18. The World of Dust

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Geoff fell through the deck of The Radical Notion and into the belly of the ship

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Geoff fell through the deck of The Radical Notion and into the belly of the ship. The ocean was inside the ship. Outside was only stars. He flexed his hands but his hands were gone. As he flexed, the stars in the place where the ocean used to be grew brighter. It occurred to Geoff that there shouldn't be water in the ship, and the stars should be in the sky instead of the ocean.

He began to laugh. He laughed so much that he thought his ribs would hurt but then he remembered he had no ribs, he had no body, and as he laughed the stars in the ocean pulsed and the sea in the ship sang and the empty sky overhead was filled with his voice.

Geoff tried to find a footing as he fell. For a moment he felt terrified, but then he remembered what he had been laughing about, the big joke, and he knew that he wasn't falling, he had never been falling.

He'd once seen a picture on the internet of a kitten clinging to the edge of a couch. It was hanging on to the sofa cushion for dear life. The kitten was terrified. But from where the camera sat, it was clear the kitten was going to be okay. It's tiny feet were hovering only an inch above the ground. The kitten was safe the whole time.

 The kitten was safe the whole time

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Geoff was the kitten. There was never anything to be afraid of. He saw that the world had shifted again. The boat was made of stars, the ocean was made of boats. The ship's lanterns fitted together to make the waves. The wood of the sea moved closer together until it was smooth and then it melted back into water, as black as the starless sky. The ships lanterns were jellyfish. The sky opened up below him and the land above was kissed by the sea.

The world of dust was made of a billion tiny planets orbiting around a billion tiny suns; each sun was the centre of its own solar system and each solar system was a speck against infinity, and in each speck there was Geoff floating above the ocean (and the ocean was the ship and the stars and the sky all at once) and he was kissing a different part of Naomi -- her back, her neck, her forehead and as he did so he was laughing because he realised he was kissing himself. All along he had been kissing himself.

When he was alive, Geoff had read a book about death by a Buddhist monk. The book explained that there was no need to be afraid of dying by using an analogy about waves and the ocean. He didn't understand it at the time, but now, alive in the world of dust, it was so clear:

In the ocean there are many waves. If you stand on the beach and watch the waves it will appear to you that they are forming, they are coming into existence, taking shape, moving up and then tipping down and crashing over into nothingness. The waves are born and then they die.

But if we look closely, it becomes clear that the wave was never born and therefore the wave never dies. The wave is just a rearrangement of the ocean.  The water is moving back and forward and all around and when it is pulled a certain way by the wind and the moon and the other pieces of water it takes the shape of a wave. We look at the wave and we see it as separate to the water. But the wave is the same water as before, just in a different shape.

Then the wind changes, the momentum of the water moves all those molecules in a different direction and the great wave that we saw appears to have died. But the water is still there, it has just moved into a different shape again. Really the wave never existed and therefore we do not have to be sad that is has died. That death is an illusion, our sadness is an illusion.

It was when the kitten touched it's paws down on the soft carpet of the lounge room and knew that the couch was never perilous, that it had always been safe, that it could laugh

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It was when the kitten touched it's paws down on the soft carpet of the lounge room and knew that the couch was never perilous, that it had always been safe, that it could laugh.

The movement of the stars, the movement of the waves and the movement of Geoff through the bones of the universe, through the heart of his love, through the violet sky above the glowing moon-filled deck of the Radical Notion all spiraled into the laughter that rang through the empty space around him.

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