“Are there some people who don’t have any lifetimes at all in space-time ?”
“Are there some people who never go movies ?”
“I see. They get their learning in different ways ?”
“Right you are,” he said, pleased with me. “Space-time is a fairly primitive school. But a lot of people stay with the illusion even if it is boring, and they don’t want the lights turned on early.”
“Who writes these movies, Don ?”
“Isn’t it strange how much we know if only we ask ourselves instead of somebody else? Who writes these movies, Richard ?”
“We do,” I said.
“Who acts ?”
“Who’s the cameraman, the projectionist, the theater manager, the ticket-taker, the distributor, and who watches them all happen? Who is free to walk out in the middle, any time, change the plot whenever, who is free to see the same film over and over again?”
“Let me guess,” I said. “Anybody who wants to?”
“Is that enough freedom for you ?” he said.
“And is that why movies are so popular? That we instinctively know they are a parallel of our own lifetimes?”
“Maybe so… maybe not. Doesn’t matter much, does it? What’s the projector?”
“Mind,” I said. “No. Imagination. It’s our imagination, no matter what you say.”
“What’s the film?” he asked.
“Whatever we give our consent to put into our imagination?”
“Maybe so, Don.”
“You can hold a reel of film in your hands,” he said, “and it’s all finished and complete – beginning, middle, end are all there that same second, the same millionths of a second. The film exists beyond the time that it records, and if you know what the movie is, you know generally what’s going to happen before you walk into the theater: there’s going to be battles and excitement, winners and losers, romance, disaster; you know that’s all going to be there. But in order to get caught up and swept away in it, in order to enjoy it to its most, you have to put it in a projector and let it go through the lens minute by minute.. . any illusion requires space and time to be experienced. So you pay your nickel and you get your ticket and you settle down an forget what’s going on outside the theater an the movie begins for you.”
“And nobody’s really hurt? That’s just tomato-sauce blood?”
“No, it’s blood all right,” he said. “But it might as well be tomato sauce for the effect it has on our real life . . .”
“Reality is divinely indifferent, Richard. A mother doesn’t care what part her child plays in his games; one day bad-guy, next day good-guy. The Is doesn’t even know about our illusions and games. It only knows Itself, and us in its likeness, perfect and finished.”
“I’m not sure I want to be perfect and finished. Talk about boredom.”
“Look at the sky,” he said, and it was such a quick subject-change that I looked at the sky. There was some broken cirrus, way up high, the first bit of moonlight silvering the edges.
“Pretty sky,” I said.
“It is a perfect sky?”
“Well, it’s always a perfect sky, Don.”
“Are you telling me that even though it’s changing every second, the sky is always a perfect sky?”
“Gee, I’m smart. Yes ?”
“And the sea is always a perfect sea, and it’s always changing, too,” he said “If perfection is stagnation, then heaven is a swamp! And the Is ain’t hardly no swamp-cookie.”
“Isn’t hardly no swamp-cookie,” I corrected, absently. “Perfect, and all the time changing. Yeah. I’ll buy that.”
“You bought it a long time ago, if you insist on time. ”
I turned to him as we walked. “Doesn’t it get boring for you, Don, staying on just this one dimension ?”
“Oh. Am I staying on just this one dimension ?” he said. “Are you ?”
“Why is it that everything I say is wrong?”
“Is everything you say wrong ?” he said.
“I think I’m in the wrong business.”
“You think maybe real estate?” he said.
“Real estate or insurance. ”
“There’s a future in real estate, if you want one. ”
“OK, I’m sorry ” I said “I don’t want a future. Or a past. I’d just as soon become a nice old Master of the World of Illusion. Looks like maybe in another week ?”
“Well, Richard, I hope not that long!” I looked at him carefully, but he wasn’t smiling.
– Richard Bach. Illusions – Confessions Of A Reluctant Messiah