Back To Part One: No Journey Worth Taking is Easy
Based on a true story
"A Dead Guy Walks Into A Bar"
Noder's Digest Condensed Version
Part Two: The Desert of his Soul
You are about to die.
Odd, he thought, that such a statement would be made. When he had collapsed his body on the bed he was quite sure he would never wake up. The forty-two sleeping pills had been the insurance policy. The thirty-six extra strength aspirin were to thin the blood. The liter of 151 rum he used to wash down the death cocktail was the rocket fuel to blast him clear of the world he knew and could no longer stand living in.
For the briefest moment that may have lasted an eternity, he felt the void of nothingness. He sensed the nothingness, and it filled him with incredible fear. Then it changed into somethingness. He was standing on a tiny, battered raft that floated on a angrily lazy jungle river. The river was not like the rivers he had known. It seemed to flow into an undiscovered dimension, neither horizontal nor vertical or anything in between. The river was thick and murky, but clear and glassy at the same time. Its currents were both turbulent and still. He stood on the boat and could not bring himself to move.
The shores of the river were like a jungle, teeming with life. The overgrowth of what seemed to be wild plants were more than that. They moved deliberately, yet randomly, and called to him. The shore was being enveloped by a strange blue flame. It consumed everything on the shores and as it burned brighter and more magnificently, people began to run out of the wilderness. They were people he had known in life as well as people he recognized but had not yet come to know. The flash of chaos in the wake of the flame caused them to panic and cry out to him to help them. Yet, he could do nothing.
You are dying.
The voice came from inside him and from all around him, speaking with great clarity through the screams from the shoreline. "Save us. We cannot swim," their call resonated through him, tormenting the very marrow of his bones. Bones that were no more. The man stood motionless, wishing he could do something to end their suffering. He felt great selfishness. He felt he was nothing. He wanted to cry but there were no tears.
Overhead he sensed the presence of a great winged beast. It appeared as a kind of dragon, yet of the strange inconsistency as everything else around him. It was gigantic just as much as it was tiny. No one would tell him he could not be both at the same time. The dragon flew behind the raft and reared back its head. Its great breath propelled the raft foward. The man felt the craft beneath him moving faster and faster, although it also felt as if it were standing still. All is lost, he thought.
You are trying to define what has no definition.
At first the light was faint, like a beacon in the distance. As it got closer there was no doubt it was his destination. The man waited for his raft to reach the light, but the light did not. It shot forward like a lightning bolt, blinding the man and throwing his boat into the realm of irrelevancy. The body he wore as he travelled down the river was torn asunder. He felt himself caressing peace as the light took him. Fear no longer existed and everything was at rest. None of the pain he once felt remained within.
The light itself was impossible to describe, for when he was enraptured in it he could only sense perfection in its brilliance. It granted darkness and imperfection no quarter. For an eternal instant it held him and then released him with a quiet, peaceful fury.
Your body has returned but you are not the same.
He felt his body whole beneath him once more, but wasn't sure it was his own. Looking out he found himself in the midst of a great desert. Nothing lived here. Nothing would dare. The ground was dry and barren with great fissures spreading out in all directions. The land was dying. He could feel it tearing itself apart beneath him.
He tried to smile, but this place demanded his complete attention. Ahead there was something, a speck in the distance he could feel was his next destination. Carefully, he began walking the great distance between himself and the beckoning speck. It took merely an instant to reach it.
The speck was a man, seated upon a metal folding chair. The wasteland spread out around him, radiating from the stranger and becoming all that he was. He watched the dead man without expression, staring at him, staring through him. Then his face began to change, slowly at first but then morphing at a rapid pace. The faces were those of the people from the river. They were people he knew, had known or knew he would know. Finally, the changing stopped and the stranger settled upon a familiar face. The traveler recognized it, but did not know where from. His long dark blonde hair, goatee and piercing blue eyes made the stranger powerful. Even more so when he spoke.
"Do you wish to continue?"
"What do you mean?" asked the dead man, knowing what the stranger asked but not wanting to answer. At least not yet.
"Are you ready?"
"Ready for what?"
"The next frame," replied the stranger, unwavering in his patience. His emotions suffered no movement or tremor. He remained steady.
"I don't understand what you mean," said the traveler. He looked around at the landscape and tried to find a way to prove to himself that this was merely a dream.
"There is more you need to do. You will know it when you see her. You know what to do."
Somehow the words made perfect sense to the dead man, even though he did not know why. He wanted to understand, just as he desperately sought to understand the meaning of his life when he numbered amongst the living. That life seemed to lose all meaning for him. This stranger's words reminded him of something that was lost, something he knew he needed to find. He just never knew where to begin the search.
"You will know it when you see her. You will have no doubt and the sky will turn to gold. Follow your heart and you will go where you need to go."
The traveler nodded and turned away from the stranger. He looked back and saw the light waiting for him. There was so much to do. So much to learn and to teach. So much reason for being. He passed through the light once more. This time, an infinite number of thoughts passed through his mind, overwhelming his ability to comprehend them all.
Give everything you can to everyone you know.
All those who exist are unique, independent universes with their own truths and their own realities.
Understand and accept this and you will know the answer.
He closed his eyes and the light was gone. He felt himself dreaming, but the dreams were more lucid than any he experienced in the past. It was a single dream, changing itself in minor ways and adding new details each time it came. There was a woman. She was in a cabin in the woods. She was beautiful, in such a way as to be almost unreal. She smiled, and her smile decorated a simple face that masked untold complexities beneath.
This will be the hardest thing you ever do.
Go where there is no snow