a short story
In a way, the ghost was free. It had the freedom to pursue whatever it desired. It has no memory or thoughts or feelings, just blank experiential moments. One after another, it exists just inside of time moving in relative emptiness, taking in what it can. It is unshackled from the weight of true existence. It has no worries, no fears, no real sense of entropy. There is no death portended and no hate, no sadness or regrets. But in this, there is something missing // Everything is missing. In truth, there is no desire, just a passive movement through un-time. It pursues continuation and nothing else, there’s nothing behind it, there’s nowhere to go. Experience without feeling is meaningless. All of it is unshared by anything other than the one. And the one is a shadow. A being from a forgotten story. The ghost, on this day, is obliged to something new – to discover its own past.
~ art by Hernan Marin
Set to travel amidst the blank spaces of rooms it doesn’t comprehend, it is inevitably compelled back to the material plane. It is drawn to the same world it left. The realm of life holds for it a certain mystery, the mystery of its own past and its reason for existence. This being knows it to be from the world, this other plane, simply because there is no other alternative. It had to come from somewhere. This blank space holds nothing; the world holds everything. All experience, all feeling, all life is there. And these are the only two places it knows. Thusly, it is from the world, one way or another. The mystery is in the details. It doesn’t know who it was, or what it might have been there. Maybe a person, a child or an elder. Maybe another creature entirely. Maybe it was simply an unconsummated idea, or a fragmented thought never borne to its reality. Maybe it is the remaining essence of an unrequited love. The ghost doesn’t know, but it must. This paradox compels it everlastingly back here, to the world. The travels so far have been fruitless. But today, this will change.
The ghost arrives in the bustling movement and conflicting egos of the realms of conscious personhood. The stimuli is overwhelming. The livelihood is fast-moving ruination to a psyche unfamiliar with the fateful qualities of entropy. Coming from a world with no words, no blinking lights, no heat, no coffee, the material plane is akin to hell for the invisible, little nothing thing. It moves quickly away from the populations and the steel and the sound. The ghost moves away from these violent provocations and towards the only thing it can healthily attempt to connect with: feeling.
After not so long, fatefully trying, absorbing the time and feelings of this world, the ghost comes to understand, in no uncertain terms, that there is nothing here for it. There is no historical line of experience for it to connect to. Its own past is forgotten, its former existence is certainly unknowable. Logically, there is evidence of its former existence in the world, a bloodline even. It is possible, more than likely it is objectively certain. But there is nothing to reference, no signaling criterion to latch itself onto to understand what it was here in the world. There is no connection for it to recognize. It could pass by its own former companion or its own daughter grown to adulthood and thinking of the father or mother it didn’t get to know in the unconsciousness of young childhood, and the ghost would have no perception of the occasion. It comes to this realization after a time here, moving throughout the world, searching for this very thing. This knowledge brings about something inside the nothing being. It brings the force of tragedy with it, a long moment of non-nothingness. It is a feeling of regret melding in melancholy turning to anguish. The ghost waits and weeps. It does this for a time uncharted.
After so long away from the only place it calls home, the ghost sets to return. It has expended so much of itself here and its work is done. It has not accomplished what it set out to do, but now it knows the truth of the matter and there is no recourse. It has added parts to itself and will bring them back to the blank spaces. There is even a pang of regret in its return to the realm of nothing. Using this with conscientiousness, the ghost has the idea to eventually turn this nothing into something. It will have eternity to ponder this.
Just before the passage, it is drawn elsewhere. It is compelled to stay here in the world for just a moment longer. It feels something. The ever-present weight of a feeling it knows all too well. The ghost seeks the source. Here as it travels, the ghost feels something new: hope.
It comes upon a young woman. She lives in a house, she is alone, she is burning amidst an ocean. The ghost absorbs these sentiments and is harmed. It is given the most grievous bout of pain & sorrow & negation it has experienced. This feeling, the weight of this young woman’s woe, is known inside and out. It is shattering to her very consciousness. The ghost joins her in the room of her neverending night. She is here, staring at the reflection of herself. In this mirror’s spaces, the ghost sees. The shining light of life; an infinity of feelings housed inside a vibrant frame of consciousness; a fully awakened being capable of innumerable purposeful meanings; a person simply yet to be; a wise soul pending the understanding of its fellow travelers; a collective of moments awaiting experience; a love patiently waiting out its own actualization. The ghost sees a person. And the ghost in this sight, understands her, and what she herself witnesses.
The woman sees nothing in the reflection.
The ghost reflects on this. Like before, it doesn’t know the details. It doesn’t know what delivered this. It doesn’t know anything about this person. The ghost simply understands this moment. This young soul is like me and she shouldn’t be. It cannot suffer it; it must help her understand the truth of her. It tries something for the first time, true communication, here and now in this room with the mirror, it tries to help her to see.
Perhaps due to her own familiarity with something like the ghost’s consciousness, or perhaps from sheer strength of will, pieces of feeling within the two beings are transferred. This connection’s brevity is matched only by the acute power of its purpose. An honest sense of the ghost’s own being are conveyed, simply and sincerely, across time and plane to the woman here. A realization settles over her as she gazes into her own eyes. Her hands begin to tremble, her knees weaken. She presses her toes to the tiles. She grips her hands tight into fists. She takes a deep breath as warm tears begin to run down her face, her eyes now closed and her mind’s eyes opening to certain truths. Her chest tightens with feelings misunderstood but effervescent and long forgotten. She stands and weeps, accepting all of this in the very core of her being.
Nothingness has been displaced, the ghost knows, or rather feels within the newly operative fibres of its own form. She is capable of love and simply didn’t know it, or couldn’t grasp at it, or forgot about it. The ghost wasn’t certain which was the truth, it only knew its actions brought something about, it had succeeded in communicating. Their spirits had connected and changes commenced. The conditions of her being had improved. She knew the feeling of nothing, but I revealed to her the truth of Nothingness. Now perhaps in knowing, she would begin to understand. In understanding, comes living.
As the ghost watches the young woman emerge from within the darkness of her home, feeling the sunlight’s hopeful glow upon her form, it makes its own discovery. It now returns, but not to the blank spaces. The ghost comes to the transparent realization, the woman also shared something in the transference. And now, on this sunny day of newfound providence, the ghost soars towards peace. ~