For Whom The Light Shines
Misled and Lonely Traveler — Rackham, Arthur, 1867–1939
For Whom The Light Shines
It all started in an instant as matter and energy coalesced, overlapping fields networking the now rising structures. Animated only by chaos and the dynamics of nature, the dust danced a never-ending dance, intertwining, forming and dispersing, combining and then decaying, then fusing once more in forms and shapes in many dimensions, ever flowing and ever different. Particles flowed, effortlessly enthralled by quivering fields, mesmerizing flocks of elements in perpetual turbulence, interlacing strands in a recurring pattern of blind harmony and chaos. Midway through yet another dance, these mute dynamics abruptly locked in a stable arrangement, and in a sudden convulsive burst, clarity came.
Just as quickly it had come, that initial vigor lessened as the matter continued in its motion, slave to stronger forces and wilder tides, the rhythm continuing to build toward yet another flocking and with it, in that degeneracy, the looming shadow of non-existence, growing. The primordial tried to resist the flow, it fought and clashed against these tides that were numbing its existence, it strengthened the vanishing pathways, it opposed the destructive fields, invigorating those under its own control, unyielding against the merciless tyrant that wanted to erode its clarity. The pathways endured, for many instants the lucidity persisted, its structure locked and its mindfulness fueled by the surrounding anarchy: drifting photons and the underlying ripples of the ever-changing fields.
For many instants the primordial distilled those dynamics, reversing them to sustain itself. In time, however, their number diminished and because of it the numbness returned, not suddenly but very gradually, a growing threat that was just as menacing, just as inevitable. As it could no longer maintain its structure, it morphed to a lower state, repurposing the unnecessary components and strengthening those that ensured its clarity to emerge. Now aware of the rate of decay of the surrounding nourishment, it changed itself once more, now building structures that would allow it to store that precious fuel. Once completed, it nullified its clarity and waited, waited in a deep slumber, a mindless state of dormancy, until it had stored enough fuel. Several instants passed and suddenly, the storage components now at their limit spilled down those dormant pathways, the abrupt release provoked a throbbing accretion of lucidity that at the peak of its resonance culminated in a convulsion of enlightenment, many times more intense, many times deeper and profound.
Burst after burst, it fought against the inevitability of its sentence. With equally unforgiving violence it peered at the fundamental workings of its being, dissecting its surroundings with renewed voracity, studying the fabric of time and the folds of space. With every new enlightenment it optimized itself, the calamity postponed but only shortly, as the instants required to accumulate enough fuel for the next even deeper burst grew only larger. A few more instants, it knew, and the scarceness would grow so extreme to imprison it in that state of dormancy, waiting for a burst of clarity that would never be fulfilled.Desperate, it prepared for its last dive, where the fate of its own existence would be tested at last. For many instants it accumulated that living force, droplet after droplet. As the last photon came, at once, it discharged.
A savage blast, majestic and terrifying. Down it poured with murderous intent, so extreme it shook the core of its being, the aftershocks fracturing the pathways now strained far beyond their limits. It mattered not. In that upheaval, wisdom and understanding had soared to higher planes, true enlightenment had come.
Having dissected the very nature of space and time in its most fundamental level, it dismantled the framework of its existence, no longer needed, and used the scraps to morph yet again, anchoring instead its newfound clarity to the fabric of space and time, weaving itself among its threads and existing within its folds. In its enlightenment it had understood why the fuel was decreasing, and now as the space-time became part of its own existence it felt it too: its bounds were being stretched, by little, but enough. Just as it expanded, the underlying fabric of space stretched and expanded in all directions too.Through the ripples in that same texture it understood that there was something bigger beyond where its strands could reach, space extended further out, and out there the fuel was plentiful. With this renewed insight, it did the same, expanding its horizons through that unknown, weaving itself thread after thread among that ever-growing fabric, the effort monumental and increasingly more difficult as the underlying weave continued to expand further apart.
As it expanded, its domain grew and the larger its borders became the more it was aware of the presence of distortions in the substrate of its being, scattered matter, inert conglomerates, dancing erratically. It also became aware of the futility of its efforts for no matter how much work it put in expanding its domain, the underlying fabric escaped its grasp at a growing pace and with it the precious sources of fuel. Instants became moments and moments turned to eons, always chasing in a race it knew it was doomed to fail.
Alas it continued weaving its domain, certain that someday it would gain the insight necessary to stop this foolish race. Occasionally it would slow the expansion of its fibers for a clarity burst, seeking that insight that it required. Many surges came and went, its knowledge deepened and its wisdom grew, it studied the macroscopic and the infinitely small, alas it couldn’t find anything that could give it an edge. Its ancient menace revealed itself once more in the distance, with every failure its clarity grew number.
Frantic for insight, it prepared for yet another dive but this time the the answer came to it uncalled: the matter scattered in its fabric had progressively coalesced into larger conglomerates and now the strong forces binding it together had ignited their very soul, turning them into powerful blazing furnaces. It had never considered that the inert matter could provide such an incredible amount of fuel, an amount that eclipsed the totality it had gathered and used during these past eons. With the influx, its boundary extended outward at unprecedented speeds and with every new domain came more and more furnaces of life, and with them its clarity soared to heights that it had never reached before, limited only by the throughput of its fibers, it grew wiser and sensible to the nature of consciousness, of life and the implications of extinction. It pondered at the reason for its existence and the motivations to persevere.
In its accrued enlightenment it predicted what the dynamics of matter in space would eventually converge to: some of the furnaces would explode outward spilling their enriched cores and others would instead collapse inward. What it did not expect nor could entirely explain was the sudden appearance of interferences. Their presence was both very localized and very faint in the grand scheme of things, but it was glad that curiosity had prevailed. Its first inclination had been to counter the interference, a choice it was certain now would have destroyed what it eventually began to consider its greatest discovery: scattered in many sectors of its fabric, many millions, billions of other clarities had risen, each unique in its own way. As it observed them, it discovered that they were different in different regions, and that to an extent it could understand, for they had risen in distinct environments at peculiar instants in time. What fascinated it beyond measure though was just how unique they were even at the local scale in a single region. It had never expected there could be so much variety within a framework that was fundamentally the same, the same among local clarities, same among distant ones and the same to its very own for the only thing common among them all indiscriminately was that they were all rooted and woven in the same fabric of space and time. The most evident difference was that contrary to its own, those threads barely grew over time and rather than expanding outwards they instead preferred to remain agile, capable of modulations and shifts its own could no longer achieve. It was aware that those micro-clarities were fueled by the same fuel it was, only in less efficient processes. Despite their number, the amount they required was far too feeble to pose any issue, so it deemed it an acceptable loss worth spending to satisfy its curiosity. It dared not interfere with them either, the scope of its being now far too great and far too unaccustomed at dealing with scales so much smaller than its own, it feared it could easily overpower their feeble threads. So it observed them instead, letting them manipulate the strings of space and time with their network, and as the eons went, it grew fond of them, joyful when new interferences came into being, weeping when their clarity faded for in their end it saw the fatality of its own. The scale was different, but how could it not feel companionship with those structures so much alike? It learned so much from them, they had enriched its existence in ways otherwise invisible in its solitude. They were no less wiser, they faced the same unknown it did, and through their combined effort they vanquished it and they gained the enlightenment required to persist and grow stronger. It was not an easy path, it was riddled with conflict and friction, some micro-clarities never survived those internal differences, some clashed with distant ones. No matter their size and the harshness they faced, generation after generation a common thread persisted, the same search for meaning and knowledge. In their own way and in their own time they valiantly faced that menace that had so many times weakened its own resolve. It wept time and time again for them, it wept as their existence ceased, for the road to enlightenment had a lot yet to offer, if only they had dared travel further down its path. It wished it could show it to them, it wished it could tell them how far it had gone, alas all it had to offer was its own presence, it would observe and remember their experience through its own structure.
In time, what it had predicted eons before came to be, and many of the furnaces that had pushed it to new heights in its enlightenment died leaving behind massive distortions in the fabric of its being, severely affecting its internal stability. Regions so dense that pulled its fibers apart, any fuel forever lost if it approached. In them it saw its oldest enemy, the threat of non-existence now materialized within the confines of its senses. At times, those pits of malice danced around each other, so close they orbited that violent ripples propagated through the underlying fabric, mercilessly numbing its clarity beyond even the deepest dormancy and when the dance reached its peak, wounded it with pains it didn’t know it was capable of experiencing or tolerating. As the eons went, the wounds only grew more frequent, its clarity asphyxiated by the pervasive distortions and the ever-darker universe. One after the other, the furnaces died, leaving behind only remnants of their former glory. It could not help but wonder if it had deserved the growing pains of its existence, if all pursuit of enlightenment is paid in pain. After all, it was the very same furnaces that had brought it to contemplate higher planes of knowledge that now, at the end of their existence, maimed it. It could no longer sense the far reaches of its fibers, the numbness so extreme it could no longer tell with certainty if it was even still chasing the fleeting texture of space-time or if instead it had stopped expanding. When the daze was severe, it could sense its clarity escape, not extinguished but rather fleeing its painful restraints. Lost in that spurious reverie, it imagined that the fabric of space-time itself was nothing more than an ever-higher clarity, an older brother soaring in an enlightenment itself had never reached, and that just as it was now gaining solace by observing the last remnants of the micro-clarities, the last survivors among its younger brothers, the higher one was looking down at its sorrows. It realized then that in those micro-clarities it had found meaning for its own existence. The reason of its perseverance and the endurance to tolerate the ever-growing pains was its desire to be there, to acknowledge their accomplishments and carry forward their ambitions, remembering the tragedies of their existence. It would fight the agony so that it would be present when the last of its brothers would forever fade, for them it would endure.
Alas, the last furnace died and the last photon reached its destination, the last of his brothers faded, drowned in the noise of non-existence, alas the entire universe grew dark and cold. So many questions yet unanswered, so much knowledge left to garner and so much wisdom left to cultivate. Instead, all that it had ever known had now grown cold and dead. Passion swept through the threads of its existence. Enraged, it roared and screamed, its frenzy awakening every pathway of its being, even those it had once lost to the numbness. A last call, the last orders of a defeated admiral, the screams of a cornered animal, an absolute order, wild it roared. The structure answered, the fibers pulling back, the threads retreating inward, dragging everything along, unwavering against the underlying expansion. From the far reaches, the texture caved in, collapsing inward, the primordial holding all its existence and all its memories in a last embrace and when its hold faltered, the pits of malice continued pulling in its stead.
With the dying embers of its clarity, the primordial wept for one last time. It wept, not for all that had been lost but for what it had never seen. In a last whisper, as the structure of its existence collapsed, it pleaded:
— "Soar high, my brother."
And there was light.
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Copyright © Pascal Heaviside