Monday, August 20, 2007

First Life

I had an interesting question asked of me this weekend. I was in the middle of an extended contact improv dance with a woman I don't know well, but like what I know so far. The dance was quite satisfying for both of us, and at that moment was a duet - it became a trio a bit later. My partner asked, "Is this your first life as a man?" After a beat, I responded, "As far as I know."

There are a few ways to take the question, but in the context of a CI dance, as a man I took it as quite a compliment. I'll be seeing her again, in the context of dance, in a few weeks. I'll have to follow up to see what she was thinking when she asked.

It's not the first time this question has come up. Eight or ten years ago I was hanging around a campfire at a party with a friend. It was just we two adults and a young child of four or five who belonged to neither of us. After a bit of fidgeting and staring at me, the youngster walked up and asked, "Are you a boy or a girl?". I was surprised because, while I do have long hair, I was also sporting a beard and mustache at the time. When I responded that indeed, I was a boy, she was unconvinced and repeated the question. My friend Liusadh laughed and answered, "He's an elf!" That answer seemed to satisfy the child and she wandered off contentedly. As a closer to that story, I ran into that child again when she was about ten years old. When I asked her if she remembered me (now sans beard), she nodded and seriously replied, "You're the elf."

So now I'm curious. I have no strong opinions regarding past lives one way or the other. The skeptic in me says I merely have enough of the feminine in me to make it apparent to those who care to notice (and not so much that I get beat up by the less tolerant!). There has never been any question in my mind that I'm male, yet I know that I have traits that estrange me from the Typical American Male group (I really couldn't give a shit about which team played which other team, and Nascar is best summed up as 'Accelerate, turn left. Repeat.'). But are there specific markers or traits that prompt that question?

If you know me, comment on what you think. If you don't know me, comment on the idea in general.


  1. First! (ha, lame comment).
    Actually, I know I've lived before and I certainly believe it's possible to have lived in various genders in different lives. I have a past-life regression tape some friends of mine gave me for my birthday once (they were professionally licensed in California). So I'll share any time!
    However, I DON'T think this is your first life as a man, Nataraj, you're far too good at it and comfortable with it. I'd say you're more likely to have been a man and a woman many times each. And I don't think there are any markers or traits that you exhibit (at least not to my eye) that make it difficult to decide. Maybe it's something to do with your energy, which some people could perceive either way.


  2. Hmmm, it's odd. I have no memories, or 'inexplicable insigths' into past times or personages. I am comfortable in my own skin, and don't seem to feel any urgency to prove my manliness or anything of the sort (though I do love to be in the spotlight). It might be interesting to try the past life regression tape, though I'm not sure what I'd do with the info if I found out for certain one way or another. Thanks for the thoughts, Jon.

  3. posted for ~A
    Two things:

    First, I have never doubted or questioned your masculinity. Having said that -- I do see you as a very well blended, gender balanced individual. You are light of build and graceful, flirtatious and playful all of which are often assigned as feminine traits. However, your possession of feminine traits should in no way be construed as effeminate, because you're not and I think it has little to do with what/who you were in a past life.

    With regard to the past-life thing -- I think the obvious response would be -- who the hell knows? I have no doubt that we have past and future lives but what the hell kind of question is that anyway? What is the expected answer and why is it important?

    When my son was four, we were walking down the sidewalk in a small town. As we passed a travel agency, he pointed at a poster for Hawaii and said, "I used to be there." Somewhat amused, because I knew better, or so I thought... I responded : Really? When?

    He replied: When I was a little girl and I wore bracelets.

    The older I get, the more I realize how little I really know. Certainly not enough to render a conviction on any of this.

  4. ::There has never been any question in my mind that I'm male, yet I know that I have traits that estrange me from the Typical American Male group::

    I've never had much question that I'm male, but I've never quite gotten the hang of what people mean by 'masculine' or 'feminine', or quite what it means to be a guy. Beyond absurd stereotypes, I haven't found those descriptors to be especially useful. Mostly, I've given up trying, but I get curious about it sometimes...

  5. I agree with you, Ken. At the Pagan Spirit Gathering a couple of times there was a Yin/Yang Ritual offered as an alternative to the sex-characteristics specific Men's and Women's rituals. The idea was that participants could participate with either group, masculine (yang) or feminine (yin), depending on how they identified regardless of their physical sex attributes. In these rituals, the yin or yang characteristics were explored and honored, then the groups merged to celebrate each other's attributes, then the two groups merged into a single group to acknowledge that we all had attributes of both yin and yang, masculine and feminine, in ourselves. I think that ritual needs to be rebirthed.

  6. A friend sent this via email:

    >>Nataraj, I just read "First Life" and have a question:  Why did your mind jump to the thought that the flip side of the question "Is this your first life as a man?" is "Were you a woman in a previous life?"  Let's not tie ourselves to such anthropocentrism, hmm?  Your grace is simply FELINE, that's all.  Left over from a previous life?  Who knows...<<

    Heh! I have often said, and Reena concurs, that I must have been a kitty in a former life.

  7. Yes, I've got to concur with the "feline" comment. I was going to write the very same thing, even before I saw that someone else had written it before me!


  8. smile smile smile :)
    Well that explains a lot.
    I think all I can say is you must be fae because I have always loved you for who you are and could never quite figure out why. I'd say either you are a really old soul, or you are very new, or both. Not much karma either way. When the beginning is the end and the end a beginning.


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