Sam Jowett | Joey To
Are you ready to begin?
How could you not be? You’ve waited an eternity for this. The anticipation, the rumours, the rave reviews. The moment in which you can literally become defined. The verdict is out; life is great.
Society praises, worries, and discerns itself over an afterlife, but what they instantly forget when they’re born is that there is a before life. A time that some equate to be a field prep or a briefing, a sneak preview before the main event. All of these miss the point, because as soon as you are conceived into it, any information beforehand immediately evaporates, leaving you to face the world completely oblivious.
You’ve spent the before life exposed to the millions of immaterial television screens that infect this incorporeal realm, scrutinizing the details and intricacies that life permits. Watching as other beings go about their already existing lives. Ravishing in the thought that you will soon join these beings in their own game, playing by your rules, acting out on the things that you want to.
In short, life looks fantastic.
You have a plan, even if you won’t remember it when you are conceived. You’ve seen the places on the screens that you want to travel to, seen the careers that you want to immerse yourself in, seen the arts that you want to praise, seen the place where you want to eventually settle down and have a family.
And now it’s here.
Anticipation crescendos as you head for the launch area — even though space is malleable — ready to be injected into your new body. The managers of this entire program tend to rush things, even though time is a non-issue as well. They do, however, have a moment to explain to you the basic structure of what your life will entail. They ask you if you want to hear the new details.
You nod your metaphysical face. What’s the harm in hearing a few spoilers when you’re not even going to remember them anyways?
Taking your confirmation in stride, one of the managers begins to go into details of your initial status.
Right away, your smile drips into a frown.
Wait? What?? It’s wrong. Everything they’re explaining to you is wrong.
Not wrong, they say. This is how you are going to start life.
But it isn’t what you imagined. Or pictured. Or wanted.
Your parents are not what you pictured them to be. You’re being born into a completely different place than you imagined. Your hometown can hardly be described as a town at all. Your home is merely a house compared to the image you have sculpted in your mind.
All of it. Every last bit of it is a jarring tangent of what you expected. A massive crutch. A taint on what you expected to be perfect. And you haven’t even begun—
You’re not even the sex you wanted to be.
Don’t worry, the managers say. Your parents will socialize you into the customs. You’ll learn to understand the identity that is assigned to you. You’ll adopt this life. You’ll learn to accept your limitations, get accustomed to the barriers, and work over them.
And that’s when you understand it. Even before you’re born, your life, in extraordinary circumstances out of your control, is setting up barriers already. People are already determining ahead of time what you can or cannot do. Structures, far larger than even people, already dominate your life before it has even begun.
All of this time you’ve been looking at the ideal model, the model you created for yourself. The ivory tower that you have occupied for the last eternity. But you’re not the only one in charge. You’ll be expected to adapt to what’s given to you.
It’s not a blank slate.
You promise yourself you’ll supersede your ‘potential’. You’ll shatter your limitations, you’ll overcome the barriers, that you’ll live to your ideal.
But they’re all promises that will be irrelevant in a moment.
As you step into the device that will conceive you, your consciousness gnaws away in your head, anxiety prompting the question.
What will come out of here?
Will it even be you in the end? Or something completely different?
And your last conscious thought dissolves into oblivion. The device whisks you away. It only takes a second. Now all that remains is newborn innocence. A fresh mind. A new life.
A blank slate. But only for a moment.