Paula Sutton

I was not over there.I was on my side of the glass.Only because the patterns had crossed through the glass and entered my eyeballs were they now living in my consciousness.This was exactly what Dolores was saying when she explained the philosophy of Immanuel Kant to me.I was on this side of the glass experiencing the phenomenon.I was not over there with the scratchings.The whole thing amazed me.In order to enter my nervous system, the patterns of light from the scratchings on the box had to first enter my eyeballs, and with each spurt of blood pulsing through my eyes’ capillaries, the patterns inside me vibrated.That was how they were alive.They were inside the mundane and mysterious power we call our minds.As if in a lucid dream, I became anxious that my experience would vanish.I wanted to continue the feeling of being in the very center of the process whereby patterns of light were being transformed, moment by moment, into elements of experience.Not that I doubted the existence of the pattern on the object out there.Obviously there was something out there on the box.But seven hundred million years of vertebrate evolution were working to transform the scratchings on the box into a pattern in my experience.Staring at what I saw, I said to myself, I am creating you.By you, I did not mean the pattern on the box.I was not creating that.And by I, I did not mean Brian Thomas Swimme.My small self was aware that it was only witnessing the transformation.The universe had poured its creativity into the construction of the gold box, the African continent, and my body.My fresh experience of the zigzag was rising up from the deep powers of fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution.This zigzag pattern was constructed by some Egyptian artisan.Some guy with a family.Or maybe he was a slave.In any event, he was a particular person, and this thing that was living inside me, that I was contemplating, had been constructed by him and was now placed inside my awareness.All of these intermediaries were at work here and now, above all the artisan who had carved these slightly off zigzag patterns.He was not located back in ancient Egypt.I had just missed seeing his hand carve the gold plate with his tool.I could almost start a conversation with him.Ask him his view of things.The experience was so fresh, so fragile, so interesting, I didn’t want to move.I was afraid if I blinked it would all collapse.I had not lost track of the fact that I was in the Flag Pavilion in Seattle, nor that the year was 1978, but at the very same time, everybody was there with me, the Egyptian artisan, Tut, Tut’s little golden box.They were all there in a real way, newly emerging.It was certainly my experience but, simultaneously, it was their experience too.It was not mine alone.They were all there experiencing themselves, but now as me.Somehow or other, this experience related to the origin of the universe.I had entered the museum with all the normal expectations.There would be ancient art objects on display.They would be over there, I would be over here and I would look at them.But that’s not what happened.They didn’t stay put.I was tired of thinking about it.Things were weird, hard to think about.I made my way through the silent groups of museumgoers, pushed the release bar on the door, and entered a brightly lit museum gift shop filled with shiny objects available for purchase.Like the mist that rises up from ground frost when the December Sun finally floats above the mountains, my disturbed feelings evaporated moment by moment.By the time my eyes adjusted to the intense fluorescent lamps, I was home again.A month later, the dots connected.I was desperately aware of how much I needed sleep, but my mind was a storm.Looking up, my reflection stared back at me from a place outside the window.If there were people out late walking on the sidewalk, they would be able to look in at me.As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw a light flutter of snowflakes drifting down in the soft glow of the streetlamp.The first snow of the season.I pulled off my Chuck Taylors and replaced them with Red Wing boots from the hall closet.Sliding the row of clothes a few inches to the left, I found my dark blue parka.On the shelf above the rack and underneath some umbrellas and gloves was my winter hat made out of sheepskin and with a broad brim, the back of which could be folded down to protect the neck when the wind kicked up.I grabbed my red muffler and crammed that into the pocket of the parka, just in case.Thus equipped, I left.The snowfall had begun to dust the streets and sidewalks with a fine covering.No car had yet passed, so when I crossed over Cedar Street each step left the imprint of my boot.The dim light from Taranovski’s upstairs room lit up the small flakes of snow.He was probably up there, bent over one of his thick tomes.The sidewalk underneath the maple tree in front of his house was still dry.As I walked north to 21st Street, I could hear the swish of tires rising and falling as solitary cars passed by going from east to west or west to east.I didn’t want to walk on 21st with its bright overhanging streetlights, so I crossed it quickly and then turned onto C Street.The houses were dark and the streetlamps dim, so I needed to concentrate to avoid tripping on the upturned edges of the sidewalk.The roots of the elms and chestnut trees had, over the decades, lifted the concrete so that what had originally been flat slabs became a series of gently rising and falling pathways.

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