I was having an interesting conversation the other day while on a lengthy car ride. We had spent the drive to our destination listening to the latest Laurie Anderson album "Songs from the Bardo" - a fascinating take on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Initially we decided this was her processing the death of her long time partner, Lou Reed; but then started down the rabbit hole of discussion on death, rebirth, and past lives.
So a theoretical discussion ensued - "Do you think, assuming past lives are real, you've ever been an animal?"
I have to interject here. I recently read a node by Iceowl that got me thinking about suspending disbelief, and assuming your instinctual answer is the real answer (read it, you'll understand).
So with this in mind, my answer was "I think I've mostly been animals. Canines - wolf and coyote, Felines - mostly jaguar, probably fox, a squirrel at least once - and human just enough times to know I don't like them. Pretty equally male and female."
Then I started to really think about it. If I actually suspend disbelief, I can remember.
I remember the dirt under my paws as I make my way through the forest. I can remember running with my pack, the sent of prey in the air. I remember the smell of the good, green earth, leaves, grass, dirt, decay, and growth. I can hear the tiniest movements in the leaves; chipmunks, mice, and squirrels searching for food, scampering from one place to another.
I feel my tail and ears twitch in annoyance. I feel myself lounging on a high tree branch, surveying my territory. I feel my muscles expand and contract as I chase my prey, feeling the immense power in my being. I feel the sharp teeth as they pierce skin and muscle, and crack through bones. I feel the warnings of intruders in my space.
I remember spending a lot of time watching. Witnessing my lands become desolate, ravaged wastelands of industry. I remember watching my kin killed for skin and sport. I remember the feeling of disgust as humankind needlessly expanded their wasteful domains of iron and concrete. I remember the fresh smells being replaced by smog and smoke, and the water going stale and toxic.
My days as human were also spent observing. I do not think I was a very nice human for most of my lives in that form. I would like to think vigilante, but more than likely a roving vagabond.
All my lives remember anger and injustice.
The more I think about it, the more it seems I can remember. Most of that is probably speculation and imagination, tied in with a bit of wishful thinking. But it does give me pause. I have always identified with animals more than people, and the people I connect with the most are some level of feral. In many cases, we find ourselves gravitating to each other, an unspoken truth of disapproval of the majority of society - and humans on a whole.
Is this valid? Who knows. I think death will be a most interesting adventure. It will be fascinating to see who, if anyone, is right. A part of me hopes this is truth, and I will have the opportunity to lope through the forests, senses beyond my current state, and breathe the good, green earth again.