The end of the world at Tikal and the alternative hypotheses I’ve formulated for that being the time at which I started channel surfing all seem reasonable.
Now that I’ve read that Pinchbeck book, it seems beyond reasonable, almost obvious, except not. Time is tricky. But Tikal was the first time that I received a message clearly articulated to me from another species. That was a biggie.
Taylor and I had climbed up into the fire tower at the Botanical Garden to smoke a little weed and enjoy the sunrise over the river off in the distance. The jungle held a mellow orange glow from old Sol’s rays bouncing around through the thick tropical air as he peaked up over the horizon. A dense fog hung over the entire length of the river, looking for all the world like a giant snake winding through the jungle. Taylor and I were grinning at the sight like good little Pagans, breathing in the air. I was feeling just about as alive and free in the world as a human being can feel.
That’s when the Howler Monkey called out to me up in the tower from way off in the distance.
“Hey Mama! You blue eyes Mama?”
“WHAT THE FUCK! Did you hear that?!” the little buzz of the morning was gone and I was on my feet on high alert. I wasn’t sure what it was. It was loud and clear as a bell and sounded like something between a lion’s roar and Godzilla, except that it was saying hello and posing a question in a really friendly manner.
Taylor was laughing. “That’s a Howler Monkey. They make those calls early in the morning every day, it’s part of the start of the day ritual down here.”
“And they speak English? You taught the monkeys to speak English?” I was hyperventilating and wild eyed, polar opposite the state I’d been in a second or two before. It wasn’t so much terror, the greeting had a great vibe to it. It was sheer panic that I’d just entered the twilight zone.
Taylor gave me a look. It was a mash up of trying hard not to laugh at the crazy old lady he’d apparently met, worry about just how crazy I might be, given the look the adrenaline coursing through my body had provoked, and concern that I might possibly drop dead of a heart attack on the spot as the result.
“Say what? You heard words in that mess?” He was smiling at me sweetly, a rock of calm compassion. My nervous system picked up on his vibe and the parasympathetic began to take back over. I took a deep breath and sat back down.
“Uh, well, I’m kind of guess that you didn’t?” I laughed. “Wow, that was weird. I must have dozed off a little or something, the sunrise did kind of have me in a spell.” I took a few more deep breaths. “I thought it asked me if I was your mother”.
“Sounded like a badass monkey call to me, Brooke, just like it does every day. It’s funny, though. I do like to think they’re saying good morning. I’ve yelled it out to them before, but the staff here got a little pissed after the second or third time. They’re used to the monkeys, not the visitors. They tend to cut you tourists a little more slack than us teachers and live-ins”. Taylor was helping the locals learn how to turn their land into food forests, an interest he and I shared. “You want some more of this?” The big spliff we’d been sharing earlier had gone out long before the monkey woke me up. He was firing it back up and enjoying a few more hits.
“None for me, thanks.”
Another monkey, one further off, called out, but apparently not to me.
“I’m ready for that tour of the garden whenever you are, my friend”. I took another deep breath as I started making my way down the stairs of the tower. As steady as I sounded, I was shaken. That was the wildest thing I’d ever experienced up until that point.
Or was it?
The thing is, once you start paying attention, all kinds of stuff starts looking pretty wild, even the things that seemed maybe only a little wild back when they happened. My brain was winding on back as surely as I was descending those steps and I was remembering that something else pretty wild had happened just a few years before. It had also shaken me, but the left brained rationalist Dr. Brooke had constructed a perfectly rational explanation for it. The folks I’d shared the story with gave me the look, and so I stopped sharing it. Maybe that was the first time I changed channels.
Around another bend in the stair and that other pretty wild thing that happened a decade previously, that little flash that felt so real and so silly all at the same time. That felt as much like a dimension shift as anything I’d experienced in my youthful travels with acid.
Reaching the ground just kind of happened. It had been an interesting mental journey down those stairs. Things got even more interesting a few days later when Eric and Louise and I sat down together for a beer at a funky little bar on Ambergris Caye.
Linda Brooke Stabler, Ph.D.