A Weekend InBetween
-- Je me Souviens --

by Robert Alan Silverstein

It all started on my birthday, exactly one year ago, at this exact time: 10:43 am. That's the time it says I was born on my birth certificate. I have this odd quirk of noticing when 10:43 arrives - almost every day, and sometimes twice a day. But except for the moment I began my life, nothing else remarkable had ever happened at 10:43.

Until then.

That birthday moment seemingly launched a course of events that led to the most profound weekend I'd ever experienced. So amazing, at the time I could barely believe it was real! Unfortunately, that's the very concern that has plagued me every moment since.

One year ago, at 10:43, I stumbled onto that strange blog page while going through my morning routine of checking email, facebook and twitter. I have no idea how I ended up there. Believe me - I've tried to figure it out over and over and over again.

All I can remember is, one instant I was glancing down at the bottom right hand corner of my screen and saw with a smile that my birth moment had arrived, and the next instant I noticed one of my browser windows was open to someone's blog -- "Maya's Mysteries" part of my brain registered, but my attention was focused on the picture of Maya in the bottom left hand corner of the page.

It's not just that she was incredibly beautiful. It's that even though I had no idea who she was, I had this overwhelming feeling that I KNEW Maya; that I'd always known her. In a flash, I felt half-remembered snippets of conversations racing through my mind: fragments of a dream I'd had last night; a daydreamed reflection I saw for an instant while brushing my teeth this morning. A maelstrom of broken memories came rushing forward from yesterday, the week before, and dozens of years ago, all barely graspable, and instantly forgotten as soon as they arrived, but all clearly memories of Maya and me.

Memories of a life of shared meaning and purpose. Of creative collaboration for a higher mission. Of striving side by side to create a utopian future for all who've ever lived and ever will be.

Yeah. All that Big stuff.

Needless to say, I was on pins and needles and barely remembered to breathe while I read Maya's blog entry. Honestly, I can't remember exactly what she wrote, but every single word seemed to echo through my mind, ringing truer than anything I'd ever heard, even though it was the strangest thing I'd ever heard.

Maya described the journeys she'd been on into the deepest corners of her mind, and the place she'd discovered InBetween reality and dreams, the future and the present and action and awareness -- a timeless, spaceless, infinite moment of Betweenity.

She suggested that we are all InBetweenians -- everyone can InBetween. (Yes apparently it's a verb and a noun and an adjective - and probably other things, too, but then again, grammar was never my strong suit, so I'm not totally sure.) Anyway, for most people it's nearly impossible to find the space in their hectic lives to have the stillness needed to travel InBetween. And even when we do, the instant of awareness is over so quickly and, even more importantly, we barely remember the eternal moment of experiences when we 'return.'

In her travels, Maya had discovered that she wasn't alone there InBetween. Over the years she met many others from all around the world, and in fact, travelers from long ago in the past, and from far into the future. It wasn't long before she realized that many she encountered weren't even from our own universe, but were from divergent timelines of parallel universes.

Okay, I know. Pretty whacky stuff! But her words had weaved a spell on me somehow, and everything she described resonated so clearly and felt so real. Or at least I wanted to believe it all.

Maya described how she'd spent years InBetweening, studying how to attain the state more easily, how to make it last longer, and how to retain more of the insights and wisdom she discovered from those infinite moments when they'd passed. And now at last she was ready to share what she learned, eager to help others to travel InBetween. She was facilitating a retreat for would-be InBetweenians, and oddly enough it was starting that very evening.

"Voulez-vous InBetween avec moi?" she invited.

Yes, please.

Okay. So I completely lost all sense of reason. Without hesitation, I got up, started to pack and within half an hour I was on my way upstate for a three hour trip to a retreat center I'd sort of kind of heard of, maybe, to lay out way too much more than I could afford, to spend a weekend with, what would undoubtedly be a bunch of whackos, who'd probably, make that definitely, try to lure me into their cult.

I realized all that of course, but my life was such a mess that I really didn't care. I needed something. I knew I was way too much of a skeptic to be sucked in to becoming a cult-follower. I wasn't worried about that. But I needed a weekend away from everything so badly, and this was just too intriguing to pass by.

As I sat there glancing at the faces sitting in our welcoming ceremony circle that evening, I was feeling a little let down. The truth is I had been expecting something magical. But the retreat center was pretty normal, as far as my limited experience with retreat centers could tell, and the dozen people who had shown up and were sharing a little about themselves in our circle seemed like your typical retreat-goers.

And I must admit, I was disappointed that the skies didn't open up when I met Maya earlier. It wasn't that she wasn't as beautiful in real-life as I'd imagined from her picture, because she was. Not that I was, well realistically, hoping for something romantic. But I had sort of imagined that when we met, we'd both instantly recognize a deep connection between us. Right. Well, although her welcoming smile was warm and inviting, it was the same smile she gave each of the dozen participants.

But perhaps the most devastating realization was that no one seemed to have read the same mysterious blog that I did. Not even Maya. When I'd first settled in and looked over the weekend's agenda, I didn't see "InBetweening" even mentioned. Apparently this was simply a weekend of healthy food, guided meditation and relaxation. I must have imagined most or all of what I'd thought I'd read in that blog!

Well, my empty apartment was a three-hour drive away and I'd already charged the weekend on my credit card -- I resolved to make the best of the situation, even though I knew all too well that I'd never been good at meditating or relaxing, or spending weekends with strangers who did enjoy that kind of thing. But for me to have imagined such bizarre and crazy expectations - and impulsively acted on them -- well, obviously I needed all the healthy food, meditation and relaxation I could get.

Turns out the weekend was pretty relaxing after all. I actually made a few nice connections with some of the participants, and I really felt that I was kind of getting the hang of meditating - I certainly felt like I was getting a lot more out of it than the times I'd tried to get into it in the past. I can't say it calmed my mind enough to figure my life out, but it did help me get to a place where my world didn't feel like the constantly overwhelming cyclone of worries, disappointments and regrets it had somehow become.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning and I was getting comfortable for our last guided meditation before the weekend would be over and I'd have to go back to my lonely existence. Maya had been a good teacher, and the weekend's trainings and the music and her pleasant voice helped me slip into a quiet, peaceful place rather quickly. My thoughts were still and I suddenly realized, I was InBetween.

I expected the moment to pass as soon as I became aware of it, but it didn't. The moment stretched, and I felt so alive, so much more than myself. In an instant I felt everything - all of eternity. You could have asked me any question about anything at all, and I could have told you the answer without hesitation.

Then I noticed I wasn't alone. Maya was there and she was smiling at me. "You did it!" she whispered and held out her hand. "We're InBetweening together!"

We were. And the moment lasted forever. We explored so much, together. We lived a million billion lives, hand in hand, mind in mind, heart in heart.

We discovered so much truth, so much wisdom. Somehow, we knew it would all be lost when this moment was done, but we were there in that moment and that was all that mattered. Still, there was One truth that I wanted us to bring back. That we had been together InBetween. I began to panic - worrying that that knowledge would slip away along with everything else.

Maya kissed me forever, and I knew we could never forget.

There was one other Truth, above all the others, that we recognized we should remember. A higher mission and purpose for our lives. For all lives.

People had been meeting InBetween for all Time - sharing ideas and insights with each other -- and though only a grain of wisdom was remembered when the eternal moment of Betweenity had passed, it was helping to guide humanity towards a much more peaceful, just and sustainable future. But now, by InBetweening together, and forming InBetween Teams, we could help each other remember more of the wisdom we'd shared there InBetween, and there'd be a quantum leap in conscious evolution, and a great acceleration towards that utopian future.

"Remember" Maya whispered, as we felt the moment slipping away, and we hugged each other tightly not wanting it to ever end.

My eyes jolted open as eternity slipped into reality. I had the strangest feeling that I was forgetting something important, but I couldn't recall what it was.

Before I knew it we were all in the parking lot, hugging our goodbyes. It really had been a pleasant weekend, I thought with a smile. Maya hugged each of us and told us to keep in touch. When she went to hug me, a puzzled expression rippled across her face. Our gaze lingered a bit longer than we'd intended and something definitely lit up in her eyes. But then someone was saying her name, and she blinked and quickly finished our hug, gave me a questioning smile, and turned to face the person who'd called her.

I felt strange for some reason and sat in my car in the parking lot a few moments lost in a reverie of jumbled thoughts. Then I noticed Maya driving past my car and out onto the road. For some reason her bumper sticker caught my attention. "Je me Souviens."

And suddenly, I did remember. Maya. "Maya!" I gasped aloud as I looked up and saw that her car had disappeared into traffic.

For a second I imagined myself racing after her, cutting through traffic to catch up and then … what. No this isn't the movies. I'll wait until I get home and then thank her for the weekend and somehow broach the subject … the possibility that… that we had really spent a forever moment together InBetween, and that we'd discovered our shared higher mission to help guide the world to a utopian future. Yeah right. She'll think I'm a certified nutcase! But then again, that look she gave me… It looked like she was remembering it, too.

I spent the entire three hour drive arguing back and forth with myself about whether or not I should contact her. Well, at the very least, I'll sign up for another retreat with her, I decided.

Unfortunately, when I got home and checked my browser history, I couldn't find her blog.

I tried googling everything I could think of to find her. Nothing.

My credit card bill for the retreat! I quickly signed on to my credit card account. No retreat center bill. Must not have been posted yet, I sighed, refusing to give up hope that I'd find some way to track her down.

That's when I looked down at the bottom of my screen and saw that it said 10:43. And the date was my birthday.

Wait. What? None of it had happened.

But, I had these crystal clear memories of an entire life-transforming weekend. I know I'm a crazy writer, but I'm not that crazy or that good of a writer to have imagined something so real, and so detailed - all in a fraction of a moment. But I guess I must have.

I'm not sure how I got through this past year. At first, I admit not very well. I had just had the experience of a lifetime. I had started a chapter of my life that I knew with all my heart that I was meant to continue. But apparently it wasn't real. The truth is, I didn't know what was real at all anymore - only that I would never be the same again.

It took me a few weeks to get over the deep depression I plunged into, but then I was determined to find that reality I knew existed. Somehow. Every day I tried to practice the techniques Maya had shared with us in that imagined weekend.

But I already knew I wasn't very good at meditating. I got a bunch of meditation-for-dummies-type books, and they helped a little. Sometimes I really did feel the InBetween. For brief moments anyway.

I got desperate and tried a few medicinal routes to the InBetween. Some of them definitely brought me where I wanted to be. But again, only briefly.

But I stuck with my resolve, squeezing in time to go InBetweening as often as I could, and made sure I tried at least once or twice a day.

Even though I couldn't InBetween very well, it actually wasn't all that long before I began to meet other travelers on my meditative journeys. Soon there was a whole team of regulars. It's amazing how real a writer's imagination can make delusions seem, part of me that refused to believe this was real insisted. Whether it was real or not, it was wonderful. And I wasn't at all surprised one day when I found Maya there, too. Only I'm pretty sure that's not her name. Maya is a character's name from one of my old novels. The truth is, I don't know what her name is in real-life. We don't have labels like names there InBetween, we just Are. And it's forever. But I'm pretty sure that if in real-life I ever meet any of these 'soulmates' -- my Team InBetween - I'll KNOW them. At least I like to hope that I'll 'remember' our connection from there InBetween.

That's why this past year I've also gone to a few new-agey retreats, hoping I'll 'recognize' one of my InBetween-Team members, but retreats are not really for me. I have met some really interesting people. And sometimes I almost feel that kind of connection. Sort of. But I'm usually too embarrassed to talk about the InBetween. "Hey, you wanna go InBetweening with me?" Yeah. The few times I've broached the subject … well, they definitely thought I was missing a screw or two. Maybe I am.

I know this all sounds kind of insane. But that's what this past year has been like for me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even if it's only all in my head. A writer's longing imagination, and that's all. Somehow, I feel like it really is something more.

I live my life like everyone else, but truthfully, those half-remembered moments I spend with my InBetween-Team are more real and more treasured to me than anything I've experienced in reality. Of course, I keep hoping it isn't really just in my head. I hope somewhere out there in the world, the Team, and yes Maya-whatever-her-name-really-is, really are InBetweening with me, and that someday we'll meet and form a real-world team. Then we'd InBetween together, and help each other use the wisdom we share there to change the world here. What a life that would be!

I keep toying with the idea of doing a blog about the InBetween, and setting up a retreat to explore the mysteries of the InBetween together with others who might have tasted it and longed for more. Maybe if we practiced, we could really journey InBetween together. Maybe someday I'll have the courage to do something like that.

In the meantime, I figured I'd start on that journey by writing down this story. Maybe somebody out there will 'remember' me from one of their InBetween-journeys and they'll contact me with one of their InBetween-tales and we can start InBetweening together. Wouldn't that be nice. Oh and look at that - It's 10:43.


© 2016 Robert Alan Silverstein


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