I’d closed my eyes for only a minute or two. Blackness, vivid in the escape of reality, yet I am not asleep, but beyond the edge of my own imagination. I’ve stepped outside, and in the blackness I see.
The blackness takes on a contrast, and I begin to sense a yonder presence. I am not alone, but I do not feel like an intruder. Beneath where I stand, a stone path comes into focus, spreading before me, and I am compelled to travel. I cannot see where the path leads, but as I begin walking, it reveals itself before me. I cannot see the bends in the path, but as I continue my walk, I am able to follow without caution.
I don’t know how long I’ve been walking — I couldn’t even guess, as there seems to be no sense of time. Eventually, the sense of the yonder presence becomes stronger, and the path before me spreads faster and longer. I pause my walking, and I can see a being. I stare intently at the being, and even though it is dark, I see it both faintly and clearly. This being looks like a jellyfish.
I approach the jellyfish slowly and see that it is almost completely translucent and emits a faint purple glow that throws no light nor casts no shadows. It occurs to me that perhaps I am not actually seeing the glow visually, yet I’m somehow aware of it’s presence and shape. The jellyfish has several long, gangly tentacles waving gently beneath its bulbous body as it bobs slightly. It has motion, yet does not move.
I turn to continue my walk, and I quickly notice that the path beneath my feet was already bent in the same direction. As I continue my walk, I begin to see more jellyfish. Like staring into a night sky and counting the stars, more and more jellyfish appear along an infinite horizon. I pause my walking again to ponder this reality, and the more I focus, the more I see, yet the space is not terribly crowded. I have found myself surrounded by jellyfish, each with the same dull glow. It’s a scene unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed or could have even imagined, but I am fearless, intrigued, and curious.
I resume my stroll once again, and I see the path leads shortly to another jellyfish. I get closer this time and observe its gentle bobbing; the motion without movement. “Who are you?” The jellyfish responds with a brief wavering hum. “Can you not speak to me?” And again I receive a short wavering hum, although this unlike the first. “You are a dullard,” I assert. “You are all the same. Dullards, all of you!” I shout into the space as I look around the sea of beings. A feeling of enlightenment begins to radiate throughout my self, when suddenly something along the edge of my periphery catches my attention. A shooting star?
I look away from the Dullard toward the space where I thought I saw the shooting star, and as I was turning to look, the shooting star entered my field of vision again. It’s not a shooting star. It’s another jellyfish, far off in the distance, but this one is glowing brightly and loping along the space between the other jellyfish. This is not a Dullard, but an Effulgent. Fascinated, I continue to watch the Effulgent as it makes its way around, occasionally stopping momentarily alongside a Dullard. As I observed the Effulgent, I began to notice that something was happening each time it stopped. I was intrigued, and I just had to have a closer look.
The next time the Effulgent stopped, I would have to watch very closely. As it loped along, I looked ahead of it to see if I might guess which Dullard would receive the next visit. I could see the Dullards’ tentacles wave slightly toward the Effulgent as it passed by. I continued to watch as the Effulgent floated along, seemingly happily, along a path that appeared to circle toward me. As the Effulgent drew nearer, the detail was becoming more apparent. It was slightly smaller than the Dullards, but evermore beautiful and just stunning to look at! It’s aura was certainly brighter, and it’s translucent skin featured a moving collage of shimmering gold and sparkling white. It had more tentacles than the Dullards, and many of them were markedly longer. As it came even closer, I began to feel a slight warmth across my face, just like looking up to the sky under the early morning sunshine. I hadn’t noticed until this moment that it was actually rather cold in here among the Dullards.
The Effulgent was getting close, and as I tracked it’s movement, I noticed a Dullard nearby. The Effulgent would be making a stop, I could feel it, and that’s when I noticed what was different about this Dullard. Although they are all dimly lit within a diaphanous purple aura, this one’s was attenuated, and the purple wasn’t quite right. The Effulgent approached the Dullard and came to a stop.
One of the longer tentacles reached out to the Dullard, and as it did, I caught a glimpse of a shadow from behind the Dullard. The Effulgent wrapped it’s outstretched tentacle around one of the Dullard’s, and the Dullard began to pulsate. It began as a slow throb, quickly crescendoing to what promptly reminded me of a beating heart. As it pulsated, it’s aura brightened, and the shadow behind it faded. The Effulgent’s tentacle was also fading, and more so as the Dullard was revived. As I watched this, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and compassion. Then suddenly, the Effulgent let go and withdrew its tentacle. What I noticed immediately in that moment saddened me. The Effulgent’s tentacle was shorter. The Effulgent gave of itself. No, it sacrificed!
Suddenly, I understood what I was seeing. This world around which I was wandering encompassed the spirit souls of the embellished reality of open eyes, trailing a perfunctory existence and expending their energy — sometimes too much. The Effulgent was a special type of soul, bouncing from one Dullard to the next, making sure none of them perished. But why?
As I was achieving this new level of understanding, the Effulgent was on the move again, this time directly toward me. I froze as I watched the loving glow become brighter and warmer. Just as it came within arm’s reach, I lifted an outstretched hand to catch a tactile glimpse of its tentacles as it passed by. My fingers made contact, and what happened next was far beyond any worldly expectation. I was enveloped in a flash of white light, which must have only taken a second, but during that moment, a transfer took place…
“I’m hurting, and I don’t know where to go.” I knew why; I could see it. The Effulgent, while beautiful and loving, was empty inside.
“You can’t see your own light?”
“It’s always dark in here.”
“I know. You don’t see the world as the others do. You think you’re one of them, but while they all stay in their place, you wander among them. Did you not notice that you’re the only one moving?”
“I thought we were all moving among each other. I can never keep up with them.”
“But they don’t move. Only you. They don’t seek you in the dark. They wait until you’re close by, and that’s when they need you, when you have something to offer. Once their spirit is mended, they go back to their way, and you’re left alone again. You don’t see that because it’s overshadowed by your own desire for companionship.”
“I just want someone to love me.”
“I know. It’s owed to you.”
By the time I realized that this wasn’t actually a conversation, but rather a serialized stream of emotion that had come and gone as the Effulgent passed by me, it was already gone. I spun around in the cold, frantically scanning the horizons looking for the warm glow of vitality of the empty Effulgent. We hadn’t finished our conversation! But it was gone.
And I was staring at my living room ceiling, a TV show was paused and the remote was still in my hand. The cat was staring at me from across the room. I’d closed my eyes for only a minute or two.