Awake

“My willing soul would stay
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away
To everlasting bliss.”
-prayer

About four years ago, I woke up at 4am unable to sleep. High in the sky were the first signs of light disrupting the darkness. I went outside by the lake. I sat on a chair on the pier. The chair reclined a bit, allowing me to look up. The sky was becoming lighter and lighter.

Some birds flew directly overhead. After a while I noticed they were following a path- they would approach an invisible point above and then change angles slightly, heading over the lake toward the woods behind me. Every thirty seconds a few more birds reached that spot and turned just like the ones before them. I wondered how they did it, whether by scent, language or something else.

Day started to break and fish started to poke their snouts out of the water. From each point where they punctured the surface, concentric circles radiated outwards. The ripples collided and comingled before vanishing and being replaced by others. The birds kept flying, and my perspective from below allowed me to see their undersides: the head and tail, front wings and hind legs. They looked so much like fish, like animals, like humans lying prostrate.

My frame of mind was one of extreme enthrallment and calm. All of a sudden a hornet landed on my crotch. It scared me, because my pants were thin and its stinger looked mean and was pulsating. The pulsating reminded me of larvae or a baby human being born, in surges and contractions. Rather than slap the hornet away I focused on slowing my breath, calming down even more. Slowly, the hornet’s stinger stopped moving. It quit shuffling its feet and began to rest. I closed my eyes to meditate…

The sound of fish breaking the water, birds calling after each other, the sun making the sky pink and the Earth warm. Then, like a bolt of lightning I made what felt like conscious contact with the hornet. I opened my eyes and when I did it flew away. After sometime I got up from the chair and walked inside. I moved very strangely. Rather than take step after step in usual fashion, each movement was slow, dramatic, strange. I was stunned with the possibility of each step and amused with how often I haven’t noticed it.

When I got inside I opened a notebook to write about what was happening. But instead of writing quickly what was in my mind, I moved the pen slowly… it’s hard to explain why I was moving so slow, but to say that the usual perception of time- as a series of separate moments- was shattered into a single continuum, and so my actions were not separate, but part of a flow.

My mom came into the kitchen where I was writing. I tried to express what was happening and she immediately thought I was on drugs. Ha, no drug has ever made me feel that supreme, and I’ve tried a lot. The experience continued, diminished, then went away, leaving a lasting sense of serenity, but even that passed.

I haven’t experienced the exact same thing since, but have gotten close a few times. Each time I was filled with a sense of liberation, while at the same time afraid of breaking the spell. Once after a long bath, the other while sitting outside by some trees watching the wind blow their branches around.

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