It is the middle of the night and I am in a dark hallway somewhere in a house I don't recognise. With a flashlight I search around looking for something although I am not sure what. Then I realise I have broken into the place!
When turning around I nearly bump into a pedestal with a huge model ship on it. I see a large open staircase with a classic style red carpet running over the middle. There is an open door that leads me into what seems to be a very large living room. I begin opening closets and drawers and search the place. Judging by the size of the house and the luxurious furniture, someone rich lives here. I start thinking about whoever owns this place…
“What a show-offs, posh… these people probably think everything in life can be bought, to them life is probably only about career and earning money to make more money, having things just for the sake of having. So materialistic, all to stuff the ego.”
All sorts of judgements pile up in my mind. Meanwhile I am scanning through the kitchen, another a huge space with a kitchen island, two ovens, and all sorts of devices. Again I am more busy with my opinions than with finding whatever it is I was looking for, when I accidentally touch a switch and a light turns on above the kitchen counter. In a frightened reflex I quickly try to switch it back off but hit a wrong button and instead of darkness, the entire ceiling lights up. I panic but the switch panel has about twenty buttons that all look the same. I push back the previous switch and try another but that triggers yet another series of lights. I keep hitting the buttons in a desperate attempt to turn them all off but without luck. With one of the buttons music starts to play from a speaker in the living room. Completely forgetting the dire situation I am in, I am more impressed with the sophisticated system. There appear to be countless settings. How fancy! However with a next click all turns again dark and silent, except for the first light. Then suddenly a voice says, “Here, let me help you with that.” and in the corner of the kitchen I see the shadow of a man.
Startled I jump backwards as the man steps into the light. It is a young man only several years older than I am. He is wearing a bathrobe and has a friendly smile on his face. It’s clear to me that he must be the owner of the house. He flicks several of the switches and the entire kitchen and living room light up.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
I have no idea how to respond and just stand there. I thought I was caught in the act and all hell would break loose but somehow the man in the robes remains completely calm. Unable to move I watch how he walks into the living room and sits down in an arm chair. He gestures me to sit in the chair in front of him. Such a strange situation… I am confused and suspect there must be a catch, I broke into his house right?! I sit down as I’m told and anxiously I look at the man’s face. Completely at ease he looks back at me and for a moment we both sit silent. Then he gets up, walks towards a fireplace that’s close to our chairs and starts poking at some coals that were still glowing. I watch how the fire lights up and the hot glow of flames fills the room.
“Tea?” he suddenly asks, breaking the silence. The only response I can come up with is to nod my head. The man walks to the kitchen and a moment later he returns putting a tray on the table in front of me with on it two cups of steaming tea and two plates with cake! I can’t believe it. It is as if he had been expecting me and appears even happy.
“So then, I saw you liked my mood switches?” He asks with a cheerful tone. Not waiting for my answer he begins telling me all about the buttons in the kitchen and how he designed them for specific moods. He explains that besides the lights they also control the curtains, spread perfume, turn on several styles of music and that there is a special cinema setting. I don’t know how to react.
“You see,” he continues. “Many might think it’s exaggerated but to me it matters, those switches are each for different moments, each a nuance and I simply love them.” It turns out the buttons are only one of many special things in his house… He opens a large kitchen cabinet and shows me an endless variety of apparently very special types of tea, which he brought with him from a trip to Asia. He continues by showing me around his living room, pointing at pictures on the wall and then walks up to a huge bookcase that covers a full side of the room. It is filled with countless books, all neatly sorted. With his hand he strokes over some books, “I read a lot…” he says with a soft voice. I understand that each of the books mean something to him. He taps on a very thick book, Kama Sutra it says in big letters and he comments that he tried all sorts of things.
Although I am impressed, I still don’t quite know what to make of the whole guided tour, but this doesn't seem to bother the man, who continues. He tells it all so openly, as if he sees me as an old friend, a long awaited one so it almost seems. Meanwhile he began telling all about his many travels to all corners around the world and the thrill seeking sports he loves to do. In detail he describes various special places he visited and what inspiring people he met on the way, all so vividly that I can almost see and smell it. I am completely under his spell and amazed by how passionately he shares all the intimate details of his life with me. I can’t remember ever being this captivated by someone’s stories.
I think of how at his young age, this man has already achieved so much, how successful he is and that he clearly makes plenty money. Before, simply by the look of it, I would have judged this man for all his expensive possessions and would think him to be arrogant and materialistic. It is as if he reads it from my face as he says: “You know, I work hard for all this.” He lifts his hands to make a gesture. “But I don’t see it as work, I love what I do. Not a day goes by that I don’t realize how lucky I am to be alive but that it’s up to me to make the most of my time here.”
Hearing him tell his story I somehow don’t judge him. For all the time this man has been telling, not once did I sense a trace of arrogance. He looks at me briefly to see if I am still listening and then I notice a twinkle in his eyes and a wave of excitement comes over me. Somehow I fee a kind of special connection with him.
We tend to judge in others what we don’t acknowledge or allow within ourselves. Soon enough we end up mistaking these judgements for personal values, which they maybe once were, but by now have grown into thorny restrictions. The things we deny around us are mirrors. Of course it’s easiest to break the mirror instead of looking into it, but if we find the courage to look at that which we judge and acknowledge it as part of our reality and ourselves, then it is those very things that could set us free!
He apparently does not judge me either and seems not to see me as less than him, which is incredible given that he had caught me in the middle of the night breaking into his house. The spark in his eyes is something quite magical. What an inspiring person this man! Such charisma and integrity he has about him, so lively and passionate he is. This is how I want to be! I think, or at least reasoning the way he does; not defending himself, honestly explaining how his life came to be with all his achievements and the joy he feels from it. He wholeheartedly enjoys his possessions, his success, and owns his story, fully living his life and without resentment. Even still, I can feel his story doesn't define him, like he is free to choose anything else at any moment as he pleases. He turns out not to be materialistic in the way I had always perceived it. Just never before had I met anyone like him.
This man is someone who firmly appreciates the experiences in life being well aware of how his wealth supports his experiences. This concept resonates so well with me! It moves me deeply. Surprisingly I feel so safe around this man whom I have never met before but somehow seems to me so very familiar. It feels as if he is my older brother.
Suddenly we are outside somewhere in the mountains. The man, still in his bathrobe is leading me along a path that leads into a narrow canyon. I haven’t the slightest idea where we are and silently follow the his lead. Steep rocky cliffs rise up high on both sides and cast tall shadow over the road. It is the end of the day and already starting to get dark. For a while we follow the trail without saying a word when the man says; “We’ve been working at this with all energy and resources we could muster.”
“This?” I ask, not knowing what he is talking about but he doesn’t reply.
A few bends later he stops. “We are here.” he says and as he looks at me I again see that same mysterious look in his eyes. I have no clue where here is as there is nothing but rocks around us. But then the man walks towards the cliff on the right, stretches out his arms, places his hands upon the rocks and begins to push. Just as I am about to ask what he is doing, a large rock starts to move. Effortlessly the man in the robe pushes the rock aside and reveals a hidden door!
Proudly he stands next to it and looks at me. As I approach I notice something about the rock that covered the door. At a distance it had definitely looked like solid rock but up close it turns out to consist of thin layers of some kind of grey cardboard or paper clay. I don’t believe my eyes; each layer has been carefully spray-painted with tiny colored speckles. The whole rock is fake! This has surely been done by a skilled artist and now I’m starting to get why the man was so proud.
The door looks very old, as if it was dug up from an archeological site. It could be, although it might also be the work of the same paintbrush master. I don't really care to check because I am more interested in finding out what lies behind the door. The mans looks at me and smiles. The suspense is killing me. It must be quite a secret he has hidden this well out here in the middle of nowhere and I get that after all he had shared about his life, this is clearly something very dear to him. I hold my breath as he reaches for the door handle and slowly opens the door.
I walk through the door and take a few steps forward. At first my eyes need to adjust to the light but then I see a road stretching out in front of me with on both sides two enormous sculpted sandstone pillars rising high to the sky. Their tops glow warm orange in the sunlight. The road leads downhill and ahead lies an entire city that stretches out over a large valley. The view is magnificent! The huge buildings look like some sort of temples of at least twenty storeys high. Behind each rooftop rises another, shining bright in the sunlight as far as the eye can see. The whole valley, the temples, the road, the entire scene; is covered in the golden light of the sunset. I can’t believe my eyes, it is so overwhelmingly beautiful. This is the most amazing panorama I have ever seen. It seems some kind of magical kingdom, a hidden realm that has been long kept secret. What a paradise!
Suddenly I see one of the roofs from up close. What appeared to be sand stone at first turns out to be made of layers. It is again layers of cardboard, countless layers of it! Each layer is stacked on top of the next and cut into shape. All together the layers form the base of an enormous dome. It is the roof of one of the temples. Suddenly I realise that the whole temple, as well as the one next to it and the next, are all entirely made out of cardboard. The whole city is! Again I look at the valley and nearly loose my balance. This whole majestic scene, it is merely paper!
Who? What…? How?! Is this is all man-made? Each layer? It must be millions, billions of layers, which surely must have taken years to build! And all of it, from such futile waste material… Unbelievable! I simply can’t wrap my mind around it.
Meanwhile the sun has started to sink behind the hills, and cooling shadows fall over the city and slowly turn blue. Then my thoughts stop and a complete silence washes over me. I hear the sound of birds and a light breeze touches my face. I stand motionless, feeling completely soaked by the beauty of it all. What I witness here is the most beautiful and impressive thing I have ever seen.
While I was obsessively trying to write this whole dream down, my wife woke up next to me. I tried telling her what I had just experienced. “I had another one of those dreams!” I got tears in my eyes as I told her. The whole image and experience was so vivid I could still feel it.