Expectations: they riddle the mind with preconceived notions of the future. I have finally grown to understand that you can never walk into an interview suspecting or having early predictions of how it’s going to play out, what the other person will be like. If you approach it with tunnel vision, then your story will result in being overdone, dry, similar and familiar: unoriginal. But if you are open to unusual possibilities and even the ramblings of someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, it can open up and perhaps spark something completely new and magical. 

As I walked into Dakota Harvard’s apartment — a second-year painting major from Gulf Shores, Alabama— it appeared his roommates and him were moving elsewhere. His paintings were lined against the walls, packaged. The other rooms lacked furniture and beds. A couch rested under bay windows in the living room allowing sunlight to cut through the curtains bouncing _V9A9024-Editoff the wooden floors.

I sat down on the couch, took out my notes in preparation to discuss the meaning of his tattoos and when he got them, but that wasn’t what I received. At least not at first.

He spoke my ear off about his perceptions of death. How hell is actually a dream you experience for only a mere 10 seconds. It’s based on the science of your subconscious streaming out along with the DMT that is released when the gears in your brain finally stop grinding. 

“This dream is determined how you’ve acted throughout your entire life. If you were immoral, you’ll experience all the hurt you’ve caused. It’ll feel like eternity.” Harvard said. “And if you have withheld a strong moral compass, you’ll get glimpses of loved ones and the good times you’ve spent on this earth.”

These claims hold the same characteristics of the Bible’s description of heaven and hell. But does that constitute validity to this belief?

He apologized for going off on a tangent, after noticing we had strayed off topic. Our focus then sharpened on the tattoos, but only briefly. He explained the Popsicle on his arm was for his late dog named after B.B. King.

“B.B. lived with us for 15 years. If your wondering why the Popsicle, it’s because my mom and I always thought he smelled like a grape Popsicle.”

The one with the palm tree and the ocean backdrop, he got for his mother. She _V9A9096had a hula girl in a similar style.

“I always wanted my mom’s hula girl to have an island to go to, symbolizing how I’m always there for her and if she ever needs me I’m always available.”

I should have anticipated another wave of insight, as I was speaking with someone with strong opinions. As the tattoo’s conversation faded, religious symbols backed by dates and formulas regarding the Mayan Calendar and the Bible emerged. Political unrest, the uselessness of material objects and how a rebirth of consciousness is set to come within the next decade all echoed in that living room. I didn’t touch my notes, didn’t write specifics down. I simply sat and listened to sturdy logic of a belief and of reflections I’d never considered before. Sure, I have my own perceptions, but to look at it all in a new light with such excruciating detail was both refreshing and fascinating.

The biggest surprise wasn’t his ramblings, his preachings, or the disheveled quirks about his home. But the questions that rose within me once I crossed that threshold. It was perplexing how such crazy philosophies that contradicted that of mine held such a tangibility that I wished to grip it; to hold it, to learn more about it. I will never walk into a conversation predicting what to hear, what to say, or how the person will act anymore. Because we can’t write off the future before it is even upon us. We would never experience anything new. There’s no room for blindness when it comes to what truly matters.

Yes, tattoos hold importance and permanence, but we are talking about people with uniqueness and nerve to question aspects of life like religion, politics, and what comes after we no loner exist. And aren’t we all here just trying to figure it out, scrambling for insight or a belief that feels safe enough to cling too? As far as I’m concerned, as long as we talk about it, within reason, whether or not we have ink on bodies our shouldn’t be a debate or hinder us at all in the grand scheme of things, there are much more pressing issues.