Blog The Amazing ChaseSep 2009

An Enlightning (sic) Encounter

By Edgar Allan Po-uwelse

Click to enlargeLying prostrate upon the earth, restrained beyond any hope of freedom, I contemplated the possible consequence of the lightning's contact upon my person with wonder and curiosity rather than fear. I had heard anecdotes from various acquaintances about their unique contact with that river of light that many see from a distance but few ever experience so personally. As if the victims are chosen by some higher power for a purpose never revealed to anyone, least of all themselves.

Unfortunately, rather than revelation, fear seems to be the most significant and common symptom amongst sufferers (or survivors, as most insist upon being referred), a consequence which lasts for an extended period after the initial experience. With the luxury of naiveté, I fancied an altogether different end: notwithstanding the distinct possibility of death, my assumption and possibly hope (to my detriment) was for a more meaningful outcome. God directing a skeletal yet lethally powerful finger towards me for reasons unbeknownst to me was a possibility I had explored but cast aside (with more effort than I thought was required), however, the more likely proposition of pure random chance without logic, forethought or conscious reason seemed at odds with my desire for significance, yet the desire remained.

The yearning for this unique but very physical connection to nature also seemed at odds with my general enthusiasm for life. However, my desire for contact was borne not from any suicidal tendency, but a genuine curiosity for not only any life-altering after-effects, but for the presumably transcendental experience of the encounter itself.

Can one possibly imagine it? How can such an acute primordial appointment with plasma not be life-altering? I was soon to receive the answers to my blissfully ignorant questions.

The electrical current flowing around the average home was something I came closer to as an infant than I would ever have previously hoped. The powerful jolt and subsequent effect on my nervous system was, unfortunately, only partially surprising and, although I opined to the contrary at the time, still within the realm of the predictable and mundane. However, with the benefit of hindsight, a higher consciousness or acquisition of true meaning could never hope to be achieved under such comparatively commonplace conditions.

Only nature herself could bring true enlightenment.

The streamer emanating upwards from the top of my head was of such short-lived duration as to avoid detection by the few people around me. Upon reflection, a soft but distinct tingling sensation was felt prior to the horrifying main strike, which unsurprisingly failed to escape the attention of any man, woman, beast or insect within a twenty-mile radius.

I had always subconsciously imagined (insomuch that it was more a vague sense than a conscious imagining) the intense white light flowing through me to be wholly and incomparably fulfilling. Not just in a physical sense, but that God himself was giving directly of himself in the mystical yet corporeal connection he formed between you and the heavens. That one in four victims consequently dies suggested to me only that they were unprepared to receive God's gift.

Imagine my terror, then, to discover my ordeal was abominably and unthinkably invasive. My previous home-based laughably flaccid electric shock experience was akin to a swift kick to the back of the leg by a particularly irritable steed. My new lesson on being careful what you wish for was closer to a thousand swift kicks by a thousand infuriated steeds upon every atom of my being - and a few million atoms not of my being. The intrusion upon my person of an unknowable volume of exploding air particles also bore a violent burning sensation, which, logic suggests, should come as no surprise to anyone with the knowledge that said exploding particles, being the result of a direct lightning strike, do indeed reach a temperature hotter than the surface of the sun. It seems appalling and unforgivable to me now that logic should be thrown so joyously to the fore winds in one's militant quest for meaning.

However, contrarily, perhaps the forsaking of logic is the only way to transcendence?


The Amazing Chase is a monthly column which appears in the Outback City Express

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