Friday, July 13, 2018


As regular readers know, I'm skeptical of past lives. Or, for that matter, future lives. But I woke this morning with the memory of a past life experience from many years ago, and it's worth recalling. I think I have never shared this with anyone before--unlike too many of my stories that you've heard before. Chalk that up to age!

This experience took place at a time when I was in a place of great distress and disorientation in my life. Anxious to restore the balance and order that had always kept me (moderately!) sane and happy, I had been looking desperately everywhere for answers--solutions, really--to the problems that beset me, and a friend invited me to try exploring my past lives.

Despite my instinctive skepticism, I trusted him. I had collaborated with him quite closely in the men's work in which we were both involved, and I had come to know him as a man of strength, wisdom and compassion. So I agreed to meet him one evening at his apartment and accept him as a guide into the mysteries of before-this-life existence. He was--is--also a gay man, a detail that is irrelevant to this story except for the fact that I was needlessly aware of it when he led me to his bedroom and invited me to lie down on his bed...

But I easily surrendered that awareness as he helped me to become comfortable and relaxed in preparation for my journey, and before long I found myself, accompanied only by my friend's voice, descending into the darkness of a semi-waking, trance-like state where my mind was open and receptive to whatever might occur.

That voice was soon leading me back through centuries until I reached a moment where images started to present themselves with the strangeness, conviction, and clarity of dream. I was in Europe, probably England, my home country, somewhere in the Middle Ages. In sudden horror, I found myself wielding a knife, enraged, stabbing another man to death in what seemed to be a fit of jealousy. This dreadful scene was followed immediately by another, equally horrible, in which I was being hanged in punishment for my crime. I felt the rough rope around my neck and struggled against it in a panic--but in vain. Darkness descended like a mercy to put an end to it.

I know I struggled on that bed. I know my hands reached up to grab the rope from around my neck. I know that my friend was there to reassure me. Somehow, however, the trance was not yet fully broken. I found myself passing through more centuries of darkness, this time approaching our own. My next stop was the late 17th century, the Georgian era; and this time, with the same dream-like clarity, I saw myself as a little boy--a greedy little boy, a greedy, fat little boy who could not stop eating. I could not stop stuffing food into my mouth, more and more of it, with my body bloating and expanding until it could take no more... and literally exploded.

I returned to consciousness in my friend's bedroom, not a little sobered by the experience I had just been through. Was it all a matter of suggestion? Was it my subconscious mind bringing some ugly stuff about myself to the surface, as though in fact in dream? Was there some deeply buried, enraged part of me that desired so urgently to murder? Or to gorge myself to death? Or had I truly lived and died a murderer in the Middle Ages? Had I died, as a child, of a surfeit of food in the 17th century? 

These questions remain obviously unanswered, and indeed unanswerable. I wondered, in my morning meditation, where this memory might have come from, and found one fairly simple and immediate anser: I have been thinking about, and beginning to work on a new project that I'm calling "What a Good Boy Am I." Its working subtitle is "Scenes from a Very English Childhood". The title, as I'm sure your know, is the last line of the nursery rhyme about Little Jack Horner--the one who "sat in the corner/Eating his Christmas pie." He "stuck in his thumb/And pulled out a plum,/And said, What a Good Boy Am I." 

So, well, there's the greedy little boy for you. As for the rope, I have be recalling the fact that I was a blue baby, born with the umbilical caught around my neck. I nearly died at birth. Strange, how the mind works with a perfect logic all its own.

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