An except from my book, “Theater of Clouds”:
The trauma of the bicycle crash itself is lost to me. One moment I was looking at the red globe of the sun, and the next moment I was flying into the sun. The speed was tremendous yet I felt it to be a comfortable pace. I felt no anxiety nor anything else but some wondrous version of peace. It seemed to be a totally natural thing to fly into the sun. As I approached the orb there was no burning sensation and no urge to quit moving.
The flight took me not into the sun, but through it. It was gone in a flash of violet light. Then all light left me as pure blackness became all there was. This was a strangely comforting place in which I felt fear as something which was mine, yet it was somewhere distant from me. I could not touch it. What I could feel was nothing. My sense of self was not lost. Instead, it was like the fear, totally and truly mine, yet untouchable, in the distance.
It seemed forever, but there came a moment when I felt a flicker of ambition. Somehow I had to break free of the nothingness, emerge from the black space, by reconstructing my own world anew. But where to start?
Music! There was no sound so there could be no music. Something had happened and I would miss the Kenny Rankin concert. In my love for the man’s music there lay a seed which served to spark ambition in that dark place. The first Kenny Rankin song I ever heard was Like a Seed. Those lyrics began, “there’s a feeling that’s lying here sleeping, like a seed in the earth”. Another song that left an impression was Silver Morning: “I am walking through the silver morning. And I feel the music inside me”. Somehow, with that accident, my whole world simply ceased to exist. Music had been on my mind at the moment of impact, when my world disappeared. The desire to hear the music served to rally me from a perception of nothingness. But that desire did not bring music right away. It did not bring music, but it brought sound to me.
So many questions arise. How can there be fear with no fear? Feeling with no feeling? If my self was in the distance and untouchable, what was my immediate perception? I have no answers to any of these questions, or other questions like them. The paradoxes that emerged are an essential part of the whole experience. I have learned to accept them with what the late Terence McKenna called, “a radical openness to ambiguity and the unknown”. The strangeness of the sound that came to me was rife with that same ambiguity.
It was the sound of running water, coming from some distant place, yet enfolding me in its rhythms and tones, like some peculiar dance between intimacy and identity. As I listened to the sound of water an image of the place began to form. Maybe it was the echoes and the overtones of the sound that convinced me that I must be in a cave of sorts. It was a grotto which was sealed against the light. Now able to perceive the grotto without actually being able to see it, I became troubled by the lack of vision. With effort, it was possible to see, but what I could see was both present and not there at all. This was tiring so I let it go.
Layered atop the all-encompassing sound, a sense of motion returned to me, like a layer of shellac applied to a crude foundation. Great velocity came with that motion, as another layer. These layers were notes being added to a growing chord. This was not a grotto at all. It was a tunnel and the sound of running water was an indication that the tunnel led somewhere.
The sense of flying returned to me – down, down – into some darker place where I might find the fear waiting for me. Where I might find my lost self waiting for me. But the actual movement was upward, not down. Going down would have saved me from worries of strangeness and things unknown. I could sense that a choice was offered, something about safety and familiar things. That’s when the light appeared. When it appeared, the choice disappeared. Yet there was no time for worries, because there was no time at all. I was poised at some kind of balancing point, where occurrence and existence were also poised, waiting. But the light pulled me in as if that was where I belonged. Its brilliance was overwhelming, a blueness, swarming with power. The blueness became the sky.
Still flying, I emerged from that dark place into a strange valley. Colors and sounds were what made the valley so strange. The colors seemed to be as essentially important as the forms. Instead of being a quality of the surfaces, the color arose from deep within the features of the valley. Light itself bore these colors to the surface, for the light itself suffused everything I could see. The sounds were much the same. Everything I could see seemed to depend on the sounds. What had been the sound of running water was now much more.
I saw that the water was running as a river through this valley. It’s course meandered a bit, but it generally cut straight through the scene below me, down the center into the distance. To both sides were magnificent mountains. They angled sharply up from the valley floor, almost like the walls of a gorge. Their color amazed me, deep, rich redness like burgundy wine – crystalline masses, teasing, as if one could truly gaze into their depths. All between these two walls of mountains, the valley floor was slightly rolling with hills, emblazoned with a greenness that rivaled the blueness of the sky in its brilliance. I felt that everything was alive and joined together in song, and that song was sung by voices which cut through the roaring sounds of the wind that enveloped me as I flew. Maybe it was a welcoming song, or maybe a simple expression of the place itself.
I was passing through, toward a destination beyond all of that. It was visible in the distance, sitting right in the center of the valley. Somehow, I felt it was too far away, yet my velocity of flight betrayed that feeling as I flew on. The valley itself was too far away, as was the sound. Everything that I could see and hear seemed to be emerging from some impossible source, yet it was already here. The distance I felt was some strange kind of value, for it was only silence and nothingness I carried with me. The rest of this wondrous place was, by its very existence, a brilliant mockery of an unwilling traveler. Where the mountains, the river, and the sky all converged in the distance, there sat a spot of brilliance. Light emanated from that spot, yet did not illumine the surroundings, for they had light of their own. That this spot was brighter by far than all else within my field of vision indicated that this was my destination. It appeared to be a domelike thing, though I could not truly call it a structure. Whatever it was, it was most certainly summoning me. Once my sight focused on the dome, I could not look away. The valley snapped out of view. I had been pushed into this experience and now I was drawn into the light.
Fear could easily have overcome me at that point, but my feelings began to accelerate as I came to a stop at the threshold of the light. The field of color before me shifted fiercely from white to yellow and back, with whispers of other colors as well. The motion within the light was so intense that it soon had me lulled into acceptance. I felt welcome there. My strong desire to cling to panic went to calm. When the panic failed I was able to enter the light.
A sense of supreme intimacy was my first sensation upon entry. However immense the place seemed to be, it felt small and exquisitely personal. I definitely felt I was inside of something, and the intimacy of the space was emanating from the woman who met me there. She was not flesh and blood. At first sight she was simply a swarm of energy, brilliant light as the dome itself was, shifting at such great speed that it enchanted me to stillness. I truly wanted to see her as an angel, but the sensations that she embodied, and the feelings that arose in me from her presence, told me that “angel” was an incomplete and inadequate label. This woman was magnificence manifested for my needs. She was also, quite simply, human.
No words were spoken. When communications began it was almost as if the feelings we both already had were somehow becoming more dense for the purpose of connection and interaction. She was quite concerned about me. But she was not afraid. There was a tone of faith in my abilities and well-being which is, to this day, impossible to understand. I can only say that it felt as if my very existence was dependent on her belief, that her faith was a source, without which I simply would not be anywhere at all. An intense blue aura appeared around her as I came to see that I had become agitated to the point of fatigue. It was quite clear that this was not solely from this strange journey. The fatigue was an ongoing thing which I had carried with me to this celestial place, as a security measure. Another thing that became very clear was the choice she offered me. I could go back or stay there. And there was a powerful sense of levity in her admonition that I should go back.
No way did I want to go back! A mood like a whiny adolescent protested going back. It was too far. I was just too tired to go anywhere, and too far away from home to even know where or how to start such a journey. But I did not plead. Her radiant humor reached out to me and held me in place. This is where it all became dreamlike.
Following on the energy of her extended, shimmering humor I saw her hands coming my way. Now the place looked immense. I had been so certain that she was right there beside me that I was shocked to suddenly see her at such a distance. Her arms stretched to accommodate the great distance. Those arms stretched and the hands reached my face. Those thumbs came to rest at the corners of my jawbone, and her fingers lightly dug into the sides of my neck. An overpowering wave of ecstasy burned all traces of tension from my being. Then more came through those arms. It was sheer, unbridled power which originated within her and flowed my way through her arms. As the power flooded into me it became information.
I gave her a rough go of it. With a wall of tension that could stop a hurricane in its tracks, I had resisted her from the first moment she called me forth. So it had become necessary for her to push me as well, to force movement. This troubled her deeply. Once the summons had been set into motion it had to be completed, and I fought her every step of the way. Because of the strength of our connection, I had been able to draw from her own power; to use it against her in a fight to resist the disruption of my secure, tense little life. I had failed because she needed to see it through. She needed me to let go of my tension. The touch of her hands against my neck had secured that goal and fulfilled that need. Upon relaxation I understood all of that in a flash. There was much more in that flash of clarity, including the call to write this book. That done, the information burned into my very soul, it was then time to return to my earthly life.
She took my hand and we both took to flight. This time the feel of the air and the overall view of the valley were even more intense than my arrival had shown, the colors deeper, and the air was alive with an energy of its own. A swift change came over it all as we flew back. All of the colors shifted into a vivid field of violet light, yet the features of the valley were still visible as inexplicable variations in contrast. This was a place I could have stayed for eternity, a place of abstractions so strange that it was a comfort to be there with a friend’s hand in mine, far from any familiar world I could imagine. But my return to my body was mandated by my own choice.
The transition point came when I realized I was back in the flesh again. I cannot expand nor embellish what was written about this in chapter one, except to say that the experience of looking down at myself and simultaneously looking back up at myself was a monumental effect. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow blended together without sacrificing their essences I had come back to life yet had never lost my life. The Lady in White had been a harbinger of death and now she was a fiercely dedicated proponent of life. Somehow, for some reason, it had been necessary for me to journey to a realm that was hers yet was also explicitly mine, to find her in a way that would allow us a conscious connection. I still lose the connection at times. When the clouds roll in and wrap my head in a swaddling of forgetfulness, the connection goes, but it is not gone.