You head into the country, to get away from it all. You and your
wife and your children, with picnic in hand. You head to the mountains.
You spread your blanket on the grass with the sun in the sky and
the trees all around and the children playing tag among the trunks
of the trees.
But you are tired of it all. You have lived too long. It is all
the same. You married the wrong woman. You didn't want children.
You hate your job. It's pretty bad. You are tired of this place,
this life, this earth. Why were you born into it? Isn't there
something else? Isn't there some higher plane, some kind of Enlightenment?
Some escape? You wish you lived on the spiritual level. You are
tired of your body. It aches a lot, and gets sick, and drags you
down. You don't have the energy you once had, the energy your
children have. Even though you're not that old.
You make excuses and wander off on your own. You find a blackberry
bush ripe with berries and you pick and eat. The bushes are thick
and you crawl deep into them in search of berries. There are passages
beneath the bushes and you pick your way among them. You find
yourself under a canopy of blackberries, sheltered from the world
that wearies you.
You dig deeper, scratched by thorns. You step on the base of
the plants to push them aside, to make a new path. Deeper into
the bushes you push until you discover a hole in the mountain
side, a hole just big enough to enter the solid mountain. A small
You enter. It is as if you knew it was here all along. It is
the reason you wandered off so aimlessly. It is dark, too dark
to see. You move anyway. It is small. Your hands can feel the
rock walls on either side. The path is dry and level. You won't
slip. The floor of the cave begins to descend. It gets cooler
as you go down. The walls are damp and cold. You begin to doubt
your initial certainty. But you continue. You feel that you are
in the right place for the first time in many years. You continue
down, into the depths of the mountain.
Outside, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the children are
playing, and here you are in the depths of the mountain, in a
cave unknown to those outside, down in the darkness and the slimy
wetness and the depths of it all. You begin to hear sounds beyond
your own footfalls. Beyond your own heartbeat. Dripping sounds,
and a faint murmur you can not identify, a sort of groan or hum.
It is too dark. You have depended so much on sight and here it
is so dark, you begin to feel afraid. You wish you could see where
you are going. Your fingers feel every crevice, every bump and
contour of the passage wall. You think you never felt anything
so completely before, not even the contours of your wife's body.
You think to turn back. To return to the sun and the familiar
You realize that ahead of you it is just a little bit light.
You think that if you continue, perhaps you will emerge. Or else
your mind is playing tricks. No. It is a little bit light. You
can almost see your hand. The cave turns suddenly and you are
in a chamber, lit with a slight green light. You feel you must
be miles down, there is a tremendous weight above you. The sound
you hear is the ever present groan of compression. You want to
In the center of the chamber is a hole, a neat circle twelve
feet in diameter. You approach it, after a pause. It scares you,
but you approach it. It is empty. It drops straight down. It is
deep, so huge and empty. You are terrified.
You find a pebble and throw it into the hole, listening for some
sound, counting the seconds. No sound returns. You find a bigger
stone and drop it in, with the same result. You are standing before
a very deep hole that is not giving up its secrets. You pick up
another stone, to test it again.
The thought flashes through your mind - the insanity of it! -
to jump. You can turn around, climb the long way back up to the
light and the sun and the trees, and your wife and... the tiresome
weight that you have carried around for so long, the boredom.
The choice seems to be to turn around, to return to that weight,
or to cast off your weight and jump.
Insane. You jump.
You scream at first. In mid air with nothing to support you.
But then you wonder what you are screaming about. Are you falling?
There is no sensation. No sound but a gentle hush like a summer
After a time there is no time and you are completely lost. Where
is "up"? Where is "down"? Where is "here"?
Who is "I". The world "up there" -- a dream?
Is there any end to this? Was there a beginning?
It is like this for a very long moment.
Slowly sensation returns, a slight red glow. And heat against
your skin. And sounds. Sounds! Too many to take in. Birds, Streams,
You open your eyes and you are lying on your picnic blanket.
The sun warms you like a caress. A beautiful woman you hardly
recognize, your wife, is looking down at you with a look of concern
that makes you smile with pleasure. There is a particularly good
pie waiting in the picnic basket next to you.
She smiles too, though warily. Her gaze turns to your right hand,
which clutches something. You release your grip, and reveal a
stone. A stone just large enough to test the unknown depths.
You smile again and you give her the stone.