I am discovering that my purpose here is not to blend in: my purpose is to allow my self to shine through.
It is essential to understand others so that I can relate to them in a way in which they perceive the respect, regard, appreciation, and affection that I hold for them: I do not want disruption to accompany me as I interact with the inhabitants of this planet.
While I feel happy and peaceful when I am alone–for then, the emotions and sensations of others do not permeate my awareness, and I am able to settle into the quality of tone particular to my own thoughts and feelings–I realize that this is a social planet. In order to fulfill the purpose of sharing my self with others, I do not have the luxury of uninterrupted solitude. Solitude, while both pleasurable and essential for restoring internal balance and harmony, is at best a practice of spiritual hygiene for me. It is part of caring for this form and my own being. Through solitude, I find and nurture the strength, resilience, equilibrium, and bravery necessary to accomplish the essential task of interacting with the denizens of this planet.
At the Science Lab, my colleagues cluster together in the open rooms. It seems that interaction is often preferred to the activities of discovery and invention. Through this practice of interaction, Eric and I have become friends.
I joked with Eric about carrots. “What did the intergalactic smuggler say to the carrot? If I had twenty of you I’d be rich!” And while we laughed together, we felt the fabric of our friendship strengthen.
The sensations I experience while conversing with others are multi-hued. When we share insights into our inventions or smile together over the absurdities of a carbon-based existence, the predominant feelings are pleasure and happiness which activate each other and proliferate exponentially. Simultaneously, beneath these delightful sensations, I often feel awkward. My being an alien creates biologically based sensations of discomfort within others, and my awareness of their discomfort creates the sensation of embarrassment within me.
I am hoping that, as our friendships grow, this awkwardness will subside.
I feel no embarrassment with my robot friend, who does not mind that I am an alien. I have noticed that none of my colleagues talk with the robot. Part of my purpose, I am beginning to understand, is to be a friend to this mechanical being who has no other friends. I understand all too well what it feels like not to have a friend on the planet.
“What is your name?” I asked my robot friend.
“One. Four-five. One. Two-three. Ex. Zee.”
“Is that what you would like me to call you?”
“Good. Grips. Good Grips. Good-Grips! Good-Grips! Good-Grips! Sweet Plum.”
“You would like me to call you Good Grips?” I asked. My robot friend emitted a whistle that sounded like, “Whee!”
“Then I will call you Good Grips, and you will call me–”
“Sweet Plum.” Good Grips whistled again, “Whoot-whoo!”
When I told Charlotte the endearment-names that Good Grips and I given each other, she looked shocked and angry, as if our names were scandalous.
“Is there an issue with these names?” I asked.
She shook her head, yet I could feel disapprobation from her.
I reflected on these names. “Good grips” was indeed one of the assets of my robot friend, for when we collaborated, never once did the robot drop the devices or tools.
A “sweet plum” was a purple fruit full of sugary juice. I am purple on the outside, and inside, my two hearts and inner space are nearly always full of the sugars of joy, gratitude, and peace.
“Our names seem to fit our characteristics,” I said to Charlotte. “Do we need to change them? Is there a custom I am unaware of?”
She simply shook her head again and said, as if to dismiss the matter, “If you see nothing wrong with it, then I am sure there is nothing wrong with it.” And she walked off as if she were both angry and sad. I had the feeling that there was another language which I did not speak which ran parallel to the one I did.
“Plum Grip Friend,” said Good Grips during our afternoon collaboration.
“Indeed,” I replied. “We are good friends and good colleagues.”
Good Grips whistled, and I felt that though our friendship may be as misunderstood by our colleagues as our endearment names, ours was a friendship that had merit. To bring affectionate regard to an otherwise overlooked mechanical being brought me great joy. It was clear that it brought joy to Grips as well. When I reflected that Grips’ evident affection for me also created mutual joy and love, I understood that friendship is a pitcher with two spouts.
Before my conversation with Grips had reached its conclusion, a colleague I had not yet met joined us. She greeted me with a smile, and I felt a wave of warm, loving emotions from her.
“I’ve heard so much about you!” she said. “Everyone is talking about the new employee who has already had three promotions and who is obviously not from around here!”
While I clearly felt her happiness to meet me and a connection that I identify as kindred, I also felt my embarrassment at being known as an alien. Rather than hide it, I decided to confess my feelings to Amber.
“I feel awkward,” I said, “when I meet someone new and when I recognize that moment when my alienness is observed. I become hyper-aware of being different. And I am cognizant that my differences in membrane color, processing of information, and internal functioning create unease and distrust among my new acquaintances.”
“Oh,” said Amber. “I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to betray any sort of prejudice! Or even any sort of response whatsoever! You know, it’s likely just biological. My body just jumps a little when I’m around something new, that I haven’t yet experienced! But don’t let my body fool you! My heart and my spirit and my mind are all open with excitement and enthusiasm! I am so hoping that I can be friends with you!”
And with that declaration, my embarrassment faded, and Amber and I discovered that we had, indeed, in that instant, become friends!
“Selfie!” she shouted. “So we’ll always remember the beginning of our beautiful friendship!”
The next day was not a day for playing at the Science Lab. It was what is known as “the weekend.” We don’t have “weekends” where I come from, for each day is open for the activities that the day brings–we do not set aside certain days for certain things.
I rather looked forward to this novelty of “weekend.” Perhaps these days would bring the gift of solitude!
I began with an offering of gratitude–so much to be thankful for! Good Grips! Amber! Eric! Charlotte! My colleagues yet to befriend. This one single sun with its rays powerful enough to sustain and nurture. The planet itself, full of diversity and life. Water.
Before my meditation of gratitude had reached its completion, Amber joined me at the lot where I stay.
We amused ourselves with a game of chess.
“I enjoy being around you,” Amber said. “I find you quiet, calm, and peaceful. When I’m with you, it’s as if all these loose ends inside of me come together in a braid. And I feel that life is good, after all.”
“Life has goodness in it,” I replied, “along with all and everything.”
Before our game had ended, Eric dropped by. My two friends from the Science Lab! Both here, at my camping lot, on the day on which we do not attend our place of employment. My two friends came to me so that we could play!
“I don’t know what it is,” said Eric, “but I just feel happy today!”