It started out innocently enough. Coworker A comes back from session with chiropractor/massage guy, starts telling me funny story about how he did this test where he pressed down on her arm and told her about her past lives. We were sharing a good laugh about 187 past lives (about average for his clients) and I noted how unfair that would be, with a limited number of souls available due to vast population increases, and Coworker B comes trotting over and says, “wait, I hear some faulty logic here”. Oh crap, I’ve not ever debated this form of woo, I don’t even know how they argue it. I mention increases from hundreds of millions to billions and he counters, “How do we know there weren’t billions and billions of people back then?” Oh CRAP. I opened my mouth, took a breath to speak, and then shut it abruptly. This was getting into territory best not gone into at a place of employment, I was already halfway to splodey-headed. “Since there is no evidence there were, that possibility isn’t a valid argument about whether or not I was logically flawed in my scoffing at 187 past lives being average based on population figures,” I did not respond, in spite of wanting to very much. As I stood holding my lips shut by sheer force of will, he continued, “And how do we know these lives are lived sequentially? What if some of them are from the future?” he inquired, and I started feeling dizzy. Then, thankfully, I remembered to breathe.
The conversation continued, with more coworkers trotting over. One offered the observation that he had deja-vu frequently, and finally I spoke up, “that’s easy to explain. The way we store memory, and the reason it’s easy to implant memories, is that the brain tends to store a particular memory but lose the context, like if your aunt told you a story about you in the pool as a child but it was really some other kid, then later you have that memory as if it happened to you — your brain didn’t store the way you got that story, just the story.” There was a little more talk about souls roaming around looking for bodies to inhabit, and I said, jokingly, “around the volcano?” They looked at me funny and I said, “you know, Xenu?” and everyone laughed, nobody believes that crap, right? (I was actually quite relieved to hear that bit.)
I could have done that much better, but I was taken entirely off-guard and admittedly very unprepared. I need to study the various versions of woo more carefully, so that I’m not so easily blindsided by … future lives being lived now? Really? REALLY?
If I had shot that down though, would it have been a good idea, considering I quite like my job, and between me & Coworker B we have over a decade with the company, so it’s hardly a situation that should be made awkward by heated debate.
Still I feel like I was a giant ball of fail, I had a ready audience and if I’d been eloquent and better-informed, I could have … but I didn’t.
I didn’t. I didn’t even make the “reintarnation – when you come back in your next life as a hillbilly” joke. I FAILED.