I am walking through the art studio at the far end of the lake. The visual artists love this area. They create freely here from their own inspiration and that of their fellow guests. Picasso is in one corner painting an abstract portrait of his mistress, Adriana. I have never understood his art but I have great respect and admiration for his creativity and imagination. I think he must add a little something to his tea throughout the day to see the world as he does, but that does not matter. He graciously nods at my presence before returning to his task at hand. Unless asked for my opinion, I do not disturbe an artist in the mist of his/her work.
I walk out into the garden. The white Easter Lillys are in full display swaying gently in the warm breeze. The small creek is full of tadpoles anxious to become frogs and turtles who bask in the sun on an old fallen tree branch. I notice Steve Jobs sitting quietly in one of the forest alcoves. He waves for me to come over.
“Good morning Socrates. What a beautiful day.”
Yes it is Steve. How are you doing?
I am well Socrates. Thank you. I have been completely free of any physical pain since my arrival… Socrates. May I ask you a question and will you answer truthfully?
“Yes and yes.”
“I know I did not want to die. No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. “
“That is all true Steve, but what is your question.”
“Socrates. Am I dead?”
I paused for a moment before answering because I realize Steve’s fragility, as he is newly arrived here. “Yes Steve your body is dead.” Before I can explain further, Steve interrupts.
“What of this body?” Steve pounds his chest. “It is solid and healthy. I am pain free for the first time in…” Steve stops in mid sentence. “How long have I been here?”
“Time is not measured here Steve so I am unable to answer your last question. You are in transition. The pain free body you have now is based on the memories of your body from when you were still alive. You are your same consciousness but in a transitional body.”
“The last thing I remember was being surrounded by Laurene and the kids. I tried to remain conscious despite the medications. Remembering that I will be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that I am going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking I had something to lose. There is no reason for one not to follow his own heart.”
“And that is exactly what you did Steve. You changed the world by following your heart. I had a similar experience myself during a recent heart attack. You realize nothing else really matters in the pursuit of your life. Everyone else is a guest in your life. You assign their roles and importance.”
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward but you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
“That simple approach to life is still true here Steve. We can only understand life by looking backwards, through it.”
“Where is here, Socrates?”
“This place is not a location. You are a guest at the Inn of Inspiration so you might continue with your creativity and expand upon your imagination. As you know all of the guests here are very creative in different fields of art, music, literature, politics, and science like yourself.”
“I know creativity is just a matter of connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
“You helped many creative individuals realize that truth Steve. You inspired and provided the tools for inspiration to an entire planet of people. You helped connected the citizens of the planet with the same interconnected circuitry you used in the tools you developed.”
“I realized when I got ill how my time on earth is limited so I refused to waste it living someone else’s life. I refused to be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. I refused to let the noise of others’ opinions drown out my own inner voice. And most important, I had the courage to follow my heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
“Exactly Steve, exactly.”
“One more thing Socrates if you don’t mind. How long can I stay at this beautiful Inn sharing time with so many gifted and talented individuals.”
“As I am the Gate Keeper here at the Inn Steve and you are here at my invitation, you are free to stay until you are ready to transition solely into spirit.”
“Thank you for your time and insights Socrates. I made plans to meet with Picasso and Adriana for tea and I see they are waiting by the lake. I would not like to keep them waiting any longer. Why don’t you join us. I understand Picasso makes a “spirited” cup of tea.
“Thank you Steve. It will be my pleasure.”
The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Chapter Sixteen — Mary Oliver will be published on Sunday, February 03, 2019.
Cover Art “Aries” by Emilee Petersmark.