I would spend one year singing, dancing, acting. I would learn carnatic music at Karnamrita’s gurukul in Bhopal in the sweltering heat, 10 miles away from the nearest mango tree. I would sing on the street. At karaoke. At satsang. Maybe I’d make an album and hand it out on street corners, dreaming of my big break. I’d take ballet, hip hop, bharatnatyam, kathak, samba, salsa, and tango classes. Anything and everything.
I’d call up Poornima and join one of the agencies and spend my days as a backup dancer for music videos or dancing on cruise ships. I’d meet Shanoo Sharma and Mukesh Chhabra. I’d get a portfolio done with Dabboo Ratnani then spend my days in Aram Nagar going for auditions. I’d have a perpetual pencil under my tongue trying to perfect — if not mimic — a proper Hindi accent. I’d bicker with rickshawwalas and bhajiwalas in the sweltering sun.
I would live at the ashram for at least 3 weeks. Hell, why not 3 months. Or 3 years. 3 lifetimes, even. Time is abundant when you have a million lives. I’d take a teacher training course and hold my first yoga class. I’d learn yoga nidra and make recordings of guided meditations and exercises. I’d meditate daily. If I really had a million lives, I’d join a monastery in Tibet or the Himalyas or Bali and focus hard on attaining enlightenment. I’d wear a brown robe and eat only before noon.
I would write. Fiction. Blog posts. Nonfiction, maybe. I would sip coffee at a sunny outdoor cafe in Spain or Colombia and pour my soul into my word processor. I’d have a torrid love affair with a striking local. It would end abruptly and I would write even more, as if every word were a sacred salve to heal my broken heart.
I would spend my time in service. At a nonprofit or an NGO. Providing clean water. Fighting hunger and human suffering. Making tangible change, on a small scale or large. I would live in a hut or a hostel and give selflessly of my being. I would not worry that I was getting wrinkles on my face, that my hair was falling out or that I was not sleeping enough each night. Smiles would warm my heart and I would retire at the end of each day, exhausted but grateful.
I would live on a tropical island. Maybe I’d run a cafe or B&B or yoga school. I would think Fox News was for nature lovers and I would have never heard Donald Trump’s name.
I would live at my parents’ house. I would revel in the feeling of being whole. I’d breathe in their effortless transcendence and breathe out my shortcomings. I would bow my head at the altar of our kitchen table, making soups in the winter and colorful salads in the summer. We would take long walks in the afternoons and spend our evenings watching movies.
I would live in Mumbai. I’d have an apartment in Bandra or Worli, if I were so lucky. I’d spend my free time with cousins, aunts, grandparents, friends, exploring the magical city in its limitless possibilities. I would drive up SV road and marvel at the palm trees sprouting despite the dust. I would shake my head, letting the dust fly free, as I drove with windows down over the ocean on Sea Link bridge. Maybe I would marry. And then I’d make tea for my mother-in-law.
I would live in Brooklyn and work for a music company. Or write in a creative coworking space. I would live in TriBeCa and work in finance, addicted to Bloomberg and dreaming of one day becoming a Managing Director. I would carry a bright orange handbag to the office with my business formal suit. I would work at a tech or consulting firm. I would start my own company. I would be a freelance consultant. I would work in media or fashion. I would be a corporate lawyer. I would become narrowly specialized, the only person in the world to be an expert on my arcane slice of the law.
If I had a million lives, I’d have lives to spare. I’d live in every country of the world. I’d try countless professions, languages, hobbies, lifestyles. I’d spend lifetimes making friends and exploring the world with them. Or staying in our hometowns. Setting down roots and letting them wander freely until they intertwined, forming a thick web that neither time, nor hardship, nor distance could untangle.
Of course, I haven’t been promised a million lives. I’m lucky to have even one. And this life contains millions of moments. May I create a lifetime in each one.