Have you ever felt eyes burning a hole in the back of your head? That burning glare... that shadow you can feel behind you, but you can't see it because every time you turn around, it's gone? There is a forest that such a feeling inhabits. When you are in this forest, you feel this all the time. It's the trees. It's the moonless sky. The starless sky. In this dark, dense, foggy forrest, you can feel the stare of the trees. You can see them judging you. Evaluating you. Weighing you. And you know you will never make the trees happy. You begin to fear the trees. So you run. You find new trees. And when you do...
The trees are happy. The new trees enjoy your company. They don't judge you, because they don't know you. And as soon as you let down your guard, the trees begin to hate you. The glare of the shadow returns. You no longer meet the standards of the trees. Suddenly, you see trees everywhere. And then you remember:
It's a forest. The trees are everywhere. And so you run. You find new trees. And once again, the trees are happy. They enjoy your company. But inevitably, the trees will judge you. And the cycle will repeat itself. Over... and over... and over.
This forest is immense. It is gigantic. It seems infinite. The only thing is, it's not. The forest does have an end. There are paths out of the forest. But these paths are long. At times, they are downhill, and easy. It feels good to finally have found a way out. You can feel the relief of finally getting out of the forest. The freedom from judgement, from opression, from that awful burning glare of the shadow that judges your every thought. However, as you travel this path, it begins to rise. The path becomes steeper, and steeper. And the path itself turns from soft mossy dirt, to hard rock and roots. The rocks occasionally slice open your bare feet, and at times, the slippery wet roots provide no traction for your foot, and you painfully fall down. It is at this point, that other paths appear. In fact, other paths have always been an option. These paths are clearly defined, and nice and soft. They slope downhill, and even have clearings that are visible, areas where the trees are at a distance, and cannot judge you.
So you finally decide to take that new soft, better path. You reach that clearing, and feel at ease. The trees are at a distance. Their gaze is but a small itch in your mind. You scratch that itch, and lie down to rest. Your wounds heal. You quench your thirst with a small amount of water that flows through a tiny stream nearby. Eventually, you are well rested, healed, and satisfied. Except for one thing... that itch. You try to scratch it now, but it won't go away. The gaze of the trees... they are still judging you. Even from the distance that they are at, their burning glare is gradually getting hotter and hotter. It is as if the clearing is getting smaller, and smaller. Until it gets to the point, that it is as if there is no longer a clearing, and you are trapped in the surrounding judging forest again.
And so you run. And as you run, you find a new path. This one is nice, soft, and simple. But as you travel it, feeling the excitement of finally getting out of the sickening judging forest, the path becomes difficult. The jagged rocks and roots injure and trip you, as the path rises and becomes steeper and steeper. And again, you find a new path that leads to a clearing, and you take it. Again you lick your wounds, free from the trees. But again, they close in on you, causing you to run, finding new paths, taking them until it becomes too difficult, and retreating to a clearing.
And as you repeat this process over, and over, and over, the memory of the previous time haunts you, causing you to go further along the jagged path. The path slowly turns from a path, to a climb up a mountain. However, when the path becomes too difficult, you take the nice soft path again. Sadly, some do not make it out of the forest before their time is up. However, the process begins again, when that person is reborn in the middle of the forest. The cycle begins again. Just as you were reborn in the middle of the forest. However, there is a difference. The previous run through the forest has lasting effects. When you take that path out of the forest, you follow it further. Your strength and determination to make it out was not lost. It is conserved between lifetimes.
Eventually, there is an end to the forest. It is easy to tell when you are close to escaping the forest, as the trees become less dense. Their glare feels as if you were in a clearing, but they no longer close in on you like before. The judgement is still there, but it feels as if the shadow is leaving. The path begins to level off. The jagged rocks and roots are still there, but as you travel, you learn how to avoid the rocks and roots. You learn the way of the forest. You learn how to shut out the voices of the trees, and the burning glare of the shadow. You gain a keen instinctual sense of how the forest works. Your eyesight increases to watch for danger; your intuition hightens to tell you where water and clearings are. The path does not become easier to travel, you become more adapted to the path.
And as you travel to the end of the path, there is a roadsign. The path does not simply lead out of the forest, it leads further out. The difficulty is not finding the path at this point, but having the willpower to continue to travel it, even when it appears that it is barren, and desolate. The path you have followed leads out of the forest, and into a desert. The path is still very visible, but devoid of any life. Just sand. No plants, no cacti, no animals. Just the path. As far as you can see. It is here that you live with the path you have chosen. There are no other paths through the desert. Just the one you are following now. It is not jagged, or slippery. It is not steep or rough. It is remarkablely simple. Happy to be free from the opressive forest, from the lava burning hot stare of the trees and shadow, you practically sprint down this path. The desert is a godsend, a blessing. The other paths that taunt you with their softness and ease are gone. Just this one lone path. You slow to a walk, content with your choice. The forest is now but a dot in your vision as you turn around. If you sit down, and lose your way, the roadsigns let you know which direction you came from, and which direction you are to go. Just the one path. No others. No distractions. Just this one lone path. You can turn back, and go back into the forest, and choose another path, if you want. Or you can keep going through this barren wasteland of a desert, with the one lone path through it. And you might even do that. You might go back, and choose a different path.
And the cycle will begin again. And you might die before you get through the desert that lies at the end of each and every path out of the forest. But the only difference is, you would just start the cycle back over again. You would feel the judgement of the trees, and hike through the forest and exit, see the roadsign, sprint out of the forest, and journey along the path through the desert. But as you journey along the path through the desert, the same thing that happened in the forest happens here. You adapt to the path. You retain your keen hightened abilities you gained through the forest, but you also gain a higher sense of yourself. The treck through the desert has forced you to be with the one person you fear the most: you. You are the only company you have, you are the only other lifeform on the desert path, in fact, you are the only thing that moves on the desert path. For as far as the eye can see 360 degrees around you, is just sand. But as you adapt to the path, as you adapt to being alone, the path becomes easier. And what was once a depressing lonely trudge through endless piles of sand, becomes a walk in the park. It is here, that the end of the desert is in sight. But you don't sprint, you don't feel any relief in the sight of the end of the desert. In fact, you might feel bad that the desert ends. You were quite enjoying it. Once you got over the incredible loneliness, it was easy. Simple. It was a break. But as you approach the end of the desert, another feature presents itself. It is a cliff. A canyon. Bigger than any other canyon, the other side is not visible. It is as if the world itself just ends. The bottom of the canyon is not visible. All you can see is the face of the cliff you stand on dissapear into nothingness. Not darkness, almost just a fog. The path just ends. There is no other way to go. And you know what you have to do. Everyone knows what they have to do.
If the forest ended in a cliff, everyone would seek out another path, fearing to make the choice. The forest alone does not prepare one for making that kind of choice. That is the desert's job. So once you reach the cliff, you feel there is no reason not to make the choice. If you walked all the way back through the infinite desert, back into the forest, leaving both would be a simple matter. The forest would pose no threat, your keen senses would protect you. The desert would be no issue, you might actually enjoy walking through another. And you would find, as you reach the end of that other path, that it too ends in a cliff. Doing that would be simply for curiosity's sake. However, once you reach that cliff, you have already made the choice. Reaching that cliff, the issue is not to decide, the issue is to figure out why you decided the way you did.
The issue is to find out why you make the leap of faith. That is what the cliff requires. We have all already made the choice, now we have to find out why we made the choice.
It is difficult for me to say where I am on this cycle. I feel as if I am exiting the forest, and at the same time, crossing the desert, and at the same time, deciding if I want to jump or not, and a the same time, falling.
I realise now, I am doing all of these things. There is no such concept of time in this forest. Time is relative to me, and me alone. In this journey, I am on my own schedule. If I encounter someone else, I can empathize with them. If they are in the forest, I remember how it feels to be in that forest. If they are on the desert, I too know how it feels to be in the desert, and if they are deciding to jump, I too know how that feels.
The thing is, we are never alone. I can leave breadcrumbs in someone's forest. A line. A mark, A roadsign. I can leave these things to help someone through their forest, and along their desert path. They choose whether they want to follow those crumbs or not. The help can even be so much as to leave someone a detailed map and compass to help them through the forest, and I can walk with someone along their desert path. But it is still their choice. I cannot take them and force them to follow the path. It is their choice. And whatever they choose is of no concern to me. It's their cycle, not mine.
But there is something more to all of this, I can feel it. It is as if I have an O ring welded to my chest, and a steel cable is pulling me along my path. It feels like I am being constantly inspired to write, to paint, to sculpt, to create, to do SOMETHING! It is as if there is a giant winch at the end of the path, standing at the edge of the cliff. It feels like my chest is about to be ripped off of my ribcage. I can resist all I want, but no matter what I do, it will always be pulling. I am in control, however. And I have to do all the work. I have to walk over broken glass and ice to get to this winch. It is not a physical pull, but a mental one. It is a calling. A drive. Shamanism chooses you, not the other way around. The thing I do not know, is if everyone is chosen.
Even the feeling itself is a metaphor with libraries of information to be gleaned. It is pulling, not pushing. It is saying, "Come to me" instead of, "go that way". It is pulling, not forcing. It is driving, not controlling. It is compelling. IT is gentle, but powerful. It is reinforcing, not degrading. It is positive reinforcement, not negative.
I know what it feels like to be on the soy sauce. It feels like a constant epiphany. It feels like you know something HUGE, but you cannot put it into words. You are aware, and cognizant of everything. Nothing escapes your gaze. Nothing escapes your awareness.
And I realise what I've done. I've made the choice. I've taken the leap of faith. I've taken the soy sauce. And I'm falling. Once you make the leap, the path takes over. You no longer work, you use your skills. You no longer force, no longer suffer from other people. The path takes over, and your skills are freed up for other things.
No matter how much I write, no matter how much I realise, there is still this sun-sized ball of epiphany that I know I know. I can feel it. It is massive. I know I know it. But the problem is, I need to know it consciously. I can feel it coming in little trickles. Like the drips of a half-open faucet.
Falling is not a bad thing. It is simply another form of the path. It is here that the path takes over, and it guides you. You have no fear of falling. There is no fear of what lies at the end of the fall. You simply surrender yourself to the path. And that is the choice. You have to realise that it is here that you let yourself be guided by the path you have been struggling to follow. It is as if the path itself is a relationship. At first, it's rocky and hard. But if you stick with it, it eases up. But then, the truth of the path shows itself. It is a lot more that what it was underneath. You see the path for what it really is. And once you are comfortable with what the path is, it asks you to let it have control. The path is really yourself. At first, you fight and struggle, then you realise who you really are, and finally, you make the choice. You choose to give up control to who you really are. That is why nobody who is presented with the choice denies it. Because at that point, you are comfortable with yourself enough to jump, rid yourself of the person you created, and surrender to who you really are. The path itself is shamanism as well. At first, it is rocky and hard. And then, you see a break as a desert, and have to come to terms with what the path really is. And finally, it asks you to surrender yourself to it, and jump. This may very well be the greatest metaphor I've ever written. There are so many little details I want to add to my peice. But that is for refinement. Right now, I'm writing for myself. I wasn't writing this for EC, or for anyone else. This was all for me. Screw EC and how they'll react to this, if I ever post it. This piece feels perfect the way it is, and as it is, it is not suitable for it to be posted on EC. I feel like modifying it will degrade it. Even all of this part. It is all one large snapeshot of me jumping. Surrendering. The metaphor itself is wonderful, and absolutely amazing.
The biggest thing I realise is that there really is no path. There never was a path, and there never will be. The entire time, the path was an illusion. You blaze the path. There are an infinite number of paths out of the forest. THis means that the paths are indistinguishable from the forest itself. Where one person sees a path, the other sees a massive amount of jagged rocks and broken glass. Where one sees a desert path, the other sees a pile of sand. The only thing that matters is which way we choose to go, how we adapt, and if we choose to stay on the same path or not. The other distracting paths all lead off in other directions.
I can feel the "soy sauce high" beginning to fade. But I still know there is this sun-sized ball of epiphany there, waiting for me to find. However, what I also know is that the faucet is no longer dripping. The epiphanies are over for now.
Now it is just time for me to think.