However it happened—none can really say.
I only know that I was standing in a pasture filled with mirrored boxes, like disco saunas, and that people were lined up in front of them in silent repose. We were like a host of jet-lagged arrivals waiting to get our passports stamped—or our eyes examined, or our opinion surveyed, or our future turned upside down and shaken out, its contents inspected for contraband bits of the past. Whatever the hell was going on here, having just found out you were here, and not somewhere else entirely, the obvious thing was to wait your turn.
The whole thing was quite stately once you took it all in. Placid. A beautiful row of mirrored boxes, each of them roughly ten foot square, lined up through the field and down towards the water like drips of blood from some fleeing crystalline god. It was quite a sight. Even at the front of the line, there was no escalation of mysterious intensity just because you were next. It felt right to wait calmly, with a quiet demeanor, which I was doing until a woman stepped out of the mirrored pane before me with ash all over her face and coveralls, with tears streaming down her cheeks, and with eyes that sparkled to the light of a setting sun whose origin defied location.
She was looking right at me, but seeing somewhere else.
A hand reached out from the box and yanked her back, and she was gone. Her eyes stayed with me though. There was no sunset in this field of glass mysteries. No fiery amber orbs dipping out of sight. What could she have been seeing? And how? From where I stood, in this field of pleasant beings lined up in front of these glass disco saunas, there was only a benign tranquility. Like that first page of the book that’s intentionally left blank. And then that woman, and her tears.
I coughed into my balled fist. Was it my turn?
The hand reached out from the box, finger pointed right at me, a finger that swiveled around in a perfect half circle and curled upwards, beckoning me forwards.
In you go.
I walked right through the plane of mirrored light and into the examining room.
The doctor began by asking me to have a seat on the examination table, which I did of course.
“You have to imagine,” he began, “the point at which non-existence realized it was you.”
“Could we have introductions first?” I said.
“Because I don’t know who I am.”
“Well, you seem very familiar. Do you write poems?”
“Were you in a movie?”
“Is this place real?”
“Well, you seem very familiar.”
“Been doing this a long time. Plus there’s only one of us. Now listen up. Lots of people to treat today. You have to imagine,” he began again, “the point at which non-existence realized it was you.”
(It comes easier than you think, I have to say.)
“Good. Now at first, it’s a benign tranquility, right?”
“I think that’s my line.”
“Well of course it is. Whose would it be otherwise? Now—first, it’s a benign tranquility. Then there’s a moment in which you realize: you don’t have a clue who you are. But it seems… it seems as though suddenly, for the first time, you might be some thing. The reality is, you could be most anything.”
“I’m me, you mean.”
“Yes! Yes, that’s it exactly!”
(I realized I was a natural.)
“But think back! Think back very carefully! How did you get there?”
“Think back to the point at which non-existence realized it was you. Where were you right before that?”
“But you were there, right? Just before you were there– there you were.”
“Non-existence was there, yes.”
“Yes! Now, here’s the thing. What if the point at which non-existence realized it was you was the point at which non-existence realized it was so much more than a benign tranquility?”
“What if non-existence realized that it never wasn’t, meaning that it never began and will never end, and that it was by its very nature—an immaterial nature neither created nor changeable—an endless plenum of goodness and beauty?”
“Then it would turn into me?”
“We’re unbelievable, you and I.”
“Thank you, doctor. I really must say, this has been quite helpful.”
“You’ve had a good treatment today. Name’s Hafiz, by the way.”