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THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
A person starts to live when he can live outside himself
For some time, the following morning, I remained in bed, still thinking about my inward identity and who I was. It weighed upon me that after studying philosophy all these years, it hadn’t occurred to me to seriously ask that question before. How could I not have come up at least with one plausible answer to such a simple question? As Mo suggested, it was a simple question but not a simple answer.
After I got up and went down the stairs, I was disappointed to find that my friends weren’t there, causing me to wonder where they were staying if not here. I brewed a pot of coffee then decided to take a short hike along the ridge to survey the westerly horizon where the storm clouds had swept in from the South Pacific.
My mood improved as the rising sun began to illuminate the glacial slopes with a soft pink glow. Splendid, I thought, like an inspiring omen portending something extraordinary to happen, although I had no idea what that could be. Perhaps a contract had landed on my desk for a permanent lectureship at university!
It appeared the weather would be ideal today to begin my descent back into civilization, though I wasn’t sure which route to take. If possible, I’d like to find a way with fewer escarpments, even if it took a bit longer.
As I hiked to the far end of the ridge, I hoped to spot Mo and Eli somewhere up here so I might bid them adieu before leaving. Notwithstanding the inexplicable incidents that had occurred here with them, my time had been eventful; the food, drinks and accommodation were extraordinary, and the company; what can I say: most fascinating.
Also, I wanted to exchange contact information with them, assuming they had an address. At least that way we could stay in touch in case we wanted to meet somewhere again.
That was another thing about them; they never did tell me where they lived. I assumed it was somewhere in Britain, but Englishmen tend to live throughout the world in former colonies. Since I planned to do plenty of travelling in the future while attending various academic conferences, who knows, our paths might cross again.
They had given me much to think about, especially their insight into my dream. It was time; however, to begin my long descent before encountering more orbs, voices, wizards, nymphs, fairies, and whatever else may be lurking up here.
With that thought, I smiled as I headed back to the cabin to stuff my belongings into my backpack, along with a few provisions to take with me. I had achieved all that I set out to accomplish, successfully ascending where few have gone or could have gone!
Now, it was time to return home… back to their supposed Lowlands of bogs, swamps and hovels. With my friend’s imaginative tales, I would never again be able to view London in quite the same way; I chuckled to myself.
Thinking about home, I wondered if any of the fine young women I had dated recently were missing me, perhaps wondering where I had gone. Likely I wouldn’t receive a hero’s welcome, still, I looked forward to whatever might come when I returned. When l left, I told a few friends about my plans to go to Chile, but I didn’t say anything about climbing a mountain. I didn’t want to hear anyone natter about how dangerous that could be.
It occurred to me that this too might be interpreted as a scene from my dream... the part where I slunk away at night. If not literally at night, at least I had kept everyone in the dark about my intentions.
It would be great, I thought, if I could make significant headway before nightfall. Then, it would probably take only a few days to make it back to Santiago, provided the weather continued to hold. Likely at this time of year, just after the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, I might have about sixteen hours of sunlight remaining if I left right now.
Though I had carefully observed the mountain’s topography while on my ascent, it was only from one angle, so I had concerns about the best way to spiral down and what unforeseen challenges I might encounter on the rugged terrain. From what I could tell, it seemed there was no simple route.
It might be advantageous to find a better way down than the one I chose for my ascent, which had turned out to be more than a little circuitous. On occasion, I had become disorientated after a few unfortunate twists and turns where I sometimes ended up going down a considerable distance while attempting to find a better way up. If I were to consider this philosophically, I thought, how much it seemed like the kinks in my life.
Hopefully, I would be able to see Eli before I left. Perhaps he could advise me where to avoid dangerous glacial crevices of thinly veiled layers of melting ice. It would be easy enough to tumble down, and even if I survived the fall, it’s unlikely I would be able to claw my way out of an ice fissure. Worse, there would be little chance of being rescued in this remote region of the world. Hypothermia would overcome my body within a few hours, and it would soon be over. What a way to go! I didn’t even want to think about it.
Also, it would be helpful if he could give me some advice on the best way down the summit. Even though I could take a more direct, shorter route, it might take much longer should I encounter unforeseen difficulties. From the way Eli talked about this region’s topography, it seemed he might know the best way.
I was resigned to not seeing my mountain companions again since there was no sign of them on the trail; no smouldering campfires or anything that would indicate they were still here on the Summit. Last night they didn’t say if they would be returning, so I had no idea what to expect.
While I was about to pick up my backpack at the cabin, I was pleased to smell a waft of smoke rising from the fireplace. It was a mystery how I could have missed seeing my friends on the summit, and yet, somehow, I had. At least I hoped it was them who lit the fire. Perhaps it was more aliens. Nothing here could be assumed.
As I stepped through the door, I was greeted by them with a jovial Buenos Días! Mo was preparing something on the stove while Eli poured me a dark roast coffee. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a hearty English breakfast before commencing my long descent. While we sat at the table, I asked Eli about possible routes I could take for the long trek down. He offered a few suggestions; still, there seemed to be something disingenuous about the advice, as if he didn’t believe I would be going anywhere soon.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed the breakfast Mo prepared me, which I can only describe as delightfully extravagant. That was the problem; they both could be so damned disarming with their good-natured charm. Yet, it seemed there always was ambiguity attached to everything they said and did, so you were never sure where you stood.
This morning, especially, they were going out of their way to be extra hospitable, such that I couldn’t help but wonder if they might have some ulterior motive for their pleasantries. I hoped it was because they were making amends for leaving me alone last night after abruptly disappearing into the night. This had me both curious and concerned.
‘I wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again,’ I said. ‘So where in the heavens did you both disappear last night?’
‘A most perspicuous enquiry,’ Mo said grinning. ‘Where, exactly, in the heavens is not so easy to explain.’
‘Is there somewhere else you stayed further up the ridge I don’t know about?’
‘You might say that;’ Eli said, ‘if not further up, certainly further beyond.’
Yes, of course, I thought; someday, somewhere, somehow. What’s the big secret… more mystery, more intrigue? Why can’t anything be straightforward here?
‘In any case, gracias for the meal,’ I said, ‘and Gracias a la Vida. My time here with you has been extraordinary, however, I really must be on my way. I want to get as far down as possible while it’s daylight. I’m sure there must be a few beautiful señoritas waiting for me in Santiago before I catch my flight home.’
‘James,’ Mo said, ‘before you go, I wish to ask if you’ve given any further consideration to what we discussed yesterday about your dream and what it may mean?’
‘I gave it some thought, but as I said last night, I normally don’t pay much attention to dreams. There are more important things I have to do than make sense of all the subliminal nonsense that surfaces in the brain at night. I’ll admit, though, I’ve never had a dream quite like that before. At the time, it left an indelible impression upon me. I clearly remember standing on some precarious ledge just before awakening. Guess I’ll never know what that was about.’
‘So, a real cliff-hanger,’ Eli said with a smirk.
‘I suppose it was… so to speak,’ I said. ‘Don’t get me wrong though, your interpretations were most provocative; still, I reserve judgement as to what this dream may or may not mean.’
“It would be good if we could arrange for you to have a session with Dr Jung,’ Mo said. ‘I’m sure you are aware of how big he was on dream archetypes.’
‘I’m sure that would be most interesting,’ I said. ‘The only problem is Jung is no longer with us, having died over fifty years ago, so I hope you aren’t proposing we arrange a séance with the esteemed professor. It wouldn’t surprise me if you thought you can talk to the dead, as ludicrous as that is.’
‘We agree; a séance would be ludicrous,’ Eli said. ‘In fact, it would be meaningless, considering there are no dead to talk to.’
‘Yes, of course,’ I said, ‘once you’re dead, you’re dead! That’s obvious! So-called psychics who claim to conjure the dead are only playing the same type of mind games you two chaps seem to enjoy, except they charge fees.’
‘Are you saying our narrative of your dream was only a mind game?’ Mo asked.
‘If you could give me a rational explanation, I may be less sceptical. I’ll admit though, your narration of events lines up remarkably well with what I experienced on my ascent. In fact, almost too well, considering how you were able to evoke many of the same feelings I remembered, except the last part when you said I was on a narrow ridge.’
‘If you wish,’ Eli said, ‘we could tell you why it is you don’t remember the ending, although, I’m not sure you would want to know.’
‘Go ahead,’ I said. ‘Any plausible explanation would be much appreciated. After all, it was only a dream, so before you say more, tell me how you were able to guess my dream. I don’t know how you did it, but it certainly was a clever trick.’
‘Do you really want to know?’ Eli asked.
‘Of course, I do… this should be good.’
‘It’s quite straightforward,’ he said. ‘And yes, it was a trick. So, here’s how it happened: when you weren’t looking, Mo and I scampered up the stairs to your flat last October after you recorded your dream. It was easy enough for us to walk through the door and find your notes in the top drawer of your desk.
‘By the way, you sure have a lot of junk in your desk drawers. Regardless, we found your notes, ran down the stairs and made our way to a nearby stationary shop with a copier. As soon as we had made a copy, we ran back the whole way, laughing about the prank we were going to play on you. Then when we got back to your flat, we put the notes back in the drawer before you got home from class. We had it planned rather well, wouldn’t you say?
‘So, when you finally arrived here, we were ready for you. I hope you don’t mind that we read your dream straight from your notes! Makes sense, doesn’t it; there’s no need for any psychic voodoo when everything can easily be explained rationally. As intelligent people such as yourself realise, it must be true since there can only be natural explanations for everything, isn’t that right?’
Before I was able to respond to Eli’s mocking jest, Mo said in a conciliatory tone: ‘Don’t pay attention to Eli, James, he’s just having a little fun. Seriously though, we understand why you might at times feel a bit confused by some of the things we say and do. I’m sure things we say and do might appear a little bizarre at times.’
‘Like throwing flaming sticks into the air that don’t come down?’
‘Oh, that… not a big deal,’ he said. ‘Think of it as a shooting star in reverse. They generally burn out before they hit the ground.’
‘If that impressed you, you should see what Merlin can do,’ Eli said with a straight face. ‘Now there’s a real wizard for you.’
‘I’m sure,’ I said, ‘however, let’s not bring Merlin into this; things are strange enough as it is.’
‘I realise you’re anxious to make your descent down the Mountain,’ Mo said, ‘Still, if you don’t mind, indulge us a little longer that we might clear a few things up so you won’t remain confused when you return to London.’
‘Fine,’ I said, ‘I’d be pleased to hear what you have to say if it doesn’t take too long.’
‘First of all, we need to explain a few more things to you regarding your dream. There was an important event we didn’t tell you about yesterday. If you don’t know this, nothing else will make sense.’
‘Nothing here makes sense,’ I said. ‘Nevertheless, carry on, if only to confuse me more.’
‘Don’t be concerned,’ Eli said, ‘by the time we’re done, we will have cleared up much of your confusion regarding the dream. After all, your life seems to have nothing to do with marshes, mosquito-infested swamps with slimy snakes slithering around in your highly coveted hovels built on sand, made of wood, hay and stubble.’
‘No, nothing like that at all,’ I said, ‘not even figuratively.’
‘In explaining your dream, we recognise why some of the meanings behind these images are not that apparent to you,’ Mo said, ‘since you’ve been taught to believe in only the limited material precepts of the world in which you’re most familiar. However, these beliefs no longer serve you. Our universe is much different from what your third-dimensional perspective can imagine. You will understand soon enough what we’re saying, or you likely wouldn’t have come here.’
How condescending, I thought, as though they knew everything, and I knew nothing. The presumption is that if I come around to see things as they do, then, and only then, will I know how things are.
‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I’ll be the one who decides for myself what is real and what isn’t.’
‘Of course,’ Mo said, ‘but do you remember what happened at the beginning of your dream… at the behest of the orphic voice that portended your ascent from the Lowlands to the Summit? Deep down, you know that’s the real reason you climbed this Mountain. You were invited, and so you came.’
I looked up at the rafters incredulously, rolled my eyes, and shook my head.
‘Listen to what Mo’s saying, James. You must understand there’s more to your dream than you wish to acknowledge. If you’re honest, you know that you didn’t risk life and limb just to climb this remote and treacherous mountain to prove you could survive whatever physical extremes you might exact on your body. Considering the danger, it would have been ill-advised and even foolhardy to make any such attempt if there hadn’t been something thrusting you forward.’
‘You might have a point there,’ I said. ‘I admit it wasn’t the most judicious plan to contrive, nevertheless, I had to do it. So I did, even if it was impulsive. Maybe that’s why I only told a few of my scheme to, as you say, steal off into the night.’
‘That’s because after your dream,’ Mo said, ‘you began to understand there was more to life than you were experiencing in the Lowlands, although you weren’t sure exactly what that might be. You just knew you couldn’t bear to live in the swamps any longer since your life had become too low and shallow to fulfil your higher aspirations.’
‘In that sense,’ Eli said, ‘you never did wake up from the dream; the dream woke you up and slowly changed your life. You just knew you had to follow where you were called. So you did. This is it; the adventure you’re now on.’
‘Sounds like you two have me figured out with all these metaphors you’ve borrowed from my dream,’ I said with a tinge of sarcasm.
‘You already know there’s something to what we’re saying,’ Eli said, ‘even if you won’t admit it. Your dream was a call to take you beyond the mists of the Lowlands, far beyond what you understood. You may not understand this, but that’s about to change. As is your world.’
‘The Mountain represented your quest for what’s higher,’ Mo said, ‘and soon you will find it becomes more than just a metaphor but rather, your emerging reality. Furthermore, you will find it has a more substantial foundation than the bogs you kept building on in the Lowlands.
‘All that was presented in your spectacularly, vivid dream portended what was to come, just as all you seek to understand was portended in your dream. Whether you realise it or not, this dream has become your new reality. As soon as you are aware of this, you will realise why you are here.’
‘You don’t say,’ I muttered incredulously.
‘Trust us, James, we’re not making any of this up. That’s why it’s imperative you now realise that your dream has merged with all you’ve experienced here. In recounting your dream, we only wish to remind you of what it was telling you. So do not spurn the gift you gave to yourself.
‘The dream was a revelation from you to yourself. You earned it, my friend; therefore, it’s all yours: your poetry, your guide, your future. It gave you the vision and higher perspective you needed to find your way here. The directions didn’t come from your mind; it came from your heart.’
‘Of course they did,’ I said, ‘so what in bloody hell is that supposed to mean.’
‘It means it’s taken you this long for your heart to show you the way up this mountain,’ Eli said, ‘just as it seemed in your dream! You’ve gone to a fair amount of trouble over the years for you to get to this Mountain.’
‘Ah, now I’m beginning to get it,’ I said, ‘it was all those mucky ruts and bogs that had me stuck. But really, chaps, let’s not get too carried away creating allegories of dreams unless you both think you’re Freud and Jung. Besides, I think it’s been only about a week now since I left London.’
‘Well, that’s not entirely true,’ Mo said, ‘still, we can talk about that later. The fact is you made it this far up. Nevertheless, you might have a lot further to go. And as you ascend further up towards higher realms, you will have to go further in.’
‘Further in… to where?’
‘Towards higher realms within,’ he said. ‘Further in is how you get further up. Always remember that.’
‘Ah, more metaphoric posers,’ I said. ‘You know, every major philosophy throughout antiquity has contrived ideas of higher realms. So which philosophy are you flaunting?’
‘As you know, not all philosophies are interested in higher realms,’ Mo said. ‘Too many philosophers, especially today, are more interested in leading their followers to the lowest areas of the Flatlands where they impose their shallow beliefs on impressionable minds.
‘Don’t take this personally, James, since we’re not referring to you. In fact, that’s why you’re here and not there; you had enough of the claptrap. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re already well on your way to higher realms; you just haven’t figured it out yet. Nevertheless, this journey will become more apparent to you the higher you go.’
‘Well, in actuality,’ I said, ‘my journey is further down, all the way back to London. Which reminds me, I really should be on my way now.’
Mo focused his penetrating eyes on me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable.
‘Before you go,’ he said, ‘we have something more to say to you that might shock you.’
‘We suspect,’ Eli said, ‘you won’t wish to believe any of it until it’s understood from the depths of your soul. However, when you come to accept it, you will finally see life through eyes you didn’t know could see and through ears you didn’t know could hear. Although you may not at first comprehend the significance of this event, we’ll work with you to help you adjust to your new reality.’
‘New reality,’ I said. ‘What’s wrong with my old reality? Reality is reality; it’s not the kind of thing you can go around reinventing whenever it suits your fancy.’
‘True enough,’ Mo said, ‘still, who says you can’t experience dimensions of higher reality when you exist on lower planes. Instead of reinventing the universe, it’s more like discovering what more is already there.
‘The more you come to know what’s within, the more you will come to know what’s without. Unfortunately, you can’t find these answers within the limited terms of your normal rational enquiry.’
‘To the contrary,’ I said, ‘it’s impossible to answer rational questions other than through rational enquiry.’
‘That might be true,’ he said. ‘What I mean though, is that reason can only answer questions that are within the scope of its understanding. Reasoning is of the mind, yet when it comes to higher understanding, the mind on its own can only see shadows and distortions on the walls of the transcending sunlight outside the cave of its limitations.’
‘Ah, the cave,’ I said. ‘Yes, of course, provided you want to enlist Plato’s metaphor.’
‘If you wish, we can have that discussion later,’ Mo said.
‘For now, you will have to accept that your consciousness is more than the mental processes of your brain. Your old terms of reasoning are inadequate because they were crafted in the crucibles of Lowlands foundries. Until you recognise that, you’re going to knock yourself out trying to figure out what has happened to you here in this higher order of reasoning.’
‘Balderdash,’ I said. ‘Reason is either rational or irrational; there’s nothing between.’
‘We agree, there’s nothing between,’ Mo said, continuing, ‘nevertheless, there’s much that’s over and above what you consider to be rational in the third dimension.’
‘Such as what?’ I asked.
‘If this had been taught to you in the Flatlands, you would already know. And, if they did teach it, the Flatlands would no longer remain flat.’
‘Flatlands, where’s that? I think you mentioned it before. Another metaphor?’
‘Indeed, it is,’ he said. ‘A place you’ve spent most of your adult life. Let’s just say Flatlands exist everywhere on earth in the lowest and driest regions of its Lowlands for those who don’t know who they are. Unfortunately, this has little meaning to anyone who lives there. If they cared to find out, they would soon leave for higher ground. It’s too constricting to remain on such a plain once they discover who they are. You may spell that both ways, plain and plane since they both apply.’
‘Good to know… along with your other creative riddles and metaphors! Possibly we can discuss such recondite matters and assorted abstractions should we ever meet in London.’
‘So, tell me, James, do you know who you are?’
‘You mean about understanding who I am? Look, Mo, I don’t wish to get into a big ontological match with you right now. Sure, I gave it some thought last night, although I didn’t get too far with it.
‘However, if you think you need to know, I can tell you this much: I’m a male Caucasian of British citizenship, thirty-three years of age, six feet one inch, 198 pounds of lean muscle and bone, with enough brain tissue left over to be a Professor of Philosophy in London. I might also add, a connoisseur of fine wine and women, though not necessarily in that order. Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s all I’m prepared to disclose to you at this point.’
‘I’m not disappointed at all,’ Mo said. ‘In fact, the point of me asking you the question was so you would realise how little you know and how difficult it is to find an answer to who you are. Don’t despair though; there is an answer.’
‘Okay then, so what’s the answer? I’m sure there’s a lot of philosophers that would like to hear what you have to say about this.’
‘I only said there is an answer; I didn’t say I knew what it was because only you can answer it for yourself, no one else. It can’t be learned; it can only be discovered, not by the mind, but rather, by the heart. Only the heart knows. Do you remember what the ancient inscription on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi said?’
‘Of course, NOSCE TE IPSUM! Along with many other Greeks, Pythagoras and Plato were obsessed with this, just like you and my physicist friend Miguel.’
‘And that, James, is why you are here: To KNOW THYSELF!’ Have you not been looking to find this?
‘I don’t know; perhaps, although, I have a quick way to find out. It’s on my ID tag hanging on the chain around my neck. I had it inscribed on a pendant in case I had an accident or killed climbing here.’
‘Oh really,’ Eli said. ‘Did you hear that, Mo? James’ identity is hanging on a chain. I’m curious; let’s see what that looks like.’
I felt around my neck. ‘Bloody hell, it’s not here! It’s gone! Damn! I hope it’s not lost. Why didn’t I notice this earlier?’
‘What does it look like?’ Eli asked.
‘It’s a silver chain with a pendant and gold-plated cross.’
‘A gold cross, did you say? I thought you said you weren’t religious.’
‘I’m not, however, it has sentimental value. It had been given to me when I was a child, I just came across it recently in an old box, so, I put it on my pendent chain for good luck.’
‘For good luck? So, you’re saying you’re not religious, just superstitious.’
‘Well, actually, I’m neither… if you know what I mean.’
‘I do,’ he said, ‘but do you?’
I just looked at Eli, trying to think of something clever to say.
‘Don’t worry about it,’ Mo said. ‘I’m confident you will eventually find your identity.’
‘I don’t think you understand,’ I said, ‘I’ve got to be going now, not eventually. Damn it; it must be here someplace… I haven’t gone that far. Unless it’s at my campsite.’
‘No, you haven’t gone that far,’ Eli said, ‘although, your cross and pendant might have.’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
‘If you stop pacing, James, we can help you understand your situation. Relax by the fireplace with us and have another tea and scone. If we take a little time to talk about where it might have gone, maybe we’ll be able to help you find what you’re looking for.’
‘Fine, but let’s make this quick so I can be on my way.’
‘We’d be pleased to help you find your ID,’ Mo said with a smirk. ‘When you do, however, it will then be time for you to return.’
‘I’m ready now,’ I said.
‘I don’t think that’s what Mo meant,’ Eli said, grinning. ‘It might take you considerably longer than you think.’
‘I don’t have long,’ I said. ‘Maybe we should go to where I camped by the fire and see if it might be there. Oh, wait, it might be in the loft where I slept; it's probably up there somewhere.’
‘Don’t bother, James,’ Mo said. ‘We already know where you lost it.’
‘You do? Then why didn’t you say so?’
‘We will; first though, you need to listen to what we have to say.’
‘Why not just tell me now?’ I asked, raising my voice in exasperation.
‘Sit down, James,’ Eli said. ‘This might take a while. You have been curious about much ever since arriving here, have you not?’
I just looked at him blankly, then said: ‘Of course, that’s an understatement. I’m curious about everything that’s happened here. For now, though, I just want to get the bloody hell out of here as quickly as I can. No offence intended, but this place is getting too weird for me.’
They didn’t say anything, so I sat down, poured a cup of tea, took a bite out of a scone, then waited to hear what they might have to say.
Finally, Mo spoke up and said: ‘It’s time we tell you everything, James. Quite possibly, it will be more than you wish to hear.’
He had my attention now, still, I wasn’t sure how serious I should take what might come.
‘Understand,’ he continued, ‘the more we say, the more questions you will have. Undoubtedly, it’s about more than just the identity on your chain. So, be patient; take several deep breaths and clear your mind.’
What’s this, some freaking yoga class? I thought. I already had plenty of deep breathing exercises on my way up the Summit. And now I’m being told to be patient.
I muttered some obscenity under my breath, which they may or may not have heard. It didn’t matter; I didn’t care. How could I remain composed at a time like this, and why did I always let them push me into their whacky make-believe world? I sometimes wondered if they might be part of some weird cult.
‘Okay, so what’s next chaps?’ I asked. ‘Satori or charades? These might be fun games to play.’ Though I tried to keep the sarcasm to myself, it wasn’t easy to remain calm and not appear any more agitated than I already was. Nevertheless, I breathed in and out several times to keep the peace. Hopefully, they would now tell me where I could find my chain.
When I was done, Mo said in a soft, conciliatory tone: ‘We appreciate you’ve been waiting for us to explain why things are as they are here. It’s now time you hear what we have to say.’
‘It sounds like you’re about to tell me something peculiar, Mo. So, what is it?’
‘This may shock you,’ he said, ‘much has gone on of which you’re not aware. Be prepared, because you will likely find it difficult to believe. In fact, it might take time before you come to terms with what we say. I’m confident you will eventually come to accept what happened. Nevertheless, it might require some time for you to... ‘
‘Wait a minute,’ I said. ‘Let’s back up. What do you mean, what happened?’
‘What happened,’ Mo said, ‘has to do with the hidden end part of the dream you’ve been suppressing. That’s what we’re going to tell you about; however, we won’t need to say much since you already know. It’s the most significant part of your dream; everything else is just a preamble to what happened. So maybe we should review….’
‘Oh please, let’s not go back to discussing that goddamned dream again. Can’t we just move on; I have a bus to catch.’
‘I think your bus left the station some time ago,’ Eli said, chuckling.
It was beginning to feel like trying to have a rational discussion with the Queen of Hearts.
‘Let’s cut to the chase,’ I said, sitting up in my chair as if I was about to leave. I was losing patience, though careful not to over-react as I had before. If I didn’t play it cool, they might not tell me anything.
‘We wish to answer your questions, James, all of them,’ Mo said. ‘What you seek to know was already foretold in your dream, which, whether you realise it or not, has become your new reality.
‘Trust us,’ Eli said, ‘we’re not making any of this up. On a deep subliminal level, you already know your fate was presented to you in your spectacularly vivid dream. It portended all that was to come. That’s why it’s imperative you now come to understand all you experienced on your journey has merged with your dream. We’re only reminding you of this so you may know what it was trying to tell you.’
‘In fact,’ Mo said, ‘you may soon come to consider the dream allegory to be more real than anything you thought in your past. At some deep level, you understood what was about to happen even before you landed in Santiago. And that, my friend, is what brought you here. So, are you ready to hear the rest?’
‘Of course,’ I said, ‘whatever you mean by the rest. I’ll admit my dream may have some merits as an interesting allegory. To be honest, after giving it more consideration today, I probably understand more than what I’ve been letting on, especially the allusions about swamps and snakes. The more I thought about it, the more it sounds much like my work environment, especially the snakes in the grass,’ I chuckled. ‘So, let’s hurry this along; where do you want to start?’
They didn’t answer me; they just looked at each other as the atmosphere became sullen and deadly serious. I could tell this session wasn’t going to be just an analysis of the literary merits of my dream’s allegorical composition.
They remained silent, gazing intently at me, waiting for me to settle down. I felt an eerie foreboding. Did I want to hear what they were about to say, or should I bolt for the door? I studied Mo’s graven countenance and understood something ominous was about to be said, and I knew had to do with me,
‘What is it, Mo?’ I asked. ‘You’re making me nervous. Is there a problem?’
‘There’s no problem,’ he said, ‘unless you consider it such. It’s time now you hear the rest of your story.’
‘What do you mean, the rest of my story?’
‘The part where we ended,’ he said. ‘But it didn’t end. In reality, it’s just the beginning… the beginning of your new life. What we are about to tell you will explain this and why things now might seem so… ah, different. It will also help you find your pendent and cross.’
‘So, rather than getting worked up about how this dream may or may not have ended, just give me the bottom line. After all, it was just a metaphor from my subconscious mind to teach something or another about higher aspirations. I mean, that’s why it was about a Mountain, right? I’m sure it’s something I will give more thought to when I return home. I have no doubt that dreams can do that sort of thing at times. However, we can get carried away by over-analyzing them; don’t you agree?’
‘You see James,’ Mo said, ‘it’s like this: that little metaphor, as you call it, has more to do with your current space/time reality than you realise. It was all about your destiny.’
‘Interesting… and what destiny is that?’ I asked.
‘The one you were destined for, James. You said you wondered why you woke up from this dream in a panic. Your dream didn’t tell you why. It took you to the brink. Still, no further. That’s why you don’t know what happened. So, now it’s time for you to find out.’
‘What more is there to find out? I woke up… dream’s over!’
‘But what if the dream wasn’t over? What if there was more to it? Perhaps something that happened not far from here where the chasm opens into a long abyss. You panicked not just once, but twice; first in your dream last October, and then again recently, just below this cabin.’
‘Sorry, I have no idea what you are going on about.’
‘That’s because your mind doesn’t wish to relive this trauma. And yet… it must. So, tell us, James, what was happening as you approached the Summit. Close your eyes; go deeply within. Take your time… what do you see?’
‘All I remember is that it was a very tough scramble up the last leg to the Summit. I remember being really knackered, so rested in the ravine before going the distance. Then, as I got closer, I saw something most extraordinary.
‘At first, it appeared there were two or three shimmering orbs that I imagined as aliens from space; not that I believe in any of that, although the bright lights had me curious. I was anxious to pass over to the other side of the chasm to find out what was going on.
‘Crossing it seemed too treacherous, so I decided to take another route to the left. I must confess; that was very strange. I’m a bit embarrassed to say.’
‘Go ahead, you can tell us,’ Eli said.
‘Well, okay… but don’t tell anyone. As I wondered what to do, I thought I heard a voice directing me towards a hidden fissure in the precipice. Then I had a vision of where to go. Like, I said, that was very strange.
‘Perhaps it was a case of not having adjusted to the altitude; that’s how I made it up the summit… by circumventing the chasm. It’s now evident that it was just my imagination, however, at the time, it seemed real.’
‘Still, don’t you also remember taking another route up here?’ Mo asked. ‘The one across the chasm?’
‘It’s interesting you should mention that. I recall crossing an abyss somewhere along the way, very much like the chasm below.’
‘Close your eyes once again, James,’ Mo said, ‘and this time take another deep breath, relax for a moment, then tell us what you see. What happened as you were crossing the ledge to the other side?’
‘I’m not sure.’
‘Take your time and think hard. Did you cross over?’
‘Well, I must have. Here I am.’
‘Indeed, here you are, that much is certain. No doubt about it, you did cross over. And yet, did you cross over in the way you think?’
‘What do you mean: cross over in the way I think? Aren’t you listening? Of course, I crossed over; what other way is there?’
‘What about the other approach you just mentioned; the one you said a voice directing you towards; didn’t I just hear you say you came by way of that approach?’
Even before Mo mentioned this, it seemed my last words caught in my throat. I knew something didn’t sound right; how could I have done both at the same time?
I got up from my chair, went to the window and stared out. I didn’t see anything, lost in my inner world, trying to imagine what happened next.
Mo’s question triggered something within me that had me bewildered. As I continued to stand there, I closed my eyes, concentrating on what I felt stirring deep within. I wasn’t sure what was emerging; whatever it was, it had a foreboding feel.
Then, slowly, fragmented scenes of blurred cliffs and canyon walls started to flash into my mind. First, they appeared as still-frames, then merged in slow motion. The images quickened, running seamlessly in vivid detail, as the whole horrific scene began to play itself out. The veil of amnesia had lifted.
I felt my body falling through space; a torrent of wind swished by me with the force of a tsunami. I heard my cup drop on the floor as I saw myself falling through an abyss. I observed craggy rocks thrusting upwards over and past me, with slopes of scree and snow approaching me from below. Then nothing! All went blank; there was only darkness and oblivion.
I felt myself gripping the window ledge, hanging on so I wouldn’t fall any further. I don’t know how long I stood there. Finally, I shuffled back to my seat and slumped there in silence as the reels continued to replay the scenes over and over. Each time the images became more vivid and fearsome. As much as I wanted to believe none of this was happening, I couldn’t deny it. I was transfixed by the terror I felt and couldn’t look away.
Next, I looked down on my body lying in a heap in a ravine below the canyon. At once, I was fascinated, bewildered and horrified with what my mind just enacted. How could I have not known about this before? Did Mo and Eli see this happen? If so, would that have been them, standing there on the Summit above, appearing as orbs of light?
Finally, I said in a faint whisper: ‘I must be losing my mind. I just went through the most horrific phantasm you can imagine. It was dreadful! I was hurling down through an abyss. Then, I saw my body lying in a bloody lump at the bottom on a sheet of rocks and ice.’
‘Yes, James,’ Eli said quietly, ‘that was your body after your almost fatal fall off the chasm’s ledge. And yes, we saw it too. We witnessed the end of your dream – the beginning of your new reality.’
‘What I saw couldn’t have happened,’ I muttered; ‘it was just part my dream, you know; where I was on the ledge.’
‘Nevertheless, it did happen,’ Mo said, ‘and not just in your dream. It occurred, just as we said, not far below this cabin in third dimension space and time.’
‘I’m confused,’ I said. ‘I don’t remember any of this happening, only what I just re-experienced from my dream.’
‘Then let us tell you exactly what happened and all that was presaged in your dream. When you first arrived here, you weren’t ready to hear what had happened to you. Now that you remember your fall, you must realise it happened in your life, not just in your dream.’
‘I prefer it to be in a dream,’ I said, ‘instead of what my mind just imaged.’
‘Not what your mind imagined,’ Eli said. ‘It was what your mind recalled yet censored because of what trauma it might invoke. Only with our prompting were you able to witness what your conscious mind suppressed. So, let’s go back once again and see if we can help you remember what caused your fall when you were crossing over. Do you recall that last step?’
‘No, I don’t.’
‘That’s because there was no next step. The thin ledge gave way as your body went flailing down through the canyon, twisting and gyrating before it hit the slopes, continuing to slide to the bottom of the ravine.’
I shook my head in disbelief, not wanting to accept any of this, though I knew it was what I had seen and felt.
‘James,’ Mo said, ‘you need to accept what your mind is telling you so we can reveal what happened next. Don’t fear it. It’s all over now, understand, however… you were this projectile. Do you recall how your whole life flashed before your eyes as you flew down?’
‘Yes, I felt something like that.’
‘So, after falling over a hundred yards below, your body continued ricocheting off the canyon walls while tumbling through the air. As your legs smashed against the igneous protrusions, they became broken in several places. Being in shock, you felt nothing. Then, as your body hit the scree slopes, something snapped. It was your neck, and you remembered no more.’
‘That’s ridiculous,’ I said. ‘My neck doesn’t even feel sore; my legs and body have never felt better.’
‘Please understand that under normal circumstances, your body should be dead,’ Mo said. ‘Yet, as Eli just pointed out, the impact was buffeted with a thin layer of snow and underlying scree that caught your body as it continued to slide down. Had it slid much further, it might have fallen over a steep precipice, likely never to be seen again.’
‘We observed your body lying there, mangled and bloodied,’ Eli said. ‘Barely alive, it still breathed. You then departed your familiar earthbound vessel.’
 This last statement of Mo’s made little sense to me until I later discovered that it was in reference to a quote about what has lasting consequences in life: ‘Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.’ I Corinthians 3:12 (KJV)
 The first writing I know of that uses the term flatland, at least in the context spoken of here, was a science fiction classic simply called Flatland (1884) by Edward A. Abbot (1838-1926), a London headmaster, scholar and theologian. Then later, Thomas Mann also wrote of the flatlands in his seminal novel, The Magic Mountain (1924).
 From Alice’s Adventures Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, first published in 1865.
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Five
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Six
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Seven
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Eight
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Nine
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Ten
SUMMARY OF ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE
This is the first in a series of five Elysium narrations regarding a young British philosopher named James Phillips who finds himself living in an altered state of reality while still remaining on earth.
After experiencing a near-fatal fall while climbing to the summit of a remote mountain in the Andes, James awakens in a new dimension. He soon encounters two mysterious beings who provide him with a very different perspective on the nature of his existence. Over the next year, before his body recovers from the coma, he is challenged to re-examine his understanding about life’s meaning and purpose far beyond anything he previously believed or could believe.
An engaging and sometime surreal adventure with intimations of impending romance, the narrative explores the most important questions about life, death, reality and our ultimate destiny.
The Plains of Elysium (Champs-Élysées) was described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the paradisiac afterlife realm reserved for heroes. As the title suggests, this is about a journey through a passage that leads towards Elysium’s exciting realm of existence.
PENDING PUBLICATIONS IN THE SERIES
The following titles in the ELYSIUM’S PASSAGE series are projected to be released as follows:
THE ASCENT fall 2021
THE SUMMIT fall 2021
QUANTUM LEAPS spring 2022
SURREAL ADVENTURES spring 2022
MYSTICAL ROMANCE summer 2022
HE ELIXIR fall 2022
THE RETURN sometime in 2023
With the exception of the last novel in the series, the last three have been written but still require more editing before publication.
I am still in the process of doing the final proofing of this book which was formerly the first half of Elysium's Passage: The Summit. Since splitting it, I've decided to make some minor revisions and corrections.
To see all posts for the Elysium's Passage blog site, got to Blog Post Links to Elysium's Passage
The following comments are among the first Amazon reviews of Elysium’s Passage: The Summit. All are Five Stars! Others reader reviews are included below, along with excerpts from two professional reviews. These comments are abridged. To read the full reviews, go to READER REVIEWS on www.elysiumspassage.com
"Quietly, gently, and without imposition, the Author unfolds the pages, creating an intricate, interlocking bridge spanning the chasm between mind and heart. Renewing, refreshing, restoring. In my bereavement, it was vigil and light…"
"A delightful mix of fantasy, reality, conjecture and humour; Mr Meyers draws the reader into the story with a gentle narrative that captures the imagination, leaving one anxious to get to the next page drawing you into his exceptional world.”
“Excellently written with an exceedingly deep understanding of this world and the next. The characters are very well written and engaging. I can't wait to complete this book!"
“Takes the reader on both a philosophical and spiritual journey, a journey that at times is both disquieting and tranquil. James, a British Philosopher can be irreverent and caustic, traits that should have left me cringing, but instead made me laugh out loud. Elysium’s Passage is a fun, enlightening and remarkable book.”
“This is a masterful fantasy, becoming a real possibility, as the reader is drawn into the story. The Summit leaves you anxious for the next book in the series, yet also leaves you totally satisfied with the world you have just visited. Genius! An exciting, yet calming, experience that is not to be missed."
"There was hardly a page on which I did not find at least one sentence worthy of hi-lighting for future reference. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed the main character, James, whose personality and passionate verbal exchanges with the other characters, kept me coming back for more. I am reading the book for a second time while I wait for the next one in this series to be made available."
“N.G. Meyers has clearly put a great deal of research and thought into what the afterlife may look like and I like his perspective. It’s an altogether welcoming and exciting vision. The book gives one a great deal to think about and a reassuring confidence that the end of our lives is truly the beginning of life in the next. I highly recommend it."
“The humour interjected into a serious discussion makes me laugh out loud. Totally unexpected....l may be in the presence of at least a master, if not a genius. A fair ride into reality... seeking that which is unseen, yet absolutely real.”
“An engaging story of adventure embracing man's deepest desire to search for meaning and purpose, N.G. Meyers takes the reader on an adventurous thought-provoking journey. This book has substance. It is a perfect blend of adventure and fantasy combined with spiritual philosophy. It ignited my imagination. The author magically weaves a good story laced with wit and humour together with deep philosophical wisdom. This book has it all!”
“An evolution in thought is triggered by many fresh philosophical themes which could inspire readers to re-think their reality and former ideologies that have dictated their lives… the author fires readers’ imaginations to view what could be possible when spirit vacates the body.”
“This is the book spiritual seekers have been waiting for. For me, it granted a great read as well as increased inspiration to live every day with a heightened sense of purpose. I highly recommend it.”
“The Summit is capable of hooking readers and luring them to search for Book 2 to discover more about Dr. Philip’s surreal trek into the mysterious unknown universe. This thick book is well worth the read and to share…”
“Mind-blowing statements and speculation (‘…everyone is a non-physical thought form conceived in the Mind of God, preserved for all eternity because God’s thoughts never die…’). Many will find Meyers’ journey up the Mountain intriguing—and possibly even life-changing.” (BLUEINK REVIEW)
“In its effort to grapple with fundamental questions about the meaning of life, it raises questions that have echoed throughout the ages, including about where we come from, where we are going, who we are.” (CLARION REVIEW)
For more READERS REVIEWS https://digitalbloggers.com/arts-and-entertainment/reader-reviews
FACEBOOK: Elysium's Passage Novel Series, Elysium's Passage Public Group page, Elysium's Passage Author's Page, or to my personal page Neil Meyers
LINKEDIN: Neil Meyers
BLOG POSTINGS: https://digitalbloggers.com/articles/elysiumspassage or the Elysium's Passage website
AMAZON: Purchase details of Elysium’s Passage: The Summit, are available online from the web and blog site
YOUTUBE: ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE CHANNEL
PRESS REVIEW: https://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/05/prweb15515775.htm