Imagine what it’s like to get knocked out cold. You’re in the boxing ring, or you slip on the ice, or you faint, and WHAM! – you’re out for the count. You never see it coming. Your very next memory is waking up as if it never happened at all. To be fair, you can’t imagine what it’s like to get knocked out cold. Your brain doesn’t register the experience; or if it does, it stores the memory in a place you’ll never be able to access. It’s as if you’ve took a break from your conscious world. This temporary inactivity of the mind – a kind of suspended animation – is known as abeyance.
Recently I had a tooth extracted. Since I have a strong jaw my dentist suggested I should be fully knocked out instead of hitting the laughing gas. So there I went, from “counting backwards from ten” to waking up post-op, as if the hour the procedure required was a split second.
After a tooth extraction, the dentist talks to you to make sure you feel okay, and more importantly to give you instructions for self-care for the next several hours. And here’s where it gets interesting. In the time frame of those several hours your brain is awake but not fully awake. My wife was in the room when I received my self-care instructions, and she said I was coherent and having a perfectly normal conversation with the doctor. But one day later I had no knowledge of that conversation – and I never have since.
That little amnesia experience got me to thinking: what if I could capture the “half-awake” brain in writing? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what I write about in my semi-comatose stage, knowing that after the fact I’ll have no recollection of writing a single word?
I completed this experiment last month, when I went back to the dentist to have a post inserted (for a future crown). It was the same drill as before (ha). I was knocked out and woke up an hour later with no memory of the surgery. But when I was at home later in the day to recover, I wrote a quick story before my brain fully restored itself. The following day, and now a month later, I have no memory of writing that story.
To conclude, I am sharing that story with you below. I’ve read it several times and have zero recollection of ever writing it. Isn’t that amazing? Don’t ask me for the hidden meaning because I don’t think there is any, and needless to say, the story is unfinished. But I do think it’s remarkable this story was created – and stored – in a part of my brain I’ll never have access to. Here then – my moment of abeyance.
Todd was a gentle man, who worked an apple farm near the west coast of Central Washington. Each morning he’d get up with the dawn, climb on his John Deere tractor, and plow the rows between the trees, keeping the orchard nice and neat. The trees produced a variety of apples: Macintosh, Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and so on. It was not the sort of orchard that required a lot of labor or equipment. A typical harvest yielded 100 bushels or so, which were largely sold to the small organic markets in the region. Todd’s apples boasted a quality product year-in and year-out over several years.
One harvest season, Todd discovered that many of his apples were bigger and heavier than in previous years. They even shone brighter with their reds, yellows, and greens. Thinking nothing of it, Todd continued the harvest as usual, bringing home the first day’s bushels to prepare for market. As was always his custom, Todd brought several samples of each variety into the house, to give them a closer inspection and taste. Again, as he looked at an especially ripe Macintosh, he noticed the brightness: an almost glittery look to the skin. The fruit was probably an inch or so larger in diameter than any he had seen from his trees in previous years. The bite was crisp and delicious, the flesh firm and consistent.
After a couple of bites, Todd took a sharp knife and cut the fruit to the core. Imagine his surprise when his knife hit a solid core; the consistency of a peach pit instead of small seeds. Carefully, Todd cut the apple into vertical slices, revealing a one-inch solid core in the middle of the fruit. This was most unusual, as an apple typically has a hardened fruit core with seeds distributed throughout.
Todd took the pit to the sink and washed it carefully under mildly hot water. The surface was the woody gnarled look you would expect from most fruits, but it was as if a peach pit had found its way into an apple. Looking closer, Todd saw small bits of light emanating from between the gnarls. Taking up the knife once again, Todd began to scrape the outer surface of the core. Suddenly the core divided neatly into four sections, and fell away easily, to reveal… the most beautiful diamond Todd had ever seen. It was egg-shaped, with countless pentagonal facets, and it shone so brightly it was almost a brilliant blue.
Holding it up to the light, Todd thought he could see yet another core within the diamond, but it was difficult to make out with the layers of faceted diamond on top of it. The diamond felt solid and heavy; almost 10 ounces by his amateur guess.
With no small amount of anticipation, Todd returned to the fruit basket, picked a Granny Smith, and carefully cut the fruit into several slices.. While he discovered the same “peach pit” core, this time the core revealed a spectacular center cut emerald. Again, the core of the emerald was darker than the surface, suggesting something different inside of it. Otherwise, Todd was looking at two large gems, apparently the product of two fruits from his orchard.
Just what had happened here? How does a fruit generate a gemstone at its core?