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“Can you hear me?”
“Then why do you question my existence?”
“Well . . . I can’t see you.”
“Does sight determine reality? Come on Collins, you’re better than that.”
“Yes, but as a scientists I need facts. Without facts I can determine nothing. Isn’t there some way you can prove your existence to me?”
“Maybe you can examine me under a microscope.”
“Okay, let me just get out he equipment . . . here. Now if you would be obliged to put yourself or at least part of yourself under the microscope I can begin . . . are you ready?”
“Yes, doctor, now will this examination cost extra?”
“Oh, shut up!”
“Just easing the tension. These examinations are never pleasant.”
“I now have the lens at about half of its maximum magnification and . . . I see nothing. Let me take it in all the way . . . you still there?”
“Yes sir!”
“Now I just have to bring it into focus . . . and that’s it.”
“Can you see anything?”
“It’s just as I suspected . . . not a damn thing.”
“Just as you suspected? And what exactly does that mean?”
“It means, to put it simply, that you are in my head.”
“Well of course. I could have told you that from the start!”
It began on a Wednesday. I was busy working on my latest research when he came. Nothing but a voice, a voice so distinct I could not ignore it. But it did not take long for me to determine that he was a mere figment of my imagination. I saw no other way to make sense of him. But the acknowledgment that he was not real was not enough to make him go away. He still remained as my constant companion; always ready to jump into my life, regardless of the occasion. And worst of all; I could neither ignore him nor refrain from talking to him. Thus my insanity began.
“You seem to have no distinguishable form or matter. Maybe you can explain this to me, because I do not see how you can exist without possessing any for or even the slightest semblance of matter.”
“Ah, but you see you’re missing the point my young scientist. All this form and matter talk is just confusing the situation when it’s really quite simple. If I didn’t exist how would I be talking to you?”
“Well, that’s a nice way to get around the issue at hand. But I still don’t buy it.”
“But you have to, Collins. I don’t work that way, I can’t be defined as a certain form. Does that simple fact mean that I don’t exist? What about emotions? What about thoughts? What about language? There are many things that don’t have form or matter but are still within the realm of existence.”
“Okay, but those things are functions of the brain. And they can be explained as a type of form and matter because they are essentially neurological firings, sublingual movements of the vocal chords, and physiological responses; all observable phenomena.”
“You are wrong there, Collins. What can be observed is a physical event that occurs simultaneous to language, emotion, and thought.  But neurological firings are not thought, sublingual movements are not language, and physiological responses are not emotion. Properly speaking, we can only say that these are two events which occur at or near the same time. Scientifically, we can say no more.”
“Okay, but there’s still one key difference.”
“And what would that be?”
“Language, emotion, and thought, like you, lack our form of existence. They possess existence only in the sense that something is or something isn’t. While living, breathing, rational beings possess existence in its fullest sense.”
“That sounds good . . . but even if I only exist in the lesser sense, I still possess language, I possess reason, and I apparently possess life. Why can’t that be enough for me to fully exist?”
“Because you may be nothing more than a construct of my mind; holding no greater value than thoughts, emotions, and language. To use a rather dated term, this would mean that you do not have a soul.”
“Very harsh words my scientist, or should I say my theologian. How profoundly unscientific of you, Collins. Please do tell me, as a man of science; on what basis do you posit the existence of the soul, and what set of observable facts have you attained which allow you to conclude that you in fact have this formless thing called a soul.”
“I don’t know. I’m no theologian, but scientifically speaking, you are not possible outside of my head. You are a mere hallucination, nothing more. Now if you would be kind enough to leave me alone I would be much obliged.”
But he didn’t leave. And every attempt I made to ignore him or explain him away completely failed. So things began to get bad, very bad. He would not listen to my logic no matter how hard I tried to explain the situation to him. I began to grow angry, furious at this pestilence that would not stop at merely intruding on my life, but had the audacity to completely divert my attention at any moment of the day.
Crowded areas were the worst. I would hear his voice coming from the child holding her mother’s hand as they crossed the street, from the man next to me at the gas pump, and even from the rare woman I convinced to go on a date. With logic no longer an option I resorted to my most primal instinct; violence. I saw the people he embodied as him, and thus desired only to destroy them. I had managed to control myself for some time, resisting even those most profound urges to slap those cruel women who spoke the noxious words of my tormentor on those few painful dates I had so unwisely attempted.
Then one day I snapped. In the checkout line a little girl holding the pack of gum from the candy rack turned to look at me. But her eyes were not her own, and when she began to talk, it wasn’t her voice, it was his. “Mr. Collins! What a pleasant surprise! I don’t mean to intrude, but I’ve been getting the impression that you’ve been avoiding me.” It was too much. I burned with hate towards this virus that had infected my very being. The flood gates opened and I broke loose. “Avoiding you? You hellish bastard! Get out of my damn life! GET OUT OF MY DAMN LIFE!” The phrase kept repeating as if I had no control over it. My hands no longer felt as if they were my own. I pushed the girl to the ground. Then I was on top of him, strangling him with a strength that can only come from a madman. I could not allow that profane tongue to speak another word.
He stopped breathing. I felt hands pulling me back. I held on as long as I could; hoping he would remain lifeless. I watched in handcuffs as the medics took the girl away . . . he was breathing.
I was taken to jail where I spent several nights before being institutionalized. At the clinic I was treated like a child who still struggled to grasp the English language. Did they realize I had more schooling than anyone there? All because of him, but it had been two weeks and I had not heard his voice. It was peaceful; I began to feel that I might lead a normal life once again. But I was taking medication. What if I forgot to take it? Maybe he would return, maybe the medication was all that held him back from continuing to torment me. Or maybe I really had killed him in the grocery line. Whatever the case, I had to know if he was truly gone or if he was just being blocked by the drugs. So I stopped taking them. Two days passed without a sign of him. The third day came and went. Lying awake in my bed I gazed up at the ceiling, then at the wall, then to the door. I was absurd. I laughed at myself for checking to see if he was in the room. I never could see him anyway. I rolled over onto my stomach and sighed. Peace, it was a feeling I had forgotten. As I began to fade into a slumber I heard a whisper. I wrote it off as my imagination, but it came again, louder. “Collins . . . Collins . . . COLLINS!” My tormentor had returned.
“After your last outburst I didn’t know if I would ever be able to speak to you again. I’m glad we can still talk, because I don’t think you’re ready for me to leave yet.”
“You just don’t get it do you? I want you to go to hell and never come back. I don’t know how much clearer I can make it. I don’t even know why you came to me in the first place. You could have gone to anyone . . . or better yet, you could have just left us all alone.”
“I came to you, Mr. Collins, because I needed one to whom I could share the truth. I chose you because you are a scientist. You are interested in the truth.”
“But you haven’t given me any truth. You haven’t done anything but ruin my life. I’m institutionalized, and for what? For what? Can you tell me that? What truth is so important that it is worth wrecking my entire life?”
“Well . . . how do I explain it? I don’t have a rational explanation for needing to share the truth. I can only explain it by telling you that it needed to be told. As for what the truth is . . . I suppose it’s as simple as you knowing me. That is all the truth I have come to give. Your recognition that I am. That is it.”
I saw the implications. He was claiming to be God. The reference was clear enough. “I am,” a name synonymous with God since the ancient Hebrews. But if this was God he was far from the God of the Hebrews, or the god of any religion for that matter. And if this desecration was God, then I hated him. With all my being I would embrace this hate towards my maker. I felt satisfied; at least as satisfied as one can be after finding that the maker of the universe is nothing but a petty nuisance. I explained my hypothesis to the psychiatrist who had been treating me, but instead of listening to what I was saying he merely nodded, jotted a few notes on his notepad, and wrote out my new prescription with a concerned look. More pills, higher doses, more numbness. If they had it their way this pattern would continue until I became a mindless drone. But I couldn’t accept that life yet. So I faked it. With time I became so adept at hiding the pills that I rarely had to swallow them. The communication was still open and I had a heavenly being to interrogate.
“I know who you are.”
“Oh really? Well that’s good. I’d been hoping you would find out, but I had my doubts.”
“Why couldn’t you have told me you were God when we first met? Why didn’t you explain yourself from the start? It would have saved me a lot of trouble.”
“Well that’s a tough question . . . God, huh? Well, I guess it fits. Never really used the term, but it fits in a rather loose sense.”
“Well . . . you are God aren’t you? I mean you obviously aren’t the benevolent God most picture you to be, more of a demented dictator. But am I correct that you are the creator of the universe?”
“To some. Although the term ‘God’ seems a bit too confining to be a true definition. I did create the universe to a certain extent. And I wouldn’t say that I’m demented, but then again it all depends on one’s perspective. Of all the names to describe me I prefer to keep it simple . . . ‘I am.’ As far as language goes it seems there is not a more befitting title to be found. But names are superficial to begin with. What really matters is that you’ve found the truth. And now that that is taken care of I best be going. Have a good life Collins.”
That was it; with rage waiting to be released and questions on the tip of my tongue, he left me. He did not sound confident in being God, at least in the sense that God was traditionally viewed. But what did I expect form a being so twisted as to torment its own creation.
Months went by and my rage began to subside. I began to second guess what I had thought about him. Maybe he wasn’t trying to torment me after all. Could he really have been trying to help me? Did I fail to understand his message? I could not say, but I no longer felt bitter, and the oddest part of it all was that even though he no longer spoke to me I continued to feel his presence. It was non-verbal, but it felt as if he now dwelt within me, as if I had become a part of him. And contrary to everything I had felt and thought, I was okay with it. What this meant for my life? I was still unsure, but I felt changed; converted if you will. And the odd part about the whole thing was that he had not even given me anything to convert to. Once again I felt at peace. So I was in an institution, so I might never be held in the same esteem as I once was by my colleagues, it didn’t matter. I was comfortable with the idea.
Days, months, years passed. Before I knew it I had been in the institution for a decade. I was finally ready to move on. He had stirred a spirit of unrest within me. I knew what I had to do to get out. I had to start ‘progressing’ in my program, I had to show that I could adapt to and function in society. Group therapy, individual sessions, workbooks . . . I held the persona. And then one day it all paid off, I was free.
“You’ve shown some real progress, Mr. Collins. No signs of your friend for . . . over ten years now? Is that right?”
“Yes . . . I guess it has been ten years. It’s almost as if the time never existed, it went by so fast. Seems like just yesterday I was a nervous wreck.”
“No hallucinations, a desire to contribute to society, a desire to improve the quality of your life; all signs of good health. But I must ask one last question, how do you feel? People react differently to these kinds of things. Do you still feel angry? Do you feel hurt? Maybe a sense of guilt?”
“Well . . . I feel okay I suppose, anxious to get back to work and life. I feel at peace with the situation. It is in the past and I think I am ready to move on, to start afresh.”
“Very good. Well, if everything goes as anticipated I guess this will be the end of your time with us. Good luck Mr. Collins.”
I was now free to discover life in a way I never had before. I saw the world through a lens I had never known. This new perspective was something that was foreign to science and empirical data. Science had been my life’s devotion and for what purpose? I didn’t know. My new outlook soon destroyed what little I had left of my career. I could no longer engage in scientific pursuits with any vigor. Yet I continued to feel him within me; it was a sort of comfort, like a child’s lullaby. I no longer understood the futile tasks of my past. Why was science important? Why had I cared so much about making a groundbreaking discovery? Why had I cared at all? My whole education, years of climbing to such lofty places, and all I could say was “why?”
I quit my temporary job as a research assistant and left the remaining threads of my past life behind. It was on no use to me. Instead I spent my time in a state of restless calm, a state alternating between inquisitiveness and rest. What was the truth he had assumed I understood? I still did not understand who he was. Why had he come to me? I knew he gave me comfort, but I did not know why, I did not know what I was so content about; I only knew that I was content (or was it resigned?)
But regardless of who he was, leaving my career brought me closer to him, and the comfort increased. I decided to sell my house and rent instead. I would sustain myself as long as I could without work, and when I ran out . . . well, I wouldn’t think about hat for the time being.
Why . . . my life was breaking down and I couldn’t be more at peace with the world. I could no longer justify renting the apartment. It was pointless. I could survive without it. I would eventually be cold and sick; I would eventually die, so why live like life would never end? I had passed the point of human connection and was now alone; very, very alone. I had had only one companion, and he had left me what now seemed ages ago. But this cold, desolate state only increased my serene euphoria.
Food, water, sleep; all merely prolonging the inevitable. I could no longer partake of these formalities. And so I stood, night after sleepless night, waiting for something, even if only an end to it all. A restlessness had begun to eclipse my feelings of serenity. I was anticipating something great. Whatever was meant to come would not be postponed for long. Of that I was sure.
It was not an awakening, for I was never asleep. It was more of a revelation. The world became to my eyes what it had always been. The material world began to fade away, the hunger pains subsided. The thirst, exhaustion, and pain of living; all took flight. And in a moment I fully understood the Truth. I knew why “I am” could not explain his identity in any other way. And as I arrived at the Truth the merger was complete . . . I am. Along with the entire universe, I am. Why had God not been able to fully convince the world of his existence? Because along with all that is, his only possession was a negation. Thus, like all beings who had embraced their nothingness, he could only convey his message by stating a name . . . “I am.” And thus I was. For all eternity possessing nothing but a superficial name. Thus was the state of the universe that never was, thus was the state of humanity, and thus was my own state. “I am;” a something to describe the entirety of our eternal nothingness. Thus ended all knowledge, thus ended a superfluous existence. All is superficial, all is nothing.