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Short stories

Waking Life

“I keep thinking about something you said.”

“Something I said?”

“Yeah.  About feeling like you observe your life from the perspective of an old woman about to die. Remember?”

“Yeah. I still feel like that way sometimes. Like I’m looking back on my life. Like my waking life is her memories.”

“Exactly. I heard that Tim Leary said as he was dying, he looked forward to when his body was dead but his brain was alive. Those 6 to 12 minutes of brain activity after everything shuts down. And a second of dream consciousness is infinitely longer than a waking one. Know what I mean?”

“Yeah. Like I wake up at 10:12. Then, I go back to sleep and have long, intricate dreams that seem hours long. Then, I wake up and it’s 10:13.”

“Exactly. So in that 6 to 12 minutes of brain activity that could be your life. You are that woman, looking back over everything.”

“If I am? What would you be in that?”

“Whatever I am now. I mean, maybe I only exist I  your mind. I’m just as real as anything else.”

“Yeah. I’ve been thinking about something you said.”

“What’s that?”

“About reincarnation and where all the new souls come from over time. Everybody always says they’re the reincarnation of Cleopatra or Alexander the Great. You know, they were a dumb fuck like everyone else. I mean, it’s impossible. The world population has doubled in the past 40 years. So, if you believe in one eternal soul, you have a 50% chance of your soul being over 40. For it to be over 150 years old, it’s only one out of six.”

“Are you saying reincarnation doesn’t exist? Or we’re all young souls? Half of us are first-round humans?”

“No, no. I believe, reincarnation is a poetic expression of what collective memory is. I read an article by a biochemist. He said when a member of species is born, it has a billion years of memory to draw on. This is where we inherit our instincts.”

“I like that. Like there’s this telepathic thing going on that we’re a part of whether we’re conscious of it or not. That would explain these seemingly spontaneous, worldwide, innovative leaps in science and art. Like the same results popping up everywhere, independent of each other. A guy on a computer figures something out and simultaneously a bunch of people figure out the same thing. They did this study. They isolated a group over time and they monitored their abilities at crossword puzzles in relation to the population. Then they secretly gave them a day old crossword, one already done by people. Their scores went up dramatically. It’s like once the answers are out there; people can pick up on them. It’s like we’re all telepathically sharing our experiences.”

 

Waking Life, 2001

 

Written by: Anandlekshmi Nair

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