This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.
I truly thought that, then, I would get to move on to the next phase. I had found a form of peace and quiet. Upon seeing that vulture floating on the breeze, I had felt completely in tune, for once, with whatever was going on around me. And I truly believed that because I had finally begun to understand this particular place and the purpose behind why I was there, then I would get to move on. I waited for a door to open. I waited for some magical lights to flicker on and off and then whisk me away to the next step in this ongoing journey, but none of that happened. Movies and television shows, I think, have kind of babied me on what I expect things to look like when it’s time to move on. Apparently, I need to cut out all of the fiction in my diet because, seriously, nothing exciting happened. I got to sit down in the sand dune and stay there while nothing fucking happened. Talk about irritating and absurd, in all honesty. Here I was, being philosophical and coming to reason and I didn’t even get a smidge of mystical music?
Since I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of this, I had to do something. I was all for sitting around like a bump on a log at the best of times, but this didn’t really feel like the “best of times.” Walking seemed like way too much effort, but sitting around also seemed like a waste of time. And besides, now that I had found a sort of equilibrium in this place, it seemed foolish to walk around. Sekhmet had indicated I would know where it would happen and I felt like this place, this particular patch of completely lackluster sand, was where I had to be. Now I just had to figure out how to pass the time.
So, since walking was out, I decided to make sandcastles instead. Since I had no water, this really didn’t go too well for me. Since I also didn’t have any buckets in which to mold everything, I had to make approximations of what a sandcastle should have looked like with my hands. And my hands weren’t really working so well because they were still pretty tired and I’m not very good at building things with my hands. I ended up with giant mounds of sand directly in front of me. There were four large mounds and then six or seven smaller ones surrounding it. Some of the mounds were little more than giant anthills, while others looked like closer approximations of what a castle probably should have looked like. I dug out little doorways and traced little crenellations that fell apart. I also created little windows for ants with my pinkies. It didn’t look very good or anything, but it was the best that I could do under the circumstances.
When I felt like I had created the best sandcastle that I could possibly do, I sat back and admired my handiwork. It was a complete waste of time. I wasn’t really sure if anyone – ant or otherwise – would be willing to live in the blobs of sand I had created. Honestly, I had to admit that the castle probably wasn’t safe and should be condemned. Sighing, I ran my head through the creation, destroying it completely. I looked up eagerly, hoping for that mystical doorway, but saw nothing. Since that didn’t bring about the next step, I ended up lying back in the sand and made a sand angel. I then had a mini-sand ball fight with myself that ended when I managed to inhale some sand like an idiot. When still no doorway appeared, I lay back down and watched the clouds float by and tried to decide what kind of shapes they made. I’m pretty sure that I fell asleep
One thing that did happen, which was irritating, was that the dune buggy kept showing back up. Only it would come at the most random times. Sometimes, I would wake up and it would be there. Other times, I would look back and it would be gone. For whatever reason, the buggy kept showing up and I could do nothing about it. I thought about Hetheru then, as I sat there. I missed her a lot. I still couldn’t process her snub. While I may understand it all now, the snub really hurt. And honestly, out of all the gods that I’ve ever had relationships with, I figured she would stick around for me. After all, both Hetheru and Sekhmet are intimately related in ways that are too numerous to count. It didn’t really make sense, to me. Hell, really, none of the parties did, but her public snub didn’t really make any sense at all. She had taught me so much and I was left alone.
Being bored, I thought stupidly, why not try to find her? I had no idea how to do that. Someone recommended that either I attempt to fly or I find the strands that would bring me to her. I didn’t see any strands, which made sense. Since the desert and I were both empty that included whatever connections I used to have with the various netjeru in my life. I wouldn’t say that those strands were, specifically, cut or removed. But I think they were wiped clean, which makes a lot of sense. IRL, I’ve been having difficulties maintaining my daily devotions to all of the gods that aren’t Sekhmet and I often, currently, feel like a beginner, trying all over again. I feel that the white room shenanigans really wiped my slate clean when it came to the other deities in my life and that was why whatever connection I may have once had with them, even Hetheru, were no longer obvious.
So, I screwed up my face into a look of intense focus and zoomed into the sky. I could see in a thousand directions all at once, it felt, but all I saw was a hell of a lot more sand. There still weren’t any cliffs. Aside from that one random vulture, there were no animals to see. And there was definitely not a single palace in sight, whether Sekhmet’s or otherwise. I flapped my arms a little bit, trying to get into a better position. Instead, I felt myself being slammed back down to the ground like a crashing plane. Instead of a majestic tumble from the air, I splattered back to the ground like a squashed bug. I lay there, breathing and trying to compute what just happened. Okay then, I thought to myself. Flying is out, too. So… where the fuck is my fucking door?
Afterward, I sat down like a dumb fuck and tried to figure out what the hell I was waiting for. I mean, really? Mystical music, magical doorways, thrilling and exciting adventure – where the fuck was it all? I had managed to come to determinations about things and yet, I was still there. I stared around me. I was back to being bored and I was getting a little bit frustrated, again. I had gone through all of this and come out the other side, hadn’t I? If I was still stuck here after all of this, then what in the world was I waiting for? Or more to the point, what in the world was Sekhmet waiting for? As I sighed for the millionth time, my surroundings began to flicker almost as if something else were trying to push through.
It was very much as though I were in the middle of a movie and the reel footage had been spliced together with something else. Instead of seeing just the gold-red sands of the place I had been holed up in for what felt like forever, I was seeing a beautiful wooded area. It was beautiful, whatever it was. It smelled of rich life and warmth. It smelled of rain and power. It smelled of so much beauty that I almost wept at it. The image kind of sputtered a few more times and then faded from view again. It was almost like a strobe light were going off behind a classic image of a forest area and the strobe light had died out. Waiting with my heart pounding, I wondered what fresh hell this was.
The flickering began again and my heart zoomed into heart attack territory.
Desperately, I tried to pinpoint what the hell was happening or at least attempt to figure out how it was all happening. The wavering continued, speeding up like that strobe light again and then slowing down so that I could see more and more of this new area. This was something new and interesting, at least, versus the boredom I had just been suffering from. I was pretty sure that this was the point where someone or something big and scary would show up, though, and I would have to “pew pew” my way out of a situation. Or maybe, just maybe I was in even deeper trouble. This didn’t look like anything good was going to come of it, to be honest, and I wondered if Sekhmet would get pissed off about it. Or maybe she was preventing whatever it was from coming through. I had no doubt in my mind that she was not even remotely allowing this to happen. It didn’t make sense that I would go from her main territory – the desert – to some new place to get to the new phase in whatever working we were undertaking together. No, I was sure this was something out of left field.
The spluttering of the imagery began to slow down even more, becoming less like a movie reel and more like I had entered an entirely new area. The surroundings flashed a couple more times and for a moment, I could clearly see the forest through all the sand. The forest was gray and green and brown. There was moss covering trees. There were birch trees. There were oak trees with galls on the branches. It felt powerful and intense. I could feel the power and it was a very familiar power. With my heart pounding more from exciting than anything else now, I realized that I knew that place. And the owner of this powerful place, I looked for him.
The picture of that forest faded from sight, leaving me in the desert again. I was confused – I was pretty sure that this whole show hadn’t been just for me to see that I had other things to do besides all of this crap for Sekhmet. I knew that already. I stood up and spun around, looking for the owner of that place and let out a little screech, of both distress and excitement, when he was suddenly standing beside me. Instead of a face usually carved with laugh lines and amusement, I was seeing a whole new side to the Old Man. Instead of jokes couched in terms of life lessons, or life lessons couched in terms of jokes, I was seeing a very serious face. For a moment, it didn’t even really look like Papa Legba. It looked like some stranger had dawned his thin package, his narrow face with its white scruff, and his soft gentle eyes.
I’m not even remotely worried by his serious face. I throw myself in his arms, happy beyond belief. This was someone who could give me answers. This was someone who could explain to me what was going on. He always had a way about making things sound so easy and simple, even when they weren’t. And he always knew just what to say to get my ass in gear. Even if that meant that he had to patiently wait for me to stubbornly come to my own conclusions and even if that meant he had to explain the same thing over and over again, he would do it. This was someone who I could respect and care for because he always managed to tell me the truth, whether I wanted to hear it, whether I could handle to hear it, or not. I pulled back from him, smiling in joy. “You’re here! You’re here! Are you taking me away? Are you going to show me the door? How did you get here? Won’t she be angry? Oh, who the fuck cares – you’re really here!”
I snatch his frail body up in another hug, beyond overjoyed.
Gently, but firmly, Papa Legba pulls back from me. His face drips with a not-so-familiar emotion: disappointment. And I know, keenly, that the disappointment is for me. He is disappointed in me. I duck my head, dodging his disappointed gaze. This emotion is too heavy for me and I cannot even remotely process it. Papa Legba was disappointed… in me? The weight of his gaze, though, is still on me and I can feel it like it is a palpable thing. My heartbeat quickens, but less in joy, fear, or anything. It’s caused by the anxiety of his reaction to me. This wasn’t what I was expecting when I had realized he was trying to come through. In all honesty, it felt very much as though I had had an accident on the rug or brought him a gift that he was allergic to. It felt so horrible and oh, so wrong. “Papa…?”
“Honey-child, what in the hell are you doing?” He demanded. He stared at me sternly, which was a look as foreign as if he had donned a wig of curly, red hair. I couldn’t think of a single moment when he had looked so completely unlike himself. “You need to get out of this place. You got to be done doing this by now. You’re just putzing along, wasting everyone’s damn time. You got things to do,” he admonished.
I have to admit here that I was completely taken aback by this. I was so hurt and startled that I fell to the sand beneath us. He followed me, his old bones hardly giving him a creak or pop as he sat down next to me. I stared at him, searching his face. This wasn’t my fun-loving Papa. This was some other creature. Had she forced him to do this to me? Was she causing rifts with all of the beings that I loved and cared for? What the hell was the fucking matter with her, if that were the case. I was pretty sure I wanted to do some destroying at that moment. Instead, I said clearly, “But Papa, I don’t know what I’m doing. No one has instructed me here. I don’t know what the next step is and I don’t know how to move on. I know we have things to do and I want to do them for you, but I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Of course, you do. You just don’t want to admit it. You are so damn stubborn, just like your damn mama. But you need to get a move on; you need to hurry up here. We got things for you to do, too, and you been putting it off and off and off again because of all of this.”
“But she takes up so much of my time,” I cried out.
He tsked me. “I know that she’s been taking up all your free time lately, but she ain’t the only one who needs you. Girl, you need to remember your lessons about balance and get back to them.”
I ground my teeth at him in response. I wanted to screech in frustration. Of all the beings in all the world to get down on me because of shit, he would have been the very last choice out of every being I had ever met or could ever think of off the top of my head. I felt, a little, betrayed. “Did she put you up to this?” I demanded sulkily.
“I am insulted,” he snarked at me.
“You’re never this mean to me.”
“You’re forgetting your lessons. We done worked hard on all of that and you’re throwing it away to spend all your time, wiling away in a desert.” He said the word “desert” like it was the dirtiest and most foul thing he could think of.
“I just don’t have time for anyone else! I have no other gods! I have no akhu! I have no fucking spirits! I have no fucking lwa! I have nothing but her, her, her. She keeps doing this to me – freezing out everything else – and I’m fucking stuck in this fucking sandbox! I can’t leave! I can’t get out! Help me!” I grabbed his shirt by the lapels and pulled his face to mine. “Stop yelling at me and fucking help me! Help me!”
He easily pushed my hands from his shirt. He brushed at some unseen spot on his collar. He sucked his teeth thoughtfully and then looked me directly in the eye. “You want my help?” I nodded eagerly. I wanted his help more than anything. I wanted him to give me the magical key that would open that magical doorway so that I could get to the next step and I could stop being in this damned place. I was so very, very tired of the sandbox. “Here’s my advice, honey-child: Stop being a stubborn shit and move on,” he ordered. And with that, he left.
That phrase reverberated throughout my head over and over again. I was in shock. He wasn’t supposed to leave me. He was supposed to stay and hold my hand. The logical part of myself admitted that I was being stupid. There was no way he could have just spent all his time with me in the sandbox, holding my hand and making me see what in the world I needed to see. Or at least, telling me what I needed to hear in order for me to see what I needed to see. He had probably broken a million rules by entering her territory and probably without permission. And as he had made completely obvious, he wasn’t any fan of the sandbox. I couldn’t really fault him for that.
I couldn’t really fault him for the shitty advice, either.
I was being a stubborn shit.
I had been thinking with each passing day as I sat around, building sandcastles and singing badly off-key to myself that this wasn’t really the next step. I had been hoping, of course, that some magical moment would happen and I would see what I needed to see or go where I needed to go. But with each passing day that it didn’t happen, I had been telling myself that there was no next step. There was nothing beyond this sandbox and I would be stuck there forever. I had actually come to the point where I was pretty sure that this wasn’t really a process of sorts but was actually just a contest. And I was going to win the fucking contest because it was about who was the most stubborn, Sekhmet or me. Thus far, I had managed to stubborn my ass right on into the fucking desert and I had managed to stubborn my ass into some fucking eternal loop with the shitty fucking sand buggy that showed up and disappeared. I had managed to stubborn my ass into denying that I was going through a process, at all.
I hadn’t come full circle, not really when I had found peace because I had come to the conclusion that nothing was, really going on.
The full circle was that I had gone from being a stubborn shit to being a philosophical, stubborn shit back to being a stubborn shit.