Aaaaand, here we go again!
I wonder what it’s going to be this time? Let me see, a dark tunnel, so not an egg, probably not a mammal though. Oh, I’m squirmy and soft, and not alone. Oh God! It feels like there’s hundreds of us. Great, I’m some kind of grub or a maggot. Again!
It’s ironic to think that of all humanities pondering of the meaning of life, we have never come close to working out the real mechanism of being. Except once. Which we shall cover in due course. Naturally, I miss being a human, why wouldn’t I? Being human is the pinnacle. Forget it’s a dog’s life, or to be as free as a bird, or to have the oceans as your playground. It all sucks. I should know, I’ve tried them all. As have you, even though you are probably fortunate enough not to be aware of it. So, believe me when I say – there ain’t nothing like being a human.
My own perspective is kind of skewed, given that I appear to be a freak of nature. My memories follow me from life to life. On occasion this can be a blessing, can you imagine the relief to be born as a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa when you’d just spent the last three months forcing eggs out of your butt, trapped in a cage full of chicken shit. It’s all down to how you look at things. If given a choice though, I’d prefer not to know. But I have no choice.
I always think of myself as a human, of course I do. My intelligence carries from life to life as well, so it’s kind of inevitable. I think that… Wait, oh here we go, oh God no! It’s the decaying corpse of a rat. See what I mean? I never cry when I pop into a nice clean hospital ward. The doctors always worry about me, and they give my bum a quick slap. I usually cry at that point, but just so they don’t slap me again, but inside I’m laughing.
Decaying rat innards versus a nice clean hospital ward, or even a mud hut. You can see where I’m coming from. I mean look about, I’m surrounded by squirming little bastards, happily chomping away at festering rat meat, and here I am feeling like someone that’s trapped in a sleeping bag. I’m getting jostled and bumped and I feel compelled to eat the rancid flesh of this creature. I’ve been a rat a few times, it isn’t all that bad a life really, not by some standards. I think given the fact that I’m currently a maggot, and about to tuck into a meal of decomposing rodent, I need not qualify that statement further. And would you look at that greedy little fucker, he’s burying himself right in an eyeball. Gross! But at the same time, it’s making my stomach rumble. Bear with me while I surrender to my instincts….
…. You know, it doesn’t taste too bad. And that’s another thing I hate about this, you get used to things. Whatever you are and no matter how gross you think things are at the start, you adapt. No doubt in a day or two I will be happily dining on a puddle of dog diarrhoea, and that’s just the way it goes.
I met another like me once, I was munching away at some fungus on some rather lovely mulch, when a slug approached me. He turned out to be a wise old slug, he could remember back to when being a human wasn’t such a pleasure. Being a bald ape in the middle of an ice age was far from pleasant. He told me that in those days he would always pray to be born as anything with a decent amount of fur. And one day he got his wish, he was born a mammoth. A few months later he was hunted down and killed by his own son. Anyway, that’s an aside, the point of this story… Oh hold on that looks like a particularly tasty morsel and that wriggly bugger over there has his beadies on it. It’s mine brother….
……mmmm, yummy. Now where was I? Ah yes, a wise old slug once told me that to understand existence then it is necessary to forget what all the great philosophers say. And as for religion, well some of them got close. Sikhism had a fair go at it, and Hinduism and Buddhism are in the ballpark. But they all got it wrong in one big way. There is no point to life. There is no higher truth or anything to strive for. The wise old slug told me that the next time I was a human I should look up the work of a particular author, he told me that this one man out of the whole of humanity had nailed it right on the head. He told me the name of the author and the book just as a bird picked him up and swallowed him. I didn’t dwell on it for too long though, there was still the little matter of the rather tasty fungus to attend to.
My own memories don’t go back as far the slug’s although I suppose I must have been around then. Personally, my first ‘carried’ memory was from the time now known as the middle ages. I was a human then, although it wasn’t the nicest of lives. In fact, it was a miserable life, I have only the taste of those memories left, they taste of dank and damp and plague.
So, I suppose you could argue that being human isn’t so special. But it is, each time I reincarnate as a fly or a dung beetle, it will be the exact same as the last time. One way or another I’ll end up eating shit. They won’t have developed the internal combustion engine, their medical science won’t fix more of my ailments, they won’t have developed digital machines and the internet. Nor will they have evolved the ability to reason, to appreciate beauty, to communicate, to feel spiritual, to feel love and to look at artwork and not just consider it another object to crawl upon looking for food, this is the joy of being human.
I often wonder what would have happened if I’d been, say a goldfish, or a worm, when I first carried my memories. How would that translate as I was born in human form, would I be a human with the mind of a goldfish? For a while, every time I became a human I would ponder this. I would look for those that were born with mental problems. I would study them, looking for the behaviour traits of maybe a caterpillar or a praying mantis. But I never drew any conclusions. I just count my lucky stars that I consider myself human… Speaking of which, you’d better turn away now, because if my eyes don’t deceive me then that piece of flesh over there is the beast’s penis and that is going to be all mine. Better get a wriggle on…
…That, my friend, was Michelin star stuff, let me tell you. Now where was I? Do you know what would be nice right now? A big cigar and a nice glass of brandy. Nicotine, eh? Powerful stuff. My record for carrying my withdrawal symptoms is eight incarnations. If I remember correctly, and don’t quote me onthis, I think the very first one I was some sort of shark egg. Less than two minutes that lasted before some fucking turtle creature clamped me in its jaws and that was that, after that I was a … But you don’t want to hear all this.
Actually no, I must tell you this, I was a sea squirt once, now that is a boring existence. You get squirted from your dear Mother, you find yourself a rock and latch on. And that’s it, for the rest of your life that is your home, you suck water in and filter out nutrients. Bad enough under normal circumstances, but if you’re suffering from nicotine withdrawal then that is a total nightmare. They say to keep yourself busy when dealing with the withdrawal. Try doing that when you’re clamped to a rock and can only perform one function, man that was a tough shift!
Let’s get back on point, time is short. I’m fat now, but I’ll need to eat again soon if I ever want to take flight. This wise old slug told me that the next time I was a human I should look up a particular book by a particular author. As luck would have it was only about twenty short lives, each with a particularly brutal end before I was human again.
That’s another thing. Humans rarely get eaten these days. I hate being eaten, it’s nasty, and it happens all the time. Likely this life I will end up trapped in some spider web, only able to watch as a giant arachnid approaches with some paralysing saliva or other equally evil substance dripping from its fangs. This is not a life likely to have a glorious end. I once caught a quick glimpse of the football results from a rolled-up newspaper hurtling towards me, of course it distracted me and a second later I was a squelched mess sliding down a window. For the record Manchester United lost.
And can you imagine lying with a still beating heart and watching in shocked horror as a pack of lions slowly devour your organs. I’ve never suffered any more than a gunshot wound, and a bad case of dysentery as a human. Then again, I tend to look after myself during each human life, because I would prefer to stretch these opportunities out, as long as I can. Well there is the old smoking thing, but I always promise myself, not the next time, the next time I’ll be clean. I haven’t managed yet. But the next time…
Back to the wise old slug. I often wonder what he is now, will we ever meet again. I doubt it, the chances are infinitesimally small. But you never know, do you? I once became a statistician; it was a goal I’d set before I was even out of the womb. I was lucky, I was born into a nice clean hospital in a wealthy country to well-off parents, my fifth human life if I recall correctly. I grasped my chance in both hands, from the moment people began asking what I’d like to be when I grew up, I would tell them the same thing. I was going to a statistician. Not a fireman, or train driver, or soldier, but a statistician.
Oh, and that reminds me. How weird do you think it is to be born as a human baby and have the mind of an adult. That very same birth there is a prime example of the kind of problem that this can pose. There was a gorgeous nurse working in that hospital, and much as it pains me to tell you, but I may have had the youngest erection ever recorded in human history. Hey, I’d just finished being a duck billed platypus, that was another mind fuck. Mammal from an egg, that was a first. Anyway, the nurse blushed as did my mother. “Is that normal?” I heard her ask. The nurse looked down at me, I was cringing.
“Well no, not really,” the nurse had said. “Would you like to feed him now?”
And there’s me with an erection and my own mother is presenting me with a swollen breast. I tell you it isn’t easy being me.
As I was saying, from before I was born, I had set my mind to being a statistician. Naturally, this was a great source of amusement to my parents and their friends. I was telling them I what I was going to be before I could even say the word. They must have often wondered how a three-year-old even knew what a statistician was, never mind had chosen it as a career path. But, I stuck to my guns and I became a statistician. Of course, there was a purpose to this, I wanted to calculate the odds of being born human in any particular life.
The raw data didn’t paint a pretty picture. I can’t remember the details now, it was a hundred or so nasty, violent and mostly disgusting lives ago. I put a lot figures into the calculation, number of applicable species, total numbers of each species, birth rates and life expectancy etc. Every variable I could find any sort of data on, I used. It was my life’s work. I was determined to calculate my chances of being born a human. It wasn’t good, no matter how I manipulated the odds, the chances of becoming a human were astronomically bad. It was my life’s purpose and it led nowhere, the data and the actuality don’t match, there must be another factor in play.
Excuse me a moment, must eat…
… That’s better, a nice bit of liver. So, the wise old slug may or may not have been right. There is certainly something that swings the odds quite heavily. It might just be me of course, it may be that whatever freak of nature allows me to retain memories, also predisposes me towards human form. Who knows? Perhaps sometime in future lives there will be some new branch of science or some discovery or another that might allow me to probe further. But that’s for another time.
Now as I was saying, the wise old slug once told me to look up a particular book. So, not so many lifetimes ago, I did. The book was by an author called Douglas Adams, and in it he nailed existence on the head. If I had any sort of hearing I’m sure at this point I would be hearing you scream – Forty-two, forty-two is the meaning of life, no way! But that doesn’t make any sense! How can that be?
It isn’t. That’s just a number. It doesn’t mean anything it just happens to be a figure that sits quite comfortably, nestled in-between forty-one and forty-three. However, in that same series of books he describes a scene when an unfortunate soul is constantly re-incarnated and each time the same person kills him. That is all life is about. A series of lives each coming straight after the next. That is it, that is all. I don’t know how it started or how it ends, or what it all means. I suspect it means nothing, I think it is just what nature does. And I just happen to be a freak of that phenomenon.
There is no moral to this story, there is no… Hmm, I wonder if I wriggle through that eye socket will there be some brain left. Worth a look, oh a shadow, darkness approaching, that usually isn’t a good thing. Ah shit, a beak and a tongue and, ouch! “Bugger off!” Bloody hell that hurts and….
Oh, it’s let me go. What’s going on here? And that beady eye peering at me, edging ever closer, staring.
“Fuck off you black bastard! Stop messing about, if you’re going to eat me just do it!”
And just before it does eat me, let me explain myself to all those who are currently screaming ‘Racist!’ at me. The bird is a blackbird; therefore, it is black. Also, it is about to eat me. I consequently think I can argue quite successfully that my statement has no racist undertones. So, with that in mind and the fucker’s eye just about upon me, let me shout with a clear conscience.
“Fuck off you black bastard!”
“Ah, it’s yourself,” said the blackbird.
The blackbird gulped down a couple of my siblings. “Many lives ago, my friend,” he said with a mouth full of crushed maggots. I couldn’t blame him, they did look tasty, a point I set about proving as I munched at some crumbs.
“I was just reminiscing about your good self, funny old lives aren’t they?” I said, in-between mouthfuls.
The slug, sorry blackbird, gobbled down a few more of my brethren. “Indeed, my friend, every existence is a new challenge. Have you ever been a tapeworm? that was last my gig, what a misery that was, this is paradise. Sorry, you don’t mind if I carry on eating do you? Its been a harsh winter and the wife’s up the stick.”
How could I refuse? Not only was I thoroughly enjoying the crumbs, for he was a very messy eater, but he was also doing a great job of cutting down the competition. And it was nice to have somebody to share a meal with. A very unexpected bonus, in my eyes.
“Congrats,” said I. “I’m glad I’ve met you again, I was just thinking about our last meeting, I looked him up you know.”
The wise old blackbird chomped on a few of my family and followed it up with a bit of rat intestine. “Oh, this is to die for, is it not? Who did you look up, by the way?” He asked.
I tried a bit of intestine, he was right, it was scrumptious. “Douglas Adams, you remember? When we met last you said I should look him up, and so I did. You were right, he had it bang on about the meaning of life.”
The black eye peered at me quizzically. “Oh, that. What nonsense, you didn’t take that seriously, did you?”
“You see, the thing about that was, I was suffering flashbacks from an acid trip. I was still coming down off the back of my last human life, it had ended badly I’m afraid, I thought I could fly and leapt out of a window. The Douglas Adam thing, well I’d been reading him the day before, I guess I was still kind of spaced when we last met.”
I was completely full up, but I still took a munch at some maggot debris as I contemplated this. It had always kind of been a comfort to me that I at least knew there was no purpose to life, that it didn’t matter what one did, it was all meaningless anyway. I suppose it had always, in a bizarre kind of way, gave me my own religion to follow, a belief in non-belief. Now I was back to square one. This needed contemplation, which I will attend to just as soon as I finish tucking into this nice slice of rat innards.
“Oh dear,” said the not so wise old blackbird.
I looked up from my chomping. “What?”
The eye came closer, I could see my reflection in it, it wasn’t pleasant. I hated seeing my reflection. It’s another funny thing about my existence, that moment when you see your reflection for the first time. Can you imagine it? Watching a beautiful woman walk down the street, you pull your gut in, hold yourself with confidence and then catch a glimpse of yourself in a puddle. And before you can contemplate any further you hear – ‘Oh yuck, a cockroach,’ and you’re flattened by a stiletto heel.
I was a mole once, at least I think I was. I was never quite certain. I was blind and I burrowed underground, I also had fur and ate worms. So, it was my best guess, I kind of enjoyed that existence, simple times. You knew that the cringeworthy moment when you first saw yourself, was never going to happen.
“I said I would bring a takeaway back for the wife,” said the wise old slug who was now a stupid bird.
“Feel free, take as many as you want, it leaves more rat for me,” I told him.
The eye was really close now, it was all I could see.
“But I appear to have polished of your entire family,” said the bird. “Oops, greedy me,” it added.
A whole rat all to myself, happy days, I was quite jovial. “Take some rat then, there’s plenty. I couldn’t possibly eat a whole one.” I said, burping in satisfaction. I was beginning to get into my stride with this life. It wasn’t so bad.
“But the wife, she loves a tasty maggot she does. And if I come home with maggot breath and no maggots there will be hell to pay. So…”
That fucker. He wouldn’t, would he?
He bloody well did, you know.
Now let me just wriggle out of this egg-like thing and see what we are. Oh, a forest of some sort, or grass perhaps, or… Oh God, no!
A pubic louse, for heaven’s sake. And it stinks in here, and look, a penis. I didn’t even have the luck to be born in a woman’s pubes. You know what though, a nice little slurp at some blood would cheer me up.
Oh, that was lovely, a fine vintage. Now, a not so wise old bird once taught me a valuable lesson in gullibility…