I’m With Mama on Reincarnation – Article by Dalton Roberts
Cousin Joe from New Orleans is my biggest blues hero. How I enjoy that man’s music.
He was a bluesman but he wrote some of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard, including “I Wouldn’t Give
a Crippled Crab a Crunch” and “Life’s a One Way Ticket.”
That second song expresses his thoughts on reincarnation. It goes, “Some people believe in reincarnation,
but I say when you’re dead you’re done, life’s a one-way ticket, there ain’t no second time around, son.”
That was just fine with my mother. Toward the end of her life when her physical maladies were a heavy cross
to bear, she asked one day, “Son, do you believe in reincarnation?” I told her that was just one
idea about life and I had experienced thoughts for it and some against it. She sat pensive for a while and
then blurted out, “Well, the first thing I’m gonna tell the Lord when I get to heaven is that I am not
Here lately I’ve been doing something that makes me question reincarnation. I rejoiced when I saw the Times
Free Press was bringing in more young writers and decided to do a column on the decades of life and what
we should learn in them. As I reviewed the decades of my life, I was hit hard by how little I learned in
those decades and the mistakes I made. If I’ve lived before, why in the name of Charles Darwin didn’t I remember
life well enough to walk away from the quicksand?
On the other hand, it sure appears to me that seventy years isn’t enough time to create the kind of person
we want to become. I’m thinking it will take something like 700 years. Frankly, I’m feeling a little like
mother. I’m not sure I can wade through these swamps nine more times (this assumes this is my first trip
down here to the turkey farm, and judging by how little I know, that is a safe assumption).
Take something like stubbing your toe. You know no one has ever gotten through life without stubbing their
toe. It hurts like the dickens. Would you choose to stub your toe nine more times? Not I. No matter how much
success I might have in any of my future nine lives, I wouldn’t want to come back if it meant just one toe-stubbing.
I have sniffled and snubbed for a half hour over a bad toe-stubbing.
Heck folks, diaper rash is no picnic.
Now, take boogers and ghosts. Think of how many times your older brother or sister had fun telling you, “There’s
a booger over there in the closet I saw it peeping out just now” or “the people who used to live
here said this house is haunted by ghosts.” You lie there the rest of the night teeth, hair and eyeballs.
Rigid as a two-by-four. Every tree limb the wind caused to scratch the roof of the house became a booger
just waiting to pounce on you. Every movement of ice in the ice maker was a ghost easing your way, coming
after you with those long, icy fingers.
Don’t tell me you want to go through that booger and ghost thing nine more times. I know you don’t believe
in boogers and ghosts now but when you were a small child and thought your older brother knew everything
it struck terror to your tender little naive heart. It was the most real thing in your life on that cold,
Take forgiveness. You know very well that some people can slam-dunk, gut-punch, and heart-wrench you so painfully
it takes your entire life to forgive them. Yet we are told to forgive “seventy times seven.” That
adds up to 490 lives just to get forgiveness down. The more I think the hairier this reincarnation thing
becomes. More and more, I realize my Mama was a smart woman.
This article copyright, DaltonRoberts.com – Reprinted by permission.
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