The story is situated in Russia at the end of the Soviet era. The story unfolds at a hypothetical peace conference, organized by the youth of Russia, in a resort town at the Black Sea.
One of the youth, a daring young woman, had taken it upon herself to organize the staging of a shockwave at the conference, against the lies that smother the truth in the sciences in the service of empire that had also its thumb increasingly on Russia. She had managed to inspire a Russian patriot, from the science city of Novosibirsk, to come to the conference and speak the truth, at least to as much as he is able to do so under the limits of official protocol.
In order to break the limits imposed by protocol, he inspires the audience gently to speak the truth to itself, assuming that some of the alert thinkers in the audience are fully already aware of what the truth is.
His lecture thus becomes an experience that raises the audience up to be proud of itself, of its humanity, and of the power it hold to assure life and freedom.
(from Chapter 22 - Starting an Ice Age Renaissance)
The high-energy environment that Olive and I had created and had shared during the evening and morning we were together, also had an effect on the way I regarded Tara and all the others. Tara, the waitress at Ruggels, was one of those who lived in 'small houses,' but her dwellings had large windows to the world. She painted on 'huge canvasses' with daring colors, though she lived behind boundaries that her boyfriend had established for her. She had touched me deeply. I cherished her as a lovely and brave soul whose dimension had remained nevertheless tied to an impasse in comparison with Olive's grand daring to love unreservedly. Perhaps Tara's outpouring of love was in part a kind of protest against her impasse that seemed impregnable.
Although there was a close knit unity between Tara and me, and all the others of our group, this unity was never free. It was beautiful and exciting, but it never became any deeper than the rain puddles in spring. Of course, I also had my own impasse to deal with, within the larger group of my peers, where it was deemed 'unprofessional' to be affected by a woman. It was rather sad to notice this paradoxical stand while everyone was secretly fascinated with Tara's presence. Only a few of us, who became closer friends, were prepared to admit to each other the depth of our affections for Tara. That 'inner' group included Randy.
Usually we ate only twice a day; breakfast at the hotel, and dinner out on the city. Ruggels was the place where we met before going anywhere. Of course, at times the gathering of such a clan, as large as ours, became often quite a lengthy affair. But who minded the waiting? The beer was cheap, coffee was free, the snack counter well stocked, and the music was always great and entertaining and perfect for relaxing. But most importantly, in the evenings, there was Tara around.
To my great surprise, Tara seemed different the day, when I walked into Ruggels after I met Olive. The beautiful outpouring of love that Olive and I had allowed towards each other, had enriched also my image of Tara. I felt close to her somehow, rather than being merely impressed, or being merely attracted. She seemed to sense this. I expected some joking remarks about my absence the previous evening, like the other fellows would have gotten. But nothing of the sort happened. All I got was a smile and a twinkle in her eye. She seemed to have sensed something of that brighter and different world that Olive and I had created for us for our holiday away from the regular world. That brighter world seemed like a sanctuary that somehow had continued. Perhaps Tara had built a similar sanctuary of her own and understood its impact on a person.
Tara was affectionate to everyone, but only to the extent that people's manners would allow. This simple world of hers seemed to be a lovely world, too, except it lacked the depth of the profound realization that must ultimately be made in order to uplift civilization and reshape the world towards the needed profound renaissance that must be established to safeguard the lives of humanity. Nevertheless, in the security of her own precarious sanctuary, our Tara at Ruggels had been able to set herself up to be loved unreservedly, to the point that a world unfolded in which all comparison with the conventional world ended. She must have understood, what Steve also understood, that our riches in life are ultimately not determined by how much we are loved, but by how much we do love, and by the rate at which our 'cup' is overflowing. Her gift to us was to allow this to happen. Of course there was nothing in her manners that was comparable with Olive's boundless loving, who lived intensively in the real world, unimpeded by boundaries and impositions, with an overflowing abundance that was a miracle in itself and was an open invitation to the kind of love that became a celebration.
I once bought Tara a chocolate bar. Those weren't easy to find, or maybe I just didn't know were to look. I had it gift-wrapped. When I saw her standing at the bar alone, waiting for an order to be filled, I walked over to her against all inhibitions and handed her the small present with a smile.
"Thank you!" I said. "Thank you for being in the world." What more could I say? What more did I need to say? What more could anyone say.
Her answer was that she didn't know what to say. She answered with a hug, silently.
Living with Tara in this way, sharing a world that is a jewel of a world, rich beyond measure. I walked away from this 'little' incidence with a joy that seemed totally irrational, that couldn't have been greater if the most precious gift had been given to me. What I had brought to her came back to me a hundred-fold. It put me into a tizzy. What was unfolding here was better than sex. It seemed as if I had taken three steps of the ladder in a single step, and had come to the top where the real riches are. Being touched by Tara in this way seemed like living in a sphere of the surreal that was similar to the careless dreaming of Olive's boy friend in his ignorant innocence, where nothing else mattered except loving her. I could now understand why Olive loved him for that. He represented what Olive was longing to believe about the world, though she knew that this was but an isolated beautiful dream against a background of terrible nightmares that the real world had become. Maybe she also sensed, as I did facing Tara, that the path to healing the world of its nightmare-type problems begins at the top of the ladder where we say to each other, thank you for being in the world. What flows from there came to light as the substance that the nightmare of chaos in the world doesn't even relate to.
I wondered in the tizzy who was the greater at this conference, Mohja with her golden hijab, Ingrid with her knowledge of civilization, Astrid with her self-love, Annibal with his understanding of history, Nic with his alert sense of politics, Dayita with her science, Olive with her wide-open loving, or Tara that inspires one to reach for the top of the ladder. I couldn't decide. It seemed important to me to keep everyone of their contributions to my world alive as an echo of my hopes, that were ultimately all linked to a way of human living that is wide and profound, and should be a 'care-free' flow of joy and 'fire' in which the human dimension that is divine from its Soul, unfolds unimpeded.
Olive's world seemed to be drawn by a beautiful loving for opening the door to this 'normal' living, filled with a flow of Love that eradicates pain, that pushes the 'abnormal' further and further into irrelevance. Olive's world also came to light as a world of struggles with a focused determination to fight for the principle of universal good, drawn by the empowerment that she finds in our common humanity, to change the ugliness of the world at its very root. I loved her in both worlds, even with her being but an image in my memory now, since she had vanished from the landscape. Still, I felt "enveloped" in her love that seemed to encircle the whole world, and felt impelled by it to move forward. Maybe my touching Tara at the top of the ladder had been enabled by the flow of Love that Olive had set in motion.
And maybe it was like that with Tara, too, though in a different way, as each spark of love brightens the world. Tara's touch was always pleasant, and apparently never really as shallow as the circumstances of the bar-environment suggested. Behind the facade that she put on in the tavern, she was far more deeply concerned than she allowed herself to show. I noticed her several times at the conference proceedings, and not just in the last row. God only knows how she managed to get in, because the delegates' seats were strictly designated. Luckily for me, the conference sessions that I had noticed her at, were some of the more beautiful and optimistic ones. This meant that I didn't need to be ashamed for what she had heard. As far as I could tell, she had missed the depopulation lecture. Thank God for that!
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