perhaps it would be more comfortable for you if I, how should we say, fleshed out a bit?”
It should probably be a little more shocking for me to meet a clear, right side up version of myself while I am hanging upside down in the sky, but considering what else has happened to me during the past…past what? How long had it been since first meeting Garrruda? A minute? A year? There was no way to tell.
“Yes, thank you. It would be very nice to see you ‘fleshed out,’ as you say. It would also be nice if we were face-to-face. This is a very strange position to be conversing from. Can you arrange that?”
“No problem,” it answers. “I can do the fleshing out part and you can do the face-to-face part.”
“And just how does that face-to-face part get done? And what name do you go by? Calling you ‘me’ seems a little confusing.”
The outline answers. “You may call me whatever you’d like to call me. Of course. As far as getting yourself into the right side up position, well— just think of yourself as right side up, of course.”
It worked in an instant. Of course. I am, somehow, standing in the sky looking right into my own face. The outline has fleshed out and no set of identical twins ever resembled each other more.
“What’s new?” I ask lightheartedly.
“Ha!” it responds. “Methinks you know what’s new.”
Not really. “Tell me, my friend, what is the purpose of two of me being here?”
It smiles as it answers. “I’m glad you see fit to address me as ‘my friend.’ OK,” it continues, still smiling but with a glow of a more serious nature on its face.
The situation seems about to take on a bit more emotional gravity. I laugh (and swoon a bit), suddenly realizing that I am standing on nothing and a good half-mile above the earth. If physical gravity ever chooses to make a guest appearance, I would have a long trip down.
I snap out of the swoon as my alter ego continues to speak. “Let’s cut to the chase. The reason we’re both here is because we have to talk. We have options. We have to make a decision.”
I nod. “With you so far, Electrical Self. Yeah, that’s good. I’ll call you E-self. It’s going to get confusing if we keep using the same name, and besides, for some odd reason you remind me of electricity.”
It gives a nod in agreement. “That’ll be fine. Not an entirely accurate name for me, but quite fitting enough for our purposes. OK. Here’s the deal. We have reached a crossroad and need to pick a direction. How do you feel about dying?”
I surprise myself by hesitating for a few very long seconds before giving an answer.
“Well, E…to tell you the truth, it seems a better idea to put it off for a little while.”
“Good man!” E-self exclaims. “But let me clarify a few things before you make that your final decision. Death, really—well, it simply isn’t. You do lose the body you’re in and all, but what is really you moves on. The term “move on” can mean any number of things. There’s no way to explain all that to you now. What can be explained is that if you do stay (what you would call) alive in your body, there will be drawbacks as well as benefits. You will be subjected to suffering, but you will experience great happiness as well. You may also be able, if you make serious effort, to assist in the manufacture of some positive counterparts to the present day malfunctions of the Earth.”
That sounds familiar. “That’s great! Someone I think a great deal of advised me to keep my eyes open for opportunities to do just that. Count me in. I’ll stay alive.”
E-self smiles a big one. “Ah, yes. Uncle Sourcie. We know him well. Actually, you…well, that’s another thing that can’t be explained right now. What is explicable is that although continuing life-as-you-know-it could be constructive and rewarding, it won’t be all fun and games. You will have to make a long, consistent series of correct decisions to stay on your most opportune path. Any singular incorrect decision could possibly result in a spider web of new paths appearing, any of which may lead you to much less hospitable and constructive circumstances than would be pleasant. On the other hand, if all goes well, you could conceivably accomplish wonderful things for yourself and others. Do you understand?”
“Yes, but I have to ask you something. Although you say you’re me, you seem to have a lot more information than I do—so maybe you can give me a helpful hint as to what exactly a correct or incorrect decision is?”
E-self nods in mild admiration. “Good question. Hopefully, you will find my answer helpful. Always pick your highest evolutionary choice. That is to say, in any given situation, make the decision that allows the best chance for the most people possible, including your self, to benefit from that decision. If a path leads to happier, higher ground for everyone concerned with the results of that decision, then it’s a good one. It’s not always possible to benefit everyone, but stick as close to that goal as you can. Just for example’s sake let’s try a pop quiz. You have a gun. An enemy two feet away from you is about to attack a friend of yours by hitting him in the head with a lead pipe. What do you do?”
I answer without thinking. “Grab the enemy’s arm before he can hit my friend with the pipe and put my leg behind his. Then I’d pull him back over it so he falls to the ground. Then I would threaten him with the gun so he stays put while my friend goes to call the police.”
E-self nods approval. “Good. You’ve got the basic idea. Try to do, speak, and even think no harm. When in a situation where something negative has to be dealt with, make sure your countermeasures are appropriate. It would certainly be inappropriate to shoot your enemy if you could accomplish the goal of protecting your friend otherwise. Always consider what parts of which choices will bring the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people and go there. Many choices will be very obvious and will need to be implemented quickly. Others will require slower and more thorough consideration of the possible long-term repercussions and side effects of the decision in question. Continuously practice moving in the best direction and that direction will eventually come to you more automatically.”
He pauses for a deep breath and then asks me, “Are we ready?”
“Aren’t we always?” I smile.
E-self gets a big kick out of that. He is laughing as he says, “OK. Let’s get to it then—and never forget that we all love you.”
“What? I thought you are me. What do you mean by we all?”
I’m awake. There’s solid earth below and blue sky above me. I’m lying face down in the grass, halfway between a highway and an abandoned pickup truck. A chill hits me along with the sudden awareness that the highway is way too close to a heroin supply. Looking back at the pickup truck leaves me doubtless that there was a recent death within it. It seems clear that this death was mine. It seems likely that another death happened on the grassy knoll that now supports my weight. But the cool grass below and the smell of the air around me confirm that I’m still alive. I walk to the eastbound entrance ramp of the highway without thought. As if on automatic pilot, my thumb sticks itself out in the opposite direction from where dangerous habits lay in wait for me.
*That was nearly 40 years ago. I never saw heroin again. All my old friends are dead. Just like that third-grade dodgeball game, I’m the last survivor from my class that is left on the field. But there is a big difference between that old and this new situation. I’m pretty sure I won’t get a beating when I get home.
The Author: Albert Einstein said, “Once you accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy.” Doug “Ten” Rose has metaphorically worn stripes with plaid all his life. He was born a hundred years too early but is trying to catch up. See amazing biographical and other important information at www.fearlesspuppy.info