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The Symbolic Content Of My Mind, A Short Story
“… and as it goes without saying, the content of a mind construct changes as the thinker changes his mind,” said the man in the white robe as he stared at Lynn in the kind of annoying way that suggested he knew all there was to know while he really didn’t.
No, there was no way he could know just what she had been going through! Lynn silently fumed. And for a moment she wondered whether she had screamed that out loud as the man in white robe looked as if taken aback for a mini second before resuming his relaxed composure. He looked as if nothing could faze him in the world. Lynn decided that’s what bothered her most about this man, this complete stranger in a white robe pretending to be some professional expert about her, her life and now her mind! If he truly knew anything about her and how she suffered, he should be feeling troubled. At least her previous therapists had the decency to look a touch disturbed every now and then.
Her last therapist, Dr. Whittle, washed his hands off her after three months. At their last meeting he just sat at his desk like an oversized deflated tyre instead of the most prominent psychologist that he was widely acknowledged to be. While the clock ticked away, Lynn was wondering whether he expected her to pay him his over inflated fee in full for a mute consultation once the hour was up. Her manner softened as she regarded the psychologist at his wit’s end. In her own way, she admired his honest show of defeat. She had seen plenty who would disguise it while dishing out more futile advice: take more drugs, try to sleep, join the gym, just forgive, sign up for ten more sessions, buy a dog! And that was always her que to walk out and never go back.
But Dr. Whittle was different. Dr. Whittle admitted defeat. He had the wisdom to at least shut up when he knew not what to say. Even though it was proving to be the most costly silence as far as his hourly rate was concerned. Lynn watched as the middle-aged man scratched what’s left of his already thinned hair; amusement and admiration clearly showed on her face over the doctor’s unashamed display of profound inner struggle.
Just as the clock struck the hour, Dr. Whittle gave out a deep sigh. He took out a card from the very bottom of the bottom drawer and handed it to Lynn.
“Why don’t you give this a try, “ he said.
Lynn studied the card in her hand. Its colour was the grey of concrete or of stainless steel. In the exact center the large print said “Mindless” and underneath it was a tiny line of a mobile number.
“Mindless? Is this a joke?” Lynn fired up. Suddenly she felt ridiculed and painfully embarrassed of her good opinion of the doctor a minute ago.
“No, it’s not a joke.” Dr. Whittle put up a hand and gestured Lynn to calm down. “But it is a last resort.” He said with some difficulty of dignity. “ It is unorthodox and unconventional to say the least, but…” looking away from Lynn as if embarrassed, “… I think it works.”
“Txt but not phone this number to make an appointment and you will be advised as to what to do and where to go.” Dr. Whittle said enigmatically and ushered Lynn out of his consultation room.
“And do I come back to you if whatever this is doesn’t work?” Lynn queried, waving the card in her hand.
“Somehow I don’t think it will be necessary.” Dr. Whittle took the card out of Lynn’s hand and tucked it discreetly inside her purse after a quick glance to the left and right as to make sure no one saw it. He nodded goodbye and literally closed the door on her face.
* * *
Lynn got off the taxi and stood staring at this strange looking building sandwiched between other equally inconspicuous concrete structures. As the instruction said, it was right between McDowell Dentist and NBL Osteopath Clinic. It was painted gun metal grey, no sign, no street front window, no nothing except an electric door that opened as soon as Lynn punched in the 4 digit pin number she was given. The door lead to a long concrete corridor painted the same grey as the outside of the building. It ran the entire length of the building and ended in front of an elevator. Lynn got into the elevator and push 1 for first floor as there weren’t any other options.
She was instructed to arrive in bus or taxi alone but not in her own vehicle. She was also instructed to bring a thousand dollars in cash but not cheque nor credit card for this one and only session that was supposed to last a whole day with the money back guarantee at the end of the same day if the session did not work. She was instructed to follow all instructions to the letter or she will be rejected for treatment. She hesitated for a whole week as her rational mind warned her of all the suspicious signs of a foul play or a scam. But at the end she told herself that her curiosity was getting the better of her while in truth it was her unrelenting mental anguish that saw her grasping at straws.
The elevator opened up into another long corridor that ended in an office with a desk and two chairs. “Welcome to Mindless,” said the man dressed in a white robe sitting at the other side of the desk. He did not stand to greet her but gesture her to sit instead. “Why Mindless?” asked Lynn before she even sit down; it was a question that had been bothering her for the whole week.
The man smiled and said, “You are the mindless. The mind so cut off from her Self it was rendered lifeless, struggles to live between dark long corridors that conceal her past and rob her of present and future.” Then ignoring Lynn’s questions he proceeded to speak long-windedly about the function of the mind and smile his annoying knowing smile.
“… and as it goes without saying, the content of a mind construct changes as the thinker changes his mind,” said the man in the white robe as he stared at Lynn, “and here is where the mindless come to learn to change their mind.” On that note, he stood up and began to walk to another room. Lynn found herself following him despite her outrage and her new-found determination to leave at once. Before they entered the room, however, the man asked for the cash payment and left it on a stand outside.
The room was large but bare; devoid of any colour or objects except a chair in its center. It is like a dentist chair that could be adjusted electrically to numerous settings but with a lot more wires attaching to it.
“This is The Theatre, not the operational theatre but the movie theatre and a fine demonstration of mind construct.” The man motioned Lynn to hop on the chair as he continued his explanation. “This chair and this entire room are coated with chemical components that react with your thought form. You can best regard it as a three dimensional virtual reality except it will be interacting with your life memory instead of any hypothetical scenario.” As he was talking he was expertly strapping Lynn more securely at various points of the chair. “… However, to demonstrate to you of your own ability to affect any given life situation, we will first show you a simple demo. The film will begin at the exact same place for everyone but it can be affected to develop into five different outcomes simply by the chemical and electromagnetic charge of different individual.”
After securing some wires in the headpiece, he turned on the power and punched some numbers into a panel in front of the chair and said, “ Just so my presence doesn’t interfere with this experiment, I will be in the observation room right behind you.” With that he left Lynn and the room immediately began to darken.
She closed her eyes. She could hear very faint sound of distant ocean waves. It somehow soothed her nerves and she found herself slowly began to relax.
She must have fallen into a dream.
In the dream, she was lying in bed with her lover. She knew they just made love. She felt so cherished and knew that she couldn’t possibly get any happier. She went to work everyday just the same but when she missed a promotion opportunity she got so angry she started to pick fight with her boyfriend. He was so sweet and understanding and always managed to make her feel better. But weeks gone by, he started to change ever so slightly. They got married as they have been planning for the whole year, but he felt like a different person, distant in a way that she just can’t quite define. She got pregnant, one day she felt sick and came home early and found her husband in bed with her best friend. She went crazy! It was like her mind snapped and next minute she knew she was slapping her girlfriend so hard they both felt off the stairs. She was losing her baby, she was screaming like a mad women, she was covered in blood…”
The room brighten and Lynn suddenly woke up, still screaming.
She looked around in a confused panic. When she finally remembered where she was, she was very much relieved. “Thank God it’s only a dream. It felt so real. It was horrible.” Her heart felt like it was going to break out of her ribcage.
The man’s voice spoke quietly in her earpiece, “ Now that you know the worse case scenario of this dream, I would like to invite you to make different mental choices and witness the change of the dream sequence.”
She was about to bark, “What do you mean by making different mental choices?” but the light is already dimming. The sound of the ocean waves once again surrounded her and silenced her mind. Helplessly, she knew she was once again lowered into the dream. She fought mentally to wake up. She didn’t want to experience that dreadful nightmare again. Is this a kind of joke! And what on earth does it mean by making different mental choices in a dream!
There she was again.
They were making such tender love to each other. She felt so cherished. They planned their wedding in the purest excitement. The BIG promotion came up. She knew she was the perfect person for the job. She earned it. But they gave it to the CEO’s daughter! How predictable! It was grossly unfair! She was so ANGRY! He tried to help, but she was completely engulfed by her bitterness and sense of betrayal. She held on tight to her anger and her injury like a sword. But the only one she’s hurting was herself. She sensed his withdrawal. “I NEED TO CHANGE!” She somehow knew she was hurting her relationship by holding on to so much anger and resentment. She felt the urgency. The wedding was fast approaching, but he didn’t seem to get excited any more like he used to. A week to the wedding, and she knew she couldn’t go ahead with it. He was a good man and he would do anything to honour his words, but she knew she couldn’t condemn them both to misery. They talked. They cried. They wish things could have been different, but at least they had enough love and courage to set each other free.
When the room once again brightened and Lynn woke from the “Dream”, she threw off her headpiece and jumped off the chair, with very little regard to the wires now snapping off from all over her body.
“What did you do?!” She yelled at the blank walls, seeking the video camera she knew had to be there somewhere. When she found it high above a wall, she shouted into it, “How did you change it? WE….they almost got married!”
But she needed not to have shouted, as the man in white coat was already standing by the door.
“Do you really think getting married was the answer? You yourself witnessed the catastrophic nightmare that was to follow. Anyway…I didn’t change anything. You did.”
“ I didn’t! You showed me a different movie with a different ending. Is this some kind of a joke?!” She accused, still agitated.
He said, “It is indeed a movie with five different endings, as I explained earlier. But the only thing that gets to decide which ending to experience is y our brain waves, the state of your mind.”
“Don’t you mess with me! I know you must be sitting in your control room, manipulating what I see.”
He took her to the next room. It was totally empty except a simple plastic chair with no wires coming from it what’s-so-ever, and a large screen without any buttons, panels or remote controls.
“All the electric equipments and controls are on the chair you were sitting on. There is absolutely nothing in this empty room for me to manipulate the outcome, except a screen to view your dream sequence and that whether you’ve made a different choice.”
Before Lynn could ask another question, he said, “Do you remember changing your mind about the wedding?”
“Yes,” said Lynn, more subdued now.
“Because you were becoming less self-absorbed in your own emotion and started to see things from a wider point of view. Once your brain wave started to calm down, you gain the mental space to recognize that you actually had a choice. The different electromagnetic reading of your brain wave at this junction is what decides which set of dream sequence will follow.”
“So I was able to steer my experience away from the worst case scenario.”
“That’s correct,” he said, “ from a score from 1 to 5, with the worse case scenario being 5, what you just experienced was dream sequence NO.3.”
“What’s the best case scenario then?” Lynn asked.
“Very boring and uneventful without all the unnecessary dramas and heartaches, ” he said. Before Lynn could shoot him a poisonous stare, he added, “In order to experience that, you need to make a different choice a lot earlier on, right when the company announced that you were side-stepped in that promotion. Remember: wherever you go, there you are. Instead of believing that you are a victim of your circumstances, think that you are here for the experience. And the nature of that experience is entirely up to you.”
Before long, Lynn was wired up in the chair again for what he promised as a last go at changing her dream sequence.
This time, Lynn felt herself appreciating the wonderful times more fully at the beginning of the dream as if somehow she knew not to take it for granted. When she missed out on the promotion, instead of feeling betrayed and angered, she saw clearly that she could be better appreciated somewhere else and resigned. She ended up finding a far more superior position with an even higher pay package. Soon they got married and life was peaceful, if uneventful.
The light came on.
Lynn sat quietly on the chair.
The man appeared again at the door, clapping. “Well done! Best Case Scenario.”
“Did I really do that with my mind?”
“Yes,” he said, “what did you do that’s different from the last time?”
Lynn answered slowly as if she’s still half asleep, “ by being more peaceful……… Somehow, I knew from deep down, even when I was completely identifying with the woman in the dream, that it’s all a dream anyway and that there’s no point getting all worked up or lashing out on someone. I…. I was able to see…a bigger picture.”
She carried on saying in a quiet voice, “…it made me feel more peaceful, even when the situation around me was quite upsetting…. somehow I could take a deep breath and find that I can see a bigger picture…. like… there’s more space around it or something.”
He nodded, “ I think you are ready for what you are really here for.”
He got busy punching some codes into a panel next to the chair, the light changed from very dim to a slightly warmer glow. He took away some wires and attached some new ones. Even each of her fingers got a wire lightly attached to the tip with a round tape.
When all preparations seemed to be completed, a soft music was playing faintly in the background. He told her to relax and follow the instruction she hear in her headpiece and exited the room.
The music was making her drowsy. The soft voice coming through the headpiece was guiding her back in time. “….pick an event that stopped you from moving on……and glide gently and effortlessly just before the occurrence of the event….and watch it from a distance….see everything with a new eye….”
She landed in her backyard as if she came from a cloud.
It was the weekend.
The weekend before the accident, before Tim took their five-year-old daughter, Laura, emptied a big chunk out of their saving account and drove for a day out of town before they were both killed by a drunk truck driver.
It was a year ago. For an entire year Lynn was tormented by anguish, rage, disbelief and endless questions! Questions that had no answers, questions that ate her away from the inside out until she was nothing but a shell. And an angry shell at that.
She had somehow convinced herself that there was another woman involved and that Tim was leaving to be with her. Who is she? How did they meet? How long had the affair been going on? Why couldn’t the cheating bastard just leave without taking her Laura as well?
The weekend before the accident...
Oh, how she had combed the weekend in her mind a thousand and one times in order to find some clues.
And there she was again, doing dishes in the kitchen while watching Tim and Laura building a rabbit hatch from scratch.
She wanted to rush out to Tim and question him, to shake him and ask him a hundred Why’s. But she couldn’t. She could only watch, watch from her own eyes.
She caught her old self thinking, “there he goes again, hammering away like a farmer.” He was always taking about a farm, no matter how successful he became with his business. Sometimes, she felt her husband were the same age as her child, especially when they were playing together like now.
Then Lynn heard something she didn’t remember hearing before. It was Tim, bragging to Laura: “…and when we have our own farm, Laura, you can have as many rabbits as you want.”
What? Did he really say that? How come I never even remember hearing it?
She’d finished with dishes and now she’s tidying up Tim’s desk. He could be such a pig at his work station. It got so much worse after he started to work from home a month ago.
Wait, what did Tim say why he wanted to work from home instead of his office in Town? “Working from home gives me more freedom. Hack, I could even move to a farm and still generate the same income!”
She remembered it now. That’s exactly what he said.
Lynn couldn’t understand why she’s suddenly hearing and remembering things more clearly. It seemed that the “space” she managed to find from the earlier dream session was still with her, making her seeing and hearing and remembering things differently, like it was a total different version of a past she thought she knew.
Lynn looked down and realized she had a few of Tim’s books on a pile as she was mopping up the desk, clearing away crumbs that were many days old. Suddenly she felt time stopped as she caught a glimpse of a pamphlet on top of the messy pile of books and materials as she put them back onto the desk.
Farming Made Easy
10 Simple Steps To Start Farming Today!
She did not remember seeing that pamphlet, ever.
At this time, Tim and Laura came trotting into the kitchen demanding to be fed some afternoon tea like a pair of Duke and Duchess, except they were in dirty farm boots.
The farm boots!
Tim bought them each a pair a week before. Lynn thought it was some kind of a joke. But the pair of them had taking up wearing them whenever they were in the backyard digging and planting.
She put out some carrot cake and hot tea. Tim beamed at her and said, “You will make a good farmer’s wife my darling!”
What’s with all the farmer talk? How come she never remembered them. She saw the way Tim was beaming up at her…. No, he didn’t look like a cheating husband. Her heart ached as she saw the love in Tim’s eyes. Over the past year, she had painted them into a cheater’s eyes, but she was wrong. For a whole year she had turned everything into evidence against Tim and his alleged infidelity, and she had hated him for robbing her of her daughter’s life. Her heart ached now, how could she ever forget the way he always looked at her? How could she have wiped that out of her memory so utterly and completely?
Lynn wanted to reach out and hug them both for one last time, but all she did was chiding them both for the mud they brought into her newly cleaned kitchen.
She wanted to shout and scream and to tell herself it was the very last time she would ever see them both alive, but it all went dark and it all went quiet.
She floated in a dark quiet tunnel for a little while. Before she could properly wake up, she heard Time’s voice reaching out to her: ”I love you darling, I would never have done anything to hurt you. Look underneath the pamphlet! Look underneath the pamphlet and you will understand EVERYTHING!”
“Woe….! What’ going on? Are you OK?” The man in the coat lifted up Lynn’s headpiece and looked down at her with a quizzical frown.
“What do you men what’s going on?” Lynn said weakly, her mouth extremely dry, her eyes squinting from the light and her ears still ringing from Time’s unusual booming voice. It seemed to be filling up her whole skull.
“Well….,” the man hesitated, “the program terminated and everything was shutting down as per usual, then all of a sudden, your brain wave reading jumped right out of the scale. That’s NEVER happened before, so I rushed in here to make sure you are OK.”
“I’m fine,” said Lynn, “ I need to go.”
The man started to say no, that they would need to go through proper closing procedure but Lynn wouldn’t have any of it.
“I NEED TO GO! NOW!” she said very firmly and started ripping any wires she could find still attached to her person.
She rushed home and went straight up to the attic where all of Tim’s belonging were stored.
She tore boxes after boxes; she rummaged through everything like someone obsessed. Finally she cut open one box and Tim’s old office things came tumbling out. She knew it had to be in here somewhere. She clearly remembered asking her families to just box everything up and she would go through them one day, but she never did.
Rummaging between old files and books, she eventurally came across a small stack of pamphlets held together by a rubber band. On top of it was
Farming Made Easy
10 Simple Steps To Start Farming Today!
It was exactly like how she saw it in the memory recall today, just a little duller in colour. Her heart jumped into her throat.
Shaking now, she slowly moved away the pamphlet to see what’s lying underneath.
A newspaper clipping. No, a small ads roughly torn out of a newspaper. It showed a small faded picture of a farm house with trees on all sides:
A Small Manageable Farm
Ready For A New Loving Family
It gave a location to the south, exactly half a day’s ride out of town.
“Call Maurice” it urged and the phone number was circled with a red felt pen.
She didn’t know how she managed to get down the steps and make her way into the kitchen. Trembling and if in a trance, she lifted up the phone and dialed the number. Every time the phone rang, she felt her heart skipping a beat.
“Hello, Maurice!” an older man shouted out his own name grudgingly as if in protest.
“Hello, I… My name is Lynn, and my late husband was Tim….” Lynn found herself describing the accident in detail to a total stranger.
“It might sound strange, but I found your farm’s ads on a newspaper clipping with my husband’s things just now and I thought maybe you could help me shed some light on whatever had happened.” She finally managed to get all the words out, feeling grateful that the stranger didn’t hang up the phone half way through as she half thought he might.
“Oh mine,” said old Maurice finally, “yes, yes, a chap, yes I think his name was Tim and his wee girl came to see me. About a year ago. He brought some cash deposit to buy the farm. He was rumbling about a surprise for his wife. But the thing is, he never came back to sign the deal. I tried to reach him on his cell phone as he didn’t want to leave a home number because of the whole surprise thing…but I never was able to reach him…”
Tim’s cell phone was destroyed so completely in the accident the police couldn’t savage any information from it to help with the investigation. Lynn was utterly convinced that had they been able to, they would no doubt find out who The Other Woman was and rediscover every minute detail of the big plan of betrayal.
Lynn let the phone slide off her hand…
She was sobbing now, kneeing on the kitchen floor, doubled over.
But it was no longer rage.
It was no longer anguish.
Lynn waited for the grief she’d been longing for for the whole year to finally come. The tears for a husband she had loved…
And it washed over her like waves now…
waves that finally set her free.
copyright © 2010 Vera Lin