(This morning, I felt the urge to tell this story rather than examine something about psychospiritual thinking… but perhaps it’s the same)
Three years ago, on my honeymoon, I had a dream… maybe.
I’m a middle-aged man living in a village. Date? I don’t know. But it’s a small-ish village. Dirt streets, simple wooden buildings, animals. Kinda the way we imagine the old West.
I don’t see all this; I know it, because this is where I live. All of this is clear to me in a single moment. What’s happening at this time is that I am sitting on a chair, with friends, family and respected members of the community surrounding me. They’re very concerned for me, especially my wife (I also know that we have children) who, I can tell, thinks I’ve gone crazy.
The elders tell me, as if reasoning with a child, “This is your wife; you have children; you have a job; this is where you live.”
“I understand what you’re saying, but it’s not true. I am none of these things. I am something else. This is all a facade. None of this is real.”
My wife wails in anguish. It’s painful to me that they all believe this is “real”. And it’s more painful that I can’t seem to break out of whatever this is. I’m desperate to find out what’s true, what’s behind the curtain. My life seems so familiar, but I can tell that the familiarity is just a feeling… there’s something else and I MUST find out what it is.
The pleading and begging from my community continues, but it just makes the urgency I feel about breaking through to, well, something, more intense. I don’t know what I’ll find, but I must find it, no matter what.
Suddenly, the entire scene — buildings, people, thoughts, feelings — “flattens out.” That’s the best way I can describe it. As if it went from 3-D to 2-D, stopped in time. And then, literally like a puzzle, it falls apart into pieces.
I find myself lying in my pillowtop bed, next to my new wife, remembering my “previous life” as vividly as anything else I’ve ever remembered… and I now have memories from “this” life, too.
It seems as if everything I’m currently experiencing began at the moment the other experience cracked. It’s as if, just now, I was given an entire set of thoughts, memories, feelings, stories that are appropriate for “this life.”
And, it occurs to me, what I’m now experiencing is 100% identical to what was happening moments ago. All that has changed is the content — now I have a different name, a different wife, a different job, different thoughts — but those are just stories. In fact, the only thing that feels genuinely different is there’s a greater sense of familiarity with my current surroundings and less urgency to break through to what’s behind the veil.
I don’t feel that I must break through this reality, but, seeing how similar my current experience is to my previous one, it seems likely that there is something on “the other side.”
Instead of urgency, I feel a strong curiosity.
So, I begin to look — “What’s the reality here? Is this ‘me’ just another idea that was born a few moments ago, with a new wife lying next to it, and a set of thoughts given to it, like a conscious robot that was just switched on?”
I seem to be penetrating something, diving into something, and then…
I “wake up.”
I find myself in the comfy, pillow-top bed with my wife lying next to me… I think. This time it’s really me… I guess. I’m no longer “dreaming”… it seems.
I say “it seems” because “waking up” this time is just like the last time — it’s as if, a moment ago, I was “turned on” and given a set of thoughts, memories, feelings, knowledge, et cetera. My memory from “this life” includes the 2 “previous ones.”
The only thing that’s different is that this time, the familiarity-quotient is even higher, and the urgency-quotient is even lower. I have no real proof that this life is any more/less “real” than the others.
For about the next hour, each time some new thought arises in my mind, it’s like being “rebooted” … I have no evidence that this thought isn’t my first, that all my “memories” weren’t just given to me in that moment, that anything existed in the “past.”
It occurs to me that my experience is like the movie Blade Runner, where the Replicants (think, robots) believe they’re human because in the moment they’re turned on, they have memories… and proof that the memories are true in the form of pictures and other Replicants who agree that “those are memories.”
Now, three years later, all of this has “passed,” washed smooth by the waters of familiarity and comfort. When I bring this memory to mind, though, I can still remember it all, remember the urgency, remember the curiosity, remember the flavor of “this is my first thought and all memories were just given to me.” When I dive into that, it’s as if there’s a crack in space/time, and I have the thought I could walk into or fall through that crack.
I wonder what’s on the other side.
(And then I think, “Just because I think there’s a crack with something on the other side doesn’t mean there is,” and I smile and go back to my day)