It didn’t take long after they had figured out the physiological makeup of the body to pinpoint the influence of the intangible mind. But humans, of course, cannot really be satisfied with what is intangible. They must have something they can entrap, put their hands on, poke and prod, and figure out its limitations and its possibilities.
It isn’t that they are evil, necessarily, it is just that they lack an all-knowing perspective. We are small, compared to the forces of the world, we are emotional, our insecurities magnify our faults, or maybe it is that our faults magnify our insecurities, but either way, there is a growing disproportion that is part of our nature.
Instead of asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the question now is “what will your insecurities translate to as you grow?” We never could quite figure out how to be proactive about these in a healthy way and instead kept shrinking and shrinking away from our own inherent power to strengthen them. The whole mindset shift turned our possibilities into probabilities.
“Are you ready for Translation?” the question was served with a sarcastic sneer. Jacob, my friend since primary school, was turning out to be less of a friend and more of an annoyance as he better learned my buttons and subsequently pushed them.
“Well, there really isn’t a way to prepare for it so it is kind of a ready or not scenario.” I shot back flatly. “What about you?” I entertained, curious about how he would field his own question.
“I feel confident. I think I’m gonna get a good one. I’ve done all of the rituals. I’m a physical specimen.” He flexed his muscles above his head like a vintage wrestler. “My mind is a steel trap.” He tapped the side of his forehead knowingly.
“Okay, well, remember, those are just expressions of your current translation. This will be a new one.” I raised an eyebrow skeptically.
Jacob flexed his shoulders back and raised his chest, perking his head up higher to rebuke my criticism. “Sure, but those things can only improve with each version.”
“Maybe.” I closed the book I had been reading before I was interrupted by his excitable energy and packed my things to leave. “We will see tomorrow.”
That night I had trouble sleeping. Anticipation, I guessed. The day I had spent learning about since this life began was finally here. Tomorrow, I would stand before the council and find out which direction my life would take.
The formula was cryptic. We were given a set of standardized practices to adhere by until our eighteenth birthday. Then like a cosmic bowling ball, we were hurled back into another time, another space. The life we produced as a result was considered a Translation of our initial formation. It was a way to try and rule out the insecurities and behaviors that led us to our own self destruction. From afar, they tracked the progression of our lives and what we translated into. If we struggled with low self-esteem, for example, that might translate to drug use. If we struggled with poor focus, that might translate to an inability to build a career. By better understanding how these cognitive tendencies translate to adult challenges, the hope was to eradicate them completely.
People generally felt excited about Translation because they didn’t yet know what they struggle with. They’ve followed the prescribed orders with perfect consistency and relied on this external framework to produce their lives. They haven’t delved too deep into the waters of the self, so in not knowing what to expect, they look forward to what is ahead.
But I already knew what I struggled with. It had always been with me, though I took the medications and did the exercises, I followed their directions, but it never felt right. It felt like a mask that I was wearing and though I wore it well, I dreaded what might await me on the other side of this coin, what would be revealed through my own Translation.
I had known many who had gone before through this process. Some returned and some did not. It wasn’t for the general public to know the patterns that were revealed by these events. Only the few “in control.” I closed my eyes and tried to decide whether or not I wanted them to be in control.
I awoke early the next morning to the focus of the day awaiting me. Even the sun’s rays seemed to be shining in a way that was meaningful, though I could hardly believe the sun would alter its rays for me.
I arrived at the council and sat through ceremonious grandeur. It was supposed to seem like an honor to Translate, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was leaving something behind or undone. But those were just thoughts, what else would I do? I felt detached from myself, as if I were moving down a conveyor belt toward a certain manufactured future.
As they called the eligible to the stage, I was approached by two men in dark suits and stoic faces. Without a word, they ushered me out of the aisle and around the crowd to the back, behind the stage. “What did I do?” I asked them, feeling the panic rise in my throat followed immediately by a swell of anger. I’d done all the things, I’d shown up, what could I have done wrong?
I made eye contact with Jacob who had been standing proudly on the stage, his expression had turned from excitement to confusion. He tilted his head in earnest reflection. I knew his thoughts must be reflecting mine: which one of us is in trouble?
I was stuffed into a small, shiny, metal room completely obstructed from the large celebration outside. I sat across from a thin, pale, woman whose dark suit matched the hardened men that had deposited me into the cold metal chair.
“What is happening?”
“Oh, sorry for the confusion. You’ve actually been selected for a different role.”
“I’m not Translating?”
“You are. For sure. We all do.” She shook her head and laughed at the absurdity of the question. “No, but, in this life, you’ll translate in this life. Naturally.”
The word felt foreign. Naturally? There was nothing natural about what was happening. There was nothing natural left in this calculated and constructed world.
“I can see you’re still confused. So, let me reframe this. Those who translate in a former life are kind of subjects of study, really, to put it plainly. You’re going to be more in a leadership position. That means you’ve been identified with leadership characteristics. If we send you back as a study subject, it would probably not take well. But I think you’ll do great here!”
I blinked. “Um. Thank you?” I shook my head, “Jacob. So, what will happen to him?”
“Oh, Is he your friend? That’s nice. Yes, so, he will translate.”
“Okay, well, I thought that meant one thing and now I am feeling like it means something else so can you please elaborate?” My eyes briefly shifted to the two men guarding the doorway.
“It still means what you thought it did. But we have discovered some really amazing trends. I think you can help us draw some congruencies.”
“Findings between similar outcomes.”
“No, I know what a congruency is. But in what context?”
“Yes! Exactly. And others. Others compared to Jacob. It’s great you have a reference point for this.”
“A connection to an experience or person that will inform…”
“I know what a reference point is.” I began to wonder if I was speaking to a robot.
“Oh. I was reading your confusion as misunderstanding but is it actually disbelief?”
“Good! Okay, I was beginning to worry about our selection in you.” She wiped her brow theatrically and then stood up. “Follow me. I think this will ground your experience.”
The dark men moved aside creating a space just small enough for the pale woman and I to slide through. I followed her into another room, wider, with many screens and windows for viewing virtual information. It felt like being in the control deck of a spaceship but I certainly didn’t know where I was going.
She pulled out a file and waved her hand, which caused the empty screens to illuminate with the contents. “Case Number 0004389278. Successfully addicted to opioid substance: heroin.”
“Successfully?” I stuck on the word.
“Yes. Of course. Well, we can’t study resiliency without some kind of adversity to overcome.”
“You’re manufacturing adversity?” the words felt like nausea in my mouth.
“Creating conditions. Controls. Addiction is very predictable.”
“Predicta---wait, no. I thought Translation was about revealing what was inherent, not purposefully putting people at a disadvantage.” I could feel the familiar anger I had tried to control most of my life, bubbling to the surface like toxic waste.
“Oh my goodness, you are responding so well to this! We did make a good selection in you. You are so pure of heart.”
“Pure of heart?” I was feeling murderous tendencies so it was hard to reconcile the two ideas.
“Yes. Because, let me just cut to the part I think you’ll be interested in. So, I can see you’re struggling to believe this, but, believe it or not, we’ve set people in Translation up for all kinds of adversity, poverty, addiction, abuse, shame, doubt, failure, illness, inequality, I mean the possibilities are actually endless. It’s a real horror show if you think about it too much. But what is really interesting,” she was becoming almost breathless in her explanation, “is these people, they just keep pushing on! I mean, it’s true, some of them perish, unfortunately, but an increasing amount of them actually persevere no matter how difficult we make it. But here is the real kicker, when they do succeed to pull themselves from the mire, though the amount of time it takes for each person is unique, they are always, always, 100% of the time aligned with one another. We can read this same frequency of energy they emit among all of them. It is like they are connected!”
I was speechless. But no matter, because she went on.
“And THEN,” she was absolutely gushing at this point, “once they reach and can sustain that frequency level, guess what they do.”
She paused expectantly. I could only shake my head.
“They seek out those who have similar afflictions and actually help raise them to their frequency!”
My head was spinning. I didn’t know if this woman or her tale was more unbelievable.
“Okay, okay, so I know that is a lot to take in. You are probably experiencing some cognitive dissonance so it will take a while to kind of unload and reconcile that before you can actually wrap your mind around this. But the good news is, I’m just here to tell you, something amazing is happening and we’ve done it.”
“You’ve done it?”
“Yes. It’s incredible. They are connecting to each other.”
“No. You haven’t done this.”
“Well, no, you’re right, not me personally, but, you know, as a whole kind of mission of the human race, we’ve created this opportunity to connect.”
“You think you’ve created an opportunity to connect by afflicting unnecessary suffering on others.”
“Yes,” she chuckled, “I understand it must all seem a little strange as you’re first learning about it, but it’s obviously more complex than that.”
I shook my head again, trying to get the motion to rearrange some sense of order in my mind, “I thought that we were paying attention to the conditioning of ourselves. You’re telling me that none of that matters because you just hook us on heroin when we arrive?”
“Of course you did, because that is what we taught you to pay attention to. But, there are so many other things at work around you that you haven’t noticed. Things you could be sharing and building upon on a regular basis, but if you aren't paying attention, you simply won't know it’s there. It creates a blind spot. You look where we want you to look. You value what we want you to value. Otherwise this whole thing just doesn't work.”
“Or maybe it would work, if you allowed it to. If you didn’t intentionally create blind spots in our understanding.”
“Oh, we tried that. Humanity was killing everything.”
“But this is living?”
“It ensures the survival of those that understand the truth.”
“Truth? You think this is truth? Manipulation and abuse?”
“It only seems that way because your perspective has been obstructed. If you had known it was this way all along, you would see the real value of this process.”
“Oh I see the value, and I see what is uprising as a response; something stronger than the corrupted lens of manipulation and abuse, only something real could be that strong.”
For the first time since our meeting, I could tell the pale woman’s perspective of me had changed. Her tone lowered and her narrowed eyes indicated she was no longer reading me as a confused counterpart that just needed to get on the same page. She was reading me as a threat. “I think we may have misjudged you after all.”
Though I was shaking with fear, the feeling was mutual. “I think you may have.”
Her expression softened, another strategy, “I think with some more time you will find clarity.”
For a moment, I debated internally. I recalled how I had felt just moments before, sitting in the auditorium and accepting whatever fate lie ahead. But it seemed like the small seed of doubt I had in this process had now taken root with this growing affirmation that something was not right. My conveyor belt was off the track. The process had gone awry. Hell, the whole factory was on fire.
I took a deep breath, “Actually, I think it’s already really clear.” Fueled by adrenaline, I decided if there was no certainty in anything anymore, there must also be little reason to keep captive the anger inside me that had been brewing for a lifetime.
“Just coming into all this new information as an objective outsider, what this actually says to me is that people have somehow found a way despite adversity, not because of it. And if there is something connecting all of them, then that means there is something greater than this. There is something greater than you.”
There it was, the truth rolled out onto the table for the entire world to see. The source of the resentment I felt toward what seemed like purposeless obedience in their practices and their rituals and their adherence all my life but could never before muster the courage to explore beyond that let alone challenge.
“There is something greater than this.” I repeated and every word I said aloud gave me greater confirmation.