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Box of Tongues

Today I have a jester's tongue.

I’m saying all the things

I’d never say

with sense tucked into

my oddly lopsided back pocket.

I stumbled over a butterfly

and jumbled my s-es and t-s,

with a crooked toothed smile

and tongue in cheek antics.

You laughed and enjoyed

the folly,

did you not?


The other day I had a forked tongue

and hissed my way

through our least favorite people;

biting words paying homage

to their impossibly ludicrous actions.

Sharp edges of my tongue

flaying their untruths into

a pile of assassinated characters.

You felt assuaged and rather mollified

with the viscosity,

did you not?


Some days I have a rather pensive tongue.

Rolling the r-s and

Stressing on the i-s of this world’s ways,

pulling euphemisms from the depths

of my throat,

laying out exquisite spreads

in rich buffets

so we could sample politics and religion as one,

philosophy and psychology alike,

and then let the heavy tongue hang out

as we palatably regurgitated that which

tasted of all we could digest.

You were titillated and satiate

with the substance,

were you not?


I have a box of tongues

I’ve often used

with much gusto and what you’d call

success.

There’s odd shapes

and some dented ones.

Some cut up,

like the frowns that slash our

lips in half.

Some winding like the roads

we often find ourselves taking

when we don't know we're lost.

Some velvety,

like the soft kiss of love

that leaves a content aftertaste.

Some tied in a loop,

nothing escapes them

except in synchronized echolalia.

Some lopsided,

ever so slightly to the left or right

just so you'd tilt your head in

coherence.


I am but a simulation

with an individual aberration.


Mine's there too,

waiting to be rolled out

like a red carpet

Of only my life's work.


Soon,

there’s bound to be a day

where my tongue is just that -

Mine.

Then,

I wonder if you’d be.


Image Courtesy: several different medical websites - slightly edited!


One of the most fascinating things about conversations with fellow humans is what we could refer to as the commonality factor. If you and I have a shared interest, we're going to invest in the communication with full gusto; if even one alters their interest, the conversation unravels into a state of well-meaning, yet barely there, How are yous.


If we take a look at the theory of evolution, those that could effectively create bonds that were strongly entrenched in common beliefs, actions, and thought patterns, have had historically high survival success rates; the advantages of banding together in groups for survival outweighed those of individualistic survival. So much so that we are primed to unconsciously confirm the views that most resonate with our own - confirmation bias. This forms the basis of life as we know it, whether it be peer pressure, comparison with others, parental belief systems, relationship dynamics, or even something as simple as the content we consume on social media (which is also tailored, by design, to our personal preferences).


At the very end of this very superficial layer that connects us to each other lies the visceral layer: undead versions of ourselves that we never had the chance or maybe even the inclination to explore. So on the surface of it, we're stuck trying to find things that make us more alike to another, while within lies something or someone that is so unique that we wouldn't probably be able to resonate with that version of ourself, ourselves!


But there's a brilliant simplicity to all of this: Think of a simple 3 layer image on a 2D plane -


You as you show it (The collective superficial)

____________________________________________________

You as you don't even know it (The visceral layer)

____________________________________________________

You as you are (The singularity)


(keeping the language extremely layman-ish in the spirit of a laidback Sunday)

What's incredible is that below who we don't even know we are (the visceral layer) lies us as we are (the singularity), and who we all are individually is just the same person. Anyone who has ventured into spirituality as a journey, into mental and physical healing, psychology, philosophy, literature, science.... (you get the drift), has uncovered that beyond the layers of who we pretend to be and who we don't know we are, lies the same us that we have been throughout the ages in different forms or realities. This is what spirituality calls super-consciousness, psychics call the spirit world, psychology calls the collective unconscious, science calls matter, new-age healers call energy, Laozi calls The Dao, Hinduism calls Atman; and the list goes on.... This is why, once you peel back the layers of who you are and who the other person is, you reach a place where you realize that you're actually not that different from another person.


Conversely, art and culture have always touted the concept of fierce individuality as a totem of sorts, so you're always clamoring to believe that you are special, different, unique, just one-of-a-kind, thus perpetuating a cycle of paradoxes: wanting to belong while standing out, trying to stand out only to be accepted as one who fits in. So the minute you realize you are the same as another, two things simultaneously happen

- you feel elated because you've finally reached a place where you need never search for a sense of belonging again and

- you feel crippled because the one thing you thought was your superpower, that which made you unique or special, has been stripped off and cast away into non-existence.


Then isn't the fact that we feel the need to concoct a collective superficial to overlay upon the visceral as a reflection of the singularity strange? Why the additional layers?


This Sunday, here's a prose about the box of tongues we all use with ease and without abandon: as borrowed and retrofitted versions of everything that is around us. Do we ever use/be our real selves, and if so, are they visceral or singular? And more importantly, what happens when we use the singular tongue that stirs that which lies dormant, yet very much alive, inside us all? Will we still belong or be consumed in the search for belonging or transcend?


Happy Sunday! As always, look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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