Adrift, floating alone, is an inceptive memory. It feels as if it is one carried from a previous life; the final snapshot before the doom of death fell upon it. It is frantic, out of control, and encased in a bitter pain that stands alone — unique in that it feels borrowed from a different pair of eyes. This remembrance is difficult to explain because of how out of focus it feels. It’s like those memories that come to you when thinking back on your childhood: hazy, unrefined, and smeared within the distortion of infantile vision.
It was definitively an out-of-body experience. Concentrating on the details, I see a metropolis — a big city with towering buildings and dense urban blocks. I do not recognize it at all. Since I have carried this memory with me for so long, I have pondered and contemplated it many times throughout my life. The memory is always exact in it’s vivid imagery, and the feeling of it has never altered. Whether it popped up in my mind as child, adolescent, teenager, or where my life cycle currently lands, it’s facets remain.
What I observed was a vehicle squirreling out of control. Flying through intersections with wanton delusion, the three bodies that were encased in the vehicle were bobbing and swaying intensely, all but confirming there was no harness or seatbelt keeping them secured. Other objects were passing by, or being passed by, the vehicle in gaussian blurs. Buildings and glass; cars, people, and sidewalks; the blue sky of the Earth; the tempered beating of fear through the heart; the desperation, fear, and anguish — I cannot have merely observed this. I lived it, or died because of it. It’s like the hard drive was not completely wiped. A lone file remained with me upon rebirth.
When I lay my character out on the table as it stands now, I would call myself anxiety ridden. I am overly cautious and carry with me a default distrust of people. I do not like being out of control. I need to be able to man the ship of my life lest I fall into paroxysms of dreadful apprehension. While I could certainly attribute these traits to distress in my upbringing, I also cannot help but wonder if these are artifacts of a previous life, remnants of my last moments before suffering a violent and abrupt death? Is this retrocognition that I’m experiencing? When the scene plays back in my mind, I cannot shake the connection that my spirit — my consciousness — was tied to one of the bodies in that vehicle. The emotion is far too attached to me, far too sacrosanct to apply such a dismissal.
Memories are our way of connecting ourselves through time. Our experiences become etched within, and the history we live through in these memories walk hand in hand with the emotion and senses we relished in at the time. Is it the smell of petrichor that accompanied so many of my favorite days, sailing paper boats down the newly manifested river of rain water? Is it the jubilation of receiving the Christmas gift I didn’t think I’d actually get as a kid? The kiss from her lips after months of distance, thinking I would never get to hold her again, that heavy burden being lifted and still feeling it’s weight imprinted upon my heart? It is not merely the act of remembering, it is the act of resurrection; memories are our novellas, and we play them back to recall facts and feelings. They buttress our history, even when there are some hazy details surrounding it.
These memories also come with a general timestamp. If you were to lay out your most cherished memories, you’d compile them in a timeline of your life. You know when one remembrance is older than another. Difficult to describe but simple to perform, chronicling your life through memories is one of the great wonders of being human. The newer the memory, the easier it is to state exactly when and where it took place; travel further in your own history, however, and years begin to meld together. Was I sixteen or seventeen? Fifteen? Not sure, but around there…
That ominous memory is staunch in where it lays in the timeline. It is the beginning — no, before the beginning. The chaotic scene is a preface, an historical adjudication of reincarnation. Coming to this possibility came from reading about a phenomenon that has taken place in many areas of the world. I stumbled upon it looking through Wikipedia’s most popular pages of the day; Sokushinbutsu. It is what a monk (or other spiritual equivalent) becomes after practicing extreme ascetism to the point of death, which can lead to self-mummification. Self-mummification is a path towards ultimate enlightenment according to their Buddhist influenced religious beliefs. That Wikipedia page inspired me to seek out a book titled Living Buddhas: The Self Mummified Monks of Yamagata, Japan by Ken Jeremiah. It was an incredibly though provoking read, and covered basic tenants of Buddhism and how Buddhism has influenced many religions, especially in China and Japan. Within the Buddhist religion is the belief of reincarnation, and Ken Jeremiah gave examples of children who would recount their past lives by describing people and places accurately that they’ve never met or seen before.
Scientifically, spirit and life after death cannot be proven, but there exist certain accounts that make convincing arguments. And while anecdotes from people are absolutely in no way proof of anything, especially when it comes to spirituality, this memory that I hold is unapologetically steadfast in it’s nature. There is a word for such a recollection: Jātismara, which means recollecting a former existence or birth. Could I be romanticizing a manifestation of fictitious memory that, because of how viscerally it presents itself, has disguised itself as truth? Perhaps. The mind is vexed. If there is one lesson I have learned throughout this existence, however, it is that nothing is worth dismissing — especially if you cannot disprove it. Keep an open mind, and never cease in contemplation.