(Originally posted Sept. 7, 2017)
“Don’t think,” said the man with the white mane. “Just open the spigot and be surprised by what comes out.”
And then he walked away.
I wanted to cry out, “Don’t think? But I can’t stop thinking,” but I had no voice.
So I stopped thinking.
Suddenly a spot appeared on the wall, which grew and grew until there was a hole large enough to step through. I could see that the room beyond was not the same room I would have found had I cut through the wall, and so, curious, I stepped through the hole.
Inside – on the other side – (Does it matter which side I was on?) – inside the room was like any other. It was the window that drew my attention.
I live in a somewhat rural district, I am blessed to own a little land where birds and raccoons and deer and sometimes foxes live (and yes, old hound by my feet, squirrels, too). This window did not look out on the green finery of summer.
I was in a room, an apartment, and the window showed me a gray landscape of buildings and concrete and people crowded together on a street below. When I stepped through, it had been a warm springlike morning, but this was a hot summery day and someone had opened a fire hydrant below, but the thin stream of water would have been as inadequate to douse a fire as it was to provide relief for the eager children who wanted to frolic in the ocean and were disappointed by the trickle.
Where was I? What made the spot appear and grow and lead me from tranquil country to anxious city?
I looked back and saw the hole in the wall and, beyond, my study and my comfortable chair. Here I was, only a few minutes awake and beginning the day, already faced with a life-changing decision: Settle back into my chair or explore this strange new world?
I’m ashamed to say, now, that I took the path of comfort. I stepped back through the portal and looked back at the sweltering apartment. Immediately the hole blinked – almost as if it was a bad video signal cutting out and in – and then the opening began to shrink – no longer big enough to step through easily, then the size of a small table, then the size of a bread box, a coin – and just before it disappeared altogether, I could swear I heard someone cry, “No!”
Whatever could it be? What mysterious force was at play here? I picked up my neglected cup of coffee and took a lukewarm sip, wondering what strange world I had blundered into, and why the magic door opened then and here, and almost at once I wished I’d made the other choice – although who knows if I would even have survived whatever was over there?
All I know is I have yearned for the portal to open again, so I could see what was on the other side and perhaps figure out why and how it opened here, in the wall of my study. Alas, years have gone by, six years and about three months I’d say, for now it is late summer, and the hole has never reappeared.
Never, that is, until now. The apartment beyond looks unchanged, although I have very limited vision of what lies farther beyond. I’m going to leave this note so that, if anything goes wrong, you will know what has become of me. I take this step freely and of sound mind – how long will the portal remain open this time, after all, and I am so curious as to what lies over there: a whole different world, or a place on this Earth that is vastly different from this place?
I don’t know – and I will never know unless I cross over. And so here I go, somewhere – some time, perhaps? Is it a journey through time as well as space? Mom always used to say, “You never know until you try.” She was right – the road to knowledge is paved with choices and experiments. So here I go, Alice through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole to somewhere. I only hope and pray it’s a wonderful somewhere.
“And that,” said the impish man with the shock of white hair, suddenly over my shoulder again, “that is why you don’t think.”