For the first time in my life I felt truly free and, I realized, for the first time ever there was no pain. And in that second of realization came another discovery, I had no body.
It was scary, but I guess with no chemical feedback from a brain that was no longer there, my fear was not overwhelming and it quickly subsided, giving way to curiosity.
“ Hello?” I called out.
“Ah, there you are,” a familiar voice came to me, though “voice” might be the wrong word for it. To be honest, even my own voice seemed more like an impression. Thoughts just existed and this was an answering thought.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s complicated, isn’t it.”
“Well, here we go again.”
Try as I might, I was unable to ask about what this ‘other’ meant by “here we go again.” Instead I said almost automatically.
“That doesn’t make sense,” as if I was responding to something else the other had said.
“Oh, I guess I should jump back in the game. It does get so boring doing this time after time,” the other said. “Let’s see if I can summarize and get us back on track. I explain every time that you died. You don’t have a body, so you don’t feel any pain because people learn to overcome the average pain of biological functions, etc.. You are nowhere right now, which means you are waiting to go back. As for me, I’m just sort of an extension of everything. I exist as an extension of yourself and every other human that’s lived and died and will live and will die. So I sort of am you and them and as a result am I.”
“Whoah. Wait. I’m dead?”
“Ah yes. Here we go. Yes, you died at 10:30 p.m., Dec. 30. You were a fairly healthy 98 years old. You fell…”
“Crud, I fell down the steps on my porch. I remember, now I felt some tremendous pain in my hands and my hip and, my head. I heard voices talking. Was that you?”
“Oh no. That was your neighbor Javier and his wife Melinda. They found you and called the ambulance. They also called your kids. You didn’t regain consciousness, but your kids did get to say goodbye. So… That was nice.”
“So that was nice,” I said almost as soon as he said it. What is going on with this guy. He seems to know this conversation backwards and forwards.
“You said I’m going to go back? Does that mean I’m going to be reincarnated?”
“In a matter of speaking. I must say this is the interesting part of the conversation. I always hold out hope for something new, here.”
“Does this mean there’s a heaven, but that I screwed up and didn’t qualify for it?”
“Not exactly. You do realize that we’ve had this conversation before?”
“What exactly does it mean?” I still couldn’t ask him about what seemed like added information, that part about having this conversation before. “Am I going back to learn something?”
“What do you mean?” At this point, I understand that he meant he and I have had this conversation before and that my question was to a reply that was much longer than “nope.”
“You’re just going back like all of you do.”
“All of us?”
“Yes,… Oh, yeah, this is where we should be in the conversation, so I’ll just pick it up and run with it for the rest of our limited time. Okay, so this is sort of like reincarnation, but not like you’ve learned about. You’re not being sent back to Earth to learn something and be better. You’re not even going to be a different person or thing…
I just listened and said nothing.
“Hmm. That’s strange, usually, you interrupt at this point. This is new. Well, see, some of you believe you get reincarnated into something lesser than you were before if you lead a bad life — as if there is something that is less than or more than yourself. Some of you believe you will get a better life as a reward for trials in the most recent one. But that’s not how this works, I’m afraid. You need to brace yourself.
“See, you and everyone else are just living out your cycles, again and again and again. It’s been going on forever. Since the beginning really. You’re going to be sent back into you where you will be born and everything you’ve done and said and not done is what you will go through again. You might occasionally feel as though you’ve done this stuff before, but overall, you just don’t remember it. After 98 years, you’ll slip and fall outside your home and be found by your neighbors and die and come here and we’ll have this exact conversation.”
“Let me get this straight. I just relive my life over and over and over, exactly the way I lived it before. No deviations?”
“It’s just how it works?”
“Well what about all the people that came before me or after me?”
“They’re doing the same thing.”
“I don’t think I get it. How could that ever work? Would that mean time is repeating itself.”
“You could think of it that way. But it’s more like every person is a universe unto themselves and they keep rising and falling and rising and falling and there is no end of their time. They just keep living in it and dying in it. For example, if you were a woman who lived to be 32 years old, just got her dream job and engaged and then got hit by a bus, well, that’s what you’d be reliving again and again and again. Never get married or ever work that great job. If you were a kid who died really young, say at 5 years old, then that’s what you’d live.”
“That sucks. So no one ever escapes this cycle?”
“No. Because that would mean that suddenly a person would be missing from someone else’s life and that would change everything, wouldn’t it.”
“What would happen if someone did? Would the whole universe collapse?”
“Maybe? Maybe not?”
“Might it free everyone else?”
“I doubt it, but it’s an interesting thought. That’s why I like this part of our conversation. Even though we’ve had it and will have it again and again, I quite like pondering this. I can’t say I’ve ever come up with a definitive answer. Anyway, this is about when you head back. I look forward to talking to you again.”
“Just one more thing. Can’t I change one thing about my life?”
“That’s disappointing. I had hoped I could at least be more kind.”
I heard him as I started to fade away and go back to my life — “Wait! You’ve never said that before!”