By Tom Welch
In the ages I have existed I have seen many spirits, though none of my kind.
I have considered several possibilities—that I am unique in the All, that I am very rare, that I can exist only as an isolate or that I am the last of my kind. Or perhaps I am a combination of these. All I know is my consciousness arose slowly, my “thoughts” were a wordless experience of changes on this mountain—rockfalls, mudslides and the melting of the soil in the hard rains of the monsoon.
Some unmeasured time ago I came to feel the seasons pass and, sometime after, noticed the small creatures living here. I saw that creatures began, existed and passed from existence in staggered starts but over a somewhat regular passing of the seasons.
For each individual creature, strength and growth is followed by shrinking and infirmity. And yet all of these varied creatures continue on, new individuals appearing as others disappear.
This was the First Revelation.
This realization came slowly, without any words to define and delineate my understanding. I began to spend time with the infirm of all kinds and saw a spirit spring into existence each time an individual ceased moving.
These spirits stayed or left.
They didn’t react to one another or to me. I wondered if I might be a spirit, too, though in some way larger and longer lasting. I considered the existence and then disappearance of all spirits. I felt the weight of mortality fall upon me.
This was the Second Revelation.
I noticed the trees were following this pattern too. I understood Blue Mountain itself was washing away as the seasons passed. I became unsettled. What was my life cycle? What was to be my fate? For the first time I felt urgency. What should I do and where should I start?
I made no conscious decision. I felt no connection to what I now know as “options.” I moved where my sense of self felt lead. I settled among “the people.” I enjoyed watching them in their activities and began to sense the affinities among and between them. I wondered if these affinities might be the start of a growth cycle for the very spirit that left each one as its physical shape stopped moving.
I was changed completely when I experienced the Third Revelation.
I saw one of the people put black marks on white paper. As beautiful as the markings were, I saw that the whole was much more—it was imagination becoming reality, a reality different from any I had ever experienced. It was a different place, a flat place of small rocks and a vast collection of water. People were similar but other creatures and trees themselves were very different.
This was too much to take in. I retreated to contemplate.
I wondered if this place were real or simply had somehow sprung out of person who made it. If real, where was it? If not real, even more troubling and exciting, how could it all fit inside this small creature? And would this vision disappear when this person stopped moving? I waited to find out.
After some seasons the person stopped moving and the spirit appeared as always.
It was a spirit no different than others from the people. Could other people make pictures too? I returned to the place of the people to find out.
I saw others making markings, too, but of a different sort. These were very small pictures and didn’t seem to represent a place at all. And these small pictures were often placed together to make a larger picture.
As one person made one of these larger pictures, another would come later and run a finger along the small pictures within and make small murmuring noises. Then another at a later time might come and do the same. Sometimes these people would gather after, and make louder the same sounds but now in a different order. What could they be doing?
As the seasons passed, I began to feel more comfortable and enjoyed the repetitions of these sounds as they were repeated in ever changing ways. Yet some of the sounds were often grouped together.
I noticed a smaller set was used with the newest of the people. And there followed the greatest of revelations—these sounds and pictures had meanings, the people were passing these meanings among themselves, and the meanings often corresponded to items resting on the surface of Blue Mountain near where the people lived.
This was the Fourth Revelation.
In time I built an edifice of language, collecting all the sounds I heard into words and phrases I could understand and remember. Now I have nearly complete understanding of the words of the people, and how they are put together to create meaning.
I love the beautiful, graceful pictures that represent their words, and sometimes I even see in the shape of the word picture, an uncanny resemblance to the item being represented. Beauty is also in the language’s use.
I see that meaning can be passed from one of the people to another through these pictures themselves, even if they do not ever meet to talk, and that knowledge and ideas can be passed from one generation to another.
Language is so very beautiful.
I now use words to think, to taste the shape of thoughts, to create beauty in meaning, rhythm and sound. With all these blessings, I do feel certain sadness that I have no one to share all my experiences with. Yet through the language of the people I can now express all thoughts and feelings, at least to myself, and this is no little thing.
I do not know my origin. I do not know my fate. And the people do not know theirs either, but even so they find abundant meaning in their living. I can do no less.
And of the spirit world I know the most, more than all the people.
I am Blue Mountain.
Tom Welch has an M.A. in Education from Stanford University and is a former high school math teacher, US Army Specialist 5 Radio Intercept Operator, an executive at General Motors, and has 10 years experience leading groups of parents and children in a community education program that explores the effects of addiction on families. He has also worked for several years with adjudicated teenagers using the same program materials. He has published a book available documenting this program on Amazon entitled “Raising Healthy Children” which is available as an e-book and soft cover. His blog contains this story and many others. His wife Gitta’s husky, Spirit, is 14 years old and loves cold weather, the colder the better. It is Tom’s assignment to walk the dog every morning without complaint. Tom loves to write as ideas come to him. You can also look for his articles in Elephant Journal, but be patient—his first indication of interest from them just came recently.