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Enter the Zygo Mati... Laughing

Premiered – April Fools' Day, 2004


Chapter 11

The Flight of the Zygo Mati


Dan Sewell Ward


One thing about the universe: When it's put in charge, it doesn't waste time in getting a new program underway. Delays just aren't part of the game plan. Consequently, precisely upon the moment of Earl's decision to relinquish the control of his life and hand such control over to the universe -- his emotional and mental minds fully in accord with the decision -- the Zygo Mati was authorized for a close encounter of the third kind.

Such authorization is not a common thing. On the contrary, it requires the approval of the highest authority. In other words, Earl before he became known as Earl. It also requires three things: 1) the essence of universal free will, 2) a volunteer such as the Zygo Mati who is willing to help implement Earl's plan, and 3) precisely the right ingredients for making black-eyed pea soup -- such soup being the traditional meal for bringing in a New Year -- on whatever date and time one cares to start a new year. But ! Once, such august authorization is given, things begin to happen very quickly.

And with great subtlety. None of the explosive fire and thundering smoke routine, just to announce an entrance! None of the herald of trumpeters playing their little hearts out! None of the old thunder and lightning bolts conflagration and someone shouting, "Shazam!" Nay, nay, we're talking subtle. Like a distant bird, floating among the air currents, patiently waiting to be recognized. While all the while, its target continues to meander through life, virtually unaware of its self-planned, imminent destiny.

But once it's spotted, once that weird bird is recognized for what it is... IT'S SHOW TIME!!


Earl had continued to wander about, when he noticed the drizzly rain had slowed and the sun had reappeared. With the breaking up of clouds, the air seemed suddenly fresher, as if cleansed by the rain. Which is what rain is for. Earl didn't know rain was for cleansing air, but nevertheless he came to a halt and glanced around, slowly becoming aware of the freshness. He took several shallow breaths, and to his surprise, felt a cool wave of peace combined with a hint of anticipation.

Then he looked up and saw the Zygo Mati, our illustrious stork-like, dragon-flying, faulty rudder controlled, aerial ace, engaged in one of the most original and incredible flight paths ever attempted by intelligent beings. Or even by stupid morons. Zygo was literally all over the sky, doing carnival maneuvers, acrobatic feats, triple barrel rolls, double cork-screw tailspins, profound geometrical designs, and all punctuated with a serious case of hiccups. The resulting pattern was unlike anything in the annals of flight.

Which was indeed fortunate. For such a display of aerial bravery and/or foolhardiness would have surely and terminally discouraged any novice aviators from ever flying… or even bothering to find the airport.

Earl could only smile at the antics. But then he noticed a curious thing. The flying creature was steadily coming closer, even as it continued its maneuvers in the sky. He watched it with increasing interest, until suddenly, Zygo's flight pattern settled out and going into a wide circular loop, the bird began its final landing approach.

It was immediately obvious that the glide path now put Zygo on a heading which was in direct line with Earl. Either Zygo planned to buzz his tower once again, conduct a strafing run on our hero, or make an impressive, grand and very original entrance. Fortunately, Earl was oblivious to the first two possibilities or he might have fled in undue haste. The fact of the matter was that our male former-chauvinist had no thought of fear, only of amused anticipation. Then Zygo touched down.

"Touched down" is perhaps not exactly the proper term. True, the first contact that Zygo made with the earth was in fact a tentative touch, with her still being airborne immediately thereafter. But in reality that first touch was more like a "bounce". The second "touch", however, was a bit more substantial and caused a rather severe veering to the left. When she attempted to counter this unplanned detour, she dipped her right wing. Which made the third touch. A rather heavy one. And abruptly she was cart wheeling… directly toward Earl.

The cart wheeling, however, was interrupted by a small tree that converted her cart wheeling into a maneuver more closely related to plowing the north forty. Soon, other branches of the same family were contributing to the deceleration of the Zygo Mati. Before it was over, twelve saplings gave their all as she came tearing and screeching to a halt, a mere three yards from Earl. Dust, smoke and brightly colored feathers flew in all directions -- not to mention a flock of leaves, two French hens and a partridge in a pear tree. At the same time, noises of all manner and form combined to announce her arrival.

As the obscuring dust, smoke, and debris cleared, Earl could see numerous and assorted mechanical and semi-mechanical devices and instruments, fail, break, collapse and in general, end their short lives in a series of death scenes worthy of a dozen academy awards. The Zygo Mati had landed! [This landing was done by a "professional" and should not be attempted by the reader.]

In the midst of the carnage, Earl could see a bewildered and slightly crazed female, a woman clothed in the remains of a bird/stork/dragon costume, encased in a very weird mechanical/semi-mechanical flying machine. He strained to see better, eager to determine if the feminine appearance was in fact evidence of a genuine female… preferably of the Homo sapiens variety.

At a glance he was able to recognize all of the usual adornments of the female of his species. Rather more slowly, he saw she was an attractive woman, albeit in a weird sort of way -- what with all the brightly colored feathers, dust and debris on her person. Beneath all of that was her vibrant red hair, a coloring Earl could appreciate at once -- he had always been attracted to redheads. She also had a healthy, ample figure, and a face of sufficient beauty to shine through the momentary disarray and disguise. And, Earl realized, she was not only pretty, but carried such beauty as if it were no big thing. That trait suddenly rather appealed to him.

But then, he progressed to other aspects of the woman and began to wonder if she had been injured. It seemed unlikely, in that she seemed to radiate a lightness and sense of peace, and carried no darkness anywhere in her countenance. Her lightheartedness seemed to preclude her being injured or ill. Then, as if to confirm his diagnosis, the corners of her mouth began to turn up in the initial stages of a smile. This was followed by her eyes beginning to twinkle and growing larger. Then the first sounds of a giggle, followed by uproarious laughter.

Then she began to hold her sides, slapping herself and the dear departed remains of her flying machine. She continued to do this until she was laughing so hard she started to cry. Whereupon she staggered toward Earl, tripped over various items of debris, and fell into his arms, weak from laughter. As she slid down toward the ground, Earl tried to support her, while she continued to laugh.

For several moments, he simply held the laughing, limp lady in his arms, until she began the attempt to re-establish her functional motor controls. While Earl waited more-or-less patiently, she struggled to regain her balance and stand on her own two feet. Just as she appeared to have accomplished this return to independent functioning, she looked up at him with great sincerity and confided, "Serves me right. I should have remembered. You know what Confucius say..."

"No, what?" Earl replied.

"Woman who fly upside down, bound to have crack up."

Abruptly, she collapsed again in gales of laughter and Earl found himself again trying to support her, and, at the same time, figure out why such an obvious cause and effect scenario was funny. Obviously, puns were not his strongest suit. But eventually he caught on and began to laugh, albeit in a much more restrained manner, finding the subject matter embarrassing to his formerly august nature.

Zygo, by the time Earl had let out his first chuckle, had returned to her previous, momentary attempt at sobriety. Or at least, moderately so. As she stood up, drying her eyes with one hand, she asked, "Do you play golf?"

Amazed at the apparent change of pace, he was still able to answer, "Yes."

"You want to play a round?" And she was off again, laughing and hitting herself, grabbing him to support herself and for the greater part, enjoying her puns to the maximum. Earl was much quicker on the uptake on this one, and laughed with a bit more gusto himself.

Then as she began to reassemble herself -- one more time -- Earl took the gist of the suggestion implied in her joke, and began to look over the laughing lady with a more practiced eye. His first inclination to call her attractive had been accurate. Her figure was not only ample, but as he had just recently determined, delightfully soft. Her red hair was in total disarray, but managed to convey, if anything, a nicer sense of beauty than if it had been neatly retrained into some standard coiffure. Her face was soft and radiant, almost glowing. Its shape was hardly classical, but she wore whatever imperfections she might have had, with complete charm and grace. She was nearly as tall as Earl, perhaps only an inch or two shorter.

Earl was still smiling at what he saw, as she, smiling and still laughing, straightened herself. Her appearance was just a bit unusual. Sort of your standard jogging outfit, overlaid with a flying harness, occasional dragon scales, feathers of every color and texture, and a long attached tail with a gold hook at the end of it for aircraft carrier landings. With these minor additions, her clothing was simple and casual, likely designed for maximum comfort and minimal show. Of course, soft clothing has its own form of attractive appearance and thus may qualify for "show" as well. Underneath a loose skirt, she also wore a pair of long pants, apparently of the same material as her loose fitting sweater. Her feet were encased in what appeared to be ballet slippers, and, save for a small necklace, she wore no jewelry. As Earl watched, she shed the flying harness, humming something that Gypsy Rose Lee might have used, bumping and grinding all the way. Then she shook herself, like a wet puppy, causing a flurry of feathers to bail off... so to speak. After all of these festivities she looked at Earl and smiled her best smile.

Before Earl could respond in his unfortunately typical manner, she asked, "Did you see me cart wheeling back there?"

Earl timidly responded, "Well... Yes. I did."

"Do you know how hard it is to cartwheel without a cart?"

Earl didn't have time to think about the answer, before she was laughing again. But this time, she was quickly back on track.

"Speaking of carts... Did you know that when Rene Descartes, the philosopher, died, they placed his coffin on a cart, and instead of having the horse pull the cart to the cemetery, they had the horse push it?"

When Earl only looked bewildered, she continued, "They did. And it was the first example in recorded history of putting Descartes before de horse."

Needless-to-say, she was roaring with laughter and falling all over herself and Earl before her last word, limited by the speed of sound, had reached him. But Earl, now attuned to her communications mode, caught on quickly and laughed as well. Just not as uproariously as she had. No one laughed quite as uproariously as Zygo Mati.

When she managed to contain herself once again, Earl decided to insert his first question. With complete wonder in his voice, he asked, " Who are you!?"

Instantly, her laughter was off and she was standing erect. Proudly and with a hint of 'you-don't-know?', she answered. "I'm Zygo Mati, proud member of the Cus Clan." Then for added effect, "Also an aide to the Big U, herself!"

Earl was no more enlightened than before the answer. "Who's 'the big U, himself'?"

"The Commander of the Legions!" Zygo replied, with total confidence that everything was now crystal clear. "Surely, you know all about the Legions."

"Not exactly," Earl answered, lying. Earl had never heard, nor seen anything, which might have been called a legion.

"In fact, I'm a major!"

"A major what?"

"That's my rank!" Then the twinkle returned to Zygo's eyes. "And believe me, I rank!" Then she laughed again. Alone.

Earl was still struggling with the plethora of new information. "What is it exactly that you do?"

"Glad you asked !" Zygo's smile was even broader than before. She knew that she'd now been given carte blanche. "I'm here to point out the good news! That's where I do my Irish setter imitation and..." Zygo didn't quite finish the line, already laughing to herself and visualizing her pointer stance. Then when Earl apparently failed to get it, she went into the old reliable Egyptian pose, one hand pointing backward from her waist, the other pointing forward from her chin, and the rest of her body leaning into it. Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, while still holding the pose, she asked, "Get it?"

"Not really," Earl replied.

"Could be a tough case," Zygo observed, dropping her pose. "Maybe, I was a bit hasty when I volunteered for this job."

"Although," Earl interjected, "I could use some good news right now."

"That's easy! First," Zygo pointed out, "You're clean! Salvageable! No attachments! No restrictive artifacts! Nothing to hang on to!"

"That's good news?"

"Count on it! You've nothing to lose. You dumped it all during the Descent. Which is what makes this day such a marvelous moment in your life!"

"Marvelous!?" Earl was now just this side of angry. "My day has been anything but marvelous !"

"Don't be silly! Think of all the garbage you've gotten rid of today!"

Earl was incredulous. "Like my Cameseldom...!!?"



"It is now!" Zygo observed. Then when Earl's expression implied that he agreed, however reluctantly, she continued, "This is good news! In going to Hades and back, you got rid of all the garbage. And in record time, I might add!"

"That's good?"

"Absolutely! All too often, people fight the inevitable and end up stringing out the process for years. Which just means they get plenty of time to worry about what they'll lose next. But in your case, by wiping it all out in one big day, you never have the chance to start worrying. I must say, it's a brilliant plan that you conceived. Absolutely brilliant!"

"I conceived!!?"

"Before your incarnation... your planning for this life." Then, assuming that her last statement cleared up the mystery, Zygo charged ahead. "A one-day cleaning! Absolutely amazing! And now you can try anything! Having let go of all the stuff , there's nothing more to hold you back. As they said to the Light Brigade: It's time to charge !!!"


"That way you don't have to carry cash!" Zygo roared with laughter again, but Earl was becoming increasingly difficult to humor.

Confused, he asked, "What's the 'Light Brigade'? Part of the Legions?"

"Of course! It's certainly not the other infamous one."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Earl replied.

"Wonderful! It's so much easier when you don't have to unlearn things before filling up with the good stuff."

Earl smiled, begrudgingly. "We're in luck there. I never really learned much, so I won't have much to unlearn."

"Well...," Zygo replied, knowing that the comedic preamble had served its purpose, but that it was now time to deal with the more fundamental aspects. As Earl waited, sensing the reason for her hesitation, she put her hand on his shoulder to reassure him, and then began to address the deeper issue. "It seems, dear friend, that you've been living in something of an illusion ."

"An illusion?"

"Oh, I'm sure it seemed real enough at the time. Most of society has been living in it as well. That tends to imply a great deal of apparent but ill-founded confirmation. But it's still an illusion."

Earl grimaced. "What exactly is it that I'm illuding to?"

"I'm afraid," she answered, trying to be as gentle as possible, "that you've been operating under the illusion that men are somehow superior to women, and that as a consequence, men don't have to concern themselves with how this plays out in the lives of their females."

"Oh," Earl replied, feeling very sheepish. "Yes. I do seem to recall some other woman mentioning that I had failed, ever so slightly, to fully consider her feelings."

"I suspect," Zygo added, "that it might be a bit more than a slight omission on your part."

"Actually," Earl agreed, "she called me an asshole."

"Well..." Zygo replied, eager to be kind, "While 'asshole' is a descriptive and completely accurate term, it does carry certain negative connotations. Which might tend to make you defensive. And which is not a good idea, when you think about it. Rather, it might be better to use a phrase less negative. Like, for example, male chauvinist..." Zygo swallowed before adding the more descriptive part, but then decided that it was an essential ingredient. Gently, she added, "Pig."

Earl flinched at the last word. "Pig?"

"In the sense," Zygo answered, continuing her efforts to join the diplomatic corps, "of someone who is greedy, wants it all, and is oblivious to whoever gets stomped on in the process."

"I suppose you're right," Earl admitted. "It's just that the subject never came up before. I never thought about this sort of thing."

"Which is entirely understandable," Zygo agreed. "The society in which you've lived your entire life has been a patriarchal one. A situation where a few men have lorded it over other men, all women, and virtually all of the rest of the universe. Those same patriarchs have espoused their support of human rights, but ignored whole countries where women are treated like chattel -- as if women were not considered worthy of human rights. Small wonder that an impressionable fellow like yourself would be easily swayed by such an overwhelming paradigm. Small wonder that most everyone else, women included, bought it as well. But!" Zygo smiled with a bit more glee than necessary. "Things are now changing. The goddess is back in town, and it's going to be sink or swim time for everyone! Go with the flow, or get swept away with the tide."

"I suspect," Earl said, his tone somber and thoughtful, "I've been pretty much swept away with the tide, as of late."

"Which you must admit," Zygo replied, cheerfully, "hasn't been that bad!"

Earl was unconvinced. "No?"

"Trust me, big guy," she answered, "It could have been a whole lot worse."

"That's difficult to imagine." He frowned. Then, "But what do I do now?"

Zygo smiled at the plaintive plea. Then she answered, "Change."

"Change? That's it?"


Earl thought about it for a moment, the idea of being more sensitive, more open, more aware of his feminine side -- despite the fact he didn't know he had a feminine side. Nevertheless, the process seemed straight forward. 'Why not?' he thought. Then to Zygo, he answered. "Okay. I can handle that. I'll just change."

Zygo hid her inner groan. Instead, she took his arm and tried to steer him. She spoke with great care. "You must remember, dear friend, that much of your reactions to events in your life, be they major occurrences or just casual words spoken by a friend... Your reactions are invariably predicated on your past experiences. It's as if each event triggers a tape recorder in your mind, which has access to a whole slew of tapes which you've recorded in the process of living your life. Every event triggers some tape, and many, if not most, of your tapes were put there at a time when you were totally immersed in the patriarchy. Accordingly, you may, for some time to come, tend toward doing things purely by reaction, by simply replaying a tape, and at the same time by not being aware of what you're doing. I'm afraid it will take a significant effort on your part, and a lot of time to reprogram all of your tapes. You'll need a lot of healing."

Earl had been following everything Zygo said, but her last statement about healing triggered a recent tape, causing a frown. "My last attempts at finding someone to heal me were not that successful. More like dismal failures."

"That's just an old tape," Zygo answered. "A very ancient one. A tape which says that something outside of yourself is needed, that you can't be healed except by an external power, be it drugs, surgery, therapy, or for that matter, divine intervention. The new tape that you need is one in which you heal yourself."

"Can I do that?"

"It's the only way. If you don't heal yourself, nobody else will."

"But what about..."

"The bloodsuckers? The psycho- pre-fixed... whatever? Naaaahhhh! The most they can do is to convince you to heal yourself. They do a con-job on you so that you'll expect to get well. And once you expect it, your body does the rest. Not that they're all bad guys... It's just sometimes they forget who's doing the healing."

"So I just heal myself."

"Right!" Zygo's smile was one of total confidence.

"But how?"

"Well, for starters, pay attention! The universe will usually tell you whatever you need to know. You just have to listen."

"Sounds tough," Earl complained.

"Not really, she responded. "Generally, it just means that you have to let go and lighten up! Quit taking yourself and the events of the day so seriously."

"It's just that it's been a very bad day."

"Are you kidding? Plenty of rain, plenty of sunshine..."

"Plenty of sandstorms," Earl added, chagrined.

Zygo continued, "Fog, hurricanes... WOW! What an exciting day!!"

"One where I've lost everything." Earl just couldn't get into the merriment of it all. Zygo, on the other hand, was having no problem.

"Precisely!" she cheered. "Lost! I.e., the past tense. It's all in the past!"

"But I still remember it!" he countered. "Like it was today!"

"So? I still remember our past life together. Which is one of the reasons I volunteered to implement your plan. So, I remember? What's the big deal?"

Earl mentally stumbled on the past life reference. "Our what?"

"Our past life together. The time when I was a lovely flower... as you might well have expected. And you were... well... an animal. Literally." After a pause, she added, "I'll let you guess who got dumped on in that relationship."

Earl lost it ever so slightly. For a change in the routine, Zygo remained calm and simply enjoyed Earl's laugh.

"But I don't dwell on the past," she continued, "for obvious reasons. Oh contraire! I find it funny. Poop falling from heaven and me grounded, so to speak. It's laughable when you think about it. Of course, it loses something when you're living in the moment. But afterwards, it's hilarious. All of life's problems can be of the same nature -- the material for subsequent laughter. Get it?"

"But life is serious!"

"Sure it is! At least, your work in life is. That you take seriously. But you must never take yourself seriously!"

"That's easy for you to say. I'm unemployed. As a matter of fact, I'm unemployable! Previous royalty experience doesn't do much for your resume. Consequently, I have no work in life."

"I'm not talking about your job, silly! I'm talking about your "work in life", in other words: loving others! That you take seriously. All the rest is just so much fluff! Funny fluff, as it turns out. The kind you can laugh at. Like yourself. Can you think of anything funnier? Face it, Earl Baby, only you know all the really ridiculous things you do. Or did."

"But all my problems -- losing this, losing that -- they're hardly something to laugh at! Are they?”

"What problems? A little physical distress, emotional and financial bankruptcy, mental anguish, spiritual... By the way, how do you feel spiritually?"


"Excellent! Leaves plenty of room to fill up with the good stuff! It's only with a total crash that you can be ready to trust the universe."

"But what about the problems ?" Earl insisted. "What about what I've lost?"

"Everything you've lost is extraneous. The only things you need are needs. And the universe provides for all your needs. Of course, it doesn't provide non-essentials. Like titles."

Earl thought for a moment, mentally poking holes in Zygo's arguments. Then with a suspicious smile, he said, "What about my health?"

"Ever heard of spontaneous remission? I've got a buddy who collects case studies. Thousands of them. Millions! And those are only the ones in which the doctors didn't claim credit with their little pills and scalpels. Healing is happening all the time!"

"Then why don't I feel better right now?"

"You are what you think you are. Think depressed and you will be. Think happy and you will be delirious with joy. Or with something else you prefer delirium mixed with. All you need do is smile. Your brain will be dumbfounded. Grin and it will go crazy trying to figure out why you're grinning. But keep smiling and eventually it will conclude that if you're smiling, you must be happy. Then your brain will do everything necessary to perpetuate the idea."

"That's even crazier."

"Ohhhhh? Then try it."

Earl knew he was being sandbagged, but couldn't think of anyway to avoid it. "How?" [Unlike previously described aerial maneuvers and landings, the following can be done by the reader or other amateur.]

"First, take this mirror and look at yourself. Then, lift the corners of your mouth. Good. That's the insincere smile. Pathetic, isn't it?"

"Yes," Earl confirmed, smiling insincerely into the mirror.

"Now let your eyes twinkle, while keeping the insincere smile. Better?"

Earl just smiled sincerely, his eyes twinkling.

"Next... Let your forehead wrinkle and open your eyes wide. At the same time, let your jaw drop."

"I look like a clown!"

"Which is funny. Now let some air out of your mouth."

Earl giggled.

"Now let it all out, using your belly muscles to push out the air in a rush."

Earl complied, and found himself laughing with gusto. The gusto reinforced itself with the huge spectacle he was making of himself in the mirror.

"Note that when you laugh out loud, another set of muscles pinch closed the opening at the other end. For obvious reasons."

'NOW THAT,' Earl thought, 'was funny!' He could feel it, every time the air roared out of his mouth. This was a riot!

Still laughing in intermittent bursts, Earl turned to Zygo and said, "Can I give you some advice?"

"Certainly," Zygo replied, beginning to laugh at Earl's laughing. "We're all here to learn from one another."

"Never pass a bridge on the right."

Zygo roared and Earl laughed at her laughing.

Then Zygo threw out, "Never be fashionably late to a solar eclipse." Both crazies continued to laugh, grabbing onto each other for support.

Clutching for breath, Earl replied, "It's bad manners to awaken someone by abruptly turning the gravity back on!"

Adding the music of an old tune, Zygo sang, "Pardon me Roy, is that the cat that chewed your new shoes?"

Both clutched each other, struggling to remain erect.

"I just realized," Earl managed to add, "I've got all the money I'll ever need. If I die by 4 o'clock ." Their struggle to remain erect seemed doomed to failure.

"Which is a distinct possibility for both of us, if we don't stop laughing."

Taking the sage advice, both managed to avoid the further temptation to pun again. As they slowly calmed down, she asked, "How do you feel now?"

"Great!" Earl responded. "My jaw is sore from laughing. But great!"

Zygo smiled in acknowledgment. "They're all tied together, you know."

"What?" Earl asked, tears in his eyes.

"The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It's a package deal."


"Time for a quickie lesson on spiritual."

"I've never been too religious," Earl said, caution in his voice.

"Which may be fortunate. Organized religion has for the most part, only occasionally been spiritual. They take themselves far too seriously. Don't laugh enough."

"Can you be spiritual and still laugh?"

"Sure! Spiritual is easy. Just love everything. That's it. Follow the paths with heart, loving all the way. Greet your fears with love, face your problems with love, and take on the wild, wild happenings of your life with love. And a sense of humor."

Earl smiled mischievously. "I've always been good at loving."

"Oh?" Zygo replied. "Has all of your loving been an effort on your part to nurture your own or another's spiritual growth?"

Earl was quickly bewildered. "Huh?"

"That's what it takes. Nurturing. The will to make the effort. And always, always, going for the spiritual growth. Yours as well as theirs."

"That sounds slightly more challenging."

"It is. And right on cue, here comes your challenge."

Earl turned to where Zygo was indicating, just in time to see Varenna approaching them. He saw her eyes as she recognized him. For a moment, they simply looked at one another.

Suddenly, the heavens opened up and a host of out-of-work angels began to sing a round of hallelujahs set to a rock version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Cymbals the size of Gibraltar came together, heralding the dawn of a new age. Love in all its glory poured on to the plains and mountains, flowing down to the sea, to the open arms of the sea. Rapture slung its promises to the four pillars of the world, while ecstasy raised its head for its greatest moment.

But Earl and Varenna, involved in their own private staring contest, missed all the hoopla. Without a word they took tentative steps toward one another… then another… and yet another. Abruptly they broke into a conservative run toward each other. Then a headlong rush, happiness galloping alongside them, trying to keep up.

Zygo began to sing, in a brilliant operatic voice, full of sound and fury and signifying absolutely nothing, "Oh sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Unusual event you've found me once again. Ohhhhhh, when will I ever learn to let it happen? Ohhhhh... Ohhhhh! Hmmmm. I can't remember what it was I was singing!"

Meanwhile Earl and Varenna met in the open field, throwing themselves into each other's arms… and very nearly knocking each other over. When they had recovered, they hugged and kissed, and hugged and kissed some more. Then a few more hugs, punctuated with a kiss or two. One more kiss for good measure… followed by several hugs and kisses, and an occasional grope.

In general, what they lacked in passion, they made up in enthusiasm and an overt attempt to ham it up. As their ardor eased and they relegated their desires to clinging to one another, Zygo joined them, introducing them to the concept of a three-person hug.

"You know," Zygo said, "Running into each other's arms in this fashion has the potential for serious injury."

"But we're madly in love with each other," Varenna answered, showing little surprise at meeting Earl's attractive female friend.

Earl looked at Varenna, trying to determine how Varenna's statement related to Zygo's previous comment. From Earl's viewpoint, the necessary assumption was that there was no relationship, suggesting the possibility that Varenna and Zygo were operating out of different dimensions of time and space. Thus he decided to change the direction of the conversation. Trying to be casual, he announced to Varenna, "I've changed."

Varenna smiled knowingly. "I could tell. It was in your aura."



"What's an aura?"

"I don't know, but it must be why you're so attractive."

"It's a common side effect," Zygo confirmed.

"What is?" Varenna asked, beaming into Earl's eyes and not bothering to look at Zygo.

"A smiling face is an attractive face."

"I knew that," Varenna said, matter-of-factly. All the while she continued to gaze into her prospective lover's eyes.

"I find you immensely attractive as well," Earl replied, to Varenna.

"What about me?" Zygo said, "Don't you find me attractive?" Her voice carried the hint of being miffed.

"That's because I've changed myself," Varenna said.

"I changed years ago," Zygo thoughtfully mentioned.

"And you're absolutely radiant!" Earl added, again to Varenna.

"Why thank you," Zygo said.

"I'm radiant because I'm with you," Varenna replied, to Earl.

" You're radiant?" Zygo asked.

"You're beautiful, fantastic and magnificent." (Earl)

"Oh my!" Zygo blushed.

"I love you with all my heart!" Varenna said. "You know that, don't you?"

"Excuse me." (Zygo)

"And I love you with all of my being." (Earl)

"Ohhh," Zygo murmured, "I had no idea you cared."

"And I love you with all my soul." (Varenna)

"And I love you with all my... Totality." (Earl)

"And I love you with all my... Everything." (Varenna)

"And there's only one problem." (Earl)

"And what is that one problem?" (Varenna)

"I'm already married." (Earl)

"Yes, I know. But then again, so am I. Sort of." (Varenna)

"Oops." (Zygo)

A long silence ensued. Then in perfect unison, Earl and Varenna turned to Zygo. Earl voiced their mutual question. "Now what?"

"Oh fine!" Zygo replied. "Suddenly, I'm an integral part of the conversation."

"It's just that... my wife..."


"Yes, that one. It's just that Fantaasia and I have somehow... drifted apart." He then turned to Varenna. "While at the same time I have fallen madly in love with Varenna." Turning back to Zygo, he added, "You understand."

"Of course. It's a well known phenomenon. Absence makes the heart grow restless and among other things, find other outlets. Come to think of it, absence is really not a necessary condition."

Varenna sighed. "And all the time I thought absence was helpful to married life. Which is why I've stayed away so much."

"You thought you could improve your marriage by staying away?" Zygo could not help but smile.

"Well, not exactly. But I had grown so tired of always compromising myself just so that my husband would be happy. It was such a one way street." Varenna frowned. "So I rebelled. And now he's cut me off."

"A little incentive for you to return to the fold and his way of thinking, perhaps," Zygo noted.

"Only I'm not willing to go back if I have to live by his rules. I'm willing to compromise, but he's not."

There was a momentary silence, before Zygo noted, "Compromise does seem to imply movement from both sides. Then she smiled. "Then one could say that you're available… so to speak."

Varenna gulped hard on that one. "I suppose so."

Varenna's grudging admittance was enough for Earl. Almost. "My course is clear!" Earl announced. "I must divorce my wife, leave Fantaasia so that I may be with my darling Varenna."

Earl's confident statement had barely cleared his lips, when he added, "Or possibly not. Maybe stick with her through thick and thin. Make the marriage work, no matter what!" He paused again. "Or maybe join a convent."

"You mean a monastery," Varenna corrected.

"Why would I want to join a monastery?"

"Only women are in convents."

"I know."

"But at least," Zygo interrupted, timing the interruption at its most crucial point, "Your course is clear."

"Absolutely," Earl confirmed. "My mind is made up! Now all I have to do is to decide which alternative is the one that my mind has determined as being my clear course."

Zygo looked perplexed. "Say that again, please."

Varenna, on the other hand, looked devastated. "Suddenly, my heart cries out. It screams in pain! I fear that divorce is not in the cards. Perhaps, not for either of us. We're both stuck!"

"It's true," Earl replied. "Divorce is frowned upon by the clergy, the establishment, virtually every mother in existence who has not herself been the initiator of a divorce, and the bulk of the population -- particularly those who never had the courage to step out into the unknown themselves. Divorce does seem unlikely."

"Either that, or inevitable," Zygo casually remarked.

In unison, Earl and Varenna turned to her and said, "What?"

Zygo became serious. For just a moment. "That which limits is wrong. That which increases opportunity and creates choices is good, for it is through the exercise of our free will to choose, that we learn and grow. That is why love is so prized. Love allows for choices. If there is no love in a marriage, then the marriage becomes limiting, and therefore wrong.”

Earl looked at Zygo with his best skeptical stare. "Wait a minute," he said. "Are you saying marriage is bad?"

Varenna quickly added, "And divorce good?"

"Of course not," Zygo replied. "A loving marriage provides a magnificent cornucopia of choices and learning opportunities. Let's face it: getting along with a member of the opposite sex is an enormous challenge. But without a mutual love, marriage degenerates to 'the tie that binds'. Divorce, in that case, becomes the preferred alternative. Try to think of divorce as but a mail stop on the road to male and female relationships. It's not necessarily a required stop, of course. That depends on whether there's any growth in the marriage for both parties."

"We don't understand," the dynamic duo replied.

"Divorce is not necessarily a part of each soul's lessons in male-female relationships, but it's a perfectly understandable one. Two people on divergent paths sometimes require temporary or permanent partings."

"You mean... it's okay?" they replied.

"Not a trivial decision, but not one to beat your breast over either."

"I've never liked breast beating," Varenna confided.

"But what of all those who frown upon it?" Earl asked.

"Breast beating?" Zygo asked.

"No," Earl said, "Divorce."

"They can stay married. It's called free will . And it just may serve them right! Meanwhile, you must do as you must do. Not as they must do."

"Sounds suspiciously suspect." Again, Earl.

"Perhaps, a bit too convenient?" Varenna asked.

"The only reason many who frown upon divorce do not obtain a divorce themselves is their fear of not having someone around for those moments when they might have a hankering to have someone around. For money, for love, whatever."

"Sounds reasonable," Varenna replied.

"But the universe always provides. It provides the highest quality of whatever you need, in the most unexpected manner and with the best wrappings imaginable. As they are prone to say, 'When you care enough to want the very best, order from the universe'. Trust me. Their takeout service is superb!"

"Then it's settled. I will divorce Fantaasia."

"Oh, goody!" Varenna exclaimed.

Zygo held up a cautionary finger. "There is one small item that you might want to recall, however."

"What?" they asked, concern written all over their faces.

"Do not forget the definition of love, exerting oneself in nurturing one another's spiritual growth. You may find the requirements of true love to be... shall we say... occasionally challenging."

"Ha!" Earl laughed. "Do I look worried?"

"We can handle this!" Varenna assured everyone.

"Somehow," Zygo wryly commented, mostly to herself, "I suspect my work with the two of you is not yet finished."

"Fear not! We will set new standards for loving."

"Yes!" Varenna agreed. "Poets will write sonnets about our love."

"And composers, songs about our rapture," Earl added.

"Novelists, novels of our love affair." (Varenna)

"Literary historians, volumes of our love letters." (Earl)

"Financial planners, case studies of our moments together." (Varenna)

"Journalists, journal articles describing the immensity of our love."

Zygo interrupted, "Maybe you could have it published in the New England Journal of Narcissistic Psychology."

"More than any other love in history... "Varenna began.

"Yes?" Earl interspersed.

"...Ours will be the one that lives happily ever after," Varenna concluded.

"Absolutely!" Earl confirmed.

"Pardon me," Zygo said. When both had turned to her for her question, she asked, "From this moment on, as you begin the process of living happily ever after, what do you intend to do?"

"Excuse me?"


Zygo asked, trying to make it simple, "Now what?"

"You mean, where shall we have lunch?" (Earl)

"No dearest love, I think she means after that." (Varenna)

"But my loving pet, she didn't say that." (Earl)

"But surely my man of men, she implied it." (Varenna)

"How, my radiant beauty, can you say that?" (Earl)

"It's easy, my handsome hunk, read my lips." (Varenna)

"I've a better idea," Zygo interjected.

"What!?" Earl asked.

"Kiss her lips and quit bickering."

For a moment Earl and Varenna looked at each other. Then they smiled, reconciled without a word, kissed, and a moment later turned to Zygo. "What," Earl asked, "Would you suggest we do next?"

Zygo smiled, mischief written upon every pore of her body. 'Ha!' she thought, 'Now I have them right where I want them!' But her voice betrayed none of her mischievousness. She was cool. "What one does next is always a matter of individual free will."

"How about 'team free will', like with my love and I?" Earl asked.

Zygo ignored Varenna's silly, embarrassed giggle. "Fine," Zygo said. Still smiling, she added, "As long as the team does not override the individual."

"Naturally," was Varenna's only comment, as she gazed into Earl's adoring eyes, and contemplated the closeness of his lips.

"As to what you do next..." Zygo replied, gathering the lovers' attention, "Perhaps you should consider what lessons you've learned today."

Earl was thoughtful for a moment. "You mean, like what do you do when your entire life crashes and burns?"

"Of course!"

Varenna looked doubtful. "It's been a terribly distressing day. Do you really think it wise to keep thinking about it?"

"Are you distressed right now?"

Varenna thought for a moment, then smiled. "No," she answered.

"AH HA!!!" Zygo exclaimed, startling both Earl and Varenna. "There you have it!"

When Zygo did not continue and only waited expectantly for the revelation to reach the two lovers, Earl turned to Varenna and said, "I think I may have, ever so slightly, missed the point. How about you?"

Varenna smiled, knowingly. "I, on the other hand, have no idea what she's talking about."

Earl smiled in return. "Neither do I."

Zygo frowned. Then quickly regained her motivation. "You've each had the worst day imaginable. You have lost everything dear to you. Every attachment you've built your life around has been wrenched from your grasping little hands. All the adornments of your society-based life have flown the coop... so to speak." Zygo paused for just a moment, before she added, "And at this moment, near the end of the most devastating day any two people have undergone, both of you find yourself happy! Now why is that? What changed!?"

Earl took a deep breath as he suddenly grasped the revelation. "Because we've found true love!"

"Oh, yes, yes!" Varenna quickly added. "Yes yes yes yes yes!!"

"No no no no no!" Zygo replied

"Whaaaaaa?" Earl and Varenna asked, in unison.

"The love you share is merely a symptom, a sign. It's not the change!"

"I don't know," Varenna questioned. "It feels pretty good."

"But when did your life change!!?" Zygo prompted. "When did all the terrible things cease to happen and the good things begin?"

Everyone was silent while Earl and Varenna thought. Then Earl, now slightly worried, asked, "What happens if we can't figure out the answer? Do we lose points?"

But Varenna was beginning to suspect an idea. "I think I see what you mean. When did things finally turn for the better?"


Varenna was thoughtful for yet another moment. Then, "I think it was when I realized that I had lost absolutely everything, when I knew that I was at very tail end of my rope."

"And what did you do then? What decision did you make?"

"I gave up."

"You relinquished...?"

"Control. I just told the universe to do whatever... It was a cinch that I could no longer control my life."

"Yes," Earl added, "I did the same thing."

Zygo smiled. "And you went along with the universe, with whatever the universe, the fates, the destinies had in store for you!"


"Exactly!" Earl added.

"Exactly! That's the key!" Zygo smiled broadly.

"But wait!" Varenna suddenly looked suspicious. "Was it really necessary to destroy everything we've ever had, just in order to... change?"

"To transform?" Zygo asked. Then she smiled. "Think about it! If I had come to you, when your wealth, position and status were gathered all about you, and asked you to totally relinquish control of your lives and leave everything up to the universe... What would you have done?"

Earl laughed slightly. "I would probably have had you flogged for such a silly suggestion.

"Or perhaps had your tongue ripped out," Varenna added, smiling sheepishly.

"Oh, I like that," Earl said to Varenna, "Nice touch."

"Thank you, dear," Varenna replied.

Zygo decided to ignore the royal repartee and continue on. "To transform someone, to totally change their life's direction: there must often be a major trauma. Something to really get their attention. Like an atom bomb."

"Like a what?"

"But!" Zygo continued, "But when you're completely down and out, feeling the lowest, with absolutely nothing left to lose, then it takes very little. Just the slightest nudge from your subconscious. For suddenly, you have nothing left to occupy your mind with, no constant planning on how to keep what you've got, how to protect your status, or how to gather more status from others. All the trivial concerns that plague our minds are abruptly stilled, and the intuition can gently make its voice heard."

"Ohhhhhhh," Earl said.

Varenna took it from there. "You mean... We had to crash and burn before we could know what to do, before we could change..."

"Before you could be transformed," Zygo added.

"Yes, it makes sense." Varenna smiled, relishing her new found revelation.

"Ohhhhhhh," Earl said.

"It's the old 'darkest before the dawn' idea, except that before the sun can rise again, in all its glory, you have to be willing to let go."

"Let go?" Varenna seemed slightly unsure of herself.

"Let go of all the attachments, the idea you must possess anything and everything in order to survive. Let go of your control and allow the universe to take over."

"Ohhhhhhh!" Earl exclaimed.

"Gee, that's great!" Varenna announced.

"Let's face it," Zygo said, "The universe is so much cleverer than we are. Life is much more entertaining when you've got a master showman like the universe running the show."

"Uh ohhhhhh," Earl said.

"Oh?" Zygo answered.

"If the universe is in charge..." Earl asked.


"What do we do?"

"Yes," Varenna agreed. "That's a very good question."

Zygo smiled. She just loved to sandbag people. "You may have noticed in the travails of your day, that the world at large is not, what we might term, a collection of happy campers."

"There does seem to be a few problems, just now," Earl agreed.

Zygo smiled. "A few? How about total, world-wide financial collapse? Extensive graft and corruption in government and business? Imminent devastation of such time-honored establishments and institutions as religion, medicine and law? A patriarchal, dominator society in the throes of a massive paradigm change."

"Businesses going under?" Earl ventured.

"Credit cards going the way of the Dodo bird?" Varenna offered.

"Pension plans defunct," Earl said with more confidence.

"Ah yes," Zygo replied. "Not to mention massive natural and man-made disasters. People tripping out and doing all manner of harm to themselves and others. All these are, even as we speak, looming on the horizon -- if not cavorting about on Main Street ."

"That bad, huh?"

"Who said anything about bad? That's the good news!!"

Varenna looked suspicious. "How can a total... crash and burn of our society... our world... be considered good news?"

"Because it means that society, the world, can also be transformed, just as you were. It means that the world can now hit bottom, and with just a little nudge, rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix . All the garbage can be dissipated. The patriarchy can be done away with. All the good can come to the fore."

There was a long silence, as Earl and Varenna contemplated the annihilation of their world, its transformation, and its subsequent reincarnation.

Then Earl quietly observed, "When I was a boy, I was taught a lot about revolutions. Royalty, of course, has a 'thing' about revolutions. I suppose my education in that subject was not totally objective. However, one thing I always remember is that after a revolution, even when things were very bad before the revolution, afterwards... well... things did not always improve. Sometimes, they got worse."

"Exactly," Zygo replied. "Which is why you, and people like you, were given the opportunity to learn the lesson before the crash. So that you could be an example and thereby lead the others to a better future. One that is better than what seems to be staring them in the face right now."

"We lead?" Earl asked.

"We get our titles back?" Varenna asked.

"No titles," Zygo said. "No earls, barons, dukes... No leaders , gurus, priests. That was the flaw in the patriarchy -- everyone gave away their power to a select few -- who then misused that accumulated power. It's time to re-empower everyone, make them equal members of the community. The world is in need of community," she added. "True community, where people nurture one another."

"That sounds nice," Earl ventured.

"Maybe." Varenna was less convinced.

"And in nurturing community, you heal the people." While Earl smiled and Varenna squinted her eyes, Zygo added. "There is also the simple necessity of healing the planet, administering to the scars, wounds and blemishes, and beginning the process of ceasing to do the earth harm."

"Yes," Earl agreed, "That's sounds even better."

Zygo smiled. "Fortunately, there is much for each of you to do in each case. And both are interrelated. You can't do one without the other."

Earl and Varenna looked at each other, both agreeing with their eyes.

Zygo read the agreement on their faces. "Then you'll do it? Begin preparing for the crash, nurturing the community and healing the planet?"

"By ourselves?" Varenna asked.

"Don't worry. There'll be others, contributing in their own unique ways."

"Then our path is clear," Earl said.

"A path with heart," Varenna agreed.

"Good," Zygo said. "Now if you will excuse me, I have some repairs I need to make on my flying apparatus."

"You're leaving?" The shock and consternation on Varenna's face had all the ingredients of 'Gee, that's too bad. But then again, three's a crowd.' Zygo's sexuality had not gone totally unnoticed by Varenna.

"Yes," Zygo said, with a tear in her eye. "I'm due back soon for my third flying lesson."

"We'll miss you," Earl said. "It seems we've been through so much together."

"Like the clock tower, the walls of Cameseldom, a roof here and there..."

Varenna, hoping to move things right along, and perhaps get Earl alone for a few critical moments, reached out and hugged Zygo. "Will we see you again, dear friend?"

"Of course," Zygo answered. Varenna's heart fell, but only marginally so. She still had the confidence of a beautiful woman. Zygo scarcely noticed. "My flying machine," she added, "has a severely limited flying radius. I will never be too far from you."

"That's good to know," Earl said, enthusiastically.

"Oh, yes," Varenna agreed, but with less enthusiasm.

"On the other hand, I won't be more than a few feet from you, unless I get my flying apparatus operational." With that Zygo fairly plunged into the debris left by her most recent, attempted landing. Earl and Varenna watched her for just a moment, then sensing that it was time to leave.

"Good bye," Earl said.

"Lots of luck on your flying lessons," Varenna added.

Zygo glanced back at the couple. "Lighten up," she said, and then returned to her repair effort.

Slowly, Earl and Varenna walked away, arm in arm, ready to meet their destiny. When they were twenty yards or so away, Zygo called out, "Just remember! It's the Zygo Mati Cus Major that makes you smile!"




"What seems like the end...

May merely be the beginning."


All kidding aside ...

"The zygomaticus major is not a Greek military officer; it is the primary smiling muscle. Connected from your cheekbone (the zygoma) to the corners of your mouth, it pulls up the corners of your mouth as the first muscular expression of a humor response." [Chris Hageseth III, A Laughing Place , Berwick Publishing Company, Fort Collins , CO , 1988.]

In addition to Chris Hageseth's marvelous book, you might also want to read a few other classics, in order to fill in between the lines, so to speak; e.g.:

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled , Simon and Schuster , New York , 1978.

Pat Rodegast and Judith Stanton, Emmanuel's Book , Bantam Books, New York , 1987.

Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh , Penguin Books, New York , 1983.

Richard Bach, Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah , Dell Publishing Co., New York, 1977.

John Hogue, Nostradamus & The Millennium , Doubleday/Dolphin, New York , 1987.

Inasmuch as most of the man-made and natural disasters alluded to in the above pages are all highly probable events during the first decade of the twenty first century (predictions and prophecies range from Nostradamus to some of the most modern and traditional thinkers of our society), you might want to start preparing yourself, mentally as well as otherwise. Just keep in mind Tom Robbins' advice* to 'Lighten Up'.

*Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume , Bantam Books, New York , 1984.


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