There are only two energies at the core of the human experience:
love and fear.
Love grants freedom,
fear takes it away.
Love invites full expression,
fear punishes it.
Love invites you always,
to break the bonds of ignorance.
When Cat woke that morning, and sat in her bed, leaning up against the bed railing with her covers carefully wrapped around her body, she looked out her window with unease. The sky was still full of the night’s darkness and yet people were distractedly moving about outside, clearly on their way to somewhere. Cat didn’t move, in fact, she seemed to make a point out of sitting very still on her bed, while she watched the world go about its business outside.
There were trees outside, she knew that, but she didn’t recognize the gray poles that were sticking out of the ground today. There was no longer any sign of the sun in the sky. She recalled that it had been there yesterday. Now there was something that looked like clouds, a dark, thick cover filling the sky, which almost touched the rooftops of the buildings. The dark cover was so tight that it concealed any light that might attempt to creep through the cracks.
She decided with herself that she definitely wasn’t going anywhere. Upon deeper reflection, she settled with herself that she had no appointments today.
Cat lay back in bed and closed her eyes for a second, when a phone rang insistently. It felt like she was still sleeping when she answered the phone.
“Hello”, Cat answered slowly.
“It’s Joy”, a cheerful voice said on the other end of the line.
“Who?” Cat asked.
“They say you’ve been looking for me. Isn’t that true?”
“What? I think you got the wrong number,” Cat answered softly.
The phone line suddenly went dead and she felt the shivers. Who was this woman? Did she really know her? Why did it feel like she was missing something?
Cat suddenly felt compelled to get out of bed and went to the bathroom, where she instinctively pulled out her toothbrush and went about her normal morning routine of cleaning, releasing and getting herself ready for the day. Looking into the mirror, she realized something was amiss or looked different about her this morning. It wasn’t just the unnerving cover in the sky that somehow was mistaken, her face had deep furrows and lines she had not seen before. The more makeup she put on, the more pronounced it became. There was no way she could go into the world looking like this, but something in her compelled her still. She had an irrefutable urge to open her door, and walk into the commotion. It was as if she suddenly had two distinct minds pulling her in two separate directions.
As she was putting on her favorite dress, it suddenly occurred to her that she was looking for something, what was it again? Everything in her mind seemed so slippery this morning. How could she start her day, when she couldn’t recognize the person in the mirror? How was she to carry on with her day like this?
Then the doorbell rang, little bells jingling. Cat finished putting on her soft, blue dress, which wrapped snugly around her body, and went to her door.
Outside stood a young man with wavy blond hair and piercing blue eyes. She had never spoken to the man, but she would occasionally see him at her local supermarket. He wore a strange green scarf that covered most of his upper body. He had a sunflower in one hand.
“Hello”, he said, and handed her the sunflower.
She took the flower reluctantly and for a long moment all that was heard in the space between them was an eerie wind.
“Hi, how can I help you?” said Cat, when she finally ventured to open her mouth. She instantly felt warm inside despite the humid, cold air that surrounded them.
“I think it is the other way around,” he said and laughed deeply from the bottom of his chest. Cat was unable to hold back a gigantic smile that made her whole face relax for the first time that day.
“I hear you are looking for Joy,” the young man said, when he was done laughing.
“Oh, is that right?” Cat hadn’t felt so excited about talking to anyone for a long time that she didn’t want to tell the guy that he had come to the wrong door.
“Yes,” he said with a smirk as if there was something he knew that she didn’t.
He held out his hand toward her with firm conviction. For a long time, she looked at the hand. What would her boyfriend think?
“Come, Cat!” he insisted unwaveringly.
In a split second, she let go of that distinct part of her mind that always made sure she didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary, and took his hand. The moment their hands touched, she felt the world spinning around her and inside her.
She began to laugh. She didn’t know why she was laughing. Her feet and hands were tingling and her chest felt alive like it needed to move and expand. She couldn’t stand still. She had to let go of the sunflower, she had held onto since he handed it to her. What was happening to her? She was unable to contain this feeling inside her body, so she laughed and laughed, until the laughter turned into a giggle. Her face had lit up with a bright light, and she could feel her body, every little bit of it. It felt good. Oh, so good.
She didn’t know how much time had passed, but the young man was still standing there, his hand still in hers. She realized he had made sure she hadn’t tumbled over herself from the laughter that now had subsided significantly.
“How are you?” he asked with a smirk on his face. “Feel good?”
Cat nodded and smiled back. Oh, how she wanted to kiss him, share this feeling in her chest with him, have it spill over, instead she looked away into the sky above and noticed the gray cover had lifted some and the day seemed brighter. Perhaps things were going to return to their rightful place again?
“It is time to go now,” he said and looked serious, pulling in her hand gently.
“No, I can’t,” Cat said and pulled the other way. “I don’t even know your name, and what will Fear think?”
“Fear?” he asked. He looked so very innocent and sweet, as he stood there on the small patch of grass outside her door, and she realized again how much she wanted to kiss him. Connect this feeling in her chest with him and set the sky free again, set everything around her free. The two opposite powers in her were struggling to win her over.
“I mean my boyfriend”, she replied in a whisper, as if he was nearby.
“Don’t worry about him, it will be so much clearer when you meet Joy”, he said and smiled again, assuring her that going with him was the most natural thing in the whole world.
Cat thought for a moment, if this had been a dream, perhaps she would have gone without any hesitation. In her dreams, she knew she had all the courage she could imagine and more. What if this was a dream?
“Am I dreaming?” she asked with a gasp.
“Aren’t we all!” he said and laughed so hard that his chest bounced up and down. In some strange way, he had still managed to keep her hand in his, in a protective and loving grasp.
“If I am dreaming, you aren’t real”, Cat said and felt giggly again.
“If I am not real”, he said, “then you have nothing to worry about, come! Come!”
“Wait, what is your name?” Cat cried out, so ready to let go of everything that struggled to come out inside her.
“Casper,” he said and smiled, and they ran down the street, away from her little house on the corner. They ran past houses and fields of green grass and crops. The sky was now blue, uncovered, free. Casper led her the way, gently tugging her, and at times, it felt like they were flying… and Cat smiled thinking that in dreams everything is possible. If she was indeed dreaming, she was happy staying in this dream for as long as possible. Running away from her life with a total stranger seemed the most natural thing to do now. Like the sky, her mind was clear now, there were no voices battling to get the last say.
When they arrived at the edge of the sea, Casper stopped. For a moment, they stood there and starred at its wondrous, mysterious body, whose waves were gently caressing itself. Cat kept starring at the ocean and its movements. Next to her Casper was undressing until he stood naked at the edge, dipping his toes. He turned his face to look deeply into Cat’s eyes, so deeply that she started to giggle again, without knowing exactly why.
“You are naked,” she said and giggled some more.
“Yes,” he replied and plunged into the sea or rather he ran a few meters and squealed as he threw himself into the water. Not long after Cat followed suit, it was ridiculous not to. The water felt cold at first, but then she let go and let it embrace her and she felt warmth coming from within her. The ocean meant her no harm, it invited her with loving, kind motions, and she confidently swam deeper into its realm with Casper next to her.
They swam until nightfall and reached the same beach, where they had put their clothes. They dressed in silence. Cat didn’t feel like putting back her clothes. She wanted to stay naked, she suddenly wanted to kiss him again, connect her skin with his. Discover what his skin, his warmth felt like.
“How are you?” he asked, pulling her out of her mind, which she was accustomed of him doing now.
She smiled back at him. “No, how are you, Cat?” he repeated his question with a strangely somber face.
She considered his question again with her senses. She felt alive, present, her heart was beating from the excitement of the water and the intensity of being close to him. Her hands and feet were tingling, and a sense of promise filled her mind and heart. In fact, there were no battles, no fears, just this new feeling of promise inside.
“I am happy,” she said.
“Good,” he replied with a smile.
“Are you real?” she asked and instead of waiting for an answer, she continued. “Because it feels like this is a dream.”
“Our dream,” he replied and kissed her ever so gently on her lips. He tasted like ocean and vanilla.
She woke up alone on the beach by sunrays strolling leisurely across the horizon, touching her eyelids. She could not tell if it had been a dream, meeting Casper. The ocean seemed so real, stroking itself ever so gently and the rays of the sun had their usual warmth and spark to them. And it spoke to her, telling her how she was loved and that nothing could break that love. Inside her chest, she still felt that sense of promise; no matter what happened there was always love. Fear could break her heart a million times and he’d claim she had betrayed him again and again, and he’d leave her over and over, yet still it couldn’t change anything essential in her. Her heart would heal once again. It was what it was meant to do as it pulsated to life’s vibrations. So she decided that she wouldn’t worry about Casper not even for a minute and she said her goodbyes to the sea and started walking home towards something new.