I was made to be inside
and free from it, too.
You have a body. A life forms around it. Consciously or obliviously, you experience yourself in structures held in place by myths your active presence here creates.
In the context of a room, a neighborhood, a city block, the spinning planet, a galaxy uncharted: you seem quite small and inconsequential in your fleshy vehicle.
This is the deception you’ve agreed to — a willful forgetting keeps you safely tucked into a pocket of existence your brain can functionally fathom.
Souls are big.
What do you imagine when I say big?
A soul’s much more than that.
Poets speak of mansions; mystics speak of infinite space between the lines of a good poem. I’m saying: it’s not that, either. A soul can house a planet. And the giant star round which it orbits. The spiraling tendrils of our Milky Way, tacky with enormous stars and icy comets burning through: a single soul can hold that, too.
It’s misleading to offer adjectives for tangible sizes and shapes, but we have to start somewhere. To go beyond everything you’ve ever known, we have to take a step in language, where you feel easy and confident and trusting.
I’ve seen you measured in your body; inches and feet on one continent, centimeters on another. Oceans of emotion lapping within shores of persona, dreams, identities, desires, strands of DNA, skin — eyes that open and close. The soul, bigger than your best guess, can funnel in and drive a single cell with as much enthusiasm as it drives the entire universe.
And here, still, I’m misleading you.
The naked noun is wicked misdirection. To imply there’s this thing we can distinguish from others like it —a “soul”— yours, mine, his—the soul of humanity, soul of the land—the very suggestion is just wrong.
One “soul” expresses itself through many personalities, timelines, projects and life experiences simultaneously. Physicists are right to say time’s not linear but spherical, happening all at once. For real: past plus present plus possible future = now.
There is no subtraction, only adding to a state of being, one infinite moment at a time.
A single soul may be simultaneously acting out the life a lost child in 1728, a 1950s has-been, a farmer in 2029, Wall Street thug in ’81, a continental pillager in 1221, Sumerian astronomer in BC 3019 and, well, of course: You.
If you could trespass souls the way I do, the cascading truth of what you are would catastrophically undo the fabric of assumptions holding you together.
Your brain’s not wired to process infinity.
A surge of timeless perception destroys the texture of this world so immediately, you won’t even have a chance to ride the thrill of perceiving the cosmic, orgasmic, bliss-tastic value each pulse of your vessels contributes to this grand scheme-less scheme. You’ll simply be ripped from the dream, destroyed in my wake.
And so I sneak through your seams in intimate silence — and when we meet in The LOOK, you never remember it. This is my kindness: you will instantly and irrevocably forget my hushed invasion of your soul.
* * *
As far as I know, I’m the only one with The LOOK—an ability that self-activated when a Dutch assassin snapped my bleak and meaningless life in two — because that’s exactly what I unknowingly hired him to do.
Seven years ago, when I was 27-going-on-nothing, he dragged me from the frozen grave I was digging, and crushed me painfully, then passionately, in the isolated elegance of dark Icelandic winter.
What happened that night pushed me through a door within a door and I said yes to what I became when I reemerged, unnamed, profoundly new.
I never look back, only forward.
Which is as it should be: once broken open, don’t endeavor to climb back inside the shell you were. Infants scream themselves awake because the womb is over.
That winter in Iceland was irrevocable rebellion. I changed my name on the flight home, filed the papers when I landed. Today, when we meet, you’ll call me Amie, as in mon amie, French for friend. We meet in mystery. We are huge beyond measure. And I belong to none of you.
from THE LOOK OF AMIE MARTINE