You stand in the middle of a salt desert. Barren land, with a pinkish and bluish hue. It’s crunchy underfoot as you walk through the salt, towards what appears to be a mirage.
As you stare at the hypnotic landscape a structure begins to appear ahead of you. As you get closer you realise it’s a huge wheel. A fairground wheel. You speed up a little, intrigued by it, even though you are not a lover of these kinds of wheels. More for kids you think, but you are wandering alone and there’s nothing else to do here.
You walk up to the kiosk and a man pushes a golden ticket towards you.
“How much is it” ? you ask
“No charge for you” he mutters under his breath and points to a man standing by the little door that opens to the gondolas.
It’s my lucky day you think,
It’s red inside and looks not unlike the seats in an American diner. Kind of retro cool, you think to yourself. You get in, sit down and he pulls the door shut. As you look up to say thanks you notice that it’s not a man, but a monkey.
He looks at you with some scorn, as if he’s appraising you somehow, but still says nothing. Before you have time to reflect on this phenomenon the wheel starts turning with such force, that you are flung on to the floor.
You struggle to pick yourself up again as the wheel keeps turning, the momentum picking up speed. There’s a guttural growl that comes deep within the earth, which you feel in your whole body. You begin to panic. Anxiety rising within you.
The wheel is picking up speed, you are still lying on the floor and the apocolytic grones from the earth are getting more frequent. You hear a huge crack, which sounds like the wheel will split in two, and then it strikes, lightening.
You almost feel relieved. It’s a storm you think. As you are about to start picking yourself up, the rain starts. Huge torrents of it, lashing down on you.
Your gondola is covered, but it’s coming from every direction, so there is no reprieve. You are so scared you don’t even know what to do. You don’t think you barely breathed in the last few minutes. Holding on for dear life.
A voice speaks to you, you open your eyes, but through the rain you can’t see much. He looks like a bull. With huge horns and a beautiful shaggy red coat.
“What on earth are you doing down there? he asks
“I’m shielding myself from the storm”, you say shakily.
“Why don’t you just sit on the seat as everyone else does? It’s so much more comfortable, than lying in a pool of water?”
“I’m protecting myself from the storm”, you tell him. It seems quite rational from your perspective anyway.
Well if you look down, you’ll see Typhon, the crocodile and he’s really enjoying laughing at you, with your funny ways. This is one of his favorite games. Playing around with the guests and testing them out.
Keep lying on the floor and he’ll be happy to unleash more storms upon you. If you stay there even longer, and keep up the panic, you might get treated to an earth quake or a volcano.
“Is that something that might interest you”? he says
“Of course, not you say to him”, under your breath
“Well then, get up off the floor and sit in your seat. Panic never ever helps. And breathe. Breathing stops the panic.”
You look down to see if you can alert the monkey or the kiosk man to stop the ride, but they are not there. You start to feel panic again, and then a flash of lighting shoots across the sky, and a huge crack of thunder rubbles, which unnerves your stomach.
“Inside and outside” a voice says. You turn back around and there’s a man sat there with the head of a stork.
“Inside and outside” he says again.
“What does that even mean” ? you say exasperated
“Have you not noticed yet? What you feel on the inside happens on the outside. So the more you react, the worse it gets.”
“When you calm, the storm ceases to scare you and it calms. When you get sacred the storm gods get excited and they rev up the action. Did my friend the bull not tell you that already? “
“You must pay more attention if you are ever to get off this wheel. Some people get trapped on here their entire life, going around and around, victim to the crocodile god typhons joking’s.”
“They just don’t understand the lessons of calm, so they stay here, around and around, from storm to storm, earthquake to earthquake, volcano to volcano. It never ends. The day they find peace is in death.”
“That’s terrible “, you say sadly.
“Yes,” he says.” But you are on the wheel like them and you have been for some time, from what I can see. You must have asked for help, which is how you ended up on this wheel. The wheel of illumination.”
“Wow, the wheel of illumination”, you say. “Sounds exciting.”
“Well it can be, if you listen and learn and understand how it works. It’s not very complicated, but it takes great commitment and understanding. In truth the lessons are very basic, but to really understand them you must practise them.”
“This is not something that you can learn from a book and repeat back to me off by heart. That’s not real learning or real understanding. It will take great courage and mastery.”
“But first you must tell me, why you are on the wheel, and then I will tell you the secret.”
“I don’t know,” you say. “I really don’t”
“Well, there must be a reason for all this panic and worry. What is it that you think will happen when this panic starts?”
“I think I will die “you tell him. “I worry that something terrible will happen and then I will die.”
“You will die, that is for sure. All humans die.”. he says matter of factly
“There is really nothing unusual about it. Everyone does it, so that makes no sense. Why would you really worry about death so much? What in particular about it worries you?”
You think for a moment, and then you say that you are really scared of getting old, of aging, of being an old person and not having done anything of note with your life.
“Well that makes zero sense to me”, says the stork man. “You tell me you are scared of dying and then you don’t want to get old, and then here you are dying a slow death of boredom, because you are too scared to do anything in case you die.”
“So, you are willing yourself old, by virtue of your anxiety, and you are not going out and living life and getting in a panic, every time there’s a storm, which you are causing might I add.”
“Very strange behaviour really”, he mutters.
“Focus on your inside and your outside will take care of itself. It’s no good obsessing over this old business, of getting old and looking old and all the things that you humans associate with getting old if your inside is a pit of anxious snakes and rats.”
“There is a whole world within you waiting to be created. From the inside out.”
“The secret my friend is courage. Find the courage in the storm, find the calm & silence in the storm and find the power within you to pass through the storm and the storm will pass, just like it always does.”
“You get it”, he says? It’s pretty simple really. Simples. In theory of course. Practice, is another matter entirely.
“Yes”, you say. I think so.” Hoping you are done, and that is it now, and you can get off to stable ground.
“Great he says. So, thank you for asking to come here. We always love visitors on the wheel of illumination.” Hopefully, I’ll see you when it’s time for your judgment for the next level. We always hope for sooner, rather than later or never of course.
Without skipping a beat, he continues. “Your test will start now and it goes on for one hour. If you can ride the wheel of illumination as it passes through the eye of the storm, then you can get off in your new reality. The reality level will depend on how you weather the storm so to speak.”
If you end up in the trough of disillusionment, or at the base of the gondola in a panic in mundane terms, like we found you, then we need to send you back to the underworld where you came from. As you are not ready yet.
Time starts now……..
Additional notes: As soon as I started to write this there was an incredible storm that happened at exactly the same time. The whole time I was writing this. Huge cracks of lightning, thunder, and lashing rain. After I’d finished and put the laptop down, the storm ceased and it became sunny again. Coincidence? Or were the gods really listening?
Art: Zoe Langman