Dear Past Me, Reincarnation is not just for the afterlife.
Dear Past Me,
You’re a very feeling soul aren’t you? Your bookshelf is stacked with anthologies of poetry you’ll happily weep to, stories of chivalry and romance you’d gladly read again, and contemporary satires that will make you want to walk along the street feeling like you too could be in that novel. You pine for a world where you’re at the mercy of the beauty of life, and you’ll happily go along with that whether it be good or bad for you because all forms of beauty are beautiful after all.
In this world beauty is currency, and you already know this… to an extent. You look past the superficial aspect of face value looks and impermanent materialism: you protested passionately every time you were forced to go to the beauticians for a waxing appointment, and managed to hold off wearing make up until you had to give in for Indian wedding season 2017 (but that is a story for another time). And while you didn’t deny the power of the beauty or fashion industry, you always made it your artistic plaything at the mercy of your creativity and never the other way round. You understand that you don’t want to be face-value beautiful because everyone from your mother, to that coming of age film, to that random aunty, to even Time itself has told you that looks fade. For understanding that, future you is very proud.
Nevertheless, you want a beautiful life. And that is absolutely fine, because who does not want that? Yet the problem with you is how you go about achieving this and it all goes back to you thinking that in order for this to happen you really need to feel like you are at the mercy of life. To clarify, this never involved just sitting about waiting for life to toss you a coin, because your deeply instilled capitalist need for constant productivity would never allow you to act like this. However, it did mean that whenever life did hit you, you thought that the best way to monetise from this form of beauty was to bask in whatever emotion you were feeling. You allowed it to become an all-consuming sensory experience where emotions transcended you to such an extent you were renewed, reborn, reincarnated. Even when you knew it wouldn’t affect you in a healthy manner, you justified the beauty of such pain as the ultimate reward in your idealised way of thinking.
In a sense you romanticise pain, and while this was an act of rebellion to being told to not even feel and process hurt in your life, you must understand that neither is better than the other. And you will eventually come to terms with this, I promise. You’ll find that acknowledging emotions does not mean that they must control you, and while life can be unpredictable you must never feel like the helpless victim to its will. Exercising sovereignty over your emotions: feeling them, processing them, overcoming them, warrants a much more beautiful and healthier life than the one contemporary-guitar-strumming-soundclouding-e-bois of the Enlightenment or Renaissance go on about.
Until that point (and probably still-after), you’ll go through many reincarnations, be sure of that. But you know how the Ancient Egyptians, or Celts, and Vikings were able to take objects from their old world into the new? Well, if you stick with me on this very elaborate and melodramatic analogy for what is a natural phase or turning point of your life, here are a few things I suggest taking with you for your reincarnations:
- Your paints. Heaven knows you’ll need these when words often fail to say what you need or desire.
- Your journal. To help you find those words again in your own space and time.
- A swimming costume. Swimming has always been a source of calm ever since you could crawl. Remember how Dad used to take you to the local pool every Sunday after Punjabi class, after which you’d run in the house to be greeted by the most warming meal of aloo-parathas (chapatis-stuffed with a potato filling and enough butter to clog an artery or two). Soul-replenishing indeed.
- A bottle of tabasco. A purse essential, so why not a reincarnation essential? I have great faith that it can spice up your life as well as your food.
- Your phone. A world of support from friends and family is truly only a phone call away. More importantly, if you’re not there to pick up the phone for when your mother or grandma call, don’t even think you’ll have a chance of making it to the other side of any world.