They say the Gods formed the mountains as symbols of their prowess, and that the mountains rise or cower, year after year, as the Gods continue to out-do each other. Mountains in this physical world of man, as well as those in the inner landscapes of all conscious beings. The first, a universe built by catalyst. A chain reaction initiated; stewarded by the Gods themselves from the First Singularity to this moment, and beyond. The second, a universe built from the thought-stuff of all beings in unison. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that it is simultaneous. For in this world the deep minds of The Conscious do not always agree. Great storms ravage the seas and mountainscapes rise up through the atmosphere to space itself before falling back to lay defeated across gray plains that stretch on for eternity.
The Inner Landscape is bigger. Much bigger. For every mind capable of thought has a deep mind. And in that deep mind all potential is held. Trillions upon trillions of lives lived in this physical universe by even more souls, and you can just imagine the sort of power that such a mass of deep minds contains. The sort of infinite imagination and potential that is hard to even express in the abstract.
Tristran could not be sure that the Gods formed the mountains. Three peaks appearing in a row on the horizon -though he knew that distance was distorted for objects of this size and they were not actually in a neat and tidy row- sat quietly. Only this quiet was an assuming one that took up space and air and breath. And looking at them, stoically pressing up on the sky, through thin clouds, to take up their fair share of the blue ceiling that covered the world, Tristan could not help but give way.
Looking at them always made his breath shallow and sparing. Did he have to ask permission from these relics-of-Gods for the air he consumed? At times he couldn’t be so sure, but after a while his body would settle, as if some unspoken trial had been endured and his body knew it was allowed to Be. Only at this moment would a deeper, more profound breath enter his body and permeate all of his tissue. And then he could rest easy.
Still, not knowing if the peaks were the works of beings far greater than himself, he knew with every fiber of his being that the Inner Landscape was in fact the workings of all that have lived, do now, and will at some point live in the framework of time.
He had been there -many times- and it was clear and evident in that place.
Tristran even had his own space in the Inner. One that he could not take conscious claim to creating in this human lifetime, but that upon discovery was without any shadow of a doubt his own. Down to the blades of violet grass and black tinted spider’s silk that spread between the branches of majestic, and considerably ordinary oak trees.
Thinking on that place brought strong memories. And given that this place existed between memory and dream and probably beyond, even the act of remembering it was tricky. One could easily forget whether they were remembering or truly there, with the veil so thin between. In this place that was his, amidst mountains as tall as moons, he knew where the footsteps of others and the creations of their minds touched upon his. Areas that were his but he had not often visited would drift from his solitary dominion and blend with the spaces of those nearby. And by that way this world was made.
He had never met his neighbors. But then, with time being abstracted and often absent in this place it would be difficult to align such a thing without strong will and a significant effort to communicate. Chances are they had never consciously come to this place besides, as much of the Inner is formed in dream and deep mind, where many beings don’t actively explore.
Somehow the urge to contact them in some way never crossed Tristran. And chances are any effort he made would be experienced as a faded half memory of a distant dream from once upon a lifetime by the others. They probably wouldn’t even notice.
No, it was better left undone.
Besides, he knew these others by the spaces they created.
The man with the blue house to his North -a direction that was an arbitrary notion he had devised while exploring a place that defied direction and scale. It was round and smooth, with it’s many photographs strewn about walls and floor. A forest of oversized artificial wooden flowers that looked nothing like the ones of the Physical lands he knew surrounded the house like a barrier. One that could be navigated carefully to reveal a small clearing in the center just large enough for the house to sit comfortably and uncrowded. Yet the photos inside were clearly human, though decidedly distorted.
The woman -he suspected- to the East, and more distant. Hers was a singularly unique piece of space with red-tinted dirt mounds dotting the landscape of brownish black sand. The color of the mounds blended slowly into that of the flat-land, making it a difficult to comprehend the space clearly. In each was at least one entry, though some contained multitudes. Through them it was not dark, as he had expected before his first visit, but in fact a vision of an entirely different place than the red-rock desert. He had gone into those doorways, once, only to find that he would immediately step out of another as soon as he had entered. It seemed that whatever scenes were visible through their rocky frames, they were not accessible. Where the notion of this being the territory of a female being came from he couldn’t guess. But then, in this world, areas of himself that sat muted or silent in the physical world were more powerful and directed. His intuition burned with a power in this place that often cleansed confusion or indecision from his person entirely. And so having felt that this was the place of a woman with that same deep knowing, he simply trusted it.
Besides, it made it easier to give the things he saw familiar labels. To define them in his own terms, else his mind would lose them amongst the potentiality of a myriad of alternative labels in an even greater number of languages from across the universe. He had tried, once, to figure out what *the* name for a place was. Felt a notion of atunement with greater knowing than his own consciousness contained, and moved to reach for it.
Words and sounds that could hardly be considered human even in a drunken joking bar brawl flooded his mind. The intensity of the information and the inability of his consciousness to contain it all sent him reeling. It was in this moment that for the first time, Tristran almost lost himself for all eternity to the Inner. Months -by the recollection of his physical self- passed as he drowned in the flood of information; if you could even call it information. He wandered landscapes that defied explanation in a half stupor. The names for things in languages from a thousand worlds competed for his attention and for a long time he forget even who he was. The war of a thousand wars to regain his own mind raged in silence as his feet carried him far across the Inner landscape. A profound Striving to find himself amidst the torrent of concepts. It would possibly be more accurate, upon reflection, to say that he wandered aimlessly and eventually regained self and thought.
After he had regained himself and returned to his physical body (merely one day later from when he had left), it became clear that there were layers to this multiverse of realities that his conscious mind could not contain. That his deep mind had the ability to comprehend things that his waking one did not.
And it was better this way.
The second time that he nearly lost himself in the Inner was more subtle.
He had attempted to find the knowledge that was beneath his intuition, in that place, as he would often enough do in the physical world. While he felt in his guts that, in that instance, he should turn South at the great Indigo-tinted willow tree that defied gravity and drooped lazily upwards …he wanted to be sure. In a conscious way. And as he mentally puzzled out a logical explanation for South versus South East, he was lost to himself.
Although it was considerably gentle with him, the sensation was one of his mind turning in on itself, and around; as if a tiny spider, sleepy and sightless, wandering across the hands of a much larger creature: as soon as recollection came to him, the hands would shift, turn, and rotate. And he would again be wandering across surfaces familiar and yet unknown. In this moment he was lost for a considerably longer time than the first. He can’t be entirely sure, but the notion of years passing flits across the peripheral of his memory. But Tristan dare not delve into those in order to determine exactly how long, for even the effort of trying to recall them tugs at his thoughts and one step too far is all it would take to slip back into it, he could be sure.
Strangely, upon regaining his mind and clearing the fog that had enveloped him, he felt fine. None of the nausea and distant memories of mind-rending pain came like the first. Only a feeling of being considerably clearer about where -and whom- he was than when he had been lost. And stranger still, upon returning to the physical world, he found himself mere minutes from when he’d left.
This was Tristran’s third lesson from the Inner, after the danger of language and the risk of delving into the truth behind his intuition: Time meant nothing.
Absolutely nothing but a framework for experience to rest upon like a cup on a shelf or a flower on a hillside.
These lessons, albeit specific to the Inner, also served to inform his time in the Physical as well.
The first, that of language, showed Tristran that while understanding the intentions and ideas of others was paramount to communication, it was not pivotal to his personal experience. And in fact, ownership of the world around him through the use of his own defining terms created an immutable confidence. He felt clear and connected with the places and people. He could communicate in their terms, but always thought in his own.
The second, that of intuition, made it’s way into the Physical in the form of a profound trust in his own intuition. He ‘knew’ without a doubt that when the sensation of knowing in his gut came, radiating near his solar plexus to tingle across his arms and neck, it would show him the way. No amount of second guessing was necessary. The conscious mind couldn’t contain all of the wisdom of that deep knowing, besides. In the moments that Intuition had clearly made a choice and pointed the way, his conscious mind had yet to even begin to grasp the options. It was fruitless to trust the later.
The third, that of time, was more intense at first, but considerably more subtle after he had integrated the lesson.
Upon returning he felt a powerful and almost violent opposition to the notion of time. He railed against it in choice and conversation. Those around him hardly understood where such a passionate opposition appeared in a man usually noted for his calm. They had not the slightest inkling that his journey of a few minutes had contained years. Any notion of time brought into dialog boiled his blood. Any expectation of schedule awoke a rebellious trickster. He tried to convey these ideas to others but his intensity was distracting at least, and disturbing to some. And being as his ability to keep in tune with society slipped, it was not an entirely appealing notion for others if they took him as example.
After he had thoroughly disrupted the fabric of his life, he became more aware of the implications. Time, while entirely artificial and false to the nth degree on it’s own, was a necessary framework to create reference. Tristran realized that the duality of “this and that” which allowed the physical world to make any logical sense within space also extended into the dimension of time. And so, it was clear to him that time isolated from other frameworks, or used while alone with himself, was a framework he could simply discard. And yet, when interacting with others, the physical environment, and to instill some efficiency in his action (itself a concept dependent on time), it provided a convenience framework.
And so it was.
While Tristran had only been traveling for some fourteen odd years in the Physical World, he had lived lifetimes upon lifetimes in the Inner Landscape and the Dreamscapes. It was in this way that his exploration of the Inner created a paradox in his person. Others viewed him as simultaneously inviting and intimidating; provoking deep fascination and a bodily sense of unease all at once, or in waves. He was aloof and solitary in his ways, often choosing the road less traveled -or entirely untraveled all together- over any deeply embedded role in a community or society at large. Yet simultaneously he often appeared quite friendly and sincerely interested in the ideas and experiences of others. Many felt, when under the gaze of his steel gray eyes, that he was somehow perceiving them in a more complete way. It was intoxicating.
This paradox was not only in the impression of him by others, but also within himself.
He felt old, in a way. Spread far and wide like the sky itself. Bereft of any release or relaxation, always at odds with and yet integral to the motions of the universe itself. Tristran felt, as the neutrinos to the physical universe, liken to the stuff by which all stuff existed; an impossibly big responsibility for one man. Yet, he also felt vital and with a constitution of boundless energy. He felt young in the physical sense, despite any wisdom he held or would later discover, and any notion of limitation in either the Physical or the Inner was defied absently. It no longer troubled him to consider dominion over the stars themselves, despite having no desire of the such.
But not all of these things he shared with others. Least of all his motions in the Inner.
Despite having spent immeasurable moments in that place, thus developing a clear awareness of humanity as a directly result, he wasn’t confident that they would understand and at the same time he was confident they could. A paradox of uncertain potentials that tormented him. At times his explorations would overturn eons of learning he had previously gained. The more he knew, the more he realized he was an infant among Gods. And progress in he concept of “gaining wisdom” was fickle and abstract. Were there others that traveled a he did? Had they seen what he had seen? Or was he alone in this. A profound blessing and deeply troubling curse; to know so much and have no soul to share it with. And even more, it troubled him at times, that he must exist in this physical place while all the reaches of the cosmos lay at his finger tips.
And so he waited. And witnessed. Looking for that one person among persons. Searching patiently for the human that might understand even a piece of that which he had seen and experienced. Watching for the one that would Know Him.