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13. The gentle (II)

Updated: Dec 18, 2020


A man stands on top of a great pyramid, zig-zagged by time into a thousand stone teeth. He remembers reading, as a child, that a small pyramid could be used to sharpen razor blades. These objects have magical properties; everyone senses this is so, even though the science-minded nervously deny it. The genuine scientists are bewitched as well; if you consult their blackboards you will see geometric calculations based on pyramids. This pyramid is in a desert, and the man is watching the Sun set; he is tired after the climb and sits on a piece of masonry, checking first for scorpions in the cracks. He drinks water. The pinnacle of the pyramid has been ruined; it was sharp and made of gold at one time, and the sides were slick with white marble. The man smokes; the tobacco is brittle in his mouth, and the Sun kisses the last edge of the horizon.

The man lets his hands rest on the stone as the stars appear. He is not a scientist or an archaeologist; he is not even a journalist come to make money from the pyramid mystery. He is just a man who, one day, saw an image on his northern street and knew that he had to come here. This is not normal behaviour, not today. Visions are prohibited under current conditions, and the man has been circumspect regarding his motivation for visiting the pyramid. At most he volunteers, “It is just something I have to do.” There are many banal advertising slogans that encourage hedonism abroad, but our man has no phone or camera; he has no account to post to. He has come here because of what he saw; he has come because he still believes in loyalty to dreams. He means real dreams, not the rational contrivances derived from advertising slogans and the demands of secular religion. Real dreams are as absorbing as a summer heat haze. You only live once, but in dreams you may live a hundred thousand times in one night.

So he is here for a vision. He does not expect salvation; he is a Buddhist, he has felt satori. He has touched consciousness; it felt very still. He will not come home to preach, like some hipster in a jungle drug fever, that everything will be better if you just stand on top of a pyramid at night. This was just what he had to do.

The city is visible now it is dark; he can see the lights and hear the people celebrating on the rooftops. Today is a ceremony for a religion the man does not understand. He is not concerned. The people here do not have visions concerning the pyramids. They avoid the pyramids, and they refuse, even today, to capitalise on the tourist value of the tombs. This is not due to excessive nobility: they do not have visions, but they do have dreams in the night; and those dreams have warned them to avoid the pyramids.

The man makes a cautious exploration of the pyramid’s top. He stumbles a little on the pebbles. The path upward was not as simple as he expected; the steps were eroded in many places and, climbing over the last few, the man was almost overcome by vertigo. He saw his shattered body at the bottom of the pyramid, but he felt no fear. He lies on the rough stone and looks at the stars; he will not sleep well tonight.

He is very cold when he wakes up after a dreamless night. The man takes a chocolate bar from his jacket and peels it open with shaking fingers. A flight of herons pulls upward from some hidden oasis. He has done what he came to do. There is a difference he will never be able to explain, just as he cannot explain why he came here. The difference will join a million silences that are whispered to pillows by the hidden armies of man.

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