Actually, the communication went wrong right away. Ralph was born as a caulbearer (‘You were totally dirty when you were born,’ his mother said). The mother’s milk stayed away and Ralph got the bottle. His delicate body reacted with a screaming red eczema, on which he was covered from head to toe with a dark brown tar ointment. On the doctor’s prescription tubes were shoved over his arms so that he wouldn’t scratch. This little greasy, dark brown, screaming monster with the stiff arms had to do without the maternal cuddling, so that he was immediately at a distance.
When Ralph was two, and always awake early, he was allowed to get into his parents’ bed, like his older brothers in the morning, but while the other children fell asleep with their thumbs in their mouths against their parents, Ralph sat on their heads and pulled their eyebrows.
So it wasn’t easy and when he started talking, things only got worse. He didn’t swallow anything people said and asked questions his parents didn’t know what to do with, so they got angry. Little Ralph didn’t understand at all why they got angry for his honest, interested questions. He withdrew and kept himself as quiet as possible. Still, the adults – and soon his brothers as well – always knew how to find something they were dissatisfied with when it came to Ralph.
All this made Ralph a little thinker. Oh, he also talked a lot at times, always trying to be loved, but they didn’t think he was sweet, but called him intelligent.
In elementary school Ralph learned from geography that he lived in Communication Land. That word didn’t mean anything to him, not even when they explained it. What he did, during geography class, was listen to how people talked to each other, how they reacted, what they liked and what reasoning they followed. Especially the latter, that intrigued him extraordinarily. What people, young or old, all believed and said, even if it was clearly absurd!
Because Ralph was really quite intelligent, he never scored low marks, even though he didn’t do any homework. The relations with people around him remained on a very low level. Friends complained that he always came up with the games, teachers thought he did not write his own essays and he was laughed at because he compared what someone said this year with what they had said in previous years.
It seems that people divide themselves in all sorts of pieces, Ralph thought. One piece doesn’t know anything about the other and so the strangest arguments can be put forward, which, moreover, don’t fit in at all with the people who do this. Occasionally Ralph tried to talk along a bit, but it felt all wrong for him, to pretend, just to be liked. Sometimes he would hang out with someone for a while, but it never took long before he fell by the wayside again. He never made excuses when communication went wrong, and so more and more people dropped him.
Of course he suffered from loneliness. That’s how a young cuckoo must feel, Ralph thought, or the ugly duckling. If only he were a swan, he still would have a chance at happiness.
He stubbornly persevered on his journey through Communication Land. By now he knew what the word meant and he improved his conversation techniques here and there, but he didn’t really get in touch.
By the time Ralph was in his fifties, he had ended up in a very inhospitable region of his country. Regularly he stumbled upon a meadow with elongated, convex stones on which he rested. Those stones were strangely warm. But they became less and less and in the end he saw nothing but high, icy mountains and rotten and mouldy houses, where no one had lived for a long time. Ralph climbed and slid through them, because he had to. He had to move on, whether he wanted to or not.
When his water supply ran out and nothing edible grew in the icy region any more, Ralph decided to lie down in an old shed and just die there. Nothing he had tried had ever really succeeded. He had many abilities, but they were of no use to him. How could he have known that all kinds of seeds were germinating in him? Everything looked dead and fruitless.
Ralph did not succeed in dying. He was immensely thirsty, but didn’t die of thirst. He did not starve, but his stomach screamed for food. When Ralph was still alive after a few days, he dragged his bones out to drink snow and eat leaves. The shock was great when outside it was not the familiar, desolate cold landscape waiting for him, but a sunny meadow, over which all kinds of coloured ribbons of light shot back and forth. One of those came from his own heart. That must be a hallucination, he thought, but a very beautiful one! Along the ribbon to his heart came a young woman, following the ribbon with both hands. She must be blind, he thought, but still it looked as if she was looking at him. When she was still a few metres away, she laughed out loud. Ralph didn’t trust the image and blinked his eyes. But the woman stayed and she talked to him: ‘You must be thirsty and hungry. You’re from Communication Land, aren’t you? Hard lessons there must have been. Yes, don’t look so surprised, everyone here has once made that trip.’
‘Everybody here? But…’ Then Ralph saw the other people, all with ribbons, running from one person’s heart to another and also to the grass, the flowers, the trees, to water. Actually it was one big lake of light, in which everything moved and shone, but at the same time you saw all the contours. So beautiful…
A boy came towards him with a tray full of glasses and bowls, all filled with unknown, delicate food and drink. Ralph groped eagerly, while the others looked at him smiling. This was followed by long conversations, incredible conversations. Conversations that were true, that did not give rise to resentment, there was recognition and cheerfulness, but also seriousness and depth.
Suddenly Ralph said shocked: ‘I must have died after all.’
‘The answer is yes and no, you died for one thing, and were born for another. You went through a lot of suffering and loneliness. Because you couldn’t get along with the others, you started thinking a lot and saw what’s wrong in the world, how people actually sleep. You may think that you have to tell us everything you have been through, but you don’t have to. We all know that, from experience. Even if no two journeys are the same, they are still similar. We here, gain from that experience. We gain knowledge from it, on how people treat each other, what reasoning they use not to really move forward; we have been in Communication Land for so long, that no one has to tell us anything about it.’
Ralph suddenly interrupted: ‘Is this the Land of Light? I sometimes dreamed that I was there.’
‘No, this is not the Land of Light. That is a lot further on. You are in Connection Land and here you are like a new-born. You still need help to develop. But you are the perfect person to wake up the sleepers and to help the dreamers. That’s why you have had such a long education.’
‘Education? Was that what it was? And why didn’t I know that?’
‘Wait and see, we’ll tell you everything. First I’ll take you to your room, where you can stay at night, but not to sleep. We don’t do that here. But you do need to calm down, and when you calm down, wisdom will come to you. And what is wisdom if it is not alive? If it does not shine and work? What would be the point of you sitting here being wise and doing nothing at all?’
He looked seriously at Ralph: ‘You felt alone, but we followed every step of your way, supporting you from the inside if you needed it. Don’t you remember those moments when you suddenly took courage again, even though the circumstances didn’t change? You felt alone, but as you can clearly see here: no one is alone, because we are all-one, even in Communication Land. Believe me, charged with wisdom, and truly rested, you will realise that all the dreamers you have spoken to will also become wakers, just as you were, and connectors, as you will become now. Even the deepest sleepers, who you experienced as warm stones, are related, as we all are. The lonely are one-ly. The ribbons of light that are still in the foreground for you now are there as well, between all the people, animals, plants, stones. Everything is connected, whether people see it or not. You have known this all the time, deep in your heart. That knowledge is the carrier of life, Love. Enough for now. Will you come with me to your room?’
Confused, but filled with an indefinable expectation, Ralph followed his new friend to his accommodation: the nursery.