Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
The two trainees arrived promptly at the designated time. Terra sized them up quickly. The man was energetic; his quick eyes scanned the room, as though they could absorb the surroundings and reinvent them for the greater good. Confidence could be a good sign. The woman was a small, sprightly thing. She looked young and naive, and indeed she was. Even so, there was a soulful calmness that seemed to emanate from her. Her every motion was controlled and purposeful. These were Terra’s assignments, sent to represent the new wave of trainees. Earth’s population was growing, and more guides were needed now.
The man extended his hand in a very mortal gesture: a hand shake. Terra humored him by returning the gesture. The woman seemed to size up Terra’s reaction to the handshake and extended hers as well.
“Elise and Brendan I presume?” Terra said. She was ready to get the introductions over with. “I’m Terra. I will be helping you learn on your journey to become a guide.” Terra could not help thinking of the mortals she could be helping as they spoke. “Never mind that, helping all towards the greater good is important,” she quietly chastised herself.
“Yes ma’am,” Brendan said. He smiled sincerely. Terra was sure that she would get along with him. Elise nodded her head deliberately.
The two trainees entered the work space and looked around. Terra could see Elise’s eyes were already trained on the portal that was currently displaying the human life of one of her charges. “Please have a seat.” Terra gestured to a group of cushions arranged in the middle of the space. She sat on the cushion nearest the portal, which glowed innocuously in its modest frame of worn wood in the far corner, and arranged her ordinary white frock so that it draped appropriately as she situated herself. The small room had delicate eggshell colored walls that emanated their own natural light. Terra had decorated the walls with a few paintings of Earth’s views that her friend Halle had created to beautify the blue planet. They were Terra’s to enjoy now.
“Is this always your work space?” Elise spoke for the first time. Her voice had a musical quality to it.
“Yes; I prefer to have a private space, so I can focus wholly on my decisions,” Terra answered. “There is no room for mistakes caused by me; mortals make enough of their own.” She felt herself smile at the realization.
“Do other guides work together?” Brendan asked.
“I think that’s the way of the future. More and more new guides choose to share the responsibility for masses of individuals rather than focus their entire energy on a few. I can see the benefit and the drawback either way.” Terra held back the part where she preferred to work alone because she could keep her thoughts to herself and focus solely on her work.
“Why do you use the portal?” asked Elise. “I thought you could hear and feel the thoughts and needs of all the entities you guide.”
“That’s true, but that is not the only information you will need to make choices. I can hear my charges, but that doesn’t tell me anything about the mortals they interact with. That does not give me a full idea of the circumstances they are facing. This way, I can look at more facts, more elements of each decision, before I change my guidance. Few guides use the portal as a tool anymore. They prefer to see the world through human eyes.”
The two trainees nodded, and Terra could tell they were a little intimidated. She imagined that visiting her, the known recluse, they were probably realizing this was not the training assignment they had hoped for. Never mind that; it was time to move forward, so that she could have her thoughts and her space to herself once more.
Terra extended her hands towards the trainees, palm up. “First: order of business,” she announced. “Today will be your initial taste of the connection you will have with your charges.” The two trainees nodded their heads. This part had been explained to them before. “I need to warn you: it can be overwhelming at first. Some guides have a very difficult time adjusting to so many thoughts and feelings that are not their own whirring around constantly. I suggest that you learn to separate yourself from your charges. It’s the only way to stay objective.” Terra made her declaration in a matter-of-fact tone, but her confidence did not extend to her mannerisms as she reached out to the visitors with the awkward motions of an adolescent at a dance.
Brendan seemed nervous, but reached towards Terra’s hand dutifully. Elise stopped short. “Will it be painful?” she asked.
“At times it can be painful, or joyful, or confusing. It depends on the feelings and emotions of the mortals. Nevertheless, feeling their pain second hand is different than the experience the corporeals feel directly. You’re not in a mortal body. Physical suffering can never be yours. Emotional pain is much worse to feel through others.” Terra answered her as honestly as she knew how. “Don’t worry, you’re made for this! You will do beautifully.” Her encouragement felt a little strained, but it seemed to work. Elise firmed her resolve and reached towards Terra’s outstretched palm with no outward sign of trepidation. Terra allowed a portion of the corporeal entities’ emotions, thoughts, impulses – every nuance of the human experience – to flow through her palms. She felt her trainees become tense as the wave reached them. They were experiencing only a small portion of the flow that she took in at all times. Long ago, Terra had learned to section herself off from the din of her charges, thereby allowing her to manage both her own thoughts and those of her charges at once. The trainees were unable to manage this separation for now; it was too new to them. She felt Brendan try to pull away first.
“Don’t fight the feelings; just try thinking of your day, push the flow to the back of your mind!” Terra spoke to him firmly. He seemed to understand that this was a command, not a request, and she felt his resolve strengthen. They continued for a few more minutes. Terra could tell that, to the trainees, this small increment of time seemed like eternity. This perception was appropriate, because one day soon it would be the truth of their eternity. Elise seemed to manage as though she had more experience; she was a natural. Terra hoped that Elise’s sense of judgment, and empathy, would be as strong. She suspected that Brendan would have an advantage over Elise in that area.
When the trainees had shouldered as much of the world’s never-ending flow of pains and joys as Terra felt they could handle, she allowed them to rest. The whole ordeal was quite draining for them.
“This is why you learn to deal with the onslaught in small increments before taking on charges of your own,” Terra said. “You would be no good to anyone in a state of panic, or losing yourself in the masses.
“I can see why,” Elise nodded. She seemed a little faint. Brendan was almost translucent with the strain, but was holding himself up in defiance of his momentary waiver.
“I saw some odd questions in the thoughts. There was a priest; I think he was very concerned about the idea of creation? Elise asked.
“You should know the truth of that; you were only recently created yourself,” Terra said.
“Yes, but his ideas seemed foreign to me,” Elise replied quizzically.
“It is his perspective that is foreign; you have never been born to mortality,” Terra answered.
“I’m not sure that I understand,” said Brendan.
“I’ll try to explain,” Terra began. “The mortal world of Earth has many ideas about creation. Some mortals believe that life begins with the conception of a child. Others believe a human life begins at birth. So many notions contain only the observable, scientific part of the physical being formed. Others attempt to tie the beginning of existence to the entity as a whole: mind, body and soul. None even come close to the intricate complexity and beauty that is the existence of a new entity: that part of creation occurs considerably before the physical existence of the mortal shell.”
“So, they are created in the same manner as us?” Brendan asked.
“Yes, of course; but it is not that simple to them. One common view focuses on two cells uniting and creating a spark of life. Two sets of twenty-three chromosomes boldly intersect, then account for every physical characteristic the mortal body will ever encompass. It’s the closest thing to magic that some humans deem themselves able to produce.”
The trainees looked at Terra with interest. She could tell they were trying to wrap their minds around the differences in perception. “Others take the stance that life begins as an infant; born into the world. Apparently, moving from the role of a symbiotic organism that is as much parasite to the mother as it is offspring is regarded as the starting line of existence. Until the physical body is removed from its host by force, the being is not considered to be existent. Most mortal women who have carried a child will attest that the child ‘exists’ long before this point, as evidenced by the movement of the growing infant, and the strain put on the body of the mother.”
Elise began to disagree. “That seems like a limited view…”
Terra stopped her. “You know they can’t remember; you were already taught about the limitations mortality places on the immortal memory.” She continued her train of thought. “None of these ideas are completely erroneous. Obviously, the physical development of a fetus begins at conception. Certainly a human life cannot begin to develop as an individual or interact with others until that life is released from the constraints of its mother’s womb. However, neither idea answers a deeper question. When did the conscious part of an individual, the awareness that makes him or her into the person they will become, begin? The answer is: long before the individual was ever conceived.”
“Exactly! Why are they not allowed to remember that part of who they are?” Brendan was at a loss.
“It is not about being forbidden; it is about being able,” Terra said.
“I’m not sure that I see a difference,” Brendan responded.
“From a mortal perspective, an individual has always been destined to become the person that they are. It seems evident to those on Earth that a person’s soul and body belong together. They seem predestined for one another; two parts of a whole. In fact, this could not be further from the truth.” Terra was glad that she would be able to check this lesson off of the training list. “Entities are created by The One. Many are created, but each is a singular individual. Each has unique characteristics that can make them better suited for specific life styles, individual strengths and weaknesses, and each is designed with some purpose to fulfill in the master plan of The One. Each has a separate path to lead, yet all are interconnected in a grand tapestry of existence that is being symbolically woven by the creator.
“That is where we come in,” said Elise.
“Exactly.” Terra paused. “Very few entities have witnessed the actual act of creation. I hope that, one day, I will be fortunate enough to witness such a spectacular sight with my own eyes. Those who have experienced it consistently describe it as an event of such beauty and simplicity that mere word fails to do it justice. I can only begin to imagine.”
“I’d like to see that too.” Brendan’s voice was barely a whisper.
Terra continued her explanation. “Because each entity has a purpose to fulfill, the paths that they take can vary. When entities are sent to the guides they can have innumerable possibilities for their temporal path, or the physical being that the entity will be joined with. The key is to find a match that will best fulfill the specific part they have to play. Of course, humans have free will. This alone makes accomplishing transcendent goals not clearly remembered by mortal brains somewhat tricky, which is why a strong guide is essential. Unfortunately, this is also why some entities require more than one placement with mortality to complete the objectives set forth for them.”
“It would be so much easier if we could just tell them what part they have to play!” Elise said.
“True, but maybe not for them,” Terra answered. “We accept that our mission is set, but we aren’t distracted by time constraints and mortality. Mortals like to feel they have a say in charting their course, so setting the mortal entity up for success is imperative. Your job is the key. What happens between the creation of the immortal part of an entity, the soul if you will, and the moment an entity becomes determined to be placed on a certain path is the key. That is when an entity ‘becomes’ the person that they will be on Earth. This connection between the spiritual and physical could stack the deck for or against an individual from the start. A human whose innermost soul is at conflict or hampered by the physical being is not likely to make any sort of positive contribution to anything. Instead, they live in a conflicted existence that the guide must continually try to influence towards its intended fruition.”
“The mortals must be glad to have the guide’s input if their own resolve isn’t dependable,” said Brendan.
“Often this tampering is unwelcome in the life of the conflicted person. They would rather be left to their own devices to sort themselves out than be endlessly goaded by a force they can’t understand towards an end that is not apparent to them. These individuals experience constant ‘why me’ moments, and cannot understand why they have things happening in their lives that they do not welcome. I can only hope that the ends are greater than the means.”
“I think that I understand what you mean, about it being dependent on perspective,” Elise commented.
Terra responded: “Looking over my charges is my greater purpose. I’m glad to do it. However, because humans have free will I can only guide; I can’t make decisions for anyone. And decisions must be lived with; unless, of course, they’re fatal ones. It can be very frustrating to watch people set themselves up to fail. I too sometimes wonder why we can’t just send souls to Earth with a clear picture of their greater purpose. Some vague sense of purpose is often not enough to direct an individual down the right path. Beginning a journey with a road map instead of hope of finding the way seems to make sense. Even so, I do not see the greater plan. I, like those on Earth, have to trust that the plan is beyond my meager understanding, and do what is asked of me.”
“So, you do think it would work better to send entities with a set plan?” Brendan asked.
“Sometimes, but I think maybe the journey of finding one’s self and finding the goal is part of the experience,” Terra said. “Of course, there’s a safety net. Those corporeals who do not reach their fruition can return to Earth to try once again. They don’t cease to exist, despite their shortcomings. Ironically, mortals can only base their faith in continued existence on the testimony of those who have more faith than they do. They can’t recall The Tweens with the fleshy constraints of their human encampment, just as they can’t see the flashing neon signs that spell out in finite detail their intended part in existence. Most individuals whose attempts are cut short choose to return to Earth, even though they realize the true intentions of the mortal life they left will again be clouded by earthly limitations. When their immortal memories are no longer encumbered by the flesh, they have a truer sense of self. They can see more clearly the relationships they have with others on Earth, and beyond. They seek loved ones, though the biological tie is no longer relevant. They seek partners and lovers, though they have no physical need or desires. I find it a little strange…”
“No, not strange. That part makes sense,” said Brendan.
Terra was sure that the look she gave him was quizzical. At least, she meant for it to be. He was seeing something that she had wrangled with more than once, with a different result, and she was not sure where he could be coming from.
“I understand the need to complete a greater purpose,” she responded. “I subscribe to the same school of thought, in part. My greater purpose is to guide, and I mean to be successful. It is my singular focus. That, however, is the extent of my parallels. The need of individuals to reconnect with persons from another plane of existence is strange to me, yet they value these emotional ties to such a degree that they seek one another out openly and aggressively. More amazing is the fact that they believe that the individuals they lost are still in existence. They have no way of conceptualizing the truth of an immortal plane, but they seem to sense their loved one with some sort of transcendent connection. They do not falter in their hopes of finding lost loves.”
“It’s sweet,” smiled Elise. She seemed to blush as she was suddenly conscious that, by speaking, she had drawn Terra’s attention.
“I find that, while I don’t really understand the point of these emotional ties, I sometimes envy them,” Terra conceded. “I wonder what it would be like to be so profoundly linked to another entity that the bond could survive mortal lifetimes, separations, trials and diverging purposes, and then manage to find that entity again with the same zeal and enthusiasm. I suppose understanding that is not my place in existence, and some things are better left a mystery.”
“It’s kind of too bad,” ventured Elise.
“It’s the way things are.” Terra’s face betrayed no flicker of deeper emotion.
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