While re-reading Castaneda's, "The Art Of Dreaming," last night, I came upon a phrase that felt so real to me, "the hardness of objects." I had to stop reading and sit with that for a few minutes. That's it! That's what it is about life that makes life so difficult most of the time . . . the hardness of every perceived object in our midst. Don Juan said to Carlos Castaneda:
"It's unquestionably a world of objects. To prove it, all we have to do is bump into them . . . I am saying that this is first a world of energy; then it is a world of objects. If we don't start with the premise that it's a world of energy, we'll never be able to perceive energy directly. We'll always be stopped by . . . the hardness of objects."
The world is an obstacle course and we have created the obstacles. I understand we create them and/or accept them as our reality while we travel along our paths. But, do we create them because we are conditioned by our ancestors to believe they must exist? or because we need to suffer and feel pain in order to truly feel alive? or do we, on a primitive level, strive to conquer the constant threat of being overcome? or perhaps it's because we subconsciously want to obstruct our view - making it nearly impossible to really see what is before us? I think it's a combination of all of the above, with the latter of the possibilities being the scariest of all. What really is in front of us as well as all around us? What if we focussed on seeing energy by looking beyond the physical manifestations and our limited perceptions of them?
Years ago, I went on holiday to Jamaica. I stayed at one of those beautiful, all-inclusive resorts. One day, my partner and I decided to venture off the resort by walking past the security booth that separated the real Jamaica from the romanticized version. We were asked to give our room number (in case we did not return safely, I presume) and we were instructed on the possible dangers of leaving the immediate area. We took our chances and walked further away from the abundant buffets of pineapple and jerk chicken, the umbrella-ed rum cocktails, the laughing, limboing bikinis and the Disney-like piped-in reggae music. Although the same beach stretched for miles along the same ocean waters, my first step onto the unsecured sand literally felt like I had passed through an invisible forcefield. The energy shifted drastically. The darkness began to attach to me like leeches on my skin. We encountered two locals selling something that looked like carved knives and they asked us if we had a cigarette or a bottle of booze from the hotel. A little further down the beach, we came to shack-like booth about the size of a lidless wooden coffin standing upright. Two gypsy women lured me, with their seductive powers of persuasion, to sit down and have my hair braided at a very low price . . . monetarily. The older woman grabbed an old dirty comb that was missing some teeth and began running it through my hair. I wondered if the comb was poisonous and would put me into an eternal state of sleep. I wondered if the braiding was part of a sacrificial ritual and my lifeless braided head would one day wash ashore, wrapped in seaweed and debris. I wondered if Medusa's fate would become my own as each braid felt like a snake growing from my brain.
"Ah, beautiful . . . you know you have much hair . . . this takes us much longer. You have more money?" The older one said.
We had only brought a very limited amount of money with us to be on the safer side. Suddenly, it didn't feel so safe not to have enough.
"I can bring you more." I said, knowing full well that I would keep my word - for I knew that this was not an average human exchange of money for services rendered. I somehow knew that this was an energy exchange, and I needed to 'buy' back what was being taken from me. I knew I could not afford the non-monetary price of my vanity in wanting to look like a modern-day tourist or Bo Derek in 10.
I noticed that the younger woman was getting the small rubber bands out of an old worn out Estee Lauder cosmetic bag - one of the bags the counters give away free with a purchase.
"That's an Estee Lauder bag." I said. The contrast of the two worlds collided at that split second. Was this the far-off future and the bag was from an ancient time - long, long ago - a time when my world once existed? Or was this long ago and my world did not exist yet? Nothing felt the same anymore - but it did feel real.
"I work for Estee Lauder." I said.
"You can bring me something? A lipstick in gold?" The older one said.
"Yes. I can bring that back for you! I can bring you the rest of the money and the lipstick." I had something they wanted . . . something that would assure my safe return back to Jamaicaland. Now, I would have to tread carefully as I left, in case they changed their minds or doubted my return.
Once I was back safely in my room, I struggled with the idea of having to go back out there. It took a lot of energy to get out of that sort of hell, now I was actually going to go back bearing gifts . . . paying the devil to keep my soul. And though my fears were overcoming me - fears of the knowing rather than the unknown - I looked through my bag of toiletries, found the Estee Lauder signature gold lipstick tube, gathered a few more dollars and we walked, slowly, back to the edge of this flat world. The evening was overcast which darkened the mood. The security guard looked at us strangely and warned us not to take any bottles of alcohol to the locals. We assured him we had nothing like that and we proceeded to enter the other side.
With a few dollars, we paid off - a non-verbal protective measure - the two men who had approached us before; hosts of the underworld, lunchroom bullies or two local panhandlers depending upon one's perception.
The two gypsy women welcomed me with a smile, but I knew that I had to act quickly before they decided it was not enough. I gave them the extra twenty dollars and the gold tube - a souvenir from the other world. I thanked them and we walked away - each step fighting not to be any quicker than the last. We never looked back . . .
I knew I was lucky . . . and I wished I didn't know that.