March 23, 2006
Most of us have led other lives. I do not have to roll back the years too far to see myself as another person, standing in another house, thinking thoughts that would be foreign to me now. I am always amazed when I meet people whose paths are orderly-in which one dot leads to the next in a straight line-and I am almost offended when someone from my childhood tells me, "you know, you haven't changed one bit." I suppress the urge to to curse, and tell them the lie they expect to hear, "you know, you haven't changed either."
Sometimes in dreams I am transported to one time or another. I will be back in Rajastan sitting on the roof of an overcrowded train, watching the monsoon sweep across the desert, waiting for the men who sit cross-legged on elephants to raise their umbrellas one by one. I will remember what it was to be a shaggy haired nomad detached from the world experiencing that moment: the smell of the rushing hot air, the blue holy man, immobile, his hair whipping around his face, the roar of the train, and those umbrellas going up. I will forget I am asleep in my bed next to my wife and child. Except for a lingering feeling akin to deja vu I do not remember what will come, so I will lose myself in the rain, and feel all joy and sadness I felt back then.
Sometimes these dreams go on for eons, but invariably I will be pulled back, startled by my smiling son with a poke to the face and a burst of speech in strange toddler language best described as a Gallic yodel. In the seconds that make up that post-liminial eternity I cross the divide. I am that guy on that train and I am this guy now. Soon... by the time I am fully awake the other lives fade back to their proper place and I am ready to start the day. My one lingering sadness: knowing this moment, this day, will be one that someday I return to in dreams for I will be someone else, in some other house, in some other place.