I’m not a traditionally religious person. My beliefs at this point in my life are a lovely stew of ideas from all around the world. I believe that there is a purpose to it all. I believe that there is a force for good which compels us to love each other and to take care of each other. I believe that nature is filled with power and spirit, and that all human beings are a part of that natural power.
I believe in reincarnation and eternity and endless life. I came to this belief one cold November weekend, when I realized that after almost three years of infertility treatments, my son was conceived on the very day that his grandfather was passing on. The continuity and synchronicity of that timing made me think about life as an ongoing journey, with perhaps more than one stop on this earthly plane.
For quite a while after coming to my belief in reincarnation, I thought about how I would like to return for my next visit. I passed over the predictable ideas about coming back as a movie star, rock star, famous author. I mean, I have had a pretty great ride as a human this time around. Great childhood, great parents, married my first real boyfriend and stayed that way for 34 years (so far). I have wonderful kids and a job I really enjoy. I’m surely not beautiful or rich or particularly talented, but it could be worse. A lot worse! I’ve been to enough places (like Mohegan Sun Casino and Walmart on a Friday night) to see that there are lots of people who are even worse off than I am. I wouldn’t want to take the risk of returning as a different human.
So, I thought for a while that I might like to make my next visit as a dolphin. They always look so joyous and carefree, bounding through the waves. I love the water, and I am mesmerized by the idea of having the power and grace to fly through the ocean with such abandon. I would definitely enjoy the seafood diet, and I can totally see myself basking on the surface and soaking up the rays.
After a few years, though, I changed my mind, and decided that if I could have a choice, I would want to come back as a black bear. Black bears really have a great life! They wander around the woods while the weather is nice, eating, scratching, sleeping in the sun. Their one goal is to gain as much weight as possible to see them through the winter. Now that is a job that was absolutely MADE for me! They eat fruit and nuts and fish and seeds, and they just get fatter and fatter. They have no predators, and they have no paperwork. This sound like Heaven to me. As soon as the weather turns cold, and the snow begins to fall, they curl up in a cozy den and fall asleep. No shoveling, no plowing, no commute in the ice and slush. They sleep until the equinox, and then they wake up refreshed, thin, and snuggling a baby! Sweet.
Lately, though, I have come up with a new plan. It’s been a somewhat trying school year, with a higher than average number of parental complaints. Generally speaking, I do pretty well with the moms and dads of my students. After all, I have been around for quite a while, and I have some street cred. I have taught literally hundreds of kids in my career, and have managed to raise three of my own babies into relatively successful adulthood. I listen to parents, and defer to them when I can. I recognize the fact that they will always know and love their children far better than I ever could.
That usually counts for a lot.
But this year I can’t seem to strike quite the right note with a few of my classroom parents. I don’t know what it is, but I just haven’t been able to make a good connection with them. Whatever the problem is, having me as the teacher just isn’t a good fit for these moms. They haven’t felt comfortable or settled or secure with me. And I can’t seem to shake off the disapproval, no matter how gently it is expressed. I can’t seem to disregard the complaints or tell myself that they don’t matter. Even when they don’t say anything, just knowing that they are unhappy with my performance leaves me feeling bruised and sad.
So I have decided that I would like to come back to earth as a lovely, iridescent duck. That way, everything can just roll off, like water rolls off a duck’s back.