BY ELYN AVIVA
Dear Reader: As a long time contributor to YourLifeisaTrip.com, it occurred to me, as I searched for input about my upcoming book, that I didn’t need to look any further than the YLIAT community. I want to share with you the first part of the first chapter of my work in progress—tentatively called The Question.
I look forward to your feedback and love this interactive community that is interested in travel, both outer and inner.
The full moon floats over the tranquil lake, admiring her own reflection gleaming as bright as a fresh-minted silver coin. As I stroll along the sandy shore, I pick up a stone and toss it into the still waters. Abruptly the mirrored moon shatters into dancing slivers of light.
The string of broken moonbeams follows me like a compass needle as I amble along. When I was young, I followed that path of shimmering sparks up to the moon. I wonder: could I make that journey now? As if to answer, the moon coyly hides behind a passing cloud, and the moon-lit path abruptly disappears.
The water-soaked sand barely sinks beneath my feet. I look behind me. Water is slowly, inevitably welling up into my footprints, gradually blurring their shape. Soon all traces of the path I have made behind me will disappear. Ahead of me there is only smooth, unmarked sand.
I feel a growing sense of urgency. It’s time to tell my story. But who will listen? And who will have ears to hear?
The moon has recovered from her momentary bashfulness and is once again admiring her reflection in the glassy surface of the lake. I smile at her buoyant lunacy. She seems to smile back.
I hear the nearby trees rustle in the breeze and a faint whisper: “When the time is right, the right listener will appear.”
And then I hear another sound, not much louder than an echo.
A voice calls out to me. “Tell me a story!”
I look around. Someone is sitting on a nearby dune, watching me. He looks vaguely familiar, but in the moonlight, I can’t quite recognize who he is. A distant relative? A long-lost friend? Perhaps he is a faithful student, sent to watch over my frail and failing self. For I am old now and preparing to meet Death, my death, my sometime enemy, my frequent companion. I am preparing to pass on, or over. Preparing in life for life after death—or life after life. What you call it doesn’t really matter, but what and how you think about it is of immense importance.
The figure on the dune calls out again. “Tell me a story!” He gestures widely with his stumpy arms, urging me to approach. I walk back to the dune and sit down next to him on the sand. I look at him, up close in the moonlight, but moonlight is a light that conceals as much as it reveals, that reflects as much as it distorts. His head seems a bit misshapen, his ears unnaturally large, his nose pendulous. I almost recognize him, but not quite. He tilts his head and waits, expectantly.
I make my decision. “I will tell you a story, my story, but it will be a long one—long enough to last through the setting of the moon and the rising of the sun. Long enough—but no longer than is necessary. Are you willing to hear it? Are you ready to listen?”
He nods eagerly and pulls things out of his surprisingly copious leather knapsack. A thermos of steaming chai, which he offers to me, a blanket, which he spreads out beside me, a notebook, and an ivory pen. He opens the notebook on his ample lap and prepares to write. He licks the sharp pen nib, and the ink seems to flow red onto the unlined page as he inscribes the date. Perhaps it is just an illusion of the moonlight.
“Ready when you are,” he replies, cross-legged, leaning his back against the dune.
I, too, lean back against the dune. I nod and begin.
Many years ago, I was going through a very difficult time. Now I can smile about it, but at that time, life had lost its meaning. I had lost my way. I didn’t know what to do or, equally important, what not to do. Distraught, I found myself wandering through an ancient city, successfully losing myself in its maze of twisting lanes and narrow alleys. Of course, I had already gone astray, so losing myself was an easy thing to do.
By chance I peered into the grimy window of a used book store. A faded advertisement pasted in one corner caught my eye. In Baroque letters, it announced: “Feeling lost? Help is near. In fact, it’s here. First reading, free.” I wondered what kind of reading was being offered—palm reading? Tarot cards? Some sort of runes? Although I was skeptical by nature, I was desperate and ready to try anything.
I turned the worn brass handle and pushed open the creaky wooden door. An old-fashioned bell attached to the door-hinge tinkled as I walked in. The tiny room smelled musty and slightly mildewed. In the dust-filled light, I saw walls lined with overflowing bookshelves and tables covered with collapsing stacks of tattered magazines. Rolled prints or perhaps parchments poked out of a large vase on the floor.
Hand-written shelf-labels indicated an effort had once been made to organize the collection into categories: “False Philosophy,” “Esoterica,” “Exotica,” “Outer Space Travel,” “Inner Space Travel, “Non-fiction Maybe,” “Maybe Fiction,” “Never To Be Read Aloud.” I smiled. It appeared the shop owner had a sense of humor. Other labels were written in some kind of hieroglyphics and in languages I had never seen before. Dimly lit hallways led off in different directions.
“Hello? Anyone here?” I called out. There was no answer, though I thought I heard a faint rustling in a corner. Rats, I wondered, or perhaps a resident cat?
Just as I was about to leave, I saw a light go on behind a narrow, ill-fitted door that looked like it opened into a closet. I noticed a sign hanging on the door that read, “Open for business.”
A throaty voice called out, “Come in.”
I entered and look around. The room was surprisingly large, as if the space had somehow expanded beyond the confines of the shop.
A woman sat on a clear, Plexiglas chair at a round, mirror-top table. She gestured to the empty chair across from her, and I sat down nervously.
She began drawing cards out of the air with her long, slim fingers. The Tarot Magician trump appeared, then a wolf spirit-guide card, followed by a colorful Kabbalist Tree of Life diagram.
She glanced at me and asked rhetorically, “Why be limited to working with only one deck of cards?”
I watched, mesmerized.
She raised her left hand again and, with a curious spiraling twist of her fingers, another card appeared and floated gently down through the air. The tabletop was soon covered with a kaleidoscope of cards of different designs, shapes, and sizes. She stirred the mirage with both hands and then looked at me, her glance piercing me like a rook’s.
“Now, what is your question?”
I took a deep breath and prepared to speak.
She raised an imperious hand. “You don’t have to tell me.”
I nodded silently. A clock ticked in the background, then stopped. I turned to find the source of sound but there was none. The walls were bare. Bare and lit as if with moonlight.
“In case you were wondering, the time is always now,” the Seer declared, and laughed a laugh that tinkled like a bell. Then she shook herself, as if shaking off a chill. “Let’s begin. Pick your first card.”
“Wait—” I protested, as if suddenly coming out of a spell. “Wait! Who are you? What is this place?”
She laughed, this time an odd, rasping laugh. “Is that your question? Your real question? I think not. Let’s begin. Time is a-wasting, although there is no time. And opportunity is wasting as well. You may not get another chance. Pick your first card.”
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Elyn Aviva is a transformational traveler, writer, and fiber artist who lives in Oviedo (Asturias), Spain. She is co-author with her husband, Gary White, of “Powerful Places Guidebooks.” To learn more about her publications, go to www.powerfulplaces.com and www.pilgrimsprocess.com. To learn about Elyn’s fiber art, go to www.fiberalchemy.com.