Enlighten Me

Sid told me that the only way to see the light was to stop wanting with my body-to want only things, ideas, for my mind. So we followed him, after he left. We were all there when he left us, forever, we thought. We watched him sit under the tree as others made noises, calling at him. But he ignored them all. And on the 100th day, he let out a sigh, you know that sound of perfection you make when you do something just right? then his body slumped back and we all felt this tingle as he spoke to us, his mind connected seamlessly with ours.

-You gotta try this, guys!

It seemed like he was in paradise-in a perfect world. He told us stories of reaching the far end of the Galaxy and returning in an instant. He told us of flying through the sun, pausing at its core to marvel at the trillions of reactions, the incredible energy of the stars. But, best of all, he spoke of freedom. No body, no mass; no mass, no weight; no weight, no limits. No more hunger, no thirst. He never had to sleep. It was constant wakefulness and always wonderful. "Enlightenment" he called it. I guess he was so much lighter without the burden of his body.

Well that convinced us other guys straight away. We all just at right down under that tree and ignored each other. We were separating ourselves from our own bodies and each others'.

Well I sure don't know about the other guys, but I knew I heard my belly rumble-not that that was uncommon. Easy enough to ignore the first day, even the second. It's not like us miners had had much to each since the last of the uranium got dug out. I guess that's what gave Sid the idea in the first place. When he couldn't get fuel for his car, he left it sitting and went on foot. When he couldn't get fuel for his body, he had to find a way to keep going without it.

So there we were, trying to escape our bodies, trying to leave behind the dusty streets and the old apartment complexes. Some of us trying to leave families we never wanted. Not me, though. My girl was right beside me when Sid first left us. She and I worked on the same level in the last weeks of mining. She'd worked with Sid at an older assignment. She introduced us. I get this queer feeling, always have, whenever I think of her and Sid. Can't set down just what it is, though. Anyway, she and I were leaving the planet-and our bodies-together.

The time felt neither long nor short. We noticed its passing less and less as the days went on, till night and day were the same, they were each other and nothing and we didn't know what "time" meant anymore except as The Past. My mind just let me wander through my memories: to the months of homelessness with Sid and the others, back to the mine I used to work and the dingy place we slept. Further back, to the days of the apartment with my parents and my brother. Back to my childhood. My primary school. It didn't matter that my brother was long since dead. and my parents, too. I forgot what it was to use my eyes to see new things so that I can't pick a moment and point to it and say "That is when my eyes turned inward" and I can't picture a grassy field and say "That was my last sight."

It would be most noticeable with sight, since that's our dominant sense, but all of my mind turned in on itself, ignoring the electronic impulses from my ears, nose, mouth, skin and eyes alike. My brain did not register the stiffness in my bent knees nor the growling hunger of my belly. And when my display of utter contempt for my body was complete, it expelled my consciousness. Though at the time, I felt my conscious mind had liberated itself from a prison of a body.

And I felt Sid again, clearer than ever, a pulse of energy through my own energy field. I didn't really see him, it wasn't hearing either. My energy just recognized the patterns of his energy.

-Explore, he wavered, You'll love it.

So I did. I t was better than Sid had described. It's impossible to appreciate the beauty of the mind when you've always been tied to a body. Massless, I moved either at the speed of slight, or not at all. I would enter a perfect, cloudy nebula then hang there as it shifted and reacted around me, its energy radiating in very pleasing ways. And always, it felt like this life had just begun.

And yet, with what I can assume was the passage of Earth time, the electronic patterns of my memories left me. Not that I minded much, of course. Energy is never truly gone, merely moved or converted. I rarely interfaced with my memory energies anyway. I did retain knowledge that there were others like me, that we had not always been eternal and solely mental in nature. A single syllable, "sid," remained attached to my field, though the meaning attached to it is undoubtedly hovering at the extreme end of a far-off galaxy.

And one day I came upon an energy field more like my own than I could have imagined. It was so like mine, but…distinct from my own in a subtle way.

-Hello, I waved. A nonsense pair of syllables! That was what I chose to represent myself as a sentient and intelligent being? Somehow, it just seemed…appropriate. The other field wavered in what was clearly surprise. I hadn't encountered surprise in a long time…that single syllable flashed through my mind for an instant.

-Yes! It waved at a fast pace and high frequency. That's the traditional greeting! I was trying to remember….that's all I've been doing lately, is trying to remember. I think I remember you. We knew each other on Earth. Do you…, she seemed timid, almost afraid of my answer, Do you remember me?

-Are you Sid? I asked eagerly. At once I knew it was not. Both of our fields flashed with pain, loss and…blame? Yes, blame is what we called it on Earth. But the other's surged with something else…regret? And I had that peculiar nameless feeling.

-No.

-Yes, I know now that Sid is another…like us. The first of us, perhaps?

-I think so. Of all of us, that field is special. But you, too, were special, at least to me….before.

-What did I call you, when you had ears to hear it?

-Where did you find that odd word? Ears? Hearing?

-I floated through a stray memory energy. I waved the memory to the other; so much faster than summarizing it and waving it over in tidbits.

-Do you have more? I'll trade you the ones I have compiled.

And so we shared the data we had picked up, each waving words for objects, concepts, emotions that we no longer used, knew or felt. We traveled back close to Earth, to see what energy could be found there.

-Of course! The other waved, Only half the planet faces the central star at a time.

-Yes! I sent back, That's why some of our memories are bathed in a spectrum of energy and some are nearly clear of interference.

It was fun to remember what we could of our Earth days. A game. But it became clear this was a game we could never win. Earth was set up for more than mind-only existence. We had remembered "ears," there must be more that we missed. Until one day I left the one who was like me but different and traveled close to Earth's surface.

And that was where I saw a body.

I felt the air vibrate and I knew how an ear would translate that vibration into sound. For…communication? An oral language. And I registered the mouth that could produce the sound and would take in sustenance, for a body needed fuel, didn't it? There was the nose for breathing but also for processing chemical compounds and translating them to smell. And the bodies were covered in skin, to protect from the world around the body, but also to experience it. And I recognized a man-pattern and a woman-pattern and I knew that they were alike and different. And I knew the bodies had eyes and could look at each other and when the man-pattern turned to look at the woman-pattern, their eyes held and their energy fields rushed out from their own bodies and were divided between their own bodies and the body of the one who was alike and different.

And I remembered that a hand was not just for manipulating objects, but a hand was also for holding and a mouth was for more than speaking, but could kiss. And I remembered that when you are so similar to someone and are still distinct just like that, you call it love. And then I thought of the one who was still in space, but took up no space and was so like me and still distinct and I thought of the bodies we must have known and I ache forever with the knowledge that we gave them up.

I tried to fit back into a body, see? But all the grown up ones already had minds. No room for me and the other one. A skull'd just burn up, see? Too much energy. A dead body was no good, either. It already stopped. I tried a baby, but as soon as a baby body can hold a mind, it's growin' one already. No room for one as big as me. Too much energy.

I couldn't go back out to the one I love, the one who had been my girl when she had the body, the one I left in space. If it caught a wave of my energy patterns, it would remember its woman-body and how she felt when my man-body held her. Hurts me too much to remember. It'd hurt me more to have my girl, well, my girl's mind, hafta deal with all that, too. You don't really see the good of a body till you've had to do with out. I'd like to make it out to see Sid, what's left of his mind. I sure don't feel any lighter now, I tell ya.