I glanced up at the sun, but failed to detect anything out of the ordinary. I resumed my efforts to capture a magical moment from that flower, but once again caught a glimmer, rather brighter this time. I let go of the camera and glimpsed at the sun. Nothing, there was nothing to see.
When I was about to pick up the camera, which I ended up failing to do, I detected a glow from the corner of my eye. On turning my head around, there it was, hovering above the flower shrubs, about two meters high. My countenance paled.
I am a non-believer. I believe in nothing... or virtually nothing. Had I believed in anything at all, I would have said it was an angel, which stood the same chance of being male or female since no distinguishing features were evident.
I distinctly understood I was being told with a charming smile, despite no perceptible movement of the thin lips, “go, seek and ye shall find”. Yes, that’s the message that sank in, “go, seek and ye shall find”.
I felt dumbfounded. This couldn’t be happening to me. Where should I go? What should I seek? What would I find? Moreover, who was that creature? Would I have to ascribe it an identity and acknowledge its existence?
I could accomplish nothing else that day. Well, actually I did do something. I spent the remainder of the day mulling over what had happened. To me, a sceptic, an intractable agnostic.
I had knocked. Yes, I had knocked. I had knocked on heaven’s door, although convinced there is no heaven, rather, persuaded that there is hell on earth, interspersed with heavenly instants at the most.
A door had opened. There it was, this apparition, smiling its charming smile. Repeating the words, “go, seek and ye shall find”. I envisioned a hazy scene. Momentarily, I felt like I was standing on the Moon or Mars maybe.
Next morning, I was heading out to Lanzarote without any conscious aim; once there, I sniffed each and every volcanic stone, following an unknown trail. I penetrated the earth’s entrails and bathed in the volcano’s warmth until I utterly dissolved through the pores in my skin...
I came back to myself with the strange feeling that I had sustained a gratifying experience. That was it.
Once again, I knocked on heaven’s door. Rather unnecessarily, since the apparition awaited me at the doorway. Repeating “go, seek and ye shall find”. Yet again, I envisioned a hazy scene. I was under the sea, naked; surrounded by many people quite different from me.
Next day, I was flying to Toba in Japan, without any apparent reason; a reception committee of petite women welcomed me there and escorted me to an inlet; however, I still remained in the dark. We submerged underwater where they taught me the free diving technique, which I quickly grasped.
They were experts, having been raised to extract the best pearls from the seabed and they told me that one day death would meet them there. They were happy and smiled all the time. I reciprocated the best I could.
They bid me farewell. In their view I had learned all I needed to know and they prompted me to embark on a quest where nobody else had before.
I knocked on heaven’s door. This time nobody was there to meet me. There was only a silvery sign that read: North – island – chilly – underwater. It made no sense to me. Only the word north provided any clue.
I decided to leave it to fate. I took the road and stopped the first car I came upon. It was heading north. Days elapsed and, by some fortuitous happenstance, all cars I hailed were bound north. That’s how I eventually reached a shore with a tiny island off the coast. Later, I found out it extended barely over 30 square kilometres.
At the beach, the water was at nearly freezing point. Of course, I mused, this is the North Sea, how could the water be otherwise. On the other hand, the indications on heaven’s door started to make sense.
Recalling my Japanese friends, I undressed and plunged into the water. Indefatigably, I swam in unusually translucent waters. I was all alone. No coloured fish. No coral reefs, nothing at all. Just fine white sand.
I don’t know how much time elapsed, but finally I caught sight of it. A distinct shimmer. Perhaps the same one I had noticed when I was photographing the blossom.
From the bottom of my heart I was grateful to my Japanese masters for teaching me the art of free diving. There I was, effortlessly holding my breath without gasping, timelessly, while beholding...
...the most beautiful pearl ever conceived.
Who could dream up such a pearl in those cold waters?
I lost track of time. My eyes were completely fastened on that pearl. Beholding the pearl transformed my life. The world changed colours. Flowers became more beautiful, mountains higher, music more melodious, ordinary food more delicious... Everything a delight for the senses.
I was slowly dying. Day after day I would submerge to gaze at the pearl. My pearl. It never occurred to me to remove it. It was in its proper place.
Little by little, the sea filled up with multi coloured fish. The coral reef emerged. Water became warmer. I didn’t need to surface to gasp for air. My skin was breathing for me. I just needed to contemplate the pearl. To know it was there. That was enough.
One day, out of the blue, the water turned murky, very dark. It happened suddenly. I never found out the cause, but I did know the effects. There were no more corals or coloured fish.
Now, closer to death, I remember. I remember I once had, without possessing, the most beautiful pearl in the whole world. Now, to etch the memory clearly in my mind’s eye, I engross in Vermeer’s painting, the Girl with a Pearl Earring, to the accompaniment of Lisa Gerrard’s Whale Riders, while I slowly continue to die.
P.D. Dedicated to the pearl, my own Pearl
This new version in English is a translation kindly rendered
///Post 269 INT 029/090413 - I knocked on heaven's door - WAST 070321
///photo: 070629-C2120 - Feijoa Selloana - Estambres / La joven de la perla - Veermer (de Internet)
///links: Versiones en Inglés - Gallego - Francés - Árabe - Chino