I was in France, where my parents had a summer house. There was a brook nearby. You had to go down a muddy path in the woods to get there. We played there often, around it and in it, we crossed it a million times and I knew exactly what was on the other side: another muddy, rocky path, leading to another village.
But one time, it was different.
We were almost leaving. Suitcases packed and put in the car, mom and dad cleaning up the last of the house, closing it off for winter. I had gone to the brook alone, to have a moment for myself before the long drive back home.
I don’t know what the mix of chemicals in my brain was up to, but everything suddenly had meaning. The trees, the leaves, I was pushing the limits of the visible world and I could almost – as a shimmer on the edge of my vision – see what was behind. It was strongest on the other side of the water. I felt an enormous temptation and at the same time an enormous fear to cross to the other side. I was somehow sure that it would end the world as I knew it. I thought about fairies, the Wild Hunt.
In the end, I slowly tore myself away from the water, almost excusing myself to the trees. “I can’t do it, I really can’t, my parents…” So I returned home, got in the car, got away.
I am still unsure what would have happened if I had crossed the stream that day. Logic dictates that I probably would have walked to the other village in a daze, maybe getting lost a bit, returning late and disillusioned to two angry parents. Sometimes I more gravely suspect that I was on the verge of giving in to a psychosis.
It was not the last time I felt something like it, but it was much stronger than ever thereafter.
I still see it as the end of my childhood, in a way.
I wrote about it, many times. Tried to describe it. I ended up most pleased with referring to it as something ‘behind the world, behind the time’.
Then, I read the poem ‘Do not expect’ by Dana Goia.
“And only briefly then
you touch, you see, you press against
the surface of impenetrable things”
The book ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke.
“Behind the sky, on the other side of the rain…”
And much, much more. Myths, fairy tales; but also more modern accounts. The world of Fantasy loves it, of course.
So I appear to be not the only one with the experience of this kind of fingertip-feeling for something behind the surface of the world. Is this where religion comes from? Is this what our brain does to create reason from our sensory input?
Have you ever experienced it? What did you think it was?