|Public Domain Science Fiction Writer||
For Betos this was going to be a day of trepidation but at least he had Laura with him. For Laura it was a day of uncertainty. She didn't trust Betos but neither did she trust the rabid liberalism she associated with the Renouncement Bureau. These were the Talaks she was at uni with, now she didn't trust them and she didn't trust them then either - but she never knew why. They were her group, campus activists, but that activism had too much intellect in it. Sure they spoke of compassion, all politics spoke of compassion now, but for some reason she saw it as a shallow compassion - shallow was a descriptor she never understood at uni. |
For most of her campus buddies uni threw out the restrictions of their upbringing, and they sought a career path to fit in. For Laura leaving uni brought even more uncertainty. Whilst her friends tried to fit in at work she thought it was just bullshit - money for bullshit. She would go into work and one after the other of these suits would hit on her. It wasn't done in a nasty way, it was just their way. And for most women in the office what they did was acceptable, it appealed to their egos. For Laura ego was hateful but she didn't know why. She knew how they thought of her even though she had never heard it explicitly - she was young, pretty and knew her stuff. For Laura the emphasis was on "knew her stuff", for the suits it was young and pretty. There was a line now drawn socially, and none of these suits stepped over it, it was just she wasn't interested in all that. Friends kept telling her to use it. For her they were almost as bad. They meant it in a good way, and they weren't suggesting she flirt like some of the girls did, but she didn't want to use what she wasn't interested in - it didn't feel honest.
Even socially the thought of meeting males turned her off - not turned her off sexually, but turned off who she was. She loved meeting men who in some way got her, and that was hard because she didn't get herself. She was always looking for something, always wanting to do something - fill her life, fill her life with excitement. But for her there was no excitement in what she did. She would meet the campus girls for a girls' trip but there was little there for her. They would do the stuff, the songs, the guys, the banter, the camerarderie, but whilst her friends still seemed to be on each other's wavelength for Laura it was in the past.
There was one guy she met - he was the brother of a firm guy. As soon as he started talking to her, she told him how lost she was and how she was searching for some sort of realisation. He was older but she could see that he totally understood this self-realisation thing. But he wouldn't sleep with her. He would help her, talk to her, advise her, but every time she went near hooking-up he backed off. She couldn't handle this. Whenever she spoke of self-realisation he was totally focussed on her but she moved on to "us" stuff, and he switched off. It left her totally phased, and she was scared that if she pushed it she would lose the only person who got her. But it was always in her mind.
The only time he ever touched on these things was when he asked if she had found someone - but that was it. She could see he had an agenda with her but couldn't realise what it was. And again she couldn't push it because she was scared he would leave.
Despite all this mental turmoil she allowed to happen, he helped her so much. When she spoke of the suits he knew, he even said he'd been one once, and she was careful with that one for a different reason. She wasn't scared he would run, she just saw how ashamed he was. Then she spoke of the hitting, she called it sexual intimidation and told him that. "Of course it is,"" he advised "but in those sorts of places that will always happen. You have to find a place where it doesn't happen, a Talak who won't do that.” She looked at him with hope, but there was no hidden meaning - no advance. But when she spoke of self-realisation he was so positive towards her. She could just talk about all these things that others, including her parents, just put her down for.
One day he spoke to her. "Have you heard of pathtivism?" he asked.
"Of course but they are a bunch of cooks, Talaks complaining about Taj blaming them for everything,"" she answered rolling out her conditioning.
"Perhaps some are,"" he admitted. "On Saturday there is a study conference entitled "Application of pathtivism to the Talak, society and daily life", would you like to come with me to this?" he asked. He knew she would because she thought it would be personal with him. He could see her eagerness, and in her mind he could see the fantasies building up. He hoped he wasn’t making a mistake, maybe she wasn't ready.
"Take this pamphlet and look at it before Saturday," he handed it over. "I am going now, meet me at Klonti Metro, outside by the sweet kiosk at 8.00 am." She readily agreed.
She got home and began thinking about Thana. Of course he was too old, and at times she looked at him and she could only see age. But everything else she wanted she got from him, except what she really wanted - that Cosmic thing. Her mind drifted into fantasy again, but stopped - crazy thing. Opening the pamphlet she saw:-
Why hadn't she thought of this before, path of self-realisation. There could be something in this, and she began to think about what the conference meant - it felt good. But her mind soon drifted back to her Thana fantasy, lost in it she began drinking and it was soon time for bed.
Come Saturday she was there early waiting for Thana when he arrived on time. As he came over he saw her so enthusiastic, he saw a schoolgirl - had he made a mistake coming with her? "Hi, how you feeling? Looking forward to the conference?" She smiled and nodded unable to say what she really felt.
Most Talaks there knew Thana, and he meticulously introduced her to all he knew, they were so welcoming. Had he talked about her, she hoped he had. There was a young man he particularly introduced, his name was Hartek, and Thana excused himself leaving her in Hartek's company.
"Thana is a wise man," Hartek said "Have you heard him speak?"
She looked astonished, he had never mentioned giving talks. She so wanted to question him about this.
"Laura, what are you studying now?" asked Hartek.
Annoyed at this young man she snapped "I left uni two years ago."
He smiled. "No what is your real study? Pathtivism?"
She mumbled for a while, then painted a smile and said "Pathtivism. But I haven't studied much."
"Today should help you as the speakers are some of the best pathtivists around," he told her then stopped, Thana had returned.
"We must register for workshops,"" he told Laura, and they moved towards the registration desk. He turned back to Hartek who knowingly gave him a thumbs-up. Laura hoped that meant he approved of Thana and Laura.
"Please choose your workshops,"" Thana said, and walked off to the toilet. She made her choices, and he asked "Which ones did he choose?" Happy, he wanted to be with her, she thought, she gladly told him. "OK I will choose these so we can talk about them afterwards." To her horror he signed up for completely different workshops - he was going to be away from her all day. Rather sullenly she asked "Will we be eating together?"
"Of course," and he smiled disarmingly. "Now we must go to the meditation intro," he told her, and pointing to the Taam Hall they walked towards it.
Throughout the meditation all she could think of was her disappointment with Thana, but when she started the workshops she had to put that behind her as all the facilitators made her participate. Soon she began to focus on what they had to say, and it was all so fascinating. She felt a joy building in her.
Meeting Thana for lunch she really wanted to talk about this, but although they met it was a group and many wanted to talk to him. Before she knew it the afternoon session had started and she became enthralled again. Pathtivism was beginning to mean a lot to her.
There was a plenary, and she met up with Thana there. "You have a glow," he said to her "it has been a good day for you?" She nodded, and thought will it soon get better? The plenary had much good advice and she listened mostly. At the end the speaker simply said "Don’t waste today. We have met good Talaks, we have shared much, but it means nothing if we don't go home, do our practice and determine what is our path, what is our compassion to help Talak." They all clapped and cheered, especially Thana - she noticed.
Outside the plenary there was a great buzz, and many wanted to talk to Thana. He was courteous and spoke with them, occasionally smiling at Laura who was getting more and more frustrated as she wanted to get him to her home. "Are we ready to go?" he asked finally, she smiled and they went to the Metro. On the Metro she was buzzing about pathtivism, what she had heard, what it meant, what her practice would be. Thana was just quiet and listened - genuinely pleased for her.
As they neared her flat she quietened as her anticipation of an evening, a night, with Thana clouded her thinking. They reached the door of her building, and Thana stopped. "I will be leaving tomorrow," he told her. "My path takes me to a distant land. There is a retreat there, and I want to spend time with myself."
She was quiet for a long while, she could feel the tears coming. "Can I contact you?""
"No, the retreat is silent," he answered.
"But what about my questions?" she asked – panicking. "You are the only one who gets me."
"You get yourself," he smiled "all the way home you went on and on about how you get yourself, your path. Now do it with confidence and conviction. You can, you know," he told her.
"Hartek likes you - I knew he would," continued Thana "he understands a lot and yet he doesn't. You can help each other. He will contact you in a few days, but if you want to speak to him before then just phone him - here is his number.”
"Laura, it has been nice to know you," he continued his irritating smile "young Talaks like you give me hope." And with that he left her at her door.
She was frozen completely gob-smacked. Then she wanted to run after him but he was now a way off. And she knew enough of him to know he wouldn't listen any more. The tears came, and she quickly ran indoors hoping no-one had seen her.
The tears didn't stop. She loved Thana, and he was gone - no contact, never to see him again. She cried and cried, thought about how much she loved him. Crying, loving. Crying, loving. Then a voice What do you love about him? She continued crying, and then loving .... then thinking what it was that she loved. His body - nice enough for an older man, although sometimes she didn't like the smell of age on him. His wit - well he laughed a lot, but his humour - it was about the path and how ludicrous people were in efforts to hold to their conditioning. His thoughts - he only thought about the path, she had thought it was self-realisation but for Thana there was more to the path than self-realisation – apparently there was a difference.
Laura began crying again but not so vehemently. Why did she love Thana? Because he answered her questions. What else? And she paused …. What else? What is it you love?, asked the voice. His knowledge of the path, and the way he could explain it to her. The voice said he’s a walking encyclopaedia. And she laughed. She realised that she had built up this image of Thana, and loved the image.
But who will answer my questions?, she thought. Can’t you read? Why can’t you answer them for yourself? And she felt a glow inside as she thought this. She could answer them for herself.
She thought back over her meetings with Thana, and she thought about her questions. What did Thana do? He always asked her to think about it for herself. What is self-realisation? Answer, realising self. What is your self, Laura? Then Laura would talk …. and talk …. and talk. When she saw him last they were at the conference. On the way home she mentioned the conference, he asked her what her path was, and she talked …. and talked …. and talked. He was not answering her questions, he was helping her answer her questions for herself. Silly girl, the voice said You don’t …. need him, she realised for herself.
Where was the last place they were together? The pathtivism conference. What did that conference mean for her? And she began answering for herself. She answered and answered and answered. Her mind kept finding answer after answer after answer, and she felt elated. Take a rest, stop answering, she thought. Still your mind, and rest. She felt the silence take her over, this felt good. No thinking. No analysis, just quiet. Silence. Feel the silence, follow the silence, be the silence. There is no Laura, only silence. And the silence changed and filled Laura with a glow, a glow that spread throughout her being. She was this glow, her being was this glow. And the glow took her out of her body, she was the glow outside her body. Her being was the glow, the glow was Kolok, her being was Kolok. She returned to the silence, the glow leaving, and as she felt the silence she felt herself relaxing and she drifted off to sleep.
She awoke the next day, she was a new person. She had Laura’s memories, her family, Thana, the conference, they were somehow apart from her, they were her memories but they were at a distance. There was Laura and at a distance there was what Laura did. She thought about that, and then laughed, her body laughed, there was Laura and her body laughing. Laura felt a smile. Throughout the day she functioned like this. There was Laura and what Laura did, and they were separate.
It felt so strange to her. But what about the Talaks around her? Did they know they were not talking to Laura but to what Laura said? Did they not notice the difference? Laura stopped and looked. Her body was still talking to them, they were talking back, but it was as if they were not talking to Laura.
It was like that all day, and she got home, sat down, and it started. There was the silence, she felt the silence – there were no thoughts, just silence. Then around her the air began to fill, little centres vibrating – filling the room. These centres were warm, they felt warm, the vibrations felt warm, the room was warm, vibrating – just so alive. She sat with this liveness starting to feel the liveness fill her body, she could feel the liveness fill the space in her body; her girls were coning. There was Laura, the live space and her body. Then she felt Laura and the live space melt into each other, and she watched this closely and the liveness began to leave her body.
She began thinking about the path, this was the path, Laura was now on the path. Laura was now her guide on the path, Laura asked herself the questions, and she knew the answers or where to find them. And it was not Thana. How wise, he had known that she had come to rely on him and needed to rely on herself. Laura took her body to work and continued to watch amazed as everyone talked to her body that was talking.
That night Hartek contacted her, and she invited him round. They talked, she talked at him, she was so full of all that had happened. And she knew Hartek understood this path. He listened and listened, through the night, and when she was finished talking they made love. Soon after they lay there quietly, Hartek slept, and she felt her girls coming again – she enjoyed them. What a wonderful night.
Hartek had been a lifesaver, Laura thought back. Hartek was a writer, and he knew writers, artists, sculptors, poets, performance. Hartek took her to these places, and then afterwards they would just sit and talk about the girls, creativity, just way into the night, talking, sharing, feeling the love that was Kolok. It was a great time of her life, but after two years she moved on.
She didn’t choose to move on, she just moved on. What was her path? Compassion, she was creative but creativity didn’t drive her like Hartek and their crew. Laura was about compassion. She took a caring job, and the caring took her over. She cared. What was happening to the kids in her home – she was a houseparent. She was still with Hartek but not all of her. And she would meet the crew and it was great, but they had begun to move apart.
And the world of caring was less pure. The crew tried to connect with their muse, their life was about connecting to the muse. When they were not connecting to the muse they didn’t feel full. They loved meeting Laura, but compassion and muse they were not quite the same. They were the same but in the world she was now in in which she tried to be compassionate and all around was governed by the politics of caring it was just not pure. And it made her angry, and the crew did not like her anger. But they still loved her compassion.
More and more she got sucked into the impure world of compassion, and this distanced her from the crew, and it began to distance her from Hartek. “I am following my path,” she told him, and he knew she was. She would always be grateful to Hartek and the crew he knew, but she moved on, no animosity, it was path, she moved on.
It was at a houseparent party that she met Betos who was just so out of place. And she was back at the door of the bureau walking in with Betos to help him renounce.