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Fiction: Ingenuity Did Not Originate with the Human Mind

By Eric D. Goodman
January 15, 2017

My embryonic fluid warms me, massages me, keeps me calm and comfortable even when I can tell that the motion from outside should be jarring. Mom is jogging. Were it not for the liquid around me, I’d probably be covered in bruises by now, the repetitive up, down, jump, rebound, flight, impact. My womb is nature’s perfect package, proof that ingenuity did not originate with the human mind. No engineer or designer, stylist or artist could create such an exquisite dwelling. It’s a cozy habitat, offering room to stretch and move but remaining snug, like an affectionate hug. I can bounce, flow, roam — but remain within my comfort zone. Mom’s feet and ankles will be sore, might even suffer damage manifesting itself in arthritis, foot ache, or joint stiffness. But for me this is a cushy ride.

How do I know about such things — aches and stiffness and the soreness of exercise — without having experienced it? We’re all connected to the source, in utero.

I don’t have all the answers. Knowledge, yes; answers, no. If asked to referee in matters of conflicting philosophies, I cannot rest assured that my verdict is absolute. I have a sense of right and wrong. But sometimes there is more than one right answer, and what is right for some may be wrong for others. No, I don’t have all the answers. But my knowledge is vast and my intuition strong. I’m a pure and untainted soul.

Plato comes to mind as someone who might object to that argument. He suggested that everything we learn comes to us by remembering things we picked up in a previous life. That would imply that I already have the same baggage as any adult. But I have no personal memory of a previous life. I believe I’m a new spark, regardless of what Plato thinks.

Mom is running.

Plato also argued that the human soul already knows everything — that it’s all in the human mind and when we learn we are actually remembering what we already knew, bringing the sleeping knowledge to the surface.

I don’t hear any birds or cars or outdoor sounds, only the chatter of voices, machinery, and light music. No scent of trees or flowers, just the smell of sweat and metal. Mom must be at the gym, on a treadmill. Mom’s heartbeat has elevated and it pounds like a bass drum. Her breath is deep and fast and heavy. Even suspended in liquid, I’m thirsty, as though my body knows it needs water. Within moments, the running stops. Mom drinks and the water rushes in and cools me. Soon after, I hear the sound of water pelting Mom’s body like rain. After her shower, Mom dips into the pool where everything seems to be masked in another layer of insulation, as though Mom herself is in a large womb, inside a body slightly warmer than her own. I feel Mom begin to relax. Mom needs to keep calm even when life jars her. She needs a cozy place to settle into, insulated from the stress and demands and complications of the outside world. A womb of her own.

(Eric D. Goodman lives and writes in Baltimore, Maryland. Ingenuity Did Not Originate With the Human Mind is an excerpt from Eric's forthcoming book, Womb: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing, March 21, 2017). Learn more at