Words: Evie Glen (She/Her)
In a vacuous cavern that ought to be the blackest darkness, there spins a sphere of the whitest light. Unreachable yet remarkable, it casts a warm glow that envelopes you like a fly trapped in amber – forever bound to yet armoured by the bubbles of resin. Yet, though its glow is warm, the sphere remains inhospitable, as if demanding isolation from mortal life lest it succumbs to its transience. Rotating in a sensorial void, its existence is essentially peaceful as only emptiness can be. However, as the glow begins to darken in places and ignite in others, this emptiness seems illusory. The sphere rotates slower, almost halting entirely before reanalysing and turning in the opposite direction. Though the divergence causes mere tremors within this core, look upwards to the savage earthquakes that shake the crust.
A most impressive entity, Earth’s core is the nexus of existence buried under 3000 kilometres of dark stubborn rock. It is an inferno of light that brings life into existence and sustains it, the dynamo that generates a magnetic field of protection from everything beyond the Earth. We can dig towards it, though we can never get close. It is as though the core only retains its omnipotent power by virtue of its distance. Its power cannot be extracted at molten quarries, nor can it be commodified by humanity’s ravening eyes. And so it has the capacity to protect only because it is, itself, protected.
Existing in isolation, the core remains protected by a refusal to give away or have taken too much from it. Its power persists only in isolation, such that if you were to invade that space, its energy would drain like blood. Yet still, we dig and scavenge, pretending we can take without notice or consequence. Blinded by an insatiable desire for knowledge and power in that knowledge, we believe we can harness the force of life’s central power as if that life already granted is insufficient.
Though perhaps it is insufficient. Insufficient only in the unknowingness of existence. If philosophy and religion fail to give us meaning, perhaps it makes sense to look to that which grants us life. Perhaps by digging to the core of the Earth, our shovel will hit upon some golden chest, inside which lies the glowing orb of our existential answer. A manual for the vague unanswerable questions: how to live, who to love, what to believe? As much as we dig through the layers of the earth, we dig through the layers of ourselves. Though we do so entirely blindly, and it seems the closer we get, the more control we lose.
That meaning – call it our self – seems spinning, sinking beyond reach. If you strain towards the molten abyss, the vacuum pulls you and anything you grasp with your other hand into the void. You fall a directionless and empty fall while your relationships, passions and traumas rain down on either side. You and all your variousness of being constructed on the cold crust of mortal existence fall towards the centre. As relationships burn or crush to dust, you send all your hopes to the centre and go hopelessly bankrupt on the crust. It’s a necessary sacrifice in the journey to the centre of the self.
Is there only worth in falling if you are falling towards your core? I worry that when you get there, it is no more than a shining white nothingness, casting light on the debris that fell with you. When it is all over, the great irony is though you may be at the core, so too is everything you pulled in with you. You look around, and nothing has changed except that everything that ever came to construct some outer sense of self is now dust. You are entirely alone. Trapped and isolated, but at the centre of the earth – there seems little comfort to be found in that. How glaringly obvious, yet entirely unimagined, is this isolation at the centre of the self? Being the beginning of life, of course, it exists as nothingness.
There is comfort in acknowledging this nothingness. There is no entrapment, only the possibility to construct and eventually realise the self. That is if ever there is a singular self. Looking at the mountain of dust that once constructed your framework of being, the dynamic plurality of the self seems doubtless. The white light you once took to be the core of your self seems to be just a light. It is the energy that allows you to reach up and out, away from the centre entirely.
Perhaps the centre we seek is not below but above us. All along, we were looking through the rock for a glimmer of light that might tell us what to do when really we ought to have turned our eyes upwards. To feel the tremors through our feet, look to the clouds and begin to understand this language that will lead us to some answers.