They weren’t unconscious due to physical injury. The sensory overload of the experience had been too much. A Grounder had already been tending to them because they had noticed the trembling, but the escalation to rage and violence had been so rapid that they couldn’t prevent overload. Redheads could be overwhelmed quickly, as they were so much more sensitive. They were so rare that Grounders didn’t have a lot of direct experience grounding for redheads. None of the Grounders on this trek had ever worked with one before.
As the others returned to the present, they saw a Grounder with one hand on Emru’s head and one on their chest. They were assessing for neuro-injury and channeling energy to release what needed to be expelled, while calming the internal flow. Once the energy was under control, they turned to the group and said, “Emru will be fine. This shouldn’t take long. Give us a few minutes and when I remove my hands, move them out of the water. They can lay next to us while we recharge.”
Everyone relaxed. The transition back to the present could be perceptually confusing. They had witnessed not-Emru being assaulted with a bottle. They had seen blood trickling down her forehead and watched helplessly as she crumbled to the ground. The person may have looked different then, but they realized during the transition that it was Emru.
The very next moment, they were in the present, looking at the redhead they had come to know. While they could see that there was no blood, it took a moment to shake off the visceral experience of witnessing assault. It had been shocking. The past was so different. Even if you’d had many experiences of Calling Up the Past, it was traumatic.
It wasn’t the injury itself, it was the rage and fear. Those made the humans smell different. The smell filled their nostrils and was stuck in their throats, bringing the emotions from the past into the present with them. It required a few breaths of fresh air to clear it out. During those breaths, they were imprinted by their Calling. They would need to process and recover.
They waited for the Grounder to remove their hands. It only took two people to pick Emru up. They all moved out of the water and sat on the land. The Grounders laid themselves down in a circle with their feet all pointing inward, almost touching. They laid Emru with them. The Grounders all went to sleep alongside them; a rare experience of getting to recharge with a redhead and know that energy.
The rest of the group sat nearby. They sat silently, for a while. Some were mindlessly digging into the soil with their hands. Others were fondling stones they had picked up or scratching the ground with sticks. They were reviewing what they had just gone through. A slow-motion rewind, so that they could see and feel it clearly with a little bit of distance. They weren’t reliving it. They were re-watching it. It was easier to determine what they needed to process if they did this before they started The Discussion, which would wait until Emru, who was reviewing in the safety of the unconscious state, buffered by the Grounders, woke up.
A few hours later, she awoke, along with the Grounders. They all prepared and ate a meal, in relative silence, with expressions of tenderness toward one another. A warm glance, a soft hand landing on a shoulder, offering each other bites of food and sips of water. It was a careful, intimate time, knowing that everyone was still recovering and feeling fragile. The food would help. The Discussion would complete the recovery.
After eating, the Discussion began. Still feeling the remnants of The Calling, they would be awkward, at first. It would take a while before the usual calm, patience and ease of dialogue returned. Some of the ways of the past would creep in, until they had cleared that out.
Spontaneously, one of them said, “Let’s begin the Discussion.” The rest of the group nodded their heads and it began. The Waders gathered in a circle around the Grounders and waited for the first person to speak.
“I hope I never get used to this. How did people get accustomed to that? I could barely move, my body was so tense. But, I didn’t seem to realize it was tense. I even thought I was healthy.”
It was Pada. He had told everyone during the Sharing how he always returned from a Calling with a profound sense of bafflement. That he had trouble processing and bringing meaningful input from a Calling because he got stuck feeling that it was unfathomable. So, it surprised no one that this was where the Processing would begin.
“Yes. It was so challenging to realize how restricted my mobility was. My body wasn’t capable of doing much more than walking and sitting. It would have strained to run. That I couldn’t turn my head very far, or jump up a tree if I needed to, was distressing. Everything felt distressing. I’m so glad to be out of that body.”
Everyone could relate to what Klym was saying. The first, strongest impression upon going into the past was the feeling of being imprisoned in those bodies. The joints were stiff and without the rotational range they had now. They lacked the elasticity in their ligaments which allowed for the light, springy movements the people of today take for granted. One had to quickly get over the sense that one was being smothered in that body, as the breaths were so shallow.
They all took a few minutes to realize fully that they were in their own bodies. Strong and lithe and fully sensual. Sighs of relief and renewed appreciation filled the air.
“I know that we’re not supposed to apologize or feel responsible for what happens during a Calling, since it wasn’t us and its what already happened, still, I feel badly for what Emru had to experience. Of course, I didn’t know it was Emru, but that’s not the point. The rush of hormones was so fast that I had no time to realize what he was going to do to her and the next thing I know, I feel his arm swinging and the jolt of the impact. It was shocking. My arm is still Echoing.”
Everybody moved toward Pron, who was fixated on their arm. Pron had shared about not being able to hunt. It was necessary, sometimes, for food and ecological balance, but they simply couldn’t do it. It was painful to pull the leaves off of a plant. It seemed particularly cruel that Pron had experienced assaulting someone. They all reached in and placed their fingers on that arm. They could feel the Echo, too. All eyes looking into Pron’s, they swung their hands away, stretching the Echo’s vibrations so that they would weaken and recalibrate, harmonizing with the present and leaving the arm in peace. Pron was visibly grateful and filled with so much affection for them all.
“I felt like so much of myself was missing. It took a while for me to realize that I wasn’t able to connect to my whole voice or know all the thoughts in my mind. I couldn’t figure out, at first, why all my perceptions were so limited to safety checks and defensive behaviors. Then, I noticed a man. That jarring feeling of distinguishing so much as “men” and “women” struck me. How rigid and fixed it was! He was looking at me. He clearly didn’t recognize that I was a person, the way we do now. He wasn’t seeing, he was eyeing. Some of his perceptors weren’t functioning. I could tell that nothing I could do or say would activate those perceptors. That I had to calculate every word and action in order to avoid being hurt by him. When I looked around that building, I could see that all the men were that way. It was terrifying. That woman was so frightened, all the time. Yet, she was resigned. She simply accepted that she would live with injuries and die prematurely due to the presence of those men. I feel so sad for them all, now, but when I was there, I was frightened but also numb and hopeless. Were there colors in the past? She didn’t seem to see any colors. Was that depression?”
Rora looked forlorn. Rora was a connector. They were a conduit for people to clarify their visions and desires and help them find the resources or other people for potential. While all humans had more highly activated perceptors, now, Rora’s were of the highest perceptive ability.
The Callings were often like that. People were sent to bodies where they would experience something very different from themselves, or the thing they most feared, or that which they struggled to understand or believe. The work was to describe the experience from the perspective of wonder. The Insights would come from the language of wonder. Like the child who calls the dried leaf paper “loud paper’, causing everyone to notice what they had simply ignored before and to think about whether the noise was something to address. Maybe “loud paper” shouldn’t be handled around babies or used near meditative spaces. Maybe it was okay. The child pointing out that it was loud was simply an opportunity to make an informed and considered decision from a fresh perspective.
This was what the Callings were for. To remind people of the human potentials they don’t pay attention to, any longer, because they have not been activated in so long. To create an opportunity to consider those potentials in their current decisions.
After each person had a chance to share what the physical and emotional experience of this Calling had been for them, there was a pause before someone said, “but, I don’t see how this informs our consideration of moving into The Drylands.”
They all nodded in agreement. It was unclear. They would have to do another Calling, tomorrow.