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19:38 - Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2015
briefly began believing
As I lay facedown on a massage table, therapist digging her big toes into the hollows on either side of my lower spine while holding onto the piping in the ceiling and lecturing me about how my back was "like mountain... go up, then down", I started thinking about all the lives I would never have the opportunity to live.

Opportunity is probably the wrong word. Time is better. All the lives I don't have the time to live. No. Not time. Enough reincarnations. All the lives I don't have enough reincarnations to live. That's not right either.

I started thinking about it because I realized I had no concept of what it would feel like to have immigrated to the U.S. with a tenuous grasp of English (certainly having started from zero) and be spending much of my time in a darkened room, hands covered in oil, staring at strangers' varied skins and asking the same staccato questions over and over.

That got me thinking about how I also had no concept of what it felt like to be a shepherd. I'm not sure why I went to being a shepherd. I just did. Crook and all. Maybe I thought of it because I always used to feel really guilty inside whenever anyone told the fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, since I constantly cried wolf.

Then everything came tumbling into the center in a big messy spiral: I realized, in turn, that I had no concept of what it felt like to:

- live in a cold place without good heat and work daily out in the snow
- be someone's mother
- collect salt in salt flats
- dive for oysters
- be a teenage boy in a culture with vision quests
- be a person who gambles compulsively with the kind of money that makes or breaks them
- be illiterate
- be passionately religious
- have a different kind of body, that feels different and works differently, with different strengths and weaknesses

Some of these things involved things that I could conceivably do, if I traveled far enough, and asked to do a life-for-a-day thing, in a touristy kind of way, but most of the things involved people I could never be, no matter how many trips I took or lives I briefly assumed.

It's not fair. It's so incredibly not fair that after thinking about all these things I would never understand, I briefly began believing in reincarnation just because of how unfair life would be if reincarnation didn't exist.


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