And it tells a story about how all of us are the same being, that each of us is a life of that being, that through some parallax event, we are born as one of those lives, live it, then die and are reborn somewhere else, somewhen else to experience another of our lives.
The idea is that once we are finished, we will understand compassion for everyone, we will know unconditional love, we will be truly Godlike. That this world is an egg for all that to happen inside of.
I like this idea. I like it because if it is true, and I am viewing things from my current perspective it is Nathan Deeter's time, it is my life, it is my world.
It makes me feel a little self-important, a little like I matter a bit more than everyone else right now.
And then I see it: if the story is true, it is not helping me learn compassion... It's helping me learn vanity.
I've never considered myself very vain, even if I really was. I was picked on as a kid, sidelined, marginalized, left to my own devices because I was too smart, too sick, too quiet, too weird, too uncomfortable in social situations. Or perhaps I was not athletic or good looking or quick-witted or socially adept enough to be understood and accepted by peers.
So the adults who worked with me and cared about me tried to convince me of how special I was. Parents, grandparents, teachers, and my best friends in my early childhood, these guys:
Being a child in the 80s was an onslaught of the "you're the only you there is and that's special" message. Maybe I was.
Maybe I was learning vanity back then and when the message that I continued to get from real people counterbalanced the messages I was getting from fictional people, I guess I had a choice to make. Believe the ugly messages and devote myself to the real world, or believe the special messages and devote myself to the imagination.
I chose the imagination because it felt good to be there. And nobody told you in the 80s that the real world can feel good too.
They didn't make it clear that you were special BECAUSE of the people that enrich your life. That's how I learned compassion.
If I ever mistreat someone, it is unintentional because I am enriched by everyone in my life.
Lately, I've been feeling more mistreated and because, as an adult, I'm trying to choose the real world, I'm feeling like I'm owed a great deal. A ripe dose of beautiful reality or an even healthier dose of retribution. Thirty-seven years is a long time to put up with not being enough or being too much.