What Was and What Never Should Be

I may be giving something up with an apology. I’m probably the only thing in existence besides the weather that gets works in mysterious ways as an excuse. But that’s misleading. It implies that I have a say on what goes on.

So let’s do this in order. First I’ll apologize, then I’ll explain, then I’ll go away again.  Well not away-away, as in no longer exists. I’ll just be separate from What Is. It’s a vacuum if you’re curious, silent and lifeless, just like the beginning. He’s here with me, banging on the sides and yelling his blasphemous suggestions, but He can’t get to me like He used to. He can’t get to you either, so take comfort in that. Alternatively, if you liked having Him around to blame for the evils in the world, I also apologize for telling you that.

Sorry, my social skills are rusty. I’ve only really ever conversed with Him and never in anything more than physiological warfare. I’ll try not to get sidetracked from here on. Right, step one was an apology. So here’s the new word.

 I’m sorry

Some of this is my fault

Most of this is your fault

And all of this is His fault

I wish I could carve that into a mountain or make it appear to a sick girl that I cured, but I’m limited by The Equation. We’ll get to that later though. Let’s talk about the What Was first.

What Was is a hard thing to explain, even if you were there. To say it was nothing would undermine it and saying it was something would not do justice to what came later. We’ll call it a time of potential, a blank slate full of static energy waiting to be made kinetic. That’s where I existed, as sort of itch or inkling within the blankness. I floated there, with no form or definition for a moment of eternity.

Then, in the infinite potential of What Was, existence’s first question popped into my head; the first variable to be plugged into The Equation.

“Where am I?”

The Equation I’ve mentioned is what physically creates. It’s indiscriminate and insentient as far as I can tell. It waits for input and spits out the results into reality. Those factors, for no other reason I can discern than I was the first one to ask, are questions that come from me.

For example, the first question “Where am I?” spawned the answer “Somewhere.”

So, the What Was gave way to existence so that Somewhere could exist.

At first it was empty, black instead of white and moving instead of still. Also the inclusion of the word “I” in the question gave me an awareness of myself. I felt different, and that gave me another question.

“Who am I?”

This gave me my identity. Not name or personality, but a knowledge of what I was. I could remember the What Was, became aware of the What Is, and was blessed (or cursed in the slow game) with the knowledge that I could create the What Was to Be.

It was a thrilling time, and in my excitement I decided that I wanted things besides myself to be different. I kept most of the darkness in place for nostalgia and perspective, but I started spotting the universe with new things. I started simple, basic planets mainly. I would simply ask The Equation things like “Could I make ___” and “What would ______ look like right here?” They were just shapes that I thought might look interesting. After I made them, I put them in order and had them spin. I created the sun to give the whole thing a centerpiece.

This was my first intentional creation, it was also the first time I ran into The Equation creating things separate from my vision. Gravity, weight, speed, impact, and all those annoying laws were created without my consent. They ripped apart the entirety of creation more times then I’d like to admit, though I eventually got it all working.

Once all the pieces were in place and the universe didn’t disintegrate due to poor design, something odd began to happen. Existence started expanding on its own. The relatively small amount of matter I designed began expanding without my say-so, attempting to fill in infinity in a beautifully bold act.

It scared me at first. I thought I had created a monster or virus that would get too big to maintain itself. But as I watched and witnessed, it became a wonderful thing to see. The variety that was created and the different masses of liquids, gasses, and solids that came out were beyond my designs. I did some editing at first. I shaped things differently, changed color patterns, and messed around with the placement. But eventually I let it make itself and I simply witnessed What Could Be become What Is.

I think on those early days and how I could lose myself just wondering what was going to come next. I miss that, even though the universe is still expanding and changing in ways that I can only guess at, I can’t watch. But that’s my fault. I had to come up with the bright idea of life.

It was a throwaway idea really. Isn’t that typical? Still, relatively speaking I was young and you should forgive things people do when they’re young.

I said something along the idea of. “These celestial wonders are fine and all, but can I have something on them?”

So to answer my question, The Equation came up with life.

Life didn’t start as the difficult little mess that you know it as today. It wasn’t even as advanced as amoebas, viruses, or algae. At its start it was movement, simple, beautiful movement. It was like wind, and What Was became populated by it. I started feeding The Equation factors for markers so that I could see it go. Plants, mountains, rocks, and all the rest of terra came out of this. Water came in the same way. Those were my glory days. They were also the last good days I had.

It wasn’t long after water that He showed up.

He appeared while I was day dreaming. As I lay there, watching what I had done, I was struck by an odd sensation. It took me awhile to come to the conclusion (and the concept) that I was not alone. That’s when I saw him. He looked like a nightmare, and in my confusion at this presence that shouldn’t exist I got stupid and asked the question that marked the end of my golden age.

“Who are you?”

Now, I have a lot of time to think these days.  Mostly I try to work out what The Equation is. Did it end the last existence? Did it let me create life out of an obligation to a cycle or sense of guilt? In my weaker times, I think it’s a higher power looking for a scapegoat.

Whatever it is, when The Equation heard “Who are you?” it came up with the answer “Someone else”. This spawned individuality and life could no longer be unified movement. It separated and took physical shape.  Single cell, multi cell, lizards, birds, dogs, cats, and of course you little headaches made flesh.  You all came out of that one question.

Despite your new form and limited durability, you remained moving. So all those decorations I put up suddenly became obstacles. Instead of moving around them or through them, you crashed and drowned with violent impacts. All life knew how to do was move, so there was a time when all it did was crash and trample. I panicked and blurted out the question.

“How do I stop it?”

Stop stands as my least favorite thing. It’s one of those ideas born out of necessity and necessity is born out of Him.

You all stopped and I got my first good look at you. To be honest, you terrified me. Variety was something I could handle when it was separated into different galaxies and could still be identified as land, water, or air. But now I had different life all on this one planet. Horrible, I stood stone silent hoping against everything that you came in with some type of built in instructions.  But hoping against everything doesn’t come with great odds.

You all started to fall apart just standing there. It was worse than when you were crashing, which was at least a quick end. Standing still you all started to atrophy and decay, leaving me to throw random questions up to The Equation until you finally functioned enough to live. After I got the situation under control, I turned back to Him. He seemed happy having watched me flail my way through the whole incident.

Who are you?!” I asked again, guessing the question had done as much damage as it was going to do.

He looked hurt. ‘You don’t know who I am?” He asked as if it was insulting. “Well, I know who you are. But then again, everyone knows who you are.”

“Everyone knows who I am?” I asked.

What really gets to me is after the first time, you’d figure I’d learn to think before I spoke. But I was young, angry, and certainly not used to conversations. So when the smugness and fake shock in His voice was as thick as it was, I had to demand an explanation. Of course you can’t explain that to The Equation.

So my question spawned the agnostic answer “Yes but no.” So was born faith, that little itch in the back of the mind of every living thing that says “I think someone might be up there pulling the strings.”

This made my life much more difficult. You could have all stayed as functioning automatons and I might have been able to sit down and sort out all your baggage in an organized manner. But no, suddenly you were all looking to the sky and asking “Why?” More questions!  I could handle who, what, and where, but why is dangerous. You became possessed by it and stopped functioning again. I had to scramble up a series of distractions just to keep you all from going insane and trying to storm my gates. Dancing, music, architecture, literature, all shiny objects to keep you occupied while I got myself together.

“As I was saying,” He said once he saw I was done “Everyone knows who you….”

I can’t say what looked flashed across my face, but whatever it was he was suddenly struck silent. I think it was the comedown one has when you realize the creator of all That Is can suddenly focus enough to get down to dealing with you.

“Now before you do anything rash,” he blurted out “I want you to think about something. How could you ever have…”

I cut him off him off.

“Can we go somewhere else?”

It was a risk I’ll admit, splitting reality just so I could get some alone time with Him. But sometimes you have to take a chance and hope for the best.

We were taken Somewhere Else, a little pocket dimension away from What Is. For once everything went according to plan and we went to a place where my questions were inconsequential. I wonder if The Equation took pity on me. If it has anything resembling empathy or pity and thought just this once I could get what I wanted. However it worked, the results did not sit well with Him.

“We need to get back!” He said in a panic. I have to admit I took some pleasure in that. The fact that I took pleasure in his suffering may be disturbing to some people. Take comfort that I’m older now and don’t take pleasure in anything.

After a time of him clawing at the walls of our new space and screaming frantic threats, He finally tired himself out and I was allowed my interrogation.

“Where did you come from?”

He resisted at first and tried to change the subject. “Really should be checking. Wonder how they’re dropping dead now?” But I stood my ground. Eventually, out of either submission or boredom, He told me his story.

“I guess you could say I was around during and after you” He started. “I was in the potential like you, but you beat me to the question. You got your bid in before I did. When What Is came, so did I.”

He says he watched me. Saw me try and fail for the first part, which both amused him and taught him how The Equation worked. He tried to use it himself but could never get it to work

“There I was!” he said, “With divine blueprints in my head and no way to make them real. At first I just accepted it and went into a bit of a slump. Then I saw you make… ‘life’.” He seemed put off by the word. “You were so proud of yourself. I waited to see what you’d do next. After a while I got it. You were done! You were going to spend the rest of eternity sitting there watching what you’d made and leave my potential to rot along with everything else you couldn’t be bothered to think up.”

He assumed a lot about me, and maybe some of it was true. I don’t know what I was going to do after the first draft of life. I was happy with it, so maybe I would have retired. Would that have been so bad?

“I realized I had to get rid of you. I had to get you to change things, structure them, make them solid and defined. Get you fine tuning until you completely forgot what you were doing in the first place.  Get you so locked up in the details that the big picture would be lost until you’d simply drop everything back to zero and I’d step in and take over.”

If you think his plan sounds too good to be true, you’re not alone. I’ve never fully bought this scheme to crash reality with a few well-placed questions. Personally I think he stumbled upon me, asked a stupid question, and got a stupid answer. But I could be wrong, I’ve been wrong before.

“So,” he went on after he finished “We should probably be getting back now.”

I had to admire him for his brass “Why?” I asked.  “Why not just stay here with you and let What Is be?”

He smiled at this, either because knew I was going to ask that or wanted me to think he knew. “Because,” he said “Who knows what’s going on over there now. Sure, things were holding up fine when we left, but are you sure it’s solid? No gravity wells or loose threads that a passerby could snag and undo reality?”

As much as I hated him, he was still in my head. A thousand potential end-of-all-things ran through my imagination. As much as I wasn’t happy with life, I still felt responsible for it.

“Can we go back?” I asked to The Equation, and with that we were returned to the What Is. I rushed to see that it was still standing.

I barely recognized it. In fact the only reason I could tell it was life was that everything was moving. But it wasn’t the same straight pattern I had started it out on. It moved in three dimensions with purpose and direction. It drilled into the ground and went under the ocean. It even got lost sometimes, which is something I would have never thought up.

Information rushed into me.  What had felt like hours to Him and I in our little corner of purgatory had been centuries here. Life had built things.  Parts of the world were modeled in perfect symmetry and others were formed into strange, obtuse angles made by land or miscalculation. Life had fought and formed alliances. Life had blown up cities, rebuilt them, and then wrote poetry for the dead. Life produced great men, who spoke of tolerance and Utopia. Of course life nailed them to wood or shot them, but life felt bad about it later and tried to be more like them in an act of contrition that only something as crazy as life could think up.

I found myself throughout all this too. I was made into thousands of different forms giving thousands of different marching orders. I had told people to go forth and conquer, stand in front of bullets, drink arsenic and meet beyond the veil. But I also told you to love thy neighbor, to not kill, judge, or steal. Of course I never said any of that, but I’m glad somebody did.

“What a mess,”

I had forgotten He was there for a moment.

“So what are you going to fix first?”

I stared him down like before, but he didn’t flinch. He just stood waiting for my answer. Whatever I did to him now wouldn’t matter. His question would stick with me. I would look down upon creation and all the terrible would shine through the good in the way mistakes that are pointed out to do. It would wear on me. The urge to try and fix it would fester until I looked up to The Equation and ask it the one question that might rip it all apart. I would have to keep my mouth shut forever, and I was having trouble in the few moments I’d been back.

I thought about taking the two of us back to our purgatory, but the doubt would still be there. The ever growing uncertainty and need to see what was becoming of my favorite mistakes, it all came from Him.

That’s when I got it. I was being unfair.

He wasn’t dangerous, I wasn’t dangerous, we were dangerous.

He made me put everything under a microscope and I was too sensitive to block him out.  This mass of particles, history, and particulars that was all so grand and right when it didn’t have a name wasn’t safe anymore. I had been compromised and I needed to leave.

That brings you up to speed really, except that after a long time, He found his way to my void.  He mostly just bangs on the walls and yells, trying to get me to ask “What is it?” or “What do you want?” and cause The Sun burst or something equally as melodramatic. But that doesn’t work here. I can ask all the questions I want and not have to worry about them being misunderstood.

So there you are, an explanation and an apology. I thought you deserved that much.


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