“Why are you so fucking inquisitive?” they ask. Well, not to my face. That's just rude. But they ask with their eyes, their voice, their defensive postures. The way their eyebrows arch just a little bit and the corners of their mouths turn up in irritation. “Why are you so fucking inquisitive”, they ask with their scrunched noses, every single time I lean into a conversation, uninvited, with a “What?”, or a “Huh?” or even a quizzical expression that says “Please validate my existence by acknowledging me as part of this little discussion”. Of course, they’re not looking for answers; it’s a rhetorical, nonverbal question to make the creepy guy go away. I do have an answer though, if they only stopped to listen.
It’s because I don’t believe in reincarnation.
There, now isn’t that a zinger? At this moment, I am leaning back into my chair, a smug little smile on my face. Ain’t eye a clever boy! That’s such a cute little answer, isn’t it? Enigmatic, so you want to know a little bit more. Or, you think it’s stupid and nonsensical and have already walked away, but in that case, you aren’t reading this anymore, which means you are not aware of what I am saying right now, which means if you actually ARE aware of what I am saying then you are intrigued by what I have to say next, which means my answer WAS enigmatic and clever, which means….what exactly?
And now I am stuck in a loop. Where were we? Oh right. Reincarnation. Specifically, my lack of belief that the human body is basically a glorified hard disk and that the data can just be transferred once you get one bad sector too many, into a different model, hopefully one with a larger capacity and shiny, brushed aluminium body. I don’t think that happens at all. And so, I ask questions. I shove myself into conversations. I appear, uninvited and unwanted, and no amount of uncomfortable silences and behind-my-back titters are going to dissuade me. See, being there is my only shot at reincarnation.
Because when you speak, and I listen, I am enveloped, for a moment, in your essence. Every word you say comes from a perspective that isn’t mine. It comes from a place that I have never been, and I never will be. When you speak, it’s a fascinating journey, a glimpse into a world and a worldview that is familiar, but oh so different. And when you speak, through your eyes and your worlds, I live a different life. It may be brief, it may be shallow, but it’s the only chance I have. The relationship you have with your father, or the fight this morning with your significant other, or even the weekend movie, these are all things you have experienced uniquely. I may sit right next to you during the movie, or have a similar relationship with my parent, but it will never be exactly the same, and it will not affect me the same way. When you speak, when you share your life, you are not recounting facts. You have taken facts and dipped and marinated them in that all-important sauce that gives life its zing – PERSPECTIVE! It is your perspective that makes everything about you unique, and when you speak, you lend me a little bit of that unique worldview. For a moment, in a strange and powerful way, I am not me. I am you, and you, and you, and I am living a different life every minute. It is intoxicating. In fact, you should try it sometime. Perhaps then, the next time you see me wading into a conversation with a stupid little grin on my face, you would not draw back or walk away. You would understand. You’re the only chance I have, just like I’m the only chance you have.
At a different life.