#23: The Form

For a moment, think about a really dark room. A human form—just a body—sits in the middle surrounded on all sides by walls of deep black. And, though the form won’t notice, there is something odd about this place. A lack. The darkness is obvious, but there is nothing here. No smells, sounds, and the air is just still. It’s like when you try to imagine “Nothing”, it's like a void. The form doesn’t feel or hear or think, because there is no sound to name the silence or light to shade the black. And if time exists, it can’t be counted. There’s no decay— nothing to tell a minute from a century. The form sits empty, just like the room.

And then, without warning, light slices the black wall. It cuts through the darkness with an ease that belies the long-standing watch of the dark, and a wave of light seeps in, awash and strange on the floor. The form shuts it’s eyes, tries to shut the light out, until there is a sound. One, single note, perfect, above comparison. The form’s first sound. The note, and the vibration on its wings, rattle into the form. Its eyes open. An arm creaks. Fingers crinkle into an awkward fist.

The form gets up and reaches towards the white. The form’s hand seeps into white, and white rushes up its arm. White swallows form, and nothing is left behind.

The form enters a sudden and aggressive world. Raw untouched skin, is suddenly being touched everywhere. Some foreign feeling crawls up it’s nose. There is real terror here, in a context-less barrage. Everything is white and piercing. Everything stings. The form can suddenly feel the whole of the universe, and it goes into shock. The form doesn’t move for a long time. The form wants out, it wants Nothing back. But that had been ripped away.

Eventually, the chaos dulls it’s edge. It takes a while, but the form figures it out. These sensations have patterns. The form catalogues them and these patterns are labeled: good or bad.

And now life becomes a simple game. The form already knows the rules. Seek pleasure. Avoid pain. And with this, the form quickly maps out the new world. The form does things to bring good patterns, and avoids whatever brings the bad ones. Good or bad is the only game in town anymore, and the form begins forgetting about nothingness. The darkness, the void are traded for the happiness and sting of these moments.

Time stretches forth. The form learns of a day. They pass slowly. Then it learns of a week. Many of these pass.

The form, now a boy called Tim, walks near some woods on a cool Saturday. The air feels warm and soft against his skin. Tim hears the whisper of the woods; trees that rustle and try to tickle his ears. He walks softly through the world that has only been his for a few years. And this world was small, and still mostly black and white. But things have names now. His name is Tim and he is 6 and a half years old. Tim knows about bugs and math, and learning and about being somewhere for the first time. Seeing something truly new. And asking endless questions, either with words, teeth or fingers.
Tim’s small world grows and somewhere as he passes the eighth and ninth birthdays, he begins to forget about those first years. He forgets about grappling the floor with 4 legs instead of two. He forgets the barred crib, and takes on a compounded unbarred world. Where the new material builds upon the accepted. There’s new information, like the thing called a planet, and how 2 and 2 would add up to a greater 4. Like the 2’s, information is mostly added, but some things were dropped. A minus 2, information being forgotten. On the whole, it is an age of great exploration for Tim. He becomes bolder.

Time goes on as Tim builds a life.

Tim the boy, now 30. Tim gets a wife. For the first time, he cares about someone more than himself. He has kids, and his love for life mutates. He still enjoys new things, but more than that, he wants to teach now. a player turned coach. He wants to show his kids all the things that he loves. Tim watches them grow and stumble through the world with a set of wide eyes. Along the way, he learns some things. He learns what a decade is, and how a decade can feel like a year when you’re thirty. He discovers what a mid-life crisis is, and how dreams can sour into disappointments. He learns to let go.

Tim the man, now 73, Life has mostly been minus 2’s recently, but he remembers enough to know that he's forgotten most of the details. New things have lost their luster, because Tim knows exactly how much his mind and his arms can carry. He doesn’t try to gather anymore, but rather sits at home, counting back upon that which he already has. The moments that he loves. The 6 inch photos that line his dresser, which hold small but precious details.

Life is simpler now, in retirement, and the patterns never change. They happen everyday, and Tim enjoys the stability. His life, now missing all of the complex patterns, consists of a few, choice ones. Mostly good, like food and sleep and peaceful afternoons. Some bad, like the unexpected problems that call the doctor. The pills that he can feel kicking his stomach awake every morning and beating his head to sleep at night. And the ache left in the wake of black parades honoring loved ones.

All in all, everything is tiring now, even the good times.

Tim, an elderly man, is dying on a warm night in July. He is scared and in this fear, he feels alone. He is afraid to lose his life. There is a machine next to his bed, and a somber family next to that. The machine beeps at him, counting down.. heartbeats.

Moonlight streams in from an open window, and Tim watches as the world slowly crumbles. Tim feels it happen. Things had been slipping from him, but now, under the tired blanket of age, the world breaks, softly but surely like the final pat of a raindrop. Feelings, thoughts, and sound begin to get distant. Sensations come in dulling, uncertain waves. Each sensation is lighter than the last until they can’t be felt. There is silence. And then there is one final note, a long note that shrills onward, this one directed at the nurses. The soft white light from the moon grows paler, a Tim watches the world from dim to dark to black.. until he notices something. A lack. There’s something familiar about these black walls..and this silence. Tim, now just a form, sits in an empty dark room.


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