Open to the Sky
by Mark Joseph Kiewlak
“I’ve always been able to do this,” Brian said.
He gestured with his hand and a set of children’s plastic building blocks appeared on the table before us.
“Whatever you think, whatever you believe,” he said, “you can create.”
He began to work with the interconnecting blocks, first constructing a foundation, and then adding walls and windows and additional floors, until the work before us became a masterpiece.
“I don’t understand how I do it,” he said. “I just believe, and it comes to me.”
As I left his house I didn’t know what to say. As I drove home that evening I didn’t know what to think. My reality itself seemed to have become a dream. Here was a man, a man like any other, yet with my own eyes I had seen him conjure objects out of thin air. He seemed to be operating on a level wholly outside of what I understood possible. Yet there was a germ of truth to it all — a feeling inside of me that told me that what I had seen was not only possible, but possible for anyone to accomplish — if they had the necessary willpower.
What Brian had done, I would later learn, was merely translate his thoughts into reality — a process that was taking place within all of us all the time, yet we seldom recognized that we were doing it.
When I got home I took a shower, and by the time I was finished I had resolved not only to visit Brian again the next day but to beg him to teach me all he knew about his abilities and how they had come about.
* * *
“Why are people happy?” Brian said. “Is it merely because of fortuitous circumstances in their lives or are they happy because they believe that they are? If I say to you that I’m a klutz, and I walk around believing that I am, inevitably I’m going to hit my head on something. I’m going to trip, I’m going to knock things over. What I believe about myself will become true.”
“A self-fulfilling prophecy,” I said.
“But what if,” Brian said, “the person in question stopped believing that about themselves? Everything would change. They would no longer conduct themselves like a klutz, and with this greater control of their bodies and a greater perception of what’s around them, the external validation of their inner fear would vanish.”
“So if people could understand that they brought all their troubles upon themselves....”
“Maybe they’d stop bringing them,” Brian said.
The more Brian and I talked the more apparent it became that he could help me find the answers I’d been searching for all my life without even knowing it. I’d always felt intimations of these things but I never understood how they fit in with the rest of my seemingly normal existence.
“I think that on some level,” Brian said, “people do realize that they bring about their own misery. But the compulsions that drive them to do the things they do are strong.”
For the first time he glanced up from the blocks on the table before him.
“Like yours,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Your desire to dissect. You feel as though the only way to understand a thing is to tear it apart.”
He was right, of course. I analyzed the sunrise in the morning and the sunset at night. I was a reporter for the local paper and facts were my stock-in-trade. If it wasn’t concrete, I had nothing to write about.
“You came here for a story,” Brian said, “about an artist who works with children’s toys. Did you truly believe that the creative process was going to be something you could explain in conventional terms?”
“You made blocks appear out of thin air,” I said.
“And we make buildings appear out of thin air everyday. And cars and everything else for that matter. We create them in our imagination before we ever create them with our hands.”
“But we do create them,” I said. “They don’t simply appear.”
“Just because you don’t see the construction doesn’t mean there isn’t any,” Brian said. “If you leave your hometown for a year and come back to find a bank or a drug store where an empty lot used to be, you naturally assume that someone built the thing, even though you didn’t see it occur.”
“So you’re saying the creation is taking place at some other level — some level that our focus is turned away from?”
“I’m saying it’s not important to understand how our thoughts translate into reality. All you need to know is that they do.”
“This isn’t going to make a very good story,” I said. “You haven’t told me anything about yourself or your interests or how you came to understand all of this.”
“All I know,” Brian said, “is that I wake up in the morning and go where the day leads me. I don’t need to plan — I don’t need to structure. That would only be redundant because the structure already exists inside of me. All I have to do is relax, clear my mind, and listen to myself.”
I felt myself becoming desperate, becoming lost to the moment, grasping for whatever could hold me to a more comprehensible, less powerful view of reality. I knew — could sense with every part of my being — that Brian was onto something monumental, something important not just for me personally but for the whole world. Yet I couldn’t get him to explain it.
“You don’t need it explained,” Brian said. “That would only provide you with more fuel for the debate you’re having with yourself.”
“I’m trying to understand,” I said.
“No. You’re clouding the understanding you already possess with unnecessary analysis. You’re running away from the truth.”
We sat for a time in silence and stared at the shiny plastic blocks upon the table. I realized that I was angry with myself. My life was a conventional one. I had never before been exposed to phenomena I couldn’t explain. I was utterly frustrated by the wonder of this man’s existence. Who was he to live such a magical life while the rest of us toiled away in our mundane realities? Who was he to create from nothing, to follow his heart, to damn his consequences?
And who was I not to?
“I’ve got to tell someone,” I said. “I’ve got to tell everyone.”
“No one would believe it,” Brian said.
“I’ll bring them here — TV, newspapers. You’ll show them.”
Brian shook his head. “They’d only find some way to explain it. We explain everything we’re not prepared for. The things we are prepared for require no explanation.”
“But it’s such a waste. It’s so unbelievable.”
“Then why do you believe it?” Brian said.
“I saw it.”
“You let yourself see it,” Brian said. “Just like I let myself do it.”
“Has anyone else ever seen you do this?”
“A lot of people,” Brian said.
“A lot — and what happened?”
“You mean how were they changed by it? Each in their own way, I suppose. I remember a woman once — auburn hair and freckles — she watched me build for an hour straight and didn’t think anything of it. In her case I’d say she was more than ready for what she saw. She’d already mastered that particular belief.”
“But how can you stand keeping this a secret?”
“I’m not,” Brian said. “I’m not hiding it. It’s just that not too many people want to see.”
“Have you ever seen anyone else do anything like this?”
“Some,” Brian said. “I’ve seen some people who are far more adept than I am. They don’t even have to concentrate. They don’t even need the gesturing.”
He waved his hand over the table and another set of blocks appeared.
“But this... the repercussions are staggering,” I said. “Do you have any idea what this means for the world?”
“Very little,” Brian said. “And a whole lot. Why not just concentrate on what it means for you?”
“What does it mean?” I said.
“Only you can answer that.”
“Will I... is there some sort of training?” I said. “In time will I be able to do things like that?”
“I don’t know,” Brian said. “As I said, I’m not sure how it works. But it does.”
“There’s got to be more to it,” I said.
“No,” Brian said, “there doesn’t. I think trying to complicate it is one of the problems people have. It’s just too overwhelming a concept for most people.”
I was almost afraid to ask. “What is?” I said.
“The idea,” Brian said. “That we can do anything.”
“Anything. Anything at all. It’s not that it’s so horribly difficult,” Brian said. “It’s that it’s so terribly simple.”
“Well, then tell me how.”
“Just let go,” Brian said.
Copyright © 2009 by Mark Joseph Kiewlak