stripping it all away


And my mind was muddled so I asked Christie to help me out.

“Here,” she said, pointing to a spot next to her. I sat down. “Close your eyes.”

I closed my eyes, and I waited, and just before I began to ask Christie what I was doing she put her hand on my lap. She told me to breathe in, and then breathe out. She told me to imagine a city full of buildings, these grand, shiny buildings — she told me to imagine the outer layers of these buildings peeling off, like how banana skin peels off. Once I did, she told me to see the sun exposing the truth contained within these now naked buildings: the masses of people inside them, the timber, the pipes, the glass, the working people, the rushing people, the worried people, the busy people.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Christie asked me to find myself in those people. It took a while, but I eventually did. I was in building number three. I was on the twentieth floor, sitting in some conference room, wearing a grey suit, looking at pieces of paper. I was alone and I looked like a wanker. When I told Christie I was alone and that I looked like a wanker, I could feel her smile. She told me to think of all the other people in all the other buildings. She told me to imagine them fading, one by one, until it was just me, me on the twentieth floor, sitting in some conference room, looking at pieces of paper, being a wanker. She told me to think of what kind of sounds I’d be hearing in that conference room, what kind of smells I’d be smelling in that conference room. She asked me to feel the paper in my hands — how they felt on my fingers; she asked me to feel the clothes rustling on my body.

Breathe in, breathe out.

“You know the sounds you’re hearing in that conference room?”


“Strip them away.”


“Strip the sounds away.”

I inhaled. Without effort, I made all the noises in the conference room — the rustling of papers, my body adjusting in my seat, the air conditioning, the traffic outside — simply disappear, as if instantly sucked up by some invisible vacuum. Even Christie’s words became muffled, and soon it was hard to understand anything she was saying. I could no longer hear — all I could do was absorb, and all I could absorb were waves, and the waves said: remove smell, and then remove touch, and then remove sight. Soon everything was gone. Darkness was gone. Light was gone. All that was left was nothingness.

“You’re now inside,” the waves said. “Once you strip everything away, once you strip yourself away, you’ll be inside, and inside — inside you’ll find God.” The waves were soft, like Play-Doh, and their essence enveloped me.

“Once you find God in yourself, you look for God in me. And you look for God in him. And you look for God in her. And you look for God in that. You strip everything away and you look for God in every person, every thing.”

Breathe in, breathe out.

Three days later I was at Vail’s place. Jude was sitting at the balcony, smoking and texting someone. Vail was by her expensive piano, playing something I did not recognise.



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Book I’m reading: Catch 22