“I feel that what you should illustrate is the space between the words, the betweenness, the otherness that gives depth and dimension.”
~BRIAN FROUD, artist
The NoWhere was and IS everywhere and nowhere at once; it was and is and always WILL be everything and nothing, crossing all planes and possibilities, a robust reality for some, a crazy confusion for most. An enigma, a puzzle, a conundrum, a challenge. The NeverWhen refuses to be defined. And it does so marvelously.
~Book of the Eternal Now
“You are a wayfinder, a pathwinder, a nightbinder. You exist to the light the dark and show the lost the way. To unveil the hidden, hail the forbidden, so that the light of truth may stay.”
Wherein a new life seeks her purpose and gets really, really lost!
Once upon a time, in a place with no name, in a land not quite like any other, where time had another meaning, if it existed at all, something happened at a flower in a field.
At dawn, three suns rose from the horizon, and accompanied by the sound of tinkling wind chimes, the morning dew and pollen swirled into a bright ball, gasped in a breath of living sunlight, and it became something else.
The newborn ball of light hung above the flower, momentarily confused. The sky arced above her in a cathedral of azure blue and gentle green swaths. The air smelled of sweet grass, loamy dirt and fragrant blossoms. A breeze passed through her light body as if she did not exist. She doubted if she existed too! She wasn’t quite real yet, ethereal and limber, her mind and identity still forming.
What am I? she thought.
She didn’t know how to answer that. Her mild confusion was tempered by an even stronger sense of curiosity. There was something she was supposed to do, but she didn’t know what.
She saw something pretty nearby called a “flower” – a name she somehow knew – and, beyond that flower she saw another flower, and another beyond that one, and more and more and more flowers stretching endlessly into a meadow of bright petals bending gently in the wind.
Bees – yes, she was sure they were called bees – hovered from bright flower to flower; big, fat, black bumblers, their deep hum filling the meadow with a quiet drone.
Three fiery suns huddled in the sky, two smaller yellow ones flanking the larger golden one like armed guards protecting their Queen. The ball of light felt their warmth and it…pleased her.
“Hmm. Well, perhaps I am a flower, since I’m here among the flowers. Am I some sort of flower?” she asked the flower beside her.
The flower shook its petal head. “You are not a flower,” it said. “Silly question, little one.”
“Pfft. Well, I wasn’t sure. I’m new here! But why can’t I be a flower? Doesn’t seem so silly to me.”
“Well, look at you, said the flower, almost as if bored. “You have no petals, you have no roots, you have no enticing aroma. I’m sure you don’t even know what to do today.”
The ball of light thought about that. It was true. She didn’t really have anything to do, just a vague sense that there should be something.
So what do you do?” the ball of light asked.
“Oh, I have a wonderful life! I open in the morning and drink the sun and dew. I dance in the breeze, and I sing with my friends all day long. That is what I do.
“Well then,” said the ball of light, “I must discover what I do too. Goodbye, flower.”
She floated away, bouncing on the wind like a wayward leaf, and actually enjoying herself quite a bit. She drifted to even more flowers, all of them a menagerie of colors, asking each one, “Who am I?” But none of the flowers knew.
When she found the flowers unhelpful she started asking the bees that flew busily from the upturned petals, gobs of sticky yellow pollen clinging to their legs.
“Hello? Hello? Kind bee, can you tell me what you do? Or even better, what I do? Maybe I am a bee. You see I–”
“Can’t talk; working,” grunted the bee and it launched off, bobbing uncertainly.
The ball of light followed right behind it. “But are you sure? You…you fly. I can fly! Maybe…maybe we are cousins? Maybe? Could I be a cousin bee? A sunny bumbler?”
She giggled inside. She liked the sound of that, a sunny bumbler.
“No talk. Busy. Honey time,” grunted the bee with single-minded determination to reach its hive and ignore her pesky questions.
She groaned and peeled away from her pursuit, intersecting a different bee instead, but her inquiries received a nearly identical dismissal. She followed it all the way back to its hive and gleefully observed hundreds of bees swarming over a honeycomb that oozed with golden, sugary liquid. She tried to engage them again, demanding answers, but the bees uniformly ignored her queries.
“You bees are terrible at conversation!” she yelled at them.
The bees didn’t seem to care and continued on their bumbling circuits to collect and deposit pollen. But as she watched them move about she realized that they had a job – a purpose – motivating their every waking moment!
“I must have a purpose too,” she whispered. “It would be so boring NOT to have one!”
She eventually reached the end of the meadow where a large, dark forest rose before her. She didn’t know the meadow even HAD an end, and the new terrain delighted her, something different from the fragrant field of her birth. She saw the forest growing from a distance, just a wide smudge of blackness at first that turned into a smear of teeth, and then a low row of jagged spines, and finally became full grown trees, stretching to the puffy clouds above, the upper branches swaying in the breeze.
A path wound through the thickets and the ball of light followed it, bouncing childlike and free through the shadows. She was not sure what to expect in these dark woods, but the prospects thrilled her. Anything could lurk around the next bend. Maybe things with gnashing teeth! Or kindly eyes. Or sharp claws! Or soothing words. How exciting to find out!
The trees here were ancient, their woody boles spiraling high into deep clusters of green leaves and endless limbs. Roots as thick as snakes intertwined and wrapped around each other, and the whole of the place was filled with strange howls and hoots from unseen creatures creeping through the brush.
She soon heard running water. Passing over some mossy, wet boulders, she saw two beavers playfully splashing in a stream. A half-constructed dam squatted beside them, and water cascaded from a small waterfall. It looked like fun so she gently glided down.
“Hello,” she said. “You’re certainly having a good time. May I join you? I never swam in a stream before!”
The beavers stopped playing and gawked at her. “You never swam in a stream?” one of them said. It looked incredulously at his friend.
“Never basked on a log?” said the other. “Never pad-pad-paddled your tail in a bubbling brook?” the she-beaver asked.
“Or gnawed on a feisty fish?” added her husband. “Oh, you are missing the grandest things in the world!” they cried together.
“I…I don’t want to miss out,” said the little ball of light, and she dipped into the stream. She saw water flowing over smooth flat rocks. She saw tiny blue and orange fish darting hither and thither. She saw a fat red creature with pincher claws that hid from her radiance under a rock. Giggling, the ball of light burst up from the water and circled the beavers.
“Delightful!” she said. “I like your home. You seem to be very good at what you do. By chance, may I ask you a question? Would you happen to know what MY purpose is, and why I might be here? I asked the flowers and the bees, but they could not answer.”
“Well… you float,” the he-beaver said, nodding to his wife as if this was the best answer possible.
“Yup, yup, yup, you float,” the she-beaver agreed. “Oh, and you glow! You glow very well, in fact. That must be your purpose, you young wisp of a thing. You are a floater and a glower! Ta! Ta! Ta!”
The beavers smacked their tails in the water several times, overjoyed that they could so easily find an answer.
“Oh, well, those are two very good points!” said the ball of light. “Yes, I do float, and I float well. And I DO glow, don’t I? I just realized that!” She looked down and saw her reflection in the swirling current below.
I float and I glow. I’m a floater and a glower! Float and glow and glow and float!
She was so happy that she had found an answer that she pulsed brightly several times, enjoying her new ability.
“Oh! Look what I did!” She buzzed around the half-built dam, sputtering and sparking and greatly entertaining herself. The beavers laughed too, sitting on the shore now, slapping their tails in the shallow water and chuckling at her antics.
When she finally grew tired of this new game, she spun down to the beavers.
“Well, what do you do all day; I’m sure it must be amazing.”
“Oh, we have a wonderful life!” said the he-beaver. “We are builders.”
“That’s right, teamwork,” said the she-beaver. “All day, every day, we build, build, build!”
That impressed her. They were a team. One there to always help the other; never lonely, never lost. Did she need a friend on her team too? Team float and glow?
“And a fine job,” she said. “Fantastic dam you have. Much better than I could have built! Well, I should be on my way, beavers. Thank you, and good luck!”
The beavers waved goodbye and the little ball of light careened into the forest, enjoying her newfound flickering. She illuminated all sorts of new holes and hollows, playfully chasing after reddish squirrels or zipping through the webs of startled spiders. For a short while she was a terrible tyrant, but eventually she grew bored.
“’You young wisp of a thing,’ the beaver had said. How nice. But is that my only purpose? To fly and play and be ever so bright like the suns three? There must be something else.” So she kept looking.