The breeze is calmer now. It was never a hurricane to begin with, but the moment that first glimmer of light beyond the sea came up, everything quietened down. The sun's gorgeous disk is not yet in sight, probably still waiting for him to make up his mind. He had no idea what he wanted, expected or cared about at that time. Did it matter anyway?
An orange glow through the clouds brightens the sky. Just another day. Just another year. It was to be expected, after all, nothing too exciting ever happened. Why should today be any different? He muses to himself. Why should tomorrow?
The sand is just so soft, the scent of the waves so soothing. It isn't a bad day, not by any stretch of the imagination. So then why can he not escape the feeling of hopelessness? That void in his very being which cannot be expressed or shared. Yes, that's it, he wants today to mean something, anything.
It all started with a joke. "Hey guys," he remembers saying with excitement, "I've got a plan for Christmas." Then he waited, looking at the puzzled faces of his friends. "Are we...supposed to guess?" spoke Phillip , after a brief pause. "Oh, oh," Kate feigned some interest, "mime it, you know..." she laughingly gestured holding a camera, then raising two fingers, as if they were playing charades. Everyone burst out laughing, waking up Sam who had passed out on the couch the previous night. "What...what are we guessing!" Sam asked, still half-asleep. "We're not guessing anything, Sammy boy," Matt leaned back in his chair, to look at Sam, now rubbing his eyes, "we're waiting to hear the greatest plan ever from our man, Darren, here."
Such a distant memory now. The details were slipping from his mind, not because he did not care to remember, because he was so focused on other things, which took precedence in his mind. "Well, I never said it was the greatest plan ever..." he had said, smiling and crossing his arms, "...but you know, it could quite possibly be, the greatest." Then, in unison, Sophie and Mandy, from across the room shouted out: "Tell us!"
"Okay, you ready?" his gaze shifting from person to person, drawing them in. "What's this winter?" Giving them time to think, he then spoke up: "December twenty-first...twenty-twelve..." Then, silence. Phillip spoke first: "Oh, that end of the world BS? What about it?" Darren fought to find the right words: "Where best to party it up, this winter, than...Australia?"
Sam was barely keeping himself awake: "Wait, wait. Let me get this right. So you wanna go to a place...where it's not winter...for winter?" Puzzled looks all around. All until Matt looked as if something had just sunk in: "Eff me. It's genius!" Looking around, he said slowly: "The end of the world party...at the end of the world. This is gonna be epic. Wait here," he jumped out of his chair, "I need to make some phone calls...we can so make this happen..."
It had started with a joke, one that no-one truly understood, perhaps not even him. His motivation to be there slowly turned to anxiety, then to apathy, sprinkled with cynicism. Reading all those crazy forums about ascension, shifting to higher vibrations, dimensions, a truer understanding of consciousness, and the world, did not help him get a good grasp of what that day meant. The fact that he could not talk to his friends was even worse. Closest group of people he ever had, yet when metaphysics was involved, he was alone.
Lifting his head, bracing himself up with his elbows, he now saw the waves clearly. A yellow sun moved across the waters and the scent of the ocean slowly washed over him. Remembering how much he had looked forward to that day gave him pause for thought. The others were still in their hotel rooms after last night's party, the precursor to 'the greatest party of all time'. His music player pumps Johnny Cash through the headphones and he lays himself back in the sand, his palms under his head, his gaze wandering through the dim blue sky.
Ten minutes later, he checks his watch. Then, raising himself up, crossing his legs in front of him, Darren looks forward. The sun is fully above the waves. The sight keeps him looking on, unaware of all else, caught in the moment. Mesmerised, he barely notices the whisper beside him. Taking off the headphones, he quickly looks right. A woman in her mid-twenties, sun-kissed skin and golden white hair, keeps her gaze towards the rising star.
"Sorry?" Darren excuses himself and hears the sound of the waves for the first time that morning.
"We're all still here" her voice resonates in clear tones as she lets out a short laugh.
After the meaning of her words reach him, he joins in the laughter. "Seems so. But the day's not over yet." Looking back out at the waves, he continues: "I gotta say, I expected something more..."
"Something more?" her voice questions gently.
Turning back, he explains: "I dunno, I thought things would change after today..."
"Things are always changing...you're always changing. The day holds as much meaning as you want."
"Is being cryptic the new thing these days?" He smiles as a realisation hits him. "Name's Darren" he says and extends a hand.
"If you insist it is..." she smiles broadly and continues, "Vera." Shaking his hand, she then turns her gaze back towards the sunrise.
"Well, if it holds as much meaning as I want, then it doesn't mean much, does it?"
"Yes" she answers firmly, to which Darren is taken aback. "If you so desire" she continues, throwing him a puzzling look.
He intends to question her about it, but words seem inappropriate, even clumsy, to the purpose behind them. "I don't know" he replies instead, "I thought that it would mean something monumental, catastrophic, a turning point."
"Well, that's the problem," she turns to him smiling, "by externalising your expectations you find that when things don't turn out as you presume them to unfold, you find them underwhelming."
Taking a moment to process her words, he is surprised to find himself smiling: "You're not from around here, are you?"
"Not particularly" she states slowly, a smile he cannot decipher.
"So, you decided to also have a look at the sunrise, see if we have a second sun in the sky or if massive solar flares decide to greet us today?"
"No, but that's why you're here."
"What do you mean?" he asks with a distinct sense of dread.
"Well, you could be back at the hotel right now, killing time with cigarettes, banter and merriment. But you made a conscious choice to be here, by yourself, trying to find an answer, any answer, to the question that's eating you up inside. And I can tell you the question is not what will happen today, but will you allow yourself to believe most of the details you found about today and about reality?"
The waves wash ashore like clockwork. The breeze picks up. Darren looks at the young woman for countless seconds.
"How can you possibly know that?" he asks, almost raising himself to his feet. The sunlight flickers in his view and sounds fade in and out of his awareness. His conscious experience becomes questionable.
"We don't have much time now" she speaks, in a manner that is much too serious for the peaceful soul he remembers just meeting. "Listen to my words. You need to understand how we can meet again. You need to relinquish your old precepts about reality. Believe that you will see me. If you will be able to remember this, then we will meet...and you will have your answer."
Her voice warps as the light rays blur together. Johnny Cash is strumming his guitar and motion seems to fade. The very action of remaining conscious is exhausting. His vision is invaded by colours playing to their own music, dancing into geometry. Then, in a heartbeat, his vision blackens and his eyes open. The waves move in the distance as he is sitting up on the soft sand.
A dream? How could it possibly be a dream? The air was fresh and it carried the morning to his senses. The conversation had been so vivid. Every single word was crisp and clear in his mind. Yet here he was and, to his right, there was no-one. With a swift motion, his headphones fly off and he looks at his watch. The solstice sun is on the brink of the horizon. His eyes gaze at the rising disk as his mind drifts, to her words, her acknowledgments, the certainty and intensity in her speech. She is real. That much he tells himself he knows. However they had spoken, he knows she couldn't simply be an imagined perception.
The sun raises itself with one final push above the waves. The sweet amber rays traverse the ocean and he witnesses a spectacle of dancing, shimmering light. Yes, he is still there, the rest of the world is till probably there. But he cares so very little about that now.
Precepts. What about them? What did she mean about precepts of reality? He can't make heads or tails of what she was referring to. How could belief alter perception? What does he need to relinquish? The questions storm around his mind and then subside. The morning is more perfect and beautiful than any he remembers or wants to envision. He is a captive of every single facet of that moment. His thoughts coalesce and he ponders on only one question: how could so much life, beauty, mystery, sheer sensation of being could ever be contained by one name, Vera?
Gathering his things, he walks slowly away, still focusing on the moment. Reaching tarmac, his bare feet feel the cold road beneath them, however, he does not. The mind that was once his solace, his refuge, is now an open field, barriers seem meaningless and this disturbs him, for in the one place he had felt comfort in retreat, he now sees only questions, fragmented, incomplete understanding and, most of all, uncertainty.
The hotel feels different. Tall glass windows reflect the still faint light as if through a prism. Everything has far more detail than he remembered or acknowledged before. Walking up to the triple room he shared with Phillip and Kate, he finds the door ajar. Through the corridor and across the room, Phillip and Sam are leaning out the balcony, enjoying some quality tobacco they had gotten from duty free.
"Hey" whispers Phillip, leaning to his side as Sam stares on, past the road ahead, straight to the brightening horizon. They speak no further as Sam hands him a pack and a lighter. He feels no craving but he enjoys this moment. Lighting up, he senses air filling his lungs, exiting and he is taken aback again by the vivid, detailed nature of this experience.
Kate wakes up and joins them. Her yawn propagates through each of them in turn as Phillip opens a bottle of beer. Handing the first to Sam, then Darren, he places the last two in the hands of a half-asleep Kate, as he lights up another cigarette.
"Not at six in the morning..." mumbles Kate, putting the bottles down and grabbing Phillip like a plush toy.
"We have to start early on," smiles Sam, "otherwise it's not considered a party. Won't get into details, it gets pretty complex, but it's an unwritten rule...can't do nothing about it, right D-man?"
"The man's right," Darren replies and finds himself laughing as he tries to keep a straight face on, "super ancient rule...goes back to at least last Tuesday."
The laughter of his friends is so intoxicating, a melody of joy that helps center his feelings. It matters not what they know, what they think of that day, reality, consciousness. They are there, enjoying that one moment of existence with him, and that counts far more than any answers, expectations or judgments that may ever be brought to his wandering mind.
The rest of the group joins them. Jokes are told and re-imagined as the sheer energy of their life is condensed to that one place and time among all the unique moments they may ever experience. Time flows, the energy subsides and the group leave for breakfast. Darren walks among them but his mind traverses the simple actions and reaches out for an understanding he knows is within his grasp.
Something within slowly reaches to the level of the haphazard thoughts he is now observing. He knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all of his awareness means so much more than even a day or a week before. She is out there, she must be. He knows he will lay eyes on her again. A certainty, an affirmation, that he cannot explain.
In the split second Matt suggests heading into town, Darren feels synchronicity finally playing its role. Following the root of this understanding, he realizes that something in his very state of being is changing. All the anxiety he had ever felt about that day is gone. His reality, the dream-like flow of
moments he now sees can be acknowledged, understood, not in words, the crude things that they are, not even in ideas, but in pure feelings and time-less gnosis.
It is in this state that he reaches the bustling center of the city. While meandering through the streets, among the markets and shops, a decision reaches a conclusion. He must leave. The decision to venture out from his friends does not come lightly and he promises he will return. It is a promise he cannot guarantee but he feels compelled to reassure them of his return, as if something is pulling them apart and the only means of stopping this knowledge from becoming a certainty is his opposition.
He smiles and glances one last time in their direction as they walk away. Phillip, the friend he had known since childhood, looks back. His slow wave is almost an acknowledgment, that if they were never to meet again, they would still remember all the good times, all the hardships they had lived through.
To anyone observing, he looks to walk aimlessly but, to his mind, he follows deconstructed beliefs one after another. The translated action of pacing through the streets is a mere after effect. Synchronicities feel so much closer, as if his path has a specific direction. He sees a mother and child, they transport his mind back to his own childhood. He sees a group of children playing a game, their laughter remind him of the joy of being so young. He sees backpacking youths, looking for adventure, their bright eyes and hopeful smiles are like beacons in the crowd. He sees a middle-aged couple, walking hand in hand, the woman points to an amusing advert in a shop window, the man laughs. He sees an elderly man sitting on a bench as he lights a cigarette and looks upon the crowd, he does not smile, instead, he simply watches on, reflecting on the wisdom gained through years.
Arriving at the beach, seeing the bright blue horizon, the mirroring ocean, he finally understands his journey. Life. A concept questioned by all and never fully understood by any. Like a wave, it moves through this world, through this level, taking many forms, experiencing itself as the many facets of all that is. Reality. A veil we choose to see, an agreed upon reflection of the mind, a place where one can lose oneself completely and never see or want a way out. So beautiful, so tragic, so full of wonder.
"You remembered..." he hears her speak, with a voice full of emotion as he turns around to see her bright blue eyes and golden white hair.
Their eyes fixed on one another, he finally utters a firm and tender: "Yes, I remember now."
"You may not know it yet," she says, her eyes close to tears, "but I have missed you for so long. I did not understand at first why you chose to come down in this form. To live so many lifetimes separated from all you knew. But now I see it, I see that you were the bravest of us all. I only wish...I wish I could have joined you for this journey."
Taking her in an embrace, flashes of the many aspects of his existence return, and holding her close, he remembers the entirety of his journey all at once, in a time-less understanding. Finally, drawing back and looking at her melancholic smile, he states: "I have lived it for us all, so I could return with more understanding of this unique aspect. Do not be sad, Vera, for now we are together, in this moment and for all moments that we may ever know."
Holding on to her, he feels the waves of reality moving away. His mind shifts perspective and his body follows. Like a flash of a million stars all shining down at once, they traverse the levels. Turning, he sees once again the world he had left behind. The amber-blue sky and daytime moon. The golden, endless fields, where so many lifetimes before he had run through as a child.
He manifests an image of his friends he left behind in a far off time and world so she can see them too. The image is so crisp and clear even though it is just a snapshot of their existence, a wilful manifestation of their physical forms he had seen only a short time before.
"I will miss them" he speaks, with a heavy heart.
Caressing his face with her gentle palm, she draws his vision to her as she says: "You will see them again, after all, all lives lead higher and further, all into one."
"So they do," he smiles and acknowledges an eternity of existence before them, "so they do."