THE BIG JOURNEY
..by Pam Marsh
The first of my senses which nudged me out of the dream was the sound of ocean waves, cresting, shimmering and roaring into the shore, then pulling back, rattling all the little stones on the beachfront. Then, the second of my senses returned. It was alerted by a scent that would rise a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye at the best of times. I had grown up always near an ocean shore - beautiful Queensland Beach, situated at the very bottom of St. Margaret's Bay, which made the waters warmer. I couldn't open my eyes. I was afraid to. I moved my fingers - they worked. My arm went right along when I gingerly tapped on what seemed to be underneath me, off to the side. Tentatively, softly, I felt the grains of sand and as I grasped a good handful, the proverbial light went on……. I was at the BEACH !!
But wait a minute - I'm not supposed to be at the beach, and I'm entirely befuddled and can't figure out where exactly I'm supposed to be and why. I abruptly sit up. I look around. I don't know this beach. Did I get kidnapped and abandoned on an island? Nothing is familiar. How did I get here? It was a little crescent beach, maybe thirty feet, very private, with a point on each side profuse with lush vegetation. It seemed to give me my own sanctuary, with nothing to the front but the ocean gleaming with a shimmering, iridescent light. I could see no sign of life anywhere. Then the chill hit me. No life! Then, the shiver slowly creeping up my back, I start to recall. The last thing I remember was…..I was at the Club, setting up my piano and microphone…..then I….picked up the AC chord and …..I…..I.PLUGGED IN MY AMP!!!!
My brain reels - maybe I'm dead!! I must be!! Usually, when a catastrophe hits me, I panic. I don't panic. I cannot comprehend that I'm not upset - never mind that I'm dead. Just as I am trying to make sense of all this, I look up and this very kind fellow (I somehow KNEW he was kind) smiled and said, " You must have questions that need answering. " Another smile, wider this time, with a knowing nod of his head. " I have been sent to be your guardian for the time being, to show you the ropes and get you used to being here. You will probably want to know, the wiring in the Club you were playing at was faulty, you went really quickly and the rest is history, pardon the pun." He covered his mouth and giggled into his cupped hand. My mouth, agape at his blunt rhetoric, slowly curled upward into a wide grin.
"Is this for real?" said I, incredulously. "Am I, like, in HEAVEN or something?"
He never answered me, and simply turned and walked down the little beach. Sensing that I should follow, I did. Just when I started to panic because he hadn't answered my question, he turned and looked me right in the eyes and said, "Your body actually has no physical form now, hence you won't be needing to worry about eating, changing your clothes, sleeping, and many other human physical activities. However, you will see, hear and be able to speak to others as usual."
I quickly took stock of how I was dressed. Fortunately, I was about to play a gig when the volts hit, and I had a decent stage outfit on. Then, I had a rush of shame when I thought about what He would think of my vanity. Then I had another knee weakening rush and barely gasped, "omygo……sh! - are we gonna see Him?"
"Not for a while. As you can imagine, He has a lot of people to see, and, well, we have lots of time." "Do I get to see anyone , like my Grandmother or anything?"
"Oh yes, you'll get to see people you knew, family and such, but it might take you a while to find them. You tend to get distracted when you run into someone you've never met, but knew of in life. In your case, for instance, you would stop to talk with someone like Janis Joplin and, before you know it……"
My mind was reeling with the possibilities. I looked at my guide, the gratitude beaming from my face, and thanked him profusely.
"Oh, don't thank me. I, like everyone here, am a part of an immense Family, and we all look after each other which is part of His Plan. There are no vices here, nor any sorrow, despair or hate. Everyone loves and cares for everyone else, with no exception."
"Paradise," I whispered.
"Yes, exactly," he confirmed. "We are approaching the gateway which will lead you from your transition place, the beach, to the Main House. From now on, you will be on your own to do as you please." We had reached the end of the beach, and the foliage opened to a path with a very high wooden gate at the end.
"Is this…..the Pearly Gates?" I asked. "Is this where I get judged before I'm allowed to get in?"
He laughed, "No, you're already in. You wouldn't be here unless you passed that test." He unclasped the gate handle and with a sweep of his hand, ushered me in.
Nothing could have prepared me for the panorama stretched out before me in all directions. It was a lush, gorgeous expanse, and there were PEOPLE everywhere!! They sat or strolled along the paths, some alone, some in pairs and others in groups. Then I became aware of the hum. It was not invasive, but without doubt it was incessant. After a few moments, I realised that it was the sound of billions upon billions of people talking. My brain was in shock, and countless thoughts and questions collided into each other as I tried to sort this all out.
I turned to speak to my friend, and to my dismay, he was gone. I felt abandoned only for a second or two. I had been on the road when I was on earth, and got used to handling new situations popping up. The music business was brutal, and quite the education I may add. With a shrug of my shoulders, I started to walk along the nearest path. All who passed by, who weren't engaged in conversation, smiled or nodded, and I was starting to feel much better.
As I walked along, I felt the need to hear music. I wondered if there was any music here - but there must be! I strained my ears, turning my head from side to side, trying to catch a hint……wait! Yes! I could hear faint traces of a melodic strain. Phew! Another relief! I relaxed and set off in the direction of the sound.
I began to search every face, looking for some signs of recognition. I became entranced in the corcophonia of peoples and an incredible array of clothing, from all ages in time! There were a lot of people in their nightgowns! As I approached a small grove of trees, I could see that there was a group gathered around a person who was apparently very funny as they all laughed uproariously at his dialogue.
As I got closer, I could see he was an elderly man, dressed in a three piece suit with watch and fob, looking and sounding very scholarly. He was telling everyone about this frog race…….of course!! White hair, big moustache - It was Mark Twain!! I settled in to hear the end of the story, a chair conveniently presenting itself to my right. When he finished, I approached him, hoping to be able to speak with him. He spoke first, "Ah! A new recruit! And by the look on your face, I can see that you know who I am. Well, madam, may I be the first to bid you welcome!"
"Why thank you Mr. Twain." I replied. "Would you mind if I ask you a question? I read your book, "Letters From Earth", and it seemed to me that you didn't go along with…..all this."
"Oh, that!" he spat. "Just a slight deviation. I wrote that book because I had questions and I was angry that I wasn't getting the answers. Different now," he winked. "I certainly don't have time to be angry, I enjoy making people laugh too much. Well, I have to move on, there's a group expectin' me down the road." He tipped his hat, and with another wink was off.
By now I was beginning to get really excited about being where I was, as opposed to freaking out. My mind raced at the staggering number of people that I could possibly run into, whether it be someone I knew or someone totally famous. Again, my mind thought about music, and where to find it. I asked some passers-by if they knew if there was any place where musicians of my age group would be. I was told that there were music camps everywhere, as well as groups of painters, philosophers, scholars and politicians who all got together to talk shop. My guide suddenly appeared and asked me if I wanted to go to one of the music camps. I was beginning to really like this place.
He bid me to follow him and headed towards another gate, which miraculously appeared at the end of a small path. As I entered, I heard…..what can I say….music to my ears. Guitar, piano, drums, bass and vocals….I couldn't wait to see who was making these wonderful sounds!!
As I rounded the bend, I came upon a large group of players and singers and they were jamming up a storm. No electricity here, so the instruments were all acoustic. Either that, or the instruments just happened to sound perfect, like there was a Great Sound Man at the mixing board! Lots of guitar players - gasp - it's Jimi Hendrix!!! Look!! John Lennon!!! O my o My - Buddy Holly!!! ..a..and - ELVIS!!!!
Look!! There's Janis Joplin talking to Billie Holliday!!!! Buddy Rich on the drums and he looks really happy!! George Harrison chatting with Robert Johnson and Bob Marley….Otis Redding and Nat King Cole singing harmony….and speaking of harmony, there were Dennis and Carl Wilson coming in to join Otis and Nat. It was unbelievable.
Lots of other folks, music lovers like myself, were gathered in every direction, sitting on chairs or the luxurious carpet of grass that was everywhere. They were quite content to sit anywhere and be entertained, but I had to get closer to the action. The closer I got, the music got more fantastic as different people joined the jam, bringing their wide range of musical talent to this wonderful music brew!!
All of a sudden, there was a great murmuring amongst the musicians and the crowd. There was a parting of the masses, so to speak, and who should walk through but - Ray Charles!!! A general cheer arose, the loudest being from the musicians, as they rushed forth to greet The Genius with much hugging and back clapping. This procedure took quite a while as people were rushing in from all sides to welcome Ray, who, if possible, was grinning wider than he ever had before.
Ray then headed for the stage as he - "wanted to see if everything was still working'!" He jumped on the Wurlitzer and started pumpin' out "What'd I Say" to the immense joy of all. Everyone on stage joined right in, and the grove was happenin'!!!! I couldn't contain myself. I pushed through the crowd and jumped up on the stage and joined Janis and Billy singing.."Tell me what'd I say" and I was a Raelette at last!!!!!!!
Fireworks started going off everywhere!!! The light was blinding, and images of all the faces on the stage whirred past me - I couldn't focus. But I kept right on singing as the music was still pumping through my brain. Then there was a force that began shaking everything back and forth. Was this a heaven quake?? What was happening??
I kept singing….."tell me what'd I say"…..over and over again. The shaking would not stop. I heard someone calling my name. " Pam!! Pam!!! Are you OK?? Speak to me!!!"
Focus returns. I see the face of Jack. He is the drummer in my band. He's shaking me. Wait a minute. Where am I now?? I look about frantically to see if any of those faces I saw were in the crowd. No Ray. No John Lennon, no Janis.
"You must have been zapped when you plugged your amp in," Jack explained. "You were out cold for a while! We were really worried!"
The fog finally cleared and I realized that my journey was just a glimpse of time, and that I was back amongst the earthlings again.
I was about to tell Jack that, "You're not gonna believe this"………..when I saw a familiar face at the doorway of the bar. It was my guide, and he winked at me as he went out the door.
« return »