Because the reaction to my purple coloration, pointed ears, compound eyes, and echoing voice is so pronounced, it is easy to overly focus on different. Yet there is so much more that is the same.
We all inhabit finite forms. Knowing that our present form will pass away, absorbed into other forms, provides all organic beings with a basic commonality. We are made of the same stuff–stardust all of us, infused with our spark of spirit and soul.
The brains of all vertebrates consist of the same parts: an accessory olfactory bulb, a cerebellum, cerebral hemispheres, the medulla oblongata, an olfactory bulb, optic tectum, and a pituitary gland.
The way these fish and I relate to and process the world is more similar than different.
Sometimes, I center my awareness in the medulla oblongata. A feeling of calm descends, and the neural system of this form falls into the rhythm of peace. This is what these fish feel, floating through the water, a calmness that infuses skin and scale.
Where I’m from, we do not breathe, though we have working vestigial lungs. We absorb what we need from the viscous atmosphere through our membranes. Here, I enjoy rediscovering the rhythm of breath. It serves as a grounding activity for all that I do.
Perhaps our genetic ancestors, on the ancient planet of origin, breathed in this manner, and this is what makes the experience of inhale, exhale so deeply satisfying to me.
“I am very much enjoying breathing,” I said to my colleague Erin when I encountered her during our coinciding evening walks through the neighborhood.
“That’s… nice,” she said.
I would like to be friends with Erin since we play together at the Science Lab. With my attempts to converse with her, I hope to advance a friendship.
“I guess I’m enjoying, uh, the evening breeze,” she said.
Oh! She responded in kind to my statement! I felt encouragement.
“I am enjoying also the sound of the distant water from the fountain in the pond!” I offered.
“Uh-huh,” she said. “That’s nice. Ok. Been fun. Gotta go. You, uh, keep enjoying, ok?”
“I shall indeed!” I said. “I find so much to enjoy here!”
She continued her walk down the street.
When I arrived at my home lot, I found Amber walking past.
“Are you enjoying your evening walk?” I asked.
“Oh!” she said. “Very much! And how about you?”
“I am enjoying meeting you,” I said, “here on the sidewalk by the lot where I am staying.”
“It’s no coincidence!” she said. “I came to see you! I wanted to visit!”
“That makes me very happy,” I said. “I have been contemplating different and same.”
“Oh, I think about that all the time,” she said. “I think about how I always feel different, but then I think that everybody feels that way.”
“Do you mean that the feeling of being different is something that we all have in common?” I asked Amber.
“Oh! Absolutely! I’m sure of it! Everyone I’ve ever known well has confided to me that they feel ‘different!'”
“How incredible,” I said. “It’s not like that where I’m from. On my home planet, we share a continual feeling of commonality. We can always feel what the other feels, so there is no sense of being alone or of having emotions, feelings, or sensations that another might not have.”
“I suppose that on a deep level it’s that way here, too,” said Amber. “Except we don’t know it. We’re all buying into this illusion of separateness–of not being able to feel what another feels, of being totally unique and different. Like sometimes we’ll tell ourselves, ‘No one has ever felt this way before!’ But I think that’s not true, right?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I understand that there is tremendous diversity in experience and form here. And I am also beginning to discover, thanks to you, my dear friend, what is common inside of that diversity.”
The next morning, I examined the leaves on my carrot plant. Each leaf was unique–and each leaf was also an instance of the general pattern of “carrot leaf.”
“What do you feel inside of you?” I asked the little leaf. From the carrot plant, I felt a buzz of energy radiating: the energy of health and vitality. “You feel life inside of you,” I said.
During my study session, I read these first lines of my Herbalism book:
We find in the wild herbs a replica of the broader basis of pattern and individual variation. While some specific individuals of a species may appear ‘different,’ the herbalist understands that common elements lie within each discrete plant. In this way, one can represent the whole, and the whole can be discovered within the one.
This struck me as undeniably humorous. The very book which I was studying was articulating for me the concepts and basic understandings which my own cerebral hemispheres were in the process of constructing.
“Listen and learn,” it seemed to me that the little book was saying to me. “I am just one of many friends to you! Your friend, Bookey, who will help you learn and understand!”
It was too silly to me, and I buried my giggles inside the pages of my new friend Bookey.
Oh! Life on this planet has synchronicity that delights every sensation!
Where I’m from, we do not notice synchronicity as much–for it is like our atmosphere, ever present and always surrounding us.
Here, on this planet of diversity, where different lies within every same, making every difference an integral part of same, where separate is the illusion glossing every connection, we come apart so that when we and the animate and inanimate beings around us come together we can notice the remarkable instance of truth emerging.
Moments of synchronicity bring me joy.
As my reading session concluded, Amber came to visit once again.
“Do you know what I feel?” she asked. “I’ve been thinking about different and the same, and how same I feel with you, and I feel we’re soul sisters, you and me.”
I felt my two hearts open like butterfly wings as the inward smile rose to my face.
“I am your sister from another planet,” I said.
“I feel I’ve always known you,” said Amber. “That’s why I came running up to you the first time I saw you–I recognized you.”
“I recognized you, also,” I said. “On the inside, we are the same.”
While we talked, my phone rang. It was Corbin, the man I practiced social skills with a few days ago. He wanted to come “hang out.” I was surprised. He had not seemed to enjoy talking with me, and he had seemed overly aware of different.
He joined us at the table while we exchanged stories and ideas. He smiled not only with his lips but with his cheeks and his eyes. I felt the feelings of warmth from him: kindness, interest, amusement, and affection. Different was no longer a barrier. In our delight at sharing, we felt same.
My guests left. The planet turned its back to the single sun. I looked again into my new friend Bookey, and I read this:
The beginning herbalist must not let form stand in the way of perceiving essence. In order to become a skilled practitioner, being able to see more deeply, into the specific energy and properties of the plant, will lead to a more profound practice of the healing arts.
In my short time here, I have found so much to love in form: the variation of a bird song. The thin membranes of a butterfly’s indigo wings. The crescent of a carp’s scale. My soul sister’s nose. Corbin’s smile. Erin’s voice. The crooked leaf of my carrot friend.
I love form here more than I ever thought it was possible to love form, for in the endless variety of different, I find an expression of creation that seems difficult to comprehend.
And my love for form in its vastly differing expressions leads me to recognize a soul sister in an earthling; a pulse of life in a carrot plant; a shared fear of being “different” in every two-legged person; a moment of synchronicity when every pulse of the universe is expressing the one particular truth which my cerebral hemispheres are in the process of integrating into the core of my very being.