Inside an ear; outside a life

This morning, a doctor inspected my ear. I felt about four years old as she placed the ergonomic device into the holes either side of my head, one by one (and I almost wish I’d asked afterwards to have a look at her ears, as I’ve never looked inside an ear before; I wonder if anyone on earth has ever said that to a doctor after having their own inspected, and if so, whether their wish would have been granted; I just imagine ears look very interesting; all weird and intricate). Anyway, as a child, I used to get ear infections all the time. It got so bad during one family holiday that a doctor who spoke no English decided each of my bottom cheeks needed an injection before I could fly home, and after he’d done one injection I was so upset that I wouldn’t let him do the other – I remember there being lots of bruising as I kept jumping around and screaming. In the end, my Dad told me a long, involved story about how I simply had to be injected a second time, in the other side, otherwise I would be lop-sided and the plane home wouldn’t fly properly. I didn’t understand this at all, yet believed it entirely and bravely allowed myself to be symmetrically punctured, for the good of the other passengers (in the meantime, my older brother announced that his own possible ear infection had absolutely and miraculously gone away, so he didn’t need the doctor to look at him, thanks very much).

While gazing out the car window the other day, similarly on a canary island, my blocked, sinusy head was making me stroppy (inwardly; it always feels stupid to have a cold when somewhere hot) and I vaguely had the idea of the possibility of swapping heads with someone; just a clean, unbloody, matter-of-fact swap. I think about this sort of swapping, occasionally; isn’t it weird that we go through an entire life with the exact same head all the way through? And the same body, being the same person? I find it a bit of a shame; wouldn’t it be quite interesting if we all swapped bodies/lives on a rota sort of basis – say, once per week, we’d all shift and become someone else entirely? While the black outlines of hazy, dreamy mountains and volcanic contours whizzed past, I considered the possibility; everyone would be nicer, for one thing; we’d all know what it was like to be a cleaner, a refugee, a fighter, a singer, a record-shop assistant; but also, things would be less ‘who are you?’ and more ‘who are you this week?’; you’d make relationships and meet people knowing full well you’d only see them for a week, maximum, and you may well be cleaning the streets or plucking chickens on a different part of the planet the following Tuesday.

We’d all have interesting stories to tell. I couldn’t decide how much of our own ‘selves’ we’d retain during all our different experiences; would I be a fundamentally knowing ‘self’, experiencer of all things with a long memory, casually discussing ‘that time when…’ with people I met, who also were just one fundamental person with an array of lives already lived, or would my memories/experiences be wiped out each time, so that I was left only with the fundamental knowledge of the framework of this way of existing (so no one would be too confused, just ultimately less fixed)? I think it would be more like the first. I began to think this would be quite an interesting way of living – we’d all learn a lot, and as I mentioned over dinner later that day to the photographer I was modelling for on the trip (he gets all the best dinner convo), you wouldn’t get too depressed about any one way of living (say, if you were imprisoned or something horrible) as you’d know that in a week or less ‘this too’ would pass.

I don’t know. Maybe I just accidentally invented a sped up version of reincarnation – the concept of living multiple lifetimes; the fundamental self/soul refining/growing/experiencing itself differently over repeated journeys between birth and death. Two of my friends once told me how they together once invented a bridge by (genuinely) pondering for a while over how a common structure could be normalised, by means of which one could get from one side of a watery mass to the other. I suppose sometimes the things you think are radical are already a thing…

Anyway, I seem to have a terrible time navigating hotels (especially ones as gigantuous as the one we stayed in last week, and despite having confidentally travelled the world alone several times), and on this most recent modelling trip the photographer remarked that, while he was typically navigating in his head a 4d route to the next photoshoot location, I was busy calculating the route to nirvana in mine; perhaps I get a bit distracted. I’d been reading about quantum theory and the specific ways in which we project ourselves into certain concepts of God; just some light reading in between posing nude on beaches and clambering around on rocks. The hotel was massive, though; I’d never seen anything like it.


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