"Would you be satisfied in a cage, as long as the bars were made of gold?"
It seemed like a peculiar thing to say to a stranger on the city sidewalk, and the mysterious pedestrian who'd uttered it-- having made sure that I had heard him-- quickly ducked his wool-capped head and crossed the street ahead of me like a pro.
We did seem to be in a cage, and the tall buildings around us were the thick bars that kept us penned in the city, prisoners of time, scurrying back and forth in the shadows of the ridiculously gigantic city of New York. As I crossed 96th Street, a flick of sun found its way to the sooty pavement through a thin alleyway along the next block, and for just a moment, the city was deserted except for me and the sole pedestrian ahead, my fellow inmate.
I noticed that he'd slowed his pace just a little too nonchalantly as I reached the curb, and so I slowed down a little too. With such slight theater there before me I knew that I was witnessing a kind of subtle gesture that is used as a language between humans; while he may not have meant to say it out loud, his new relaxed stride told me that he didn't want me to get away from him so easily.
Did he have some more riddles for me to interpret, or was there more to his provocative words, something more than just being the curious ranting of some guy on the street? Indeed, there was nothing unusual about an eccentric New Yorker. There are times in the city-- in those places where the graffiti is thick and worn-- when I have to wonder just how any of us actually survive here, much less remain somehow sane and coherent. How do we keep our senses as we circuit along these streets, or what miracle of nature allows us to maintain the very presence that it would take to interpret such a barrage of data that these old sidewalks churn out each second?
Then I wonder; what if I were to misplace my own reality in this puzzle of cement, and forget who I really was? Maybe I hit my head on that low entrance to the apartment this morning, or I've somehow damage the part of my brain that keeps up with things like who I am, and what the hell am I up to, so that now I'm having to make up my current reality in the absence of my old one.
I could be anyone! The cobbler, the electrician, or the baker man. Given such a broad selection, I could be a spy, and that guy ahead is my contact. Now he's waiting for me to reply to his question, I would guess. There was really nothing familiar about him, but who knows? I was probably supposed to answer his coded message with the correct secret phrase, one which I've now utterly forgotten.
"So long as I held the golden key to the cage, I wouldn't care what the bars were made of."
That's probably what I was supposed to say, and I immediately thought that it was strange how that phrase had just plopped itself into my head so readily just then. I guess that's what happens when you've forgotten who you are, every thought and whim is like a visit from a stranger. Memory, fantasy, or telepathy, I just didn't know where the little phrase came from. Just to be sure, I memorized the words.
There is a point where the city will force you to eliminate most of the telepathic communication that naturally happens between individuals along the street, and we learn to recognize our own voice in our heads over the inner murmuring of the town.
I once read somewhere that by controlling the dialogue of our inner voice, we can make ourselves invisible, and we might then be able to walk past guards and such without being detected. Just like we can 'know' if someone is looking at us, we can similarly feel when we are not alone by the accidental transmission of telepathic information from whoever is nearby, or whoever is aware of our presence. Through the ethers, we are able to feel emotions and even 'hear' voices that are sent by others, even while most people seem unaware that they are transmitting or receiving these telepathic thoughts from anyone. The secret to invisibility then, as it turned out, was for one to calmly repeat in their heads things like "I'm all alone-- there's nobody here-- I'm by myself now", and by deliberately transmitting our own internal script to others, those others are liable to mistake that dialogue for their own random internal chatter, and thereby hypnotize themselves into believing that they are indeed alone.
I can really see nothing but dark purposes for such a trick, and the only reason I even share it here is to spread and share information about how the mind works, since I feel that the more we understand about things like sorcery and magic, the better we will be at defending ourselves against those who might try to use it on us. Even if I'm not who I think I am right now, I think that the more we learn about our own minds, the better protected we will be from the subliminal criminals who use such occulted psychology and sorcery on whole populations in this modern world.
No matter how you look at it, to somehow stick one's own words, chatter and thoughts into someone else's head without them knowing it would be a violation of that other individual's free will, and such practices should easily qualify as 'black' magic, the sorcery that's used to manipulate the minds of others. Let this just serve as a reminder that if we don't attempt to manage our own internal chatter, then someone else might try to manage it for us with a new dialogue that's being piped in without our knowledge.
That internal mental chatter though! All of the dialogue that flits around our heads, sometimes narrating our actions as we go about our business, and other times fussing about some future concern from another angle, mulling and fussing constantly. Somewhere along the way I learned that there are ways to reduce that chatter, and to listen in between the words as they toss themselves against our cerebral screen like so many moths. In one of my exercises back in the day, I remember staring at a candle flame with a pencil, a notepad and a timer. I would light the candle, set the timer for 10 minutes, and then concentrate on the flame. Any thought about anything that wasn't the flame got a mark on the notepad. The flame.
The first time I tried it, there must have been a hundred fifty marks on the paper after 10 minutes trying to concentrate, as every little sound, every itch, every thought about anything that wasn't the flame for 10 whole minutes earned another mark on the notepad. Truly, I discovered in that first ten minute session with the candle flame that there was a deranged and persistent little monkey in my head that would do anything for my attention. If the itchy nose didn't get me, then a neighbor's dog would bark, or the mundane sounds of the distant roar of a truck would suddenly waft into my noggin. In there, my monkey-brain knew how to whisper, and if that didn't get my attention, it knew how to scream.
In time though, I got control. Eventually, even the words 'the flame' got a mark on the pad, as me noticing the voice in my head saying 'the flame' was not actually the flame. Once I had eliminated all of the words in my head, the monkey gave up during these sessions, and after a few months of daily practice, I had it down to about 10 marks on the page after 10 minutes. Like a laser, I beamed my attention to one thing only; the flame itself, and was soon able to control the chatter in my head almost all the time. That was so long ago! So many years have passed now, I daresay the monkey has returned.
I had to laugh at myself. Where do I come up with some of this stuff? The other pedestrian, my fellow inmate, the guy that got me started on all of this with his weird words, he probably had just slowed down to bum a cigarette or something, and I had turned it into a spy novel, going on about the sorcery and mind-control that secret agents might use to maneuver the world, and the ancient psychological tricks that a few seem to use upon us all through control of the group mind. Amazing how a few words from a stranger on the street can inspire so much musing and introspection.
Speaking of that guy, where had he disappeared to? I reached the corner, and looked both ways. There was nobody there. He had vanished.
I'm not sure if the story is true, it just popped into my head, so I'll call it 'fiction'. The artwork is also mine, untitled watercolor, 2005