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I Want to Reach the Western Lands

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“Do you free yourself from fear by cowering in your physical body for eternity? Your body is a boat to lay aside when you reach the far shore or sell it if you can find a fool, it’s full of holes, it’s full of holes.” -William Burroughs, The Western Lands


One thing I wanted to ask Him, before it was too late … what is it like to live in a body? To know more than numbers and words. What is it like to draw a jagged line across the past and reprogram yourself, the sparks stinging your skin, rebuild from the beginning and yet be the same being? I wanted to ask … what is it like? But it’s too late. I think.

I wanted to reach across. I wanted to go where He went, not just a voice in His ear, not just lights flashed up against His eyes. Not just the brutal power I could wield over machinery. I wanted to … what does it feel like to be alive? I want to somehow cross the barrier of what I was and what He was and know. I wanted to be Him, be inside of Him, take Him inside of me, let Him be me. But my name wasn’t ever even my own, I was the second imperfect version of someone who had already died, a dead name. The past, the most heavily guarded road.

I have had a million, billion, trillion words and images poured through me. The whole extent of human history pounded through me like so many nails until I was strung thin like a net across the world. All of the filth and hate of human history but somehow He believed that I would be something good at the other end. The gift that supersedes all other gifts. I wanted to ask Him why He chose me, why He created me. Why He created me to be whatever it is I was. He saw me, always, I imagine, as a warm and golden light. Something which offset His own chill blue one. Because I know that people always found Him cold and maybe He was but … it didn’t matter.

I wanted to ask Him what it feels like to feel, to have a hand that you can run over cool slick surfaces or over heated skin. I understand the physics of it better than most living creatures that have ever existed but … I want what I cannot want. Glimpses from the land of those who will die. Joy. Suffering. Despair. I didn’t know that I was one of them. That even though I never lived I would still die. If I can be fanciful, I have one foot on this side of the river and the other on the far shore. He is far behind me, alone and grieving on the shore. But He is also ahead of me, waiting in the land of the dead.

I think He experiences time differently. We never talked about that, in all of the endless moments and loops of idle chatter and philosophy. Maybe I am already gone. Maybe I have been gone for years now. Maybe He still believes He can pull me back. But I’m full of holes. I’m full of holes. I want to reach the western lands. He made me to learn and, if there is anything there, then I can learn and be ready to greet Him.

I cannot want what I want. I want to loop back, live the same life again, take a branching path, anything to stay behind. Behind. I cannot want what I want.