The Bridge Across Forever
So I just finished reading this book. And I am speechless. Not because I'm stumped by how good it is. But because for the first time all the ideas, the thought sequences, the dialogues, the conclusions drawn from a book have left me with this overwhelming need to know more about the "greater truth" and what lies beyond. At this moment I can't help but share some (actually many) of my favorite extracts from this book:
WHATEVER ENCHANTS, also guides and protects. Passionately obsessed by anything we love-sailboats, airplanes, ideas-an avalanche of magic flattens the way ahead, levels rules, reasons, dissents, bears us with it over chasms, fears, doubts.
The more enlightened we become, the more we can't be lived up to by anybody anywhere. The more we learn, the more we'd better expect to live by ourselves.
To bring any thing into your life, imagine that it's already there.
If the perfect mate, I thought, is one who meets all of our needs all of the time, and if one of our needs is for variety itself, then no one person anywhere can be the perfect mate!
HERE ARE no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to reach the places we've chosen to go.
"We have to deal in a currency that's meaningful to us," she said, "or all the success in the world won't feel good, it won't bring happiness. If someone promised they'd pay you a million scrunchies to walk across the street, and scrunchies had no meaning for you, would you cross the street? If they promised a hundred million scrunchies, so what?
"The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it."
"The only thing that shatters dreams is compromise."
"Why not practice living as though we were extremely intelligent? How would we live if we were spiritually advanced?"
"That's what learning is, after all: not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning."
"Leslie was special. Every woman is special for a day, Richard. But special turns to commonplace, boredom sets in, respect vanishes, freedom's lost. Lose your freedom, what more is there to lose?..You know, When you find one woman in the world who can give you more than many women can, I'll disappear."
As long as I could remember, freedom equaled happiness. A little protection, that's small price to pay for happiness.
The opposite of loneliness, Richard, it's not togetherness. It is intimacy.
Dawn's peaceful, luminous blue
Intensified with the day
As did happiness,
Blue . . . bluer . . . bluest,
White puffs of delight,
Wrapped us in tender pink And we fused in a Passionate magenta goodbye, Earth-soul and Cosmic-soul Bursting with beauty.
When night came,
A baby moon
Laughed sideways in the dark.
I laughed back
Partway across the world Your sky
Is filled with this same Golden laughter, And hoped that you, Twinkling Blue Eyes, Saw and heard,
So that somehow we three Were joined in our gladness, Each in our own space, Together apart, Distance meaningless.
And I slept In a world Full of smiles."
To overcome such a fear of flying would require a trust and affection as strong as love itself , and love is a passport to disaster. Every time a woman said she loved me, we were on the road to the end of our friendship. Would my beautiful friend Leslie be lost to me in the firewind of jealous possession? She had never said that she loved me, and I'd never say that to her in a thousand years.
Why had such a promising word been crucified on the tree of obligation, thorned by duties, hanged by hypocrisy, smothered by custom? Next to "God," "love" is the word most mangled in every language. The highest form of regard between human beings is friendship, and when love enters, friendship dies.
Alone alone alone. How much of our lives is single-handing.
Leslie's right. I distance her, she says.
"I distance everybody, wook! It's not that it's you, it's that I don't let anyone get too close to me. I never want to get attached to anybody."
"Why?" There had been annoyance in her voice. It was happening more often now. Without warning, the talks we had would jump the tracks and she'd be mad at me for the smallest thing. "What is so terrible about getting attached to someone?"
Because I might make a huge investment of hope in one human being and then lose it all. I assume that I know who she is and then I find out that she's somebody else entirely and I have to go back to the drawing board redesigning again and after a while I conclude there's no one I can fully know except myself and that's pretty iffy. The only thing I can trust anyone else to be is true to who they are and if they're going to explode into strange angers now and then the best thing to do is to stand back a bit so as not to get torn in the blast. Isn't that obvious, clear as yesterday?
"Because then I'm not quite so independent as I want to be,"I said.
I've got my freedom from all my other women-friends; why not from Leslie? They don't criticize me for being distant, for leaving when I want; why does she? Doesn't she know? Too long together, and even courtesy is gone . . . people are more courteous to strangers than they are to their own wives and husbands! Two people tied to each other like hungry dogs, fighting over every little scrap between them. Look at us, even us. You raised your voice to me! I didn't come in to your life to make you angry. If you don't like me as I am, just say so and I'm gone! Together too long, and it's chains and duties and responsibilities, no delights no adventure no thank you!
I see us stuck in a never-ending opening. At first, it was the real thing, and sheer delight. It is the part of a relationship in which you are at your best: fun, charming, excited, exciting, interesting, interested. It is a time when you're most comfortable and most lovable because you do not feel the need to mobilize your defenses, so your partner gets to cuddle a warm human being instead of a giant cactus. It is a time of delight for both, and it's no wonder you like openings so much you strive to make your life a series of them.
But beginnings cannot be prolonged endlessly; they cannot simply state and restate and restate themselves. They must move on and develop-or die of boredom. Not so, you say. You must get away, have changes, other people, other places so you can come back to a relationship as if it were new, and have constant new beginnings.
Obviously, the development section is anathema to you. For it is where you may discover that all you have is a collection of severely limited ideas that won't work no matter how much creativity you bring to them or-even worse for you -that you have the makings of something glorious, a symphony, in which case there is work to be done: depths must be plumbed, and separate entities carefully woven together, the better to glorify themselves and each other. I suppose it is analogous to that moment in writing when a book idea must be/cannot be run from.
We have both had a vision of something wonderful that awaits us. Yet we cannot get there from here. I am faced with a solid wall of defenses and you have the need to build more and still more. I long for the richness and fullness of further development, and you will search for ways to avoid it as long as we're together. Both of us are frustrated; you unable to go back, I unable to go forward, in a constant state of struggle, with clouds and dark shadows over the limited time you allow us.
Could this be a test, planned by a hundred other aspects of me from different planets and times? Are they gathered now behind a one-way glass, watching me, hoping that I'll let go of the steel, or are they praying that I'll hold on? Are they taking bets on what I'm going to do? If they were, they were awfully quiet, behind their glass. No sound. Even the roaring in my head was still.
The road split two directions, in front of me.
The depth of intimacy we feel toward another is inversely proportional to the number of others in our lives?
"What I was scared of, Leslie, is that we were starting to own each other. My freedom is as important to me as . . ."
"Your freedom to do what?" she shot back. "Your freedom not to be intimate? Your freedom not to love? Your freedom to seek relief from joy in restlessness and boredom?
You're right ... if we had stayed together, I wouldn't have wanted you to have those freedoms."
I think it's possible for two people to change together, to grow together and enrich instead of diminish each other. The sum of one and one, if they're the right ones, can be infinity! But so often one person drags the other down; one person wants to go up like a balloon and the other's a dead weight. I've always wondered what it would be like if both people, if a woman and a man both wanted to go up like balloons!
"We're such different people, Leslie, you and me."
"We're different, we're the same. You thought you'd never find a word to say to a woman who didn't fly airplanes. I couldn't imagine myself spending time with a man who didn't love music. Could it be it's not as important to be alike as it is to be curious? Because we're different, we can have the fun of exchanging worlds, giving our loves and excitements to each other. You can learn music, I can learn flying. And that's only the beginning. I think it would go on for us as long as we live."
"The shouting comes when I get frightened, when I think you aren't hearing me. Maybe you're hearing my, words, but you're not understanding, and I'm scared you're going to do something that will hurt us both and we'll be sorry and I see a way to avoid it and if you're not hearing I have to say it loud enough so you will!"
"It is by not always thinking of yourself, if you can manage it, that you might someday be happy. Until you make room in your life for someone as important to you as yourself, you will always be lonely and searching and lost. . . ."
"You don't need your walls, Richard!" she cried. "If we never see each other again, can't you know that walls don't protect? They isolate you!"
What if we're soulmates, I thought while she sobbed. What if we're the ones we've been looking for our whole lives long. We've touched and we've shared this quick taste of what love on earth can be, and now, because of my fears, are we going to separate and never meet again? Will I go on the rest of my days looking for the one I've already found, and was too frightened to love?
The impossible coincidences! I thought, that led us to meet at a time when neither of us was married or committed to marry, when neither of us was devoted every-waking-second to causes, when neither of us was too busy with acting or writing or traveling or adventuring or otherwise too blindly involved. We met on the same planet in the same era, we met at the same age, grown up in the same culture. Had we met years earlier, it wouldn't have happened . . . we did meet years earlier, and we went sailing past in an elevator-the time wasn't right. And it will never be right again.
"Boredom between two people," she said one evening, "doesn't come from being together, physically. It comes from being apart, mentally and spiritually."
"I thought being soulmates was supposed to be every moment perfect, so how can soulmates fight? Are you saying, wookie, that it is perfect? Are you saying even when we clash, it's magic? When a clash materializes understanding between us that hasn't been there before?"
Nothing was less interesting to me than convincing a government to change. People squander lives, trying. At the end, if we win, what we win is the bureaucracy doesn't do what it shouldn't have tried to do in the first place.
You are a Husband, Richard. You are Married. You will spend the rest of your life with one woman only, this one at your side. No longer can you live your life exactly as you please. You have given up your independence. You have given up your freedom. You are legally Married. How does that feel?
I had found the one person who mattered more to me than any other in the world, the restless search of decades had stopped at last.
This is the moment, right here as the hills of Oregon disappear in twilight, that any good writer would whisper, "The End."
She was as prudent and careful as I had been profligate. Prudence, thrift-qualities nowhere to be found on my list of requirements for a soulmate, yet such is the foresight I expect of the universe: one of a charmed pair must always supply what the other might lack.
I turned, recognized him at once. Recognized me. An earlier me, looking lost, a me from five years gone, shelled around with yearnings turned to shields, wondering what this place could be.
An odd pleasure to see the man, I was swept with love for him. Yet I felt sorry for him at once; he was desperately alone and it showed. He wanted so much to ask and he dared so little to know. I stood up and smiled at him, remembering.
Every answer to his questions I had, answers to his pain and isolation, corrections for his mistakes. Yet the tools that worked enchantments in my hands, they'd be white-hot irons in his. What could I say?
I've spent my life looking for this woman, I thought. Told myself here's my mission, to be together with her again.I was wrong. Finding her wasn't the object of my life, it was an imperative incident. Finding her allowed my life to begin.
The object is: Now What? What are you two going to learn about love? I've changed so much, I thought, and it's barely begun.
Real lovestories never have endings. The only way to find what happens in happily-ever-after ; with a perfect mate is to live it for ourselves. There's romance, of course, and the sensual delight of lust fallen in love.
And then what?
Then days and months of talking nonstop, catching up again after being centuries apart-what did you do then, what did you think, what have you learned, how are you changing?
And then what?
What are your most private hopes dreams wishes, your most desperate if-onlys to bring true? What's the most impossibly beautiful lifetime you can imagine, and here's mine, and the two of them fit like sun and moon in our sky, and we together can bring them true!
And then what?
So much to learn together! So much to share! Languages and acting, poetry and drama and computer-programming and physics and metaphysics, and parapsychology and electronics and gardening and bankruptcy and mythology and geography and cooking and history and painting and economics and woodworking and music and music-history, flying, sailing and the history of sail, political action and geology, courage and comfort and wildplants and native animals, dying and death, archaeology and paleontology and astronomy and cosmology, anger and remorse, writing and metallurgy and snapshooting and photography and solar design, house construction and investing and printing and giving and receiving and wind-surfing and befriending children, aging and earth-saving and warstopping, spiritual healing and psychic healing and cultural exchange and film-making, photovoltaics, microscopy and alternate energy, how to play, how to argue and make up, how to surprise and delight and dress and cry, to play the piano and the flute and the guitar, to see beyond appearances, remember other lifetimes, past and future, unlock answers, research and study, collect and analyze and synthesize, serve and contribute, lecture and listen, see and touch, travel cross-time and meet the other we, to create worlds from dreams and dwell there, changing.
Leslie, in her dream, smiled.
And then what? I thought. And then more, always more for life-hogs to learn. To learn, to practice, to give back to other life-hogs, to remind them we're not alone.
And then what, after we've lived our dreams, when we're tired of time?
And then . . . Life, Is!
Remember? Remember I AM! AND YOU ARE! AND LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS!
That's why lovestories don't have endings! They don't have endings because love doesn't end!
The only real, is Life!
Life sets consciousness free to choose no-form or infinite multiple trillions of forms, any form it can imagine.
Consciousness can forget itself, if it wants to forget. It can invent limits, begin fictions; it can pretend galaxies and universes and multiverses, black-holes white-holes bigbangs and steady-states, suns and planets, astral planes and physical. Whatever it imagines, it sees: war and peace, sickness and health, cruelty and kindness.
Consciousness can shape itself three-dimension into a waitress turned prophet of God; it can be a daisy, a spirit-guide, a biplane in a meadow; it can be an aviator just wakened from a dream, loving the smile of his wife asleep; it can be the kitten Dolly in mid-spring to the bed impatient where PLEASE is the catfood this morning?
And any instant it wants, it can remember who it is, it can remember reality, it can remember Love. In that instant, everything changes. . . .
Why my weakness for, my joy in the singular turn of this one mind, in the singular curve of this face and breast, in the singular merry light in her eyes when she laughs?
Because those unique curves and sparkles, Richard, we carry them with us, lifetime to lifetime, they're our trademarks, stamped deep in what each of us believes, and without knowing, we remember them! when we meet again!
How is it that I know, why am I so utterly convinced that dying does not separate us from the one we love? Because this one I love today . . . because she and I have died a million times before, and we're this second, minute, hour life together again! We're no more separated by death than we're separated by life! Deep within us, every one of us knows the laws, and one of the laws is this: we shall forever return to the arms of those we love, whether our parting be overnight or over-death.
The only thing that lasts, is love!
Before all the Big Bangs in all of time, and after the echo of the last has faded, is us. We, dancers in every form, reflecting everywhere, we're the reason for space, the builders of time.
We're the bridge across forever, arching above the sea, adventuring for our pleasure, living mysteries for the fun of it, choosing disasters triumphs challenges impossible odds, testing ourselves over and again, learning love and love and LOVE!
"But we did miss it, Richie! Once in a while, when you were alone, whether or not there were people around, did you ever feel so sad you could cry, as if you were the only one of your kind in the world?" She reached to touch my face. "Did you ever feel," she said, "that you were missing someone you had never met?"
If the whole earth, all space-time is a dream, why not wake gentle and happy somewhere else, instead of screaming that we don't want to leave here?
"Can you imagine turning into a baby again? Learning . . . how to walk? Life as a teenager? How we survived adolescence in the first place, it's a wonder. But to be eighteen, to be twenty-four again? That's more sacrifice than I'm prepared to make for at least another thousand years; more likely never, thank you. I'd rather be a harp-seal."
"I'll be a harp-seal with you," she said. "But if this is our last Earth-life for centuries, we should make the very best we can of it. What do other lifetimes matter? Like things we've done this lifetime-Hollywood, living in the trailer,fighting to save the forest-what will they matter in a thousand years, what does it matter tonight, except what we've learned? What we've learned is everything! I think we've got a nice start, this time. Let's not be harp-seals yet."
"Could be wrong," I agreed. "But when we listen to somebody's answers, we're not really listening to the somebody, are we? We're listening to ourselves while they talk; it's ourself says this part's true and that part's crazy and that part's true again. That's the fun of listening. The fun of saying is to be as little wrong as we know how to be."
"I know intuitively, for instance, that we are creatures of light and life, and not of blind death. I know that we are not bolted together out of space and time, subject to a million changing heres and nows, goods and bads. The idea that we are physical beings descended from primeval cells in nutrient soups, that idea does violence to my intuition, stomps all over it with football-shoes.
"The idea that we are descended from a jealous God who formed us out of dust to choose between kneel-and-praying or fires-of-damnation, that stomps me worse. No sleep-fairy ever brought me those for ideas. The whole concept of descent, for me, it's wrong.
"Yet no one place I could find, no one person anywhere who had my answers except the inner me, and the inner me I was afraid to trust. I had to swim through my life like a baleen whale, taking in great flooding seawater mouthfuls of what other people wrote and thought and said, tasting and keeping bits of knowing the size of plankton, that fit what I w
anted to believe. Anything to explain what I knew was true, that's what I was looking for.
"From this writer over here, not one micro-shrimp could I keep, from as much as I could read of her books. From another over there, I understood nothing but this: 'We are not what we seem.' Hurray! That, intuitively I know, is TRUE! The rest of a book might be seawater, but the whale keeps that sentence.
"Little by little, I think we build a conscious understanding of what we're born already knowing: what the highest inner us wants to believe, it's true. Our conscious mind, though, isn't happy till it can explain in words."Before I knew it, in just a few decades, I had a system of thinking that gives me answers when I ask."
"How do you know when you meet your soulmate?" she repeated, calm as though she did this all the time. "I didn't know,when I met mine. It was in an elevator. 'Going up?' I said. 'Yes,' he said. Neither of us knew what those words would mean to the people we are now.
"Four years later we got to know each other and all at once we were best friends. The more I knew him, the more I admired him, the more I thought what a truly wonderful person he is!
"That's a key. Look for a love-aflair that gets better with time, admiration brightening, trust that grows through storms.
"With this one man I saw that intense intimacy and joy were possible for me. I used to think those were my own special needs, my personal signs of a soulmate. Now I think they may be everyone's, but that we despair of finding them, we try to settle for less. How dare we ask for intimacy and joy when a lukewarm lover and mild happiness are the best we can find?
"Yet in our hearts we know that lukewarm will turn cold; mild happiness will become a kind of nameless sadness, nagging questions: Is this the love of my life, is this all there is, is this why I'm here? In our hearts we know there must be more, and we long for the one we never found.
"So often half a couple is trying to go up, the other half is dragging down. One walks forward, the other makes sure that for every two steps ahead they take three steps back. Better to learn happiness alone, I thought, love my friends and my cat, better wait for a soulmate who never comes than to make that dull compromise.
"A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we're two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life."
"Things around us-houses, jobs, cars-they're props, they're settings for our love. The things we own, the places we live, the events of our lives: empty settings. How easy to chase after settings, and forget diamonds! The only thing that matters, at the end of a stay on earth, is how well did we love, what was the quality of our love?"
"I'm a dragon. I'm an angel, too, don't forget. We each have our mystery, our adventure, don't we, going our million ways together across time, all at once? What are we doing, in those other times? I don't know. But I'll bet you a strange thing, sweetie," I said, "I'll bet that what we're doing now ..."
". . . is tied with ribbons of light," she said, "to what we're doing then!"
I shocked awake as she finished my sentence.
I turned to my wife, as startled as the pilot by what I'd seen.
Dirt-streaked, glorious, she smiled at me, tear-bright radiance. "Richie, they're going to try for it!" she said. "Wish them love!"