How I came into possession of the Key to the Universe is rather irrelevant and I shall leave it to the simple description of it was just delivered to me with no fanfare whatsoever. The consciousness of the Universe simply chose the most unsuspecting person at the most unsuspecting time to put it around my neck and due to lack of skies opening up with cherubs, choirs or beams of light I simply thought it was just a neat little object to wear. It was a gaudy little silver key with a cross in the middle that was neat to have people ask me about but not have an explanation as to why I wear it. It’s actual purpose would not even come to me when I met Paulo, the interdimensional key traveler, but he certainly let me know it was more than just a simple key and that by accepting it I had inadvertently stepped into the ranks of a group of beings whose full scope still boggle me to this day.
I and the ex-wife of the skin suit I now wear were in Atlanta stoned out of our minds while Thom Yorke kept us in a trance on the stage with the tunes being channeled across the threads of space and time. The album King of Limbs had come out around the time of my Father’s birthday and its somber tone and echoes of mourning very much spoke to my soul. There was no doubt that my emotions were certainly drawing in exactly the frequency they were sending out, so to hear the album live in concert was a very spiritual experience for me. Obviously when the music stopped playing and the two of us made our way back to the hotel…very, very slowly…we were quite clearly hungry. Of course that late at night there is only one place you can really get anything that is going to stick to your ribs and that just so happens to be the Waffle House.
When she and I walked in the first thing we saw sitting at the bar was a dingy looking black man with an equally dingy trench coat reading a book by Stephanie Wolfe. The moment my foot crossed the threshold of the door his finger stopped on a word that was way too far for me to see and he only have a quick turn to acknowledge our entrance and then whipped his head back towards his book though his finger stayed in place. He began turning the book to the cooks and waitresses behind the counter as my ex-wife and I took a seat at a table to look at a menu for carry out.
“Hey boss, hey. You know what this here word is?” Paulo asked a cook.
The cook squinted as he leaned in close to study the word then shook his head.
“Nope, I don’t know what that says at all.”
“Okay, okay boss. Thank ya though.” Paulo replied as he shook his head rapidly and smiled.
His demeanor seemed to be that of someone that most of society would consider to be mentally deficient and his dress was that of a hobo that scrounged for changed near interstate exits. Even from where we sat the stench of garbage can goo wafted over the stale coffee. The ex-wife of the body I wear was an extreme introvert and the idea of communicating with someone like Paulo over there was unbearable to her. I on the other hand enjoy communicating with people in public, especially the type of people most of the world ignores or dismisses because they dare to be a little different. This little trait of mine often forced the little red head to literally turn red with embarrassment while the two of us were in public while she itched to get out of the situation, get anywhere but where we were in the present tense. As Paulo continued to ask the staff if they knew how to pronounce his mystery word to no avail, she was squirming in her seat, hiding behind her menu dreading what would happen if the strange, black man addressed me and God forbid we struck up a conversation. Her lunatic husband and a lunatic hobo with a liking to long overcoats in a conversation might as well be a situation used by a kind of Spanish inquisition as far as she was concerned. And as you well know…nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!
“You guys ready to order?” asked the waitress that skirted over.
After she and I placed our rather large, cannabis influenced orders to take back to the hotel room it was only a waiting game before Paulo or I would kick off a conversation. Knowing this type of thing would send her afloat on an ocean of feeling awkward; I decided to play it nice by not initiating anything. It was the least I could do seeing as how she bought the tickets to the concert for me an all. I just grinned and stared at her with rapid blinks as if to say ‘I’m reading your mind right now and I know exactly what you are thinking kiddo.’
“I like your key!” Paulo blurted out.
Her eyes grew two sizes larger and I could hear her asshole slam shut as my grin grew into a smile. I casually broke eye contact and slowly turned my neck to see the “creepy, homeless, stinky, black man” pointing dead at the key around my neck exactly as I knew he would be.
“Why thank you. I’m glad you noticed.” I responded.
I returned my eyes back to the ex-wife as if to say ‘what? He started it’ but that did not prevent the trembling squint of displeasure she shot back at me. As she prayed and prayed that our take out would be swifter than her next bill for a wasted college education came in the mail, I relished when Paulo decided to keep the momentum going.
“I’d like to have that key. That’s a really nice key.” He said.
“This key? You want my key?” I asked playfully.
“Yeah boss” he said with exclaimed and rapid nods “I’d really like that key.”
I looked down at it and sort of flicked it for a second before returning my eyes to his with a look of sentimentality on my face.
“But it’s the only key I have man. How am I gonna unlock stuff without a key?”
“No problem. I understand. You keep it. I was like that with my first key too.” Paulo replied then went back to studying the word he couldn’t pronounce where his finger was still glued.
Now that had me curious. My ex-wife surprisingly also had a look of curious surprise as well so I just couldn’t help but to probe further because as far as we knew I was the only one we knew who was a little obsessive compulsive about keys.
“Hey chief.” I said, “What do you mean you were like that with your first key?”
This time Paulo turned all the way around in the rotating barstool only to reveal that around his neck were two hundred and thirty seven keys of all different shapes and sizes laced together by an old, long shoe string.
“You see boss, I been doin’ this a long time. A real long time, yes Lord I has.” He answered with a wink.
“Holy shit guy, you have a lot of keys over there. I don’t really know what the odds are of two people with an affinity for keys meeting in the wee hours of the night in a strange city are but I don’t really believe in coincidence.” I said.
My ex-wife propped her face up with her palm and sighed clearly thinking ‘here he goes with all that mumbo jumbo about the Universe speaking to him again’. I just brushed it off because this was too juicy to ignore and I was way too stoned to let it go and not have an interesting story to tell later.
“I see you like to read Chief, do you read a lot?” I asked.
“Oh yes. Lord I love to read.” He answered.
“Yeah, me too in fact I just finished up with a really great book called The Alchemist that kinda talks about our little conundrum with the two of us having a thing for keys as a matter of fact.”
“Serious? Tell me about that book.”
“Well it starts off with this shepherd boy in Spain that has a dream about the pyramids in Egypt. In the dream these children tell him that if he goes to the pyramids and digs between them he will find a treasure. He pays it little mind until the dream comes to him over and over again the exact same way. So when he gets to this village to sell some wool from his sheep he decides to see a gypsy woman that claims to interpret dreams and what not. Though he is a little skeptical and suspicious of gypsies he pushes that to the side just to see if he can get some answers from her. She tells him that if he promises a tenth of the treasure when he finds it she will interpret it for him. Now, the boy thinks to himself it’s all a sham but what the hell, if he makes the promise and doesn’t find the treasure at the very least he got a free session so he agrees. The gypsy tells him that if children tell him something in a dream he should always listen because children are very attune to the Spirit of the World. After that he meets a man named Melchizedek who claims to be the king of Salem and that king teaches him how to read omens, or what most people call coincidence.” I explained.
“Oh, you mean like the coincidence with the keys ‘tween you and me boss?” Paulo asked.
“Exactly like that chief. So when the boy understands that omens are really messages from the Universe trying to guide him he finally makes the decision to do something that days before he thought was insane and…”
“And, and, and he goes after dat treasure?!” Paulo exclaimed.
“Damn skimpy he does. He sells off all his sheep and decides that from then on out he is going to always trust his intuition, follow the omens and find his treasure in Egypt while growing into his own Personal Legend.” I answered just as enthusiastically.
My ex-wife was eagerly awaiting our dinner which was at the moment being slung into plastic containers and placed in a bag much to her excitement of escape from another episode of the Twilight Zone that had become our marriage instead of the marriage depicted by Lifetime movies for women or fucked up fairy tales from her youth about dance parties with Victorian teacups and British accents. I myself was having such a great metaphysical time with what appeared to the outside world as a retarded, stinky, homeless, key collecting, black man that had probably just been released from some mental hospital before coming here to read a book he snagged from its library. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Paulo was in fact very much more than that and by this time I knew that to the very core of my bones.
“Dat’s somethin’ else right there, boss. Not many people willing to do somethin’ like that. No-sir-ree, most people stick to what they know. Stick to what they do and be miserable doin’ it too.” Paulo said.
I paused for a second and in that second the last decade of my life flashed before my eyes in careful examination. For a brief moment I looked at the woman across the table from me and asked myself what the next decade of my life would be like if I continued on with doing the very opposite of what the shepherd boy had done. Before those thoughts were written on my face to be read I snapped back to stinky, black man.
“Well what happened boss? Did dat boy in dat book find his treasure? Did he go to Egypt to dig ‘neath dem pyramids?”
“Oh, well I can’t ruin it for you man. I’ll just say that along his journey some unexpected things happen that he doesn’t plan for or expect but after they happen he comes to an understanding that everything happens for a reason and happens exactly when it is supposed to. No exceptions. In order to find out you are just gonna have to read The Alchemist yourself.” I said.
Our food was placed on the table and I took a moment to pay the check as the little red headed woman I had come in with grabbed our take out and quickly rose to her feet and headed to the door to wait for me. As I went towards her slowly I paused next to Paulo who still had his finger in place within a closed book.
“You know something, you wanted my key but you have so many of your own. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you, how about you give me one of yours?” I requested.
He looked down at his keys with a furrowed brow, the attachment to each and every one of them obvious on his expression. Over at the door the red head did that eye roll seizure thing.
“Well boss, if I give you one of my keys what will you give me in return?”
“How about an Irish blessing?”
His face lit up like a supernova as he said “Really? You’d give me a blessin’ for a little ole key?”
“Absolutely.” I answered.
I raised my right hand above his head with only my thumb, forefinger and middle finger open and said “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
Once I was finished he eagerly removed a tiny, brass key from the string and handed to me. He smiled the entire time I attached it to the chain around mine and then I went towards the door. I only got one foot across the threshold before he called back to me.
“Hey boss! You seem like a pretty smart guy.”
“Well I like to think so.”
“Fore you go, can you do me one last favor?”
“Sure chief, what’s that?”
He opened his book and turned it so I could see where his finger had been stuck the entire time I had been there.
“Can you tell me what this word here says? I aint neva’ seen dis here word before.”
I took a few steps forward and looked down on the page above his fingernail and spoke the word out loud the instant my eyes read it.
“Alchemist.” I said astonished.
“Alchemist.” He repeated with a smile full of bright shining teeth.
There was nothing else I could say as I felt my eyes pry wide open unable to blink. I turned back to the read head holding my dinner and simply walked out with her. As we walked across the parking lot and back toward the hotel I finally was able to shake myself to address the wonder of what had just transpired. Once I manage to force a few blinks I stopped her in her tracks.
“Red, did you just see that?” I muttered.
“Yeah, I was standing right there.” She said.
“That…that stinky, homeless black man is an angel sweetheart. You know what the Bible says about talking to strangers and them being angels and all. We just met an angel at a fucking Waffle House while some cook with three teeth fried us some eggs with cheese grits on the side.” I spat out.
“Yeah, great, we just talked to a homeless angel. Can we get back to hotel and talk about it while we eat now? I mean you know some things are just coincidence right. Alchemist isn’t such a unique word.”
I was going to go on about the whole thing and bring up the odds of the keys along with the word in combination with the context of the book The Alchemist but at the time I didn’t see the point. The next day was extremely surreal as the two of us went sight-seeing in Atlanta as well as hit up a few museums along the way before going home. While Radiohead played in the disc player on the way home in the car I quietly contemplated the events that had been transpiring since I had decided to perform the kundalini, from the meeting with a serpentine vitamin shop owner to the stinky, black interdimensional key traveling angel at the Waffle House and had to ask myself exactly what doors I had opened up in my quest for peace and enlightenment. But I suppose the question at this point should be yours to ask. If you have made a decision to step on this path or already have I would urge you to ask some questions like ‘Am I really prepared for all that I will see? Will I waver if things happen to me that don’t seem to make sense while they are happening? Have I really counted the cost of no attachment to material things, places people or ideas and beliefs?’ If not then I would advise you do just that.
Once the veil between the worlds becomes transparent to your third eye and you are able to do as many before you and walk between the worlds, will you again ache for what the society of sleeping masses calls “normal”? Will you mourn for people in your life who you had imagined would be permanent to blow in the wind like the dust from a finished mandala? If there is anything the Tibetan monks who work years on such designs teach us it is that nothing is permanent. Everything fades as it is blown to the wind. In that fact will you find tragedy or will you see the truth of the cycle of death and rebirth which is that all that dies or is destroyed is done so to make way for something brand new? We burn fields so that the land can rest and give birth to healthier crops with greater yield the next season. Are you willing to light the fire to your fields or hang on to the way things have always been as your gardens wither and die over time? These are things to consider before looking up to the heavens and asking the eternal question of why. If you aren’t prepared for the destruction the heavens will bring with the expectation of the new life they will ultimately send down then it is probably best if you keep that nine to five, stay on top of your 401-K, coat your white picket fence with some new paint and after retirement head for the white light of reincarnation and recycling when you shuffle off your mortal coil. Perhaps after you do this whole Earth thing a few more thousand times you might be ready to take Tyler Durden’s advice and JUST LET GO.
I believe it was within that very week after the concert and after the meeting with Paulo the interdimensional key traveler that I had made my own decision and unbuckled the seat belt of my existence awaiting the car crash of my life to snuff me out of the mundane world I was living. Of course before I would be yanked down to Hell, lifted up to Heaven and spent a few eternities of time and timelessness in Limbo I would first need to come face to face with the Hottest Angel of Death I ever met.
A SONG TO PLAY US OUT…