I was sent this piece by a fellow writer who asked if I would publish it anonymously, because, “the message is more important than selling a few books.” I’m inclined to agree.
A Conversation with a Friend
I was hanging out the other night at the Tiki Hut, minding my own business, when a voice behind me said, “Hey, man. What’s up?”
I should first explain that the Tiki Hut is an edifice at the marina where I live. The denizens of said marina congregate there on occasion to commune with one another. I, on the other hand, avoid it like the plague. It’s not that I don’t like people; it’s just that I don’t like being around people. But that particular evening, I had the place to myself.
I turned around, and standing there was this dude I had never seen before, although he did look somewhat familiar.
“Hello,” I said in response. I was a little perturbed at having my solitude interrupted, but decided not to be rude. “Are you new here?” I asked in a friendly manner.
I mentally shrugged. I didn’t care one way or the other. I was just trying to be polite. Well, I had done my part and started to head back to my boat. I had a six-pack of cold beers waiting for me, and I thought it about time I paid it some attention.
“Want a beer?”
It was the dude. He was holding a plastic grocery bag that I had not noticed before. It definitely had the outline of a six-pack. Figuring the guy might be lonely, and thinking I might as well do my Christian duty, I said, “Sure, why not?” I would have a beer and we’d shoot the shit and then I’d get the hell out of there. I reckoned I could put up with him for the time it would take to drink one beer.
He reached into the bag and came out with two bottles of my favorite beer. Things were looking up. He did the honors of popping the caps and we both took a long pull of that cold, good-tasting beverage.
“So,” I said, “you moving in?”
“I’m thinking about it. I wanted to get a feel for the place first. Do you like living here?”
“It’s okay. As long as you pay your rent on time, they leave you alone.”
I’ll not bore you with the rest of the mundane conversation. That first beer led to a second and then a third. I was starting to warm up to the guy by the fourth. Then it dawned on me. We both had had four beers each, but we had started out with only one six-pack. When I mentioned that fact, he said, “No, you must be mistaken. There were two six-packs in the bag.”
Another mental shrug on my part.
As I popped the cap on my fifth beer, he asked me, “So, what do you think of the state the world is in?”
If I had been asked that question on the first or second or even the third beer, I would have bolted. I don’t get into conversations like that. Truth be known, I generally don’t get into conversations at all. I live alone and I like it that way. I don’t have to please anyone and I sure as hell don’t have to answer stupid questions. But . . . I was on my fifth beer and the guy was buying. So, what the hell?
“It depends on what world you are talking about. My little world is doing just fine. I eat every day. And when it rains, I’m dry. What more could a man ask for?”
He nodded, but said nothing. Fueled by Guinness Stout, I went on.
“Now, if you’re asking about the world in general, I would have to say that for the majority of the people in it, the place is a shit-hole. Wouldn’t you say so?”
“I would say that the vast majority of the people on this planet are living the lives that they want to live.”
Now the guy was pissing me off. Being of Irish descent and having four and a half Guinnesses in me got me up on my soap box.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked with a drunken sneer.
“I have heard of Him, but I don’t know if I believe in Him.”
“Well, if God is real, how can he let the suffering go on? How can he allow a baby to get cancer? How can the son-of-a-bitch let the world get into the mess that it is in today?”
“Good questions, my friend. Very good questions.”
“Don’t patronize me, and hand me another of those goddamn beers.”
I was in rare form.
When I had been placated with my sixth beer (but who was counting?), my new-found friend went on.
“Many people feel as you do. They use the same argument. ‘If there is a God, how can He allow the suffering?’ I think the answer is that there is no God. There is only the Oneness. There is only us. Perhaps we are God. And if we are God, how could we allow ourselves to suffer?”
That was it for me. Free beer or not, I was out of there. The guy was crazy. But first I would finish my beer . . . just to be polite.
Then he went on.
“It’s a shame that we don’t believe in reincarnation, because that would explain many things. If reincarnation was for real, that would mean souls exist before birth. It might even mean that we choose our lives. That life is not a crap shoot.”
About then, I was thinking, You’re a crap shoot!
“Do you know that physicists have proven, mathematically at least, that there is no such thing as time and that we are living in a hologram? And if that is so, then what does anything matter? Look at it this way. We live in a dimension known as space-time. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot have time without space and you cannot have space without time. Right?”
“If you say so. How about another beer?” We were now into the third six-pack that wasn’t there. But what the hell?
“Think of it this way. Space-time is a manifestation only of the physical plane. Off the physical plane, there is no space-time by definition. Correct?”
“Please stop asking me to confirm what you are saying. I’ll admit it makes sense . . . so far. So, I’ll sit here and listen to you as long as that magic bag keeps popping out Guinnesses.”
“Okay. Now visualize this. If you were to look into a dimension of time-space from a dimension of non-time-space, meaning a non-physical universe, what would you see?”
He smiled at me with such forbearance that I felt ashamed at having made such a flippant remark. And I sobered up instantly. “I’m sorry I said that. Please go on.”
“I take no offense and I assure you, ‘my momma’ takes no offense.”
I pushed my half-finished beer aside and waited. He didn’t seem drunk, yet he had had as many beers as I had. He took another deep swallow of his Guinness and continued.
“What you would see is all time happening at once. That is what you would see. Now, here’s my point. If all time happens at once and we are living in a hologram—a false reality if you will—and if we exist before we are physically conceived, and if we know the lives we are going to live, and if there is no time, which means the duration of our lives are as one-millionth of the time it takes to blink an eye . . . then how are we harmed?”
A good question to which I had no answer. But I had to ask, “Who the hell are you?”
“I’ve been known by many names over many lives. My time on the space-time plane is over. I just come to visit once in a while because that’s what I do. I am a teacher. Sometimes to the multitudes, sometimes to just one lonely man thinking of drinking a beer by himself. In my last incarnation, I was known as Jesus Bar Joseph, or Jesus, Son of Joseph. In parting, let me say this. There is no God. There is only the Oneness and we are all fragments of that Oneness, playing out our existence. Working our way back to the Oneness where we will be reunited. There is no hell and there is no heaven. There is no loss, there is only us. Peace be with you, my friend.”
Then he glowed with such intensity that I had to cover my eyes. The brilliance was filled with love. I have never felt such love. I have never been so loved. It was all I could do to not break down and cry right there on the spot.
Then he was gone.
Now I sit here pondering his words. If we are all One, then hiding from my neighbors might not be such a smart thing. I think I’ll invite that nice young couple who live a few boats over for a Sunday brunch. If I can make it through that, perhaps I’ll visit the Tiki Hut a little more often.
You never know who you might meet there.