My dear friend Paula Brook Green did this amazing collage for my story; isn’t it awesome!
I keep on telling her she must start taking this collage thing seriously because I’ve seen some she’s done and they are just beautiful. I hope she’ll eventually take me seriously.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to Paula Brook Green whose constant encouragement and diligent work only compare to her generosity and kindness. She not only took the time to read and edit this piece –which was a mess of entangled grammar; but found it good enough so as to wish I would share it with others.
I have already posted this many years ago, but as all “rioplatenses” know, “el público se renueva.” To those who are foreign to these lands, there is always excitement in reading an old story again .
I hope you will enjoy it,
How do I remember it? Well… odd, mainly.
I know, I know. You expected something more spectacular; shocking, more biblical perhaps; but that’s honestly how I recall the whole thing. I guess this sensation arises from the lack of catastrophic denouement everything bore…contrary to what everybody was indoctrinated to expect. It was morning time of a clear, warm day. I’ve spoken about it with other witnesses and we all agree on that day having a quiet quality about it; but to be honest, it was just another day, another morning; quite warm and clear for a winter one, but most of us were so overwhelmed with life we had very little or no spirit to enjoying the gift of a mild winter day before the whole thing turned on us.
I was on a bus to work. Many say they saw some kind of flash in the sky, even an ethereal silhouette approximating; you hear so much about that day! And well,…you know…it’s basically unimportant. If it really happened, I missed it ’cause I was dozing off on my seat. What I do remember is waking up fully aware of myself and my surroundings. The bus had stopped in the middle of the street as all the other cars, buses, trucks and whatever else was on the road at that moment. People were getting out of their vehicles and sitting on the street looking at the sky. I remember thinking about that scene in “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”… what?… Oh!… It’s a primitive sci-fi movie… you should watch it at the library… as I was saying, I also got off the bus and sat on the pavement. Now, I suppose you want the following events to be minutely detailed; after all, everything that happened afterwards was a consequence of those experiences. I promise, I’ll do my best, even when there’s not much to say.
There was silence, though. Complete, absolute silence.
I remember the light-blue of the sky entering my body through my eyes and with it, the most empowering calmness of all. I wish I knew the words to tell you how it felt. Your generation possesses the infinite advantage of being born wise. Your inner battles are truly about gaining or not a greater welfare; but us, the passage link, we were… freed that day. Freed from a state you’ll never fully get, even if I’d use a million words to describe it because there’s not one single example in your world I could convey to help you understand. Let’s just say we were freed from an endless state of coping, and the feeling of acknowledging emancipation is inexplicable; but I’m digressing. Let’s get back on track. Let’s see… where were we? The calmness, yes. When that calmness got into me, I was pushed into a journey. I got into a river where I saw silver fish swimming. I could see them pulsing in brighter and brighter shades of silver. The torrent had the most beautiful colours you can imagine. The speed was high and the sensation refreshing. I sailed it for a long while until I realised I was actually travelling within my body torrent. I could watch as my cells raced through my veins carrying that silver pulse with them which would ignite others until all of them were equally bright silver.
It lasted three days.
We knew that later from security cameras all around the world. During all that time, neither I nor anybody on Earth moved. I remember having the impression of awkwardly long, thin fingers holding my arm and injecting something into me. Their touch was cold and metallic. However, not everybody remembers this, so some say it was just a mind trick as the silhouette coming down from the sky…who knows!
I don’t recall the passing of day and night. I never felt cold, tired, hungry, or even thirsty. I didn’t evacuate either. I just remember the light-blue sky and the warmth on my skin. At some point, I was taken out of my intra-body experience and was conscious again of the air around me. Then, I remember a sound such as the one of a reel unrolling an endless line. It lasted as long as all my Memories rewound and I speak the word with a capital M because it wasn’t only the memories this brain had collected so far. I went back up to The Very Beginning; I mean, minute zero.
When it stopped, I opened my eyes and I knew the calmness was mine, forever.
I was fully awake but stayed on my spot for some time. I was…just…contemplating life I guess. Can you picture that? Seven billion people sat down simply enjoying breathing! Now, that’s spectacular, isn’t it? But I’m sure you’ve already watched the satellite images. They’re overwhelming, aren’t they? Afterwards, it was said that the first standing up were those who had an animal in charge. Children stood up last. When the world finally came into motion again, one of the first questions that arose was what had happened with the animals during that time as no attack was registered in any part of the world, neither on land nor at sea. Not even a sting, or insect bite during those three days. Some said they must have also been part of the experience, that they probably went into hibernation or something of the kind; but it was reported and even filmed that in some villages, while people were in that…contemplating mode? wild animals just lied down at a very short distance; watching…. No, no… It took us some decades to reconnect with the natural world so at the time it was pretty puzzling to try to understand what had happened with the animals. We couldn’t… acknowledge they were just guarding us.
And… Life went on!… WHAT? Ah, youth and your need for melodrama! Life went on as usual or almost; it just started to make sense at last. This is how it was popularly called immediately after: The Sensible Shift. People just started acting sensibly… as farfetched as it may sound to you. Junkies gave up drugs and drug Tsars gave up trafficking. It was the same with weapons, human trafficking, animal trade… Hey! Don’t keep on looking at me that way! I’m sorry but there wasn’t any heaven coming on Earth immediately after.
However, and now come the sweetest words you’ll ever hear: nor hell either.
People just kept dealing with problems and contradictions…it just…how can I put it into words? Life…all of a sudden was…devoid of power struggles. You know; humanity, actually all life forms on Earth had been in a power game since minute one, right? But now, everybody had this calmness, this reassurance within that made room for sense and understanding and lucidity over selfishness and sheer idiocy; but most importantly… fear was completely subdued. Yeah, that’s basically all that happened! I’d say that the only real change was that humanity stopped being utterly and sickly afraid. We had been creating an immeasurable snowball of fear over what… two million years? And it was unstoppable. The self-preservation resource had given way to the domineering tool long ago and instinct couldn’t tell friend from foe; it just reacted. I’m certain that no human action by itself could have been able to break that pattern of vulnerability we were trapped in… And then, a true moment of silence and everything came down as a domino dance…more or less. It was as if humans had finally figured out we actually were the ruling species and mark the words RULING.AND.SPECIES because we finally got what they really meant. The notion of being a species, –not just individuals threatened at our very core with every breath we took; became an ordinary fact of life…
and war was over.
Over, OVER… O.V.E.R in all its pernicious forms! Do you understand what that meant? I know, I know; you can have just a historical perspective of what the barbarism was and what it implied, but…look, put your fingers on my neck and feel my pulse. Even when so much time has passed since it last happened the mere thought of it is nerve-racking. Humanity had lived at war forever: blatantly, diplomatically; but always, always cruelly. The ultimate expression of the human paradox. But this percolating absence of the need to validate our existence, to secure survival, disarmed the compulsion to subjugate…as simple as that.
Chronicles called it “The Down-to-Earth Shift.” News kept on dropping by the second. Addicts massively turned themselves into rehab. Drug Tsars just quit their business because it didn’t make sense to force people into something they didn’t really want. The same happened with sex slavers, weapons lords, people and animal trafficking, and whatever else that stood against common sense. People stopped finding use for them. Don’t get things wrong! It wasn’t smooth and easy. Sense is scarce and so difficult to define! But arguments, skirmishes, and stubbornness didn’t last long. You see…emotions had started working in a completely different way; they were actually in-motion. Ah! There was so much crying and arms lifted to the sky! Do you have any idea what it feels like to witness, for the first time in eternity that those beautiful, noble words and ideas that had cluttered people’s mouths were finally uttered M.E.A.N.I.N.G.F.U.L.L.Y!
I still remember the first time I watched a FIFA World Cup semifinal and realized that the “no to racism” speech and the fair play slogan were actually ruling over conveniences and fundamentalism… don’t think me vain! I was deeply moved when I knew for sure that the G 20 was honestly committed to balance wealth worldwide or when the Earth Summit was finally effective. Just try to keep your mind in context son. As long as you or your parents can remember, games are just that; games, fun, entertainment. Losing is just a temporary and healthy frustration; and winning…what? A pleasure, a triumph of skill, right?
Now imagine humanity fractured, bleeding. Each party struggling factually and spiritually to be, in the best of cases, acknowledged by the other parties, but mostly trying hard to avoid enslavement. Now, fluctuations in power had been historically reorganized by wars; and wars were promoted up to the very last minute in enclosed, controlled ways in parts of the world were humans were second, third, fourth rated. You know, war was a huge business! But after World War II, a major confrontation for supremacy had been covertly avoided because even the blindest, most stupid of leaders could make the numbers in a nuclear equation. What to do then? Well, something similar had happened in the Middle Ages…yes… Middle Ages A.D and yes! I’m going WAY back; but just humor an old bag and listen. At that time, there was a dramatic decrease in the population numbers caused by too many feudal wars and the Crusades; so they came up with one solution to sublimate the struggle, but keep it profitable anyway. Well, the post-modern world found itself needing a sublimation too and we came up with a very similar solution. In fact, it was the same solution, but in a modern style. The Middle Ages had their tournaments were nobles jousted each other for recognition…they graciously called it honor, while the populace reinforced allegiance… and submission; and WE had football tournaments were players became the modern knights and the populace kept on reinforcing belonging… and nationalism.
SEE! It was so needed, so emotionally tangled! The hope to finally prevail of the subdued and the forgotten mixed with the fear of losing predominance of the powerful. It was so primeval. It was inevitable… Ah! There’s so much that escapes you, thanks God! And money… there was so much money involved! In such state of affairs, do you think there was any room for an honest fight? That’s why watching fairness in a game for the first time was so important. It proved, on a global scale, that the change was true. We were all equal at last!
Anyway, to put your mind at rest, I’d say that the most moving experiences of those days were not the sport competitions but the ordinary gestures of cooperation, understanding, solidarity, respect, and all those wonderful feelings we were witnessing live every day. As I told you, after the leap, emotions started serving other purposes.
PURPOSE! That was the magic world! It was the only thing humanity needed. Certainty of a purpose. Individual purpose; collective purpose. Without the burden of Memories, our purposes not only became crystal clear but absolutely attainable. I already told you what happened when we took in we were a species, but that was inevitable; something we could not help knowing and acting accordingly: DNA rule. Now… acknowledging we were the ruling species was something different. It took a compromise. So ruling became a duty, a gift; not an evolution advantage or a capricious right as it had been in the old days. Only then, our viral behavior towards the planet started healing… and Humanity became a miracle maker.
See us now! We have started spreading through the cosmos and THERE IS something worth of spreading. It wasn’t easy, though. A global economy based on depredation doesn’t change to a wiser one overnight. But all the arguments that had been put forward to maintain the abuse proved false in a very short run for the newborn human. As people, high and low, realized they couldn’t continue destroying, polluting, wasting, abusing; factories and commerce stopped and billions of jobs were lost… but for the first time in human history nobody starved…because…the most colossal monster of all times had been defeated by some tiny silver cells pulsing within all of us. The evil of speculation and its financial dominion over our minds and souls had just vanished. There was so much to do to counteract devastation! Everybody got a new, essential, urgent job; one everybody was proud of. Eventually, we found balance and with it came a prosperity we could have never imagined in our wildest dreams.
Time also changed…and I’m literal about this.
Once we synchronized with nature, we started vibrating at its rhythm, and you know, nature is never in a hurry, right? I can’t help laughing my head off when I think of how worried to death we were with aging! So much energy and money put to stop the passing of time; and the more we tried, the faster it came over us! Who would say that everything turned up the way it did? Here I am. A brand new mother at an age when my parents were long dead; grandma as old as you can only find in the Bible; and my body and mind are the same as when I was forty and I sat on that road to watch the light-blue sky. My soul, on the other hand…
I’ll be gone eventually, as all the others of my time, and our history will blur until it will be no more than a brutal myth; an epic nobody would truly believe. How could anyone, in their good senses, believe that a monstrous creature like us could inhabit and thrive in such a fragile environment as this? If they do believe in our existence, it’ll be only as proof of how bad moves of nature don’t last… Son, don’t waste more time looking for what it was; just rejoice because it’s over.
What was it? Well… there’s proof, evidence, that our DNA spirals and chromosomes changed and our brains started working differently after the Transition Leap…most glorious irony of all! We turned more similar to the great apes than we were before. There was much debate about this, you know, but we couldn’t reach a conclusion because…well… basically, everybody stood their ground. One party, mostly scientists, argued that it was all a genetic shift: evolution delivering. But there were the flash in the sky and the instantaneous, global factor they couldn’t stuff into the equation to make it conclusive.
The other side, which you must have already guessed, was the religious and it said it was just God keeping its Word. They had the flash in the sky and that silhouette many saw coming down to support their argument; but they couldn’t prevail either, because fundamentalism had already done its damage and there weren’t too many people willing to believe in religion anymore. I reject the idea of religion, but I certainly agree with the miraculously side of it. Two hundred years ago I read a book, a beautiful book full of marvelous ideas. It said that a miracle is not an extraordinary event, but just the correction of a wrong perception…and we were, in essence, cured of chronic short-sightedness… and I must insist on the miraculous aspect of it all because we couldn’t help the change; or else, we would have had… but God had been too much abused and entangled with human affairs to be popular enough to set the argument among all parties…Philosophers kept themselves to the nature of it all which was axiomatic in itself…so there were many interpretations but no explanation…What do I think happened? Actually, I think everybody’s right.
Besides, I’ll never forget the fingers… I’ll never forget that cold, soft, metallic sensation on my skin.
And that’s all I remember… Is there anything else you’d like to ask? Oh, that! I really don’t remember how the new count was going to be called. Some wanted to call it just year 0 of the New Human Era, but it sounded too mystical for Secularism and too pagan for traditional religions… and they both didn’t like the explicit recognition to the New Age movement the name implied. Some proposed 0000 By.C, meaning beyond Christ. They had a point there because in a way we were finally embodying the christical state, but Atheists opposed… not to mention believers of other faiths or those Humanists that were insistently pointing to the parallelism between the new reality and the communist state Marx had predicted and we had never understood before… which is actually very similar to the christical state once you think of it; but politics had to be left aside too. They had never truly solved anything before, so nobody was expecting they would do it now.
I think it started as a joke mainly… Yeah, I’m serious! Can you believe it? There was only one thing everybody agreed on before Transition. No matter one’s creed, race, rank, education; everybody was waiting for Doomsday and utterly convinced it was going to be U.G.L.Y… and there we were! As happy as it gets...the Almighty’s…whoever or whatever it is… last joke…he played us all! It taught us some humility, though. I guess we weren’t THAT transcendental to deserve a big show of omnipotence, just a serious “stay quiet” to some naughty children…so people started joking with the irony of the situation and called the first year 0000 ADd… year zero after Doomsday.