And From Joy

He awoke to the sharp chill and emptiness of space. Not a physical chill but a coldness as if he was coming out of a dense, frost-laden fog. But there was no fog. There was no chill. There was nothing, except a thought, a haunting, hallucinatory thought that danced in his mind, yet not in his mind. Each time he reached out for it, he could feel it receding, moving away, deeper into the corners of his mind. Out of reach, but always there.

He had no memory of time or light. He knew nothing but himself. He stretched his mind, reaching, grasping at the wisps of ideas that skirted his consciousness. But he found nothing. He was not frightened. He didn’t know fear.

He really knew very little. He had the thought, the idea which danced and tempted him. A fragile, fleeting glimpse of himself. And as the thought became clear, he understood; he existed. He was here. He searched his mind, ransacked his consciousness, probed and analyzed every thought and idea, and came to this: a question – how did he get here?

This was a real question, quite substantial. And he realized the importance of the question was that it meant he couldn’t be alone. If he was here, someone must have put him here. After all, he couldn’t have always existed, or he wouldn’t have just awoken. From there, it was simple, all he had to do was find the others. So, he probed; space, time, infinity, and the dark, illogical recesses of his mind.

Yet there was no trace, no sign, not a clue. In fact, there was nothing else. He hadn’t thought about it before. He had assumed whomever left him here had come from somewhere, sometime. But now all he could find was himself. There was only one explanation; something had happened to everything and everyone else. He was the only one left.

This was not an easy concept to grasp. Especially for a mind just beginning to awaken, but there it was. He must have come from somewhere, but there was nowhere to be from. He knew he came from someone, but no other one existed.

Creation. It was the obvious answer. Creation wasn’t so difficult once he thought of it, and he felt ashamed that it took so long. He would simply create his past, or recreate it. He had to come from somewhere, so he would create somewhere. He would create a galaxy of somewheres and see what happened.

And he created. A thousand shapeless voids and forms, each leaping from his mind and grabbing space around him. At first, it was startling. To see. To feel. Shapes and sizes, textures and colors. He reached out and took each and examined it and replaced it. Surely, he hadn’t come from the likes of these. No. He needed something logical, something substantial, a great swirling orb with sense and form.

So, he created, and created again, and examined. Each creation bore the marks of his inexperience, and with each he learned. He molded and altered and practiced until he could think of no more changes. He must have come from one of these worlds. And he waited.

The fact that nothing happened disturbed him, and it intrigued him. He had created a myriad of forms and shapes and sizes, and they were set free to move and interact, to develop and produce. Yet, nothing had happened. He had searched each over and again. He knew that somewhere among them he should have found some spark, some trace of himself.

He didn’t expect to find anything as complex as himself, but surely there should be some form of life, some motion, something. But there was nothing. Only hard and soft and dark and light. Only warm and cold and wet and dry. And the colors. Colors that he couldn’t have believed had he not been so involved in their creation, so enchanted by the minute variations. There were colors that moved him almost to tears, and colors which brought joy to his heart; delicate fugal arrangements of colors, weaving among themselves, restating their elegance. And he had created them. But they weren’t alive. They weren’t forefathers or a past. They weren’t enough. He needed something more.

So, he thought about himself. He examined himself thoroughly, turned himself inside out, wandered through his body and mind and the space which surrounded him. He was very complex. He was a long time understanding each individual part and what it did, and why it was exactly the way it was. And still, he knew nothing. He might as well be made up of a handful of these spheres that swirled around him. Except in him, everything worked together, it was a system.

So, he organized. He put large and small together. He grouped and separated and arranged until all the shapes and forms and voids fit into a delicate pattern, a conscious, logical interdependence of motion and size. And he waited.

And again nothing. He was stumped. He wanted to know where he had come from. He wanted to grow himself from the beginning. But what beginning? How would one go about starting to grow something as complex as he? What was he creating? What was life? All he knew of life was himself. Certainly, it was more than motion. He moved, he was alive, but none of his creations were. They moved, but they didn’t grow. They weren’t alive.

What he needed was something that was alive, that grew and changed, something that could create more life, if he was going to develop new life and change. So, he planted seeds of life, of as many different kinds of life as he could imagine. He planted them throughout the vast system of worlds he had created, matching each to its environment. And he watched.

He was amazed. He had not thought that so many variations would develop from among the seeds he had planted. Some were multiplying and taking over their worlds, lush, thick, colorful. Others were dying out, as if their world just could not sustain life. And he didn’t bother trying to figure out why, because it was only logical that a world which could not support basic life could not be responsible for his development. He concentrated on the worlds which did support life. But he had a problem.

Though many of the life forms were majestic and imposing, and many were prodigious in their development, there were none which faintly resembled him. There were some which were so beautiful he almost wished he could become one of them, accept them as his past and be done. But he had no say in creating himself. He was what he was.

And there was another problem. To keep up with the multitude of changes, he would have to be everywhere at once – an impossibility. He had tried once to spread himself out, but he could not cover even half of the worlds which supported life. If only he could find a sign. If only he knew what he was looking for.

He made the rounds of his worlds, and watched and waited, and realized all of the life forms were static. None moved freely, all were reliant on their environment. He moved freely. He was not controlled by his environment. So, he created new life forms which would be free to move over the face of their worlds. And he placed them on worlds, allowing them, to adapt to their environment, to change and grow. And when he finished, he rested.

He hadn’t realized it would be so difficult to reclaim his past. So many things to think about. He was still confused. He knew he was learning, but he couldn’t know everything. There were still so many questions left unanswered. How would he know which world was his? What if his world developed past his time while he was not around? What if none of the worlds were his, what then?

Then, he slept. And his mind was filled with images and colors, a timeless montage of forms and void, all of the variations and dimensions of his creation. He saw patterns of development and change, growth. And when he awoke, it was to a deep confusion. He was disoriented and grasped at his memory. He hadn’t slept since the beginning and wasn’t familiar with waking up. He reviewed quickly what he had done, stretched and looked around him at the vast expanse of his creation. He was impressed. Everything looked right, Everything was in its place. He started on his rounds with a sense of satisfaction he had not felt before.

Many of the worlds remained unchanged. Many of the new life forms has disappeared altogether. Others had grown into new and unique forms, some hauntingly beautiful, some grotesque. Some were huge, some miniscule. Some dominated their worlds, some lived in fear and darkness. If he lived forever, he didn’t think he’d ever understand them all.

But he watched and studied. He moved between worlds, examining. He marveled at the variations, the oddities, the way life forms produced and reproduced each other. He searched and waited until he had found three worlds that showed some signs of himself. He was ecstatic. He was enthralled. He sat and watched them as if none of the rest of his creation mattered. He felt things he had not felt before. Here before him was himself, or at least those parts of himself he had never known before. Here were his beginnings. He was proud and exuberant. He was disturbed.

He was faced with the prospect of coming to his time, and he didn’t know what to do. How did one fit into one’s space? Who would he be? Surely, no one would understand all the trouble he had gone to. He didn’t know. He couldn’t imagine. So he watched.

He watched the familiar forms moving about the worlds, slowly developing characteristics which he recognized as his own. He was fascinated with the patterns and shapes of their development, the kaleidoscopic grouping and regrouping, growth and recession, migratory expansion.

He watched as the three worlds grew away from each other, each developing its own personality and direction. He watched and he learned. He learned that having a past was a very complicated process. There were so many things to know, generations of change and growth, of development and progression.

He studied and remembered, and sorted and compared, and he felt himself growing closer to one world. He knew it was his world. It was his past, his beginning. It carried all of the essential feelings and characteristics he had found in himself. He knew, and he was saddened. Saddened for all he would have to leave behind.

In the rush to develop and understand his past, to create a world on which he belonged, he had lost sight of the rest of his creation. So many things he would never see again – the worlds, the colors, the life forms which seemed so alien to him now. He stored each away in the back of his mind and he slept.

When he awoke, it was to darkness. He knew his time was near. Again, the doubt and fear, but now anticipation. To belong, to be a part of his world. To know hope and love and the hundredfold emotions he had watched develop. To grow and sleep and work and experience time and light. To be surrounded by thousands of others like himself. And he was suddenly very lonely and afraid.

And then the fear receded, and he felt the motion – a deep, prolonged contraction, and another, pushing him down and out. He was surrounded in warmth and darkness, and then light and freedom. A jolt, a sharp pain. A caress…and from joy, he cried.