Trading Places

What if I could take the trip of a lifetime…

… through the body, mind, heart, and circumstances of every other creature on the planet?

What if I could feel what it’s like to be young and old, rich and poor, ugly and beautiful, male and female, healthy and infirm, gifted and disabled, skilled and clumsy, short and tall, fat and skinny, brilliant and dull, black and white, educated and ignorant, popular and marginalized, charming and awkward, privileged and destitute, worshipped and bullied, welcome and shunned, lionized and demonized, sheltered and terrorized, embraced and abandoned… and everything in between and beyond?

Would I discover a universal thread that connects all things? A common ground that could put all our divisive illusions, fears, anxieties, and superstitions to rest?

Or just a mindless, heartless, hopeless lottery of masters and slaves, predators and prey?

Which of my working theories–about myself, human nature, and how the world turns–would survive this epic journey?

Would I find a reason for hope and engagement? Or for cynicism and resignation?

Would I be more inclined to love my neighbor or fear my neighbor?

More inclined to be my brother’s and sister’s keeper? Or just make it all about ME until death takes it all away?

So, whose shoes would I like to walk in today?

Whose shoes do I NEED to walk in today?

I may not be able to walk IN their shoes, but I can at least walk WITH them for a while and try to understand what it’s like to be somebody else.

And who knows? They may even show an interest in understanding what it’s like to be me.

23 thoughts on “Trading Places

  1. I don’t have answers to any of your questions, but the questions themselves are intriguing … and as I was reading them, I thought it sounded like a great starting place for a book!!! Get your pad & pencil ready, for I think you’ve got that book hiding inside your mind! I’ll be at the front of the line to buy a copy!

    1. Thanks so much for the most kind words of appreciation and encouragement, Jill. Alas, I have no talent for writing fiction, but I do have tons of real life “walking with” stories to share, a few of which I’ve already posted. Thanks again for your kindness and for the inspiration. Stay tuned for more!

      1. I’m with Jill. “Walking with…” would/will make a fine book, Frank. And the post above is the perfect intro.

        Your quest is so encouraging in these times of othering, condemnation, and small mindedness.

        Have you studied Buddhism at all? I’ve just caught glimpses through mindfulness meditation, but many of your questions resonate.

        1. Thanks so much for your resonance and most kind words of encouragement, Annie. I do indeed integrate many Buddhist principles in my worldview. Alas, I still have a ways to go to walk my talk. All the best.

  2. Wonderful!

    I can speak to your subject in a personal way since, long before I learned of an established meditational school focused on the exact level of identification with the all which you describe (and, my friend, the Buddhist teachings postulate no Godhead, any more than you do, did you know that?) ~I began to experience it personally.

    My life had been blasted from its conventional course, in one way or another, and then suddenly raised to ordinary activities or significant heights and dropped again just as suddenly so often that I’d ended up walking with just about every demographic type in existence ~ talked and eaten with them.

    I understood everyone’s point of view now ~ began, in fact, to advocate for everybody to everybody else.

    This proved mighty confusing in the present nearly exclusively dualistic mindset, in which people seem certain that if you stick up for them today you are tacitly committing never also to speak for anyone not on their own narrow lists of approval, forevermore.

    “Which of my theories have survived that epic journey?” The answer is that the oneness of all is now so overwhelmingly obvious to me that no other theory can be reasonably maintained.

    Another personal note on this subject came in the story told to me by a musical companion in my twenties ~ who had accidently found himself swapping bodies with the friend with whom he was attending a concert at the time.

    Neither was of particularly mystical bent. Neither had requested the event, or suspected that such could even occur.

    Both had independently identical experiences.

    They reported afterward that perceiving the world through the brain and senses of the other transformed that world unexpectedly overwhelmingly.

    Things looked very different from there, they said. Physically different. Sounded different. Felt and smelt different.

    Both of them strongly wished themselves back in their own bodies ~ and found themselves there forthwith.

    The whole experience hadn’t taken more than a few seconds ~ but they were, of course, both changed by it forever.

    ‘Notha great post ~ beautifully written, but we come to expect that from you, become blazee about it, and move swiftly to taking it for granted completely ~ best regards, my brother!

    1. Wow! Thank you, sister Ana, for your uncommon generosity of spirit, most kind words, and deep resonance. I do indeed accept the mystery of it all without requiring explanation… and put my faith in unity, not separateness… although it’s often quite the challenge to walk my talk. As always, I’m so glad you’re here… not just on this post but on planet earth. 🌻

  3. Brilliant, Frank. This is unique. I have thought about being Willie Mays for a day, but nothing so imaginative, provocative, and useful as this. Thanks,!

      1. It occurs to me that you channeled Star Trek’s Mr. Spock in use of the “Vulcan Mind Meld!”

      1. In Star Trek, the Borg are a galaxy wide colony of beings who share a collective consciousness. There is no ego. The show portrays them as something to be feared as well as envied. The do aggressively recruit (capture) so they are mostly villains. Still it’s pretty cool to have a society where everybody’s primary purpose is to support the rest.

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