Jumping the Shark…

July 23, 2009 07:21 – 07:21

I’m not sure I can put into words the weird optical experience I had last night. I had spent the previous fifteen minutes crying and grieving for some of Katie’s friends—empathizing with what they had lost. It’s one of the many stages of grief I’ve been through, having wept many times for what Karen and I have lost. I was thinking of one friend in particular who has many reasons to be happy at this moment in his life, but whose joy is muted by memories of a special friend he’ll never see smile again, or hear laugh or sing again. Karen heard me crying, and came and soothed me through some of it.

Tired from crying, I was still not quite able to drift off to sleep. I sometimes listen to an audio book in trying to get to sleep at night. So, there I was, listening to an Agatha Christie mystery, lights off, eyes closed, and I’m suddenly aware of the sensation in my eyes that you get when your eyes are closed, but strong light flickers nearby. I thought that maybe someone was shining a light through the window, just above where the curtains and shades meet the window and wall.

So, I open my eyes, and it’s dark. No unusual light was coming from outside. As I’m ready to attribute it to some kind of retinal confusion, a fuzzy swirling of grayish blue stuff—like clouds of energy—comes into view. I turn off Agatha, and the swirling continues. The closest thing to it I’ve ever seen (but not in person) is the aurora borealis. I put on my glasses, and the swirling masses become clearer, but still not perfectly focused. I close my eyes, and the swirling goes away—so, it’s clearly not just something happening in my retinas. I turn on a light, and the swirling is no longer visible. Lights off, and the swirling slowly comes back into view as my eyes adjust to the darkness.

At this point, I’m shaking like crazy, and I see if Karen is still awake. She is, but her room is too bright. I tell her what I’m experiencing, and she hugs me. I tell her what I saw, and that I think Katie is here. She says “I sure hope so.” (If we didn’t have different rooms, our snoring would keep each other awake forever.) I tell her I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge. (I’m comforted a bit to think that Charles Dickens was a Unitarian, and that I don’t instead feel like a character from something Edgar Allan Poe wrote—another Unitarian.) Karen hugs me, and it helps.

A little calmer, I head back to my room… thinking it was an optical illusion. And, maybe it is. But, the swirling is back. This time, I see purple, blue, and green—and it’s stunningly beautiful. Purple patches, blue clouds, and green streaks. And some of it is like fractal patterns. Some of it looks like the earth when it is parched and cracked by drought. Only, instead of brown and gray, it’s deep purple—one of Katie’s favorite shades. I don’t hear voices. I don’t see a face. Just shifting and swirling clouds of what I can only describe as energy.

And, in the swirling, I sense or I imagine that Katie is telling me she’s okay, that she’s not really gone. And my mind drifts to the section of US 287 where she was killed, and I imagine the swirling masses of energy leaving her in the instant after the crash. It’s a huge and powerful mass of energy, initially very frightening, but it is capable of calming me.

My shaking slowly subsides. I’m still covered in many layers of grief, but I feel like the blanket of hopelessness has been lifted. Is this how someone becomes psychotic? Maybe as the day progresses, I’ll convince myself that it wasn’t real, that I’ve suddenly become sensitive to solar flux (there was a big flare a couple of days ago), or that it was an optical illusion. But, if I can let myself believe that Katie’s essence is still with us, then I can have hope for us all.

For a while in my 30s, I believed that we’re all part of huge single mass of intelligent and omniscient energy. Not just people—but every living thing, including plants, animals, insects, and even microbes. We’re all connected to it, but our perception of it is limited. For whatever reason, pieces of that mass dislodge and take on physical existence—here and elsewhere in the universe. In their physical form, these pieces of the whole have fuzzy connection to and memories of the whole, at best. When we die, we are reabsorbed by the whole, where we again share in the omniscience. If I were ever to buy into some notion of “god”, it would have to be something like that interconnected mass of intelligent and omniscient energy.

I slowly grew out of that, dismissing it as science fiction. This morning, I don’t know what I believe. I’m still an atheist in the sense that I can’t subscribe to [what I see as] the evil god of the Bible—the one who is jealous and petty, kills and tortures his own children, turns Lots wife into a pillar of salt, floods the earth, takes sides in wars, and casts people into eternal fire for major and minor sins.

But I’m a little less convinced that what I see with the lights on is all there is to see. Maybe it’s something the mind does to try to cushion us from hopelessness in a physical world where life is the leading cause of death, and mortality is 100% certain. It is, after all, a little conceited for mankind to imagine that it has been singled out for potential salvation, and more conceited still for each religious sect to imagine that it alone has the secret to salvation.

But, if the energy that is our minds is part of a larger collective intelligence that has evolved over billions of years, and that collective intelligence includes all forms of energy—not just the human mind—then it seems a bit more credible to me.

And, now, when my friends read this, they’ll think I’ve gone nuts. And, maybe they’re right. Or, maybe someone will think “Wow. Somebody else is thinking exactly what I’ve been thinking. We’re both nuts!”

And now, I need some coffee.

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