If you could be anything, what would it be?
“Anything?” she said.
hmm… famous, beautiful, rich, immortal, a whale, a dolphin, a famous movie star…
“I’ve got it!” she said.
“So soon, so obvious.”
“Well then, oh clever one, what will it be?”
“And,” he said, after a pause punctuated by kisses and rejoicing, “What would that look like?”
“Ah,” she said, and rolled onto her back to look at the ceiling. “Therein lies the problem.”
What was it about the spaceship in Battlestar Galactica that appealed to me so much? At first glance, I’m sure the hybrids are meant to inspire horror, the mumbling form trapped forever in a vat of slime. “Oh!” I said, “I want to be a spaceship!” My partner was duly scandalized: “WHAT!?!”
“A spaceship! I want to be a spaceship.” No five-year-old was ever more certain than my 40-year-old self in that moment.
“But they’re trapped there!”
“No, they’re not. They can feel all the bits of the ship. Their body extends out into space. They can feel the minds of everybody on board. And they have long range scanners! What’s not to love?”
Several weeks later he asked me, “Do you still want to be a spaceship?” (incredulous, I think, although he could repeat back to me my reasoning.) “Yup! Plug me in, baby!”
Now the weirdest thing is, I would claim not to have a transhumanist bone in my body. I don’t even carry my cell phone consistently; forget about being all Borg-y with the Bluetooth. What kind of chicken-keeping, organic-gardening, yoga-twisting, home-birthin’ hippie holds secret aspirations of becoming the beating heart of a spaceship?
Well. Me, apparently.
Neil Young’s Legend in her Time comes on the radio and I sing loudly. “…somewhere on a desert highway, she rides a Harley Davidson, her long blonde hair flying in the wind…” My voice catches in my throat, the image so vivid, so appealing… even though I would never ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I know that yearning, to be… to be… somebody else. The somebody you once were, dreamed of becoming, might have been.
I don’t, I now admit, really want to be a spaceship. I’m sure if the aliens turned up tomorrow with a waiting place for me, I would balk, run back to my waiting children. Who would drive them to swimming lessons? (my last meek protest before booking my plane ticket to India last fall) But there is something in this prospect of merging that I can almost taste. I imagine finally having enough mind to encompass my thoughts, these things outside my control which go racing, tumbling one over the other until I can’t tease out the separate threads into a coherent paragraph mathintoscienceintophilosophyintoendlesstodolists. It is the eternal torment of the incessant “why” that I want to escape.
I could hop onto a motorcycle and let the wind blow it all away, or jack into a greater consciousness…
The spaceship still has a body, I insist on pointing out. It is a body made of wires and tubes, but a body nonetheless. A mind that runs incessantly, popping into conscious communication now and then to communicate only a garbled and mysterious prophecy. I don’t know. This should sound awful to me, but there is something so compelling… so… familiar…
“… when I went in seeking clarity…”