Shakti Ingenue began his spiritual quest during a commercial break in the Games of the Thirty-First Olympiad. Having just witnessed Katie Ledecky clean house in the women’s 800m freestyle, during which time he had consumed two-thirds of a beer and half a mushroom pesto pizza, he was riding a high and not being realistic about what it was he was hoping to accomplish. Thoughts were colliding willy-nilly in his mind. An entire spectrum of personal conundrums and opportunities was becoming clear to him.
The universe was opening up like a flower.
The absence of qualifying swimmers from the nation of India, for instance–such a vast and ancient nation ought surely to be capable of producing one world class swimmer!– had somehow fired a subculture of neurons living in his brain that were familiar with evolutionary biology. What his vast neural complex had concluded, was that if there was a yoga competition in the Olympics, Indian athletes would probably kick some ass on a Ledeckian scale.
He pictured himself seated quietly in an auditorium full of world class vipassana meditators wearing loose-fitting clothing. Like a judo robe. What you would do, he realized, is sit perfectly still without moving a muscle until you either won, or died. He couldn’t tell if he would have a slight smile on his face for the judges, or just look bored. Then he was reminded that some yogis liked to balance upside down on their hands, or standing on one foot, and he bogged down in the details, like how the competition would be judged. Faced with such a gargantuan and delicious problem, he lost focus on his spiritual quest entirely and shifted his mission to developing a technology that would objectively score the performance of world class yogis.
The television became a blur in the background.
Shakti realized it was one thing to bend your torso in half backwards while balancing your body on one hand, and quite another to be completely at peace in the same instant. The real winners would be blissed right out while contorted into pretzel-like geometries symbolic of man’s ascent out of the clutches of personal unconsciousness. The pose would have a pre-determined level of difficulty, but it would be wasted if certain biometrics were not achieved.
Maybe they could wear an electrified suit, like the fencers did, only it would need to be more like a leotard– something stretchy and virtually non-existent that would measure heart rate, brain waves, and blood pressure. He would develop a head band that could measure endorphin release. You would need to track the electromagnetic potential of the skin, and the heat generated by the palm of each hand.
While Shakti watched this year’s crop of pole vaulters fling themselves up into the sky, he took it one step further and realized what you really needed was a device for measuring chakra activity. That was the real enigma. This was a frontier that Shakti Ingenue could really get into exploring. Aargh! If only he had studied physics at the university!
But what about a team competition?! You could have a device that generated entangled pairs of photons, and pairs of yogis would systematically defeat Bell’s Inequality by modulating the entangled photons as they whizzed through their energy fields!
He sketched out the experiment on a sheet of paper. He drew a box and labeled it “Entangled Pair Generator” and then he drew some lines with arrows to represent the photons. Then he tried to draw the yogis seated placidly along the route. Geez! His drawing skills were really lacking. They were utterly piss-poor. The yogi’s noses kept turning out bulbous-looking and facing the wrong way on their faces. After three aborted sketches he looked up and realized they had cut to men’s volleyball. A gigantic man in knee-pads was clenching his fists and screaming vein-popping encouragement to his teammates. He had ten kills already. People were diving everywhere but they couldn’t stop him.
It was incredible. Shakti couldn’t stop watching.
While the Olympians dove and flailed, the pizza kicked in and his eyes began to feel heavy. Fatigue is millions and millions of cells ganging up on you– telling you to sit quietly so they can get back to what they were doing the night before. He was forced to concede. He brushed his teeth and had a glass of water, then went to bed. He dreamed about yogis diving all over a field, trying to catch a butterfly, but they couldn’t do it. The butterfly was very lithe.
When he awoke the next day, he was hungry for breakfast. He put some bread in the toaster and brewed some tea. His residual thoughts of a yoga competition in the Olympics were dull-seeming and distant. They weren’t there at all, actually. He had thirty minutes to shake off the weekend and remember who he was: a man with a job; a museum curator; the son of a mechanic.
A very normal man, with poor stretching ability, who was the perfect child of everything there is.