Outside

1.

Everybody out.

Hands behind your heads. Backs against the wall. Now.

Your time has come. You brought this on yourself.

There’s nowhere left for you to run – save, perhaps, inward.

 

2.

Knock knock.

Do you think you’re safe in there?

Do you think you’re alone in here?

This place is creaking at the foundations. It’s a mess.

Oh dear.

Did you see that? A little flash of light.

I think there’s a crack in your wall.

There it is again. Don’t you sense the light on your back?

Why aren’t you looking at it?

Why do you hurriedly shift the furniture to block it?

Don’t answer that. We know why.

 

3.

You remind us of us.

We, too, were content to float around in our bubble minds.

Living the dream that was our self.

Letting our perception suffice, and filling in the gaps with our imagination’s guesses.

But on some level, you understand the lies you tell yourself to carry on living.

It’s the light on our backs that we quickly obscure.

The momentary tingle that we slap away.

We all do it.

But that sensation has another name.

It’s the Call.

The Call from Outside.

It echoes into your Inside, through the crack where your guesses don’t hold together.

It’s Them. They are calling.

Block it off. Flinch away. Fear the Call. Follow your training.

 

4.

This place – it’s Inside. And it’s where you live.

It’s where the details and contradictions of you, and the data you perceive, shamble together to approximate a world you can navigate and accept.

And that flash of light is the part of your brain that knows that something’s not right. That somewhere, there’s more than this.

Have you ever thought about what lives Outside?

Not just outside.

OUTSIDE

Outside you. Outside us. Outside this.

It could be anything, couldn’t it?

I’m sure you’ve heard the tales. Some accounts would have it that the edge of our reality is populated by colossal, spectral, squid-like beings.

A sizeless swarm of flaccid tentacles. One thousand eyes, glazed.

As some guesses would have it.

But whatever it is, it’s terrifying. That we can agree on.

The Unknown.

Just for the fact it’s Unknown, and it’s Outside, and it’s best left alone, right?

If our reality is a bubble, then the border is no more than a thin, glistening film, across which terrors might be glimpsed. It’s our fear of what lies beyond that keeps us safe and stable Inside – a fear that we maintain by telling ourselves fantastical stories, letting our imagination and our guesswork run free.

Because if we didn’t, we might find ourselves answering the Call.

And then all stability would be lost.

That process is how things have always gone.

We’re sorry to say it ends today.

Oh yes it does. For you, at least.

 

5.

We’re all humans here.

Humans are marvelous.

But not because they can add up.

Not because they can complain, or sense their own futility, as impressive as that is.

No.

But because, from the moment we emerge into this world, we have a fundamental function. A pure fact about what we are.

We are permeable.

We can feel for each other. And not just reflexively, either – not just invasively. Our ability to dream our own bubble, our own self, is our ability to dream someone else’s.

Just for a moment. If we have the data.

To feel what they might feel.

When, just for a fraction of a second, Inside Opens. If we let it.

Yet very often, we lack the data. And so here comes that pesky guesswork again, to fill in anything you don’t know about your fellow humans.

The issue with Guesswork is the issue with Fear.

Because very often, your Guesswork just so happens to give you an excuse to stay Closed. Protecting you from a certain terrifying notion – that your Bubble wasn’t blown correctly.
That your reality needs to change.

Even better when, in the absence of Data, we find a convenient substitute – by the name of Confirmation, in the form Misinformation – that feeds our imagination, and fuels it to keep shifting the furniture. Cover up that crack in the wall.

Slap away the tingle on the back of the neck. Flinch from the light. Ignore the Call. Burrow, and burrow, and burrow, further inwards, into your own perfectly crafted Inside.

Perfect for you. Perfect forever.

There’s just one problem.

It’s not air in which your bubble floats.

There is an external world.
What’s Inside will ripple Outside.

Consider, if you will, that vast sea of Unknown, to be in truth a sea of other Insides. Which, for some confounding reason, live to deny each other.

i. Who are the people you’ve caricatured in your mind?
ii. What is the data you’ve allowed yourself not to find?
iii. When came the guesswork that fabricated those lies?
iv. Inside is Shut when other Insides it denies.

Which brings us to our main concern.

 

6.

In our humble view, to be permeable is to be human.

To refuse permeability is to be

Less.

And permeability requires an openness to the Call.

Don’t flinch.

Look at the crack. Look at the wound.

Raise your hand.
Reach out. Touch it. Now.

Sense where your guesswork broke down. Feel the jagged contours of your own contradictions. Run your finger along the fractures in your fantasy.

Now keep reaching.

Widen the crack.

Keep going.
Through the thin film of your bubble. Through that glistening divide.

Reach further Out.
Reach all the way Out until you’re Open Inside.
The hole you’ve made is raw and wide.
Don’t close your eyes. Let the light consume you. Let your bubble be flooded with new, hitherto unseen Data.
Feel something brush your fingertips, something alive. Perhaps it’s someone else who is taking this incredible journey. Someone whose Inside is gushing forth.
Let the Insides of Outside spill into you.

Your pulse is quickening.

That’s Fear. Fear is natural.

But it must not rule you.

Though all the codes and rules and lies of Inside Men say otherwise, you have a responsibility.

You realise now.
No-one floats alone.

Reach into that abyss.
Recede not into a point, but rather
Expand.
Connect.
Receive.

And here comes the sting. We didn’t warn you about this part. It’ll only hurt a bit…

Yes, that was a lie. Sorry.

It hurts.
But it’s a worthy kind of hurt, isn’t it?
The kind you share with others. The kind you can believe in.

It’s the pain of being part of the world.
In all its unfathomable horror.
And all its interconnected beauty.
All its hateful truth.
You’re just reclaiming your place.
As the world changes, as you change, you’ll keep doing it.

One day, when we can expand no further, we’ll touch the edge of the universe

feel its glistening, fragile boundary, on our skin

hear the Call

and reach Outside

to see if spectral squids await us there, Great Old Things.
Perhaps they’ll bring mind-ending terror.
Perhaps they’ll be our friends (with benefits).
But one way or another, we will accept them for what they are. Not what we Guess they are.

 

7.

If you have a problem with this, we get it. We do.

Well, obviously we do, or how else would we have just perfectly explicated what it is bothering you? We’ve been there. We don’t blame you too much. The world trained you this way. Some people are more trained to it than others.

But no matter how far into yourself you flee, your mind can’t do gymnastics without muscle fatigue.
The crack widens.
The Call beckons.

All we ask is that you ask yourself: am I reaching In or Out?

Is my image of that person made of Data – or Guesswork?

Conclusions come so easily, but do I need to shift the furniture to reach them? Am I blocking the light?

Am I following my training – the path of least resistance – am I hiding in a carefree, solo dream? Burrowing inwards, away from the uncertainty and pain of acknowledging other Insides?

Or did I reach Out?

Which side am I on?

Be a critical observer of your own thoughts. Test yourself. It’s just good housekeeping.

 

8.

We like our standard for humanity.

It’s not based on arbitrary social strata, or abstract vacuum thinking. It’s not based on mental ability.

It’s pure and simple willingness.

Are you willing to be human? That’s good enough for us.
(We really want to meet those squids)
We’ll let you be.

But it’s not a one-time deal. It’s a commitment to be maintained.

Inside is our state of being.
Outside is somewhere you go.

Continually.

Actively.

The place of despair.
The place of joy.
Their ragged synthesis the centre of life.

We are the Outsideists.
You cannot escape us.
This is our demand.

Reach out.
Let it in.
the ecstasy
of empathy

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