When the surreal doesn’t come to me, I find assistance to let me go to it. I probably shouldn’t, in case the surreal swallows me up only when it has something worth imparting that I need to attend to and therefore must pay attention to, but I usually enjoy just being there nowadays, so I do direct some conscious effort to facilitating exploration of that world.
Audio recordings of guided meditations help me immensely, and the ones that I like best usually lead to a meadow. I’d described it before: the memory of a tree from my grade school playground, beside the lake from my mother’s friend’s summer house.
Lately, though, I’ve felt that the tree and even the actual summer house being there made it feel too crowded.
So, I walked around looking for another meadow.
Where I started from used my memory, and so beside my mother’s friend’s summer house was a dirt path that sloped upwards.
There was never a stairway.
Well, now there was, and I didn’t put it there. Not consciously, anyway. The steps were cut from something like sandstone, and built into the coarse wall of a cliff by the ocean. Wasn’t I in the mountains? Wasn’t that ocean and sandy shore, a lake with clay banks just a few moments ago? Weren’t the slopes gentle, not these tide-crumbled bluffs?
Those sudden and surprising changes could be interesting.
And then they wouldn’t be, because as I ascended the steps, I sensed a movement behind me, and from a cave in the cliff emerged a tall, cloaked figure.
It was a very tall cloaked figure, and the cloak was black unlike in my drawing.
It blasted something out at me, a sort of flame I guess, which I turtled myself up against with Heartwrench (my sword that makes protective bubble-shields when the point gets stuck into the ground.)
It didn’t insist upon defending its territory. It just straightened up and ambled on past me and the stairway, all fifteen feet of it.
I followed the stairway up to a meadow, where a sort of round clearing had been sort of paved by polished panels of some light wood. I seemed to have walked in on some sort of meeting…
That was a few days ago. Today, I returned and the clearing was once more uncrowded except for Foxglove. For some reason, I had a parasol and was dressed in some Edwardian-era gown.
So, I asked Foxglove, “Do you know what that is?”
Foxglove only gave a slight knowing smile, a slight affirmative nod. He continued to watch the fifteen-foot-tall cloak pass by the meadow, I guess in the same way that corporeal-world people sometimes stop to watch somebody busking.
I watched with him, except that I considered this sight much, much stranger than busking. “So, what is that thing?”
Foxglove did answer, but I didn’t understand the syllables. I tried to get him to repeat himself, but he wouldn’t.
I nagged, “Why don’t you want to tell me what it is?”
“Because you’re too bloody cerebral! It doesn’t translate.”
So, that got me thinking about the process that I use to understand and communicate with characters in the surreal world.
In my mind’s eye, an image simply comes to me: Foxglove’s mess of wavy black hair, the angles of his eyes, his uncommonly pointed chin, and a ghastly complexion that’s white as paper.
The same isn’t necessarily true for voices and the content communicated. They usually feel more like ideas transmitted first, accompanied by some expression that I can witness. So, if instead of writing: “Because you’re too bloody cerebral. It doesn’t translate.” I wrote: “You rely on logic far too much. You wouldn’t understand something like this.” Or, “You’re waaay too heady. I couldn’t explain.” It wouldn’t necessarily be inaccurate, because I didn’t hear any actual words. I only caught at ideas.
Somehow, though, the general idea has a cadence and quality that I tried to capture using the sentence fragment, the use of “bloody” as intensive rather than adjective, the neutral observation phrasing of “It doesn’t translate” over “You wouldn’t understand; I couldn’t explain.”
When he spoke the syllables that I could not understand, I could see his mouth moving and sense some ideas being transmitted, but it was all a garble. It was a garble, though, that I could hear with my mind’s ears. I’d wanted Foxglove to repeat himself so that I could catch the exact pattern of consonants and vowels that I’d heard as the garble, so perhaps the explanation of this tall cloaked creature’s habits, motives, uniqueness and so on–all that could be understood, but the word for the creature itself would be otherworldly (or should I say “other-wordy”?)
Apparently, it doesn’t work that way.
A rare couple of times, the words did just come to me. One bad day in the corporeal world had people calling me all sorts of names that I didn’t give myself, and I went into the surreal and took it out on Foxglove, confronting him with, “You’re the part of my psyche that’s out to turn me into an immutable heterosexual and then convert me to monotheism, aren’t you. Who I am now is getting crushed to death by cultural pressure, and you’re the harbinger of a future version of me who would spit on my own grave but nicely and then project so much unnecessary suffering on anyone who seems to be like I am now.”
His, “No,” was a concerned murmur, followed by another that was personally amused but recognized and respected what an awful day I’d had. “No.” But I’d heard the words first.
Another time, I made a momentarily bad decision for the wrong reasons, and Foxglove called out my name in a panic. Not the idea of, “Alert, you!” Or, “Radiating sudden emotional reaction!” But my offline name that my mother gave me, the one that goes on my birth certificate, which I’d actually never told Foxglove and didn’t think he’d use if he knew because I don’t identify with that name.
Most of the time, though, I do get the sense that I’m mostly missing out on stuff that doesn’t translate.