Chapter 15: The Glacier
ten . . .
I am sprawled back on the cold and hard basement floor. Black boxes are scattered all over the floor.
My letter lies crumpled in a ball, some two feet away from the boxes.
My body is rigid.
I am back in the throes, once again lying on the floor, confined inside these walls of my own wretchedness— in the basement.
Oh God! Anywhere but here, no!
But the room is different this time. It’s cold.
Grrrr . . . It’s freezing!
My body shakes. It’s so cold, my fingers are numb. I stare at the ceiling. What’s this? A tiny droplet of water forms, hangs for about ten seconds, and then drips through layers of the air like a feather serenely floating to the ground.
I jump to my feet like a dog watching a crumb fall off a plate.
More and more droplets ripple softly through the air straight into the den of my hellish soul.
I look up. Right above my head, mid-air, they turn to snow.
“It’s snow! Snow! Damn it, snow is falling in here!” I exclaim out loud.
It’s as if every drop of water falls into the arms of mercy and they transform into beautiful snowflakes, right in front of my eyes. I turn in circles, looking on in wonder, as the snow falls like a thousand storms raging from the ceiling.
The basement is now a large expansive field of snow, and the ceiling is a pink wispy horizon.
A strong gust of wind picks up, and in the middle of nowhere, this ghostly air blows in circles forming an image.
It’s not an image, it’s a person. It’s Jack!
“Jack!” I scream, releasing the floodgates of my emotions.
“Come on, follow me,” he says. The snow is falling fast in every direction.
I feel a sense of hope for the first time in ages, and my jaw is jittering with giddy crazy joy as we walk through the snow.
Step after step, together, we walk across the snow. And I don’t even have a clue where we are going. All I know is that I am going to hope with everything that I have that maybe, I will get closer to going home.
“Jack, can you help me? I am stuck here, and I just want to go back home. I want one more chance! Can you help me please?” I plead with all my heart.
“Just keep walking,” he says.
The air is bitterly cold.
“Ben, let me explain something. You are lost. You are lost in your soul, and you’ve hit a little bit of a fork in the road.”
“What? What do you mean? How do I get home?” I keep walking.
“Well, there is only one thing that will lead you home. You, and only you, can find the answer to that. My answers are limited. But there are some things I can help you with. Let me try to explain. You see, right now, you can walk left in the snow—or you can go right. Right? You can jump into the snow—or you can fall down. That’s precisely how life works. You can do whatever you want, but only to a certain extent. Everything in life is your choice. We are all captains of our own souls. And those choices aren’t interfered with. But don’t say I didn’t warn you, every choice is going to have a consequence because of the bigger plan,” he says.
“I know I have made some bad choices,” I mumble.
“Yes, you have, and now, you are suffering, because the bigger plan has a purpose as well.
“What do you mean by bigger plan?” I ask.
“So while you are carving out your own small plan in your life, you are really inside a bigger plan that’s already carved out. You have control to some degree, but then again, you don’t. We all are inside of God’s soul, the universe.”
The snow piles up higher. The ground looks like an expansive white blanket.
“Many people in life contemplate and try to figure out if it is this way or that? Do we control fate or do we not? Will it be this way or that? The answer is both. And the longer you live your life, you will realize ‘both’ will be the answer to many things.”
“What do you mean exactly?” I ask.
“You know for example, is it going to be a Democrat or Republican? Do we need more gun control or is it the motive of the person behind controlling the gun? Is the internet one of greatest technological advances in the communication of human history, or is it the slaughter of retail business? Are drones a good or bad idea?”
“Both is the answer,” he says again, reading my mind. “People can argue and debate all they want, but both are right within their own respective ways.”
“But let me finish what I was saying. You can change the small plan. Your plan. Every day, you have a clean slate. But remember there is both a small plan and a big plan working out at the same time. Now let’s talk about the big plan. The bigger plan is already in place. You can’t change that one. The earth is always going to spin around the sun, and the stars are always going to shine. The winds will always blow whichever way they choose. The seasons will change as the trees and the flowers cycle back from death to life. Your soul is created by the Creator himself, and we are all a part of His soul. And His soul is infinite,” he whispers.
As soon as he finishes, the snow-covered floor drops from underneath my feet, and I descend like a rabbit falling down a hole. I must have fallen some hundred feet before I freeze in mid-air, directly facing the moon. Behind the moon, clusters of stars expand out into the gigantic dusty blackness of outer space. Different hues of gases fade in and out around me, almost in slow-motion, while tiny particles rapidly burst into and out of existence like a firework display in an endless vacuum.
My stomach drops. I try to catch my breath. I stare into eternity as my soul whispers the truth. There is no time. There is no end. We are all infinite.
I blink my eyes momentarily blinded by the moon’s light.
“Infinite,” I can hear his voice in my head.
I jolt backwards. My knees buckle as my body slams back down into the snow. I gasp into the cold air and I ask a childish question, “So, are you—you—God?”
“No. No. No! I am not God! I am a metaphor of the knowledge within you. You are the one realizing all of this. Your soul has projected me as something material, so you can comprehend all of this. Look, God isn’t going to come down and just show himself. He is so big and complex beyond our comprehension that we can’t really define him. He is everywhere and in everything. He was your hallway, your casino, the music, your basement. He is the good and the bad, the joy and the pain, the judge, and the one who will hear your cry of forgiveness. He is in your soul and you are in his. And your soul is infinite. So mind boggling and full of complexities, so deep, that many of us get lost in there sometimes,” he says.
“Lost?” I ask.
“Yeah, lost. Like I said before, you’re lost. We get so lost, we forget our dreams. We forget to be kind. We forget our potential. We get so busy that we put our souls on autopilot. We do what seems simple and easy. We just pat them down like petting a dog on the head. And we just keep going throughout the day kinda like going to work and then coming back home. We live for what we can see right in front of us. And the biggest problem is that many of us instill these behavior patterns from what we ourselves have been subjected to. We learn from others. Autopilot is a dangerous situation to be in. A lot of times we treat others exactly as we have been treated ourselves. It’s habit. It’s easy. It’s what we learn in life,” he goes on to explain.
“I get that. I really do, Jack. Look, I have already come to realize the error of my ways. I promise I will change. I just need to get back home, please. So before I am whisked away somewhere else, can you help me get home?” I plead.
“Just keep following me, Ben. Just remember, everything you say matters. Every word matters. Be careful of your words,” he leads the way through the snow.
The snow is falling fast, and I am absorbing knowledge faster than ever. I look down at the snow. It’s pure. Every step I take further restores my soul, like it is being washed anew.
“Why am I here?” I ask him.
“Everything has its reason. Everything. Even the black box. The earth mourns when the world languishes.”
“Where are we going now?” I ask eagerly.
“Jack?” I whip my head around in the snowfall, which is at this point almost a blizzard. “Jack?” I whisper.
He is gone.
It’s cold, and my body is numb. Everything feels surreal. I am not even sure if my conversation with Jack was real. Did I imagine it?
I keep walking through the snow, admiring the pure beauty of it.
The wind blows like a soft melody of joy, laying itself all over me like a warm blanket.
Snow always reminds me of the day Leo was born. I remember the white snow covering the ground as we drove to the hospital that day, our hearts full of excitement.
I miss my son.
I walk ahead further and further, swinging my hands by my side through the frosty air. I still don’t have a clue where the hell I am or where I am going.
As I tread through the snow, way out in the far distance, I can see something peeking out from the horizon. What is that? Whatever it is, it’s massive, and I am not stopping until this huge thing exposes itself completely inside this colossal world of snow. It’s behind layers and layers of cottony clouds. Like at the end of a symphony, the clouds clear out. And there, frozen for millions of years, underneath a soft blanket of innocent pink clouds is the most beautiful sight I have ever laid eyes on. It’s a mountain glacier bigger than an entire city, sitting in the remote wilderness. My breath freezes midway.
It looks like an angel of grace sitting there underneath the pink sky. I stand there in reverence as the clouds quietly hover over it, making it look like a majestic throne.
Not taking my eyes off the glacier, I think of Raines. I wonder what she would see and think if she were standing here right now. I try to look at it through her eyes just for a moment. She would see the clouds weaving through the air and falling snow around it. She would see the colors in the sky, the patterns in the ice, she would see it for all its greatness.
I remember her free spirited demeanor, the depth in her eyes, the natural tones of her skin. I miss them.
Why do I feel like my marriage is inside that glacier? And it’s been frozen inside that razor-sharp ice for years. Ours was a house without foundations, and it fell on itself. All those years, I neglected to give her the love she deserved. I didn’t build up the marriage. I let it fall, because I focused too hard on all the imperfections. I wish I could take it all back. Dust settles on furniture over time. And instead of cleaning the dust, I got mad at the furniture. I yelled at the furniture.
I walk closer to the glacier. With every step, countless realizations about my life unfold faster and faster. I care. I do.
Closer and closer, I get a glimpse of the massive mountain spreading out into a valley of water, flowing around the terrain on which I can now see hundreds of frozen chunks of ice floating on the water. The sky is now a hazy purple, and I can almost see my soul in the glacier that stands in all its infinite glory, weaving, interlacing, and overlapping through the complicated ice streams. Too intangible to grasp and too complex to fully understand, my soul is the central point of all that I am.
I start hiking up the mountain glacier, and it’s increasingly getting colder. The snow on the ground is now rock-solid ice. The brutal wind lashes across my face.
I stop for a second and look down. I can see my father in this glacier.
A subconscious monster who was born with me, a part of my blood, and I spewed him out to the world.
I climb higher and higher, stopping at a small summit on the mountain, realizing that I can’t climb any higher without a rope or proper gear. I turn around and look down from the edge of the sharp mountain cliff, over a world full of utter raw beauty like I had never seen before.
A big white bird glides through the air. I watch him dive down to the bottom of the mountain, and then with every last shred of hope left in me, I kneel down in the snow right there and quietly pray for the one thing that I have neglected for so long—forgiveness.
I shut my eyes. Everything goes black.