Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Regarding Deja Vu










I no longer experience this phenomenon very often these days. When I was a child, though,  it happened on a regular basis. A friend I was playing with would attempt to execute a cartwheel, tumble sideways against a dining room chair, giggle and say "phooey beans!" and I would feel as if someone had thrown a switch inside my brain.  First would come an eerie sense of physical separation, followed by a shock of familiarity as if I had witnessed every detail of this action with this exact same person before, expletive and all.

File:Ivy Hedera Red Brick Wall 2892px.jpgSometimes the focus of my experience would be a place-- someplace I was supposedly seeing for the first time:  a house surrounded by a brick wall accessible through an iron gate, a brick house half-covered in ivy with an abandoned wasps' nest attached to one of the eaves.  Had I lived there once? Visited someone who did?

I did not tell anyone about these episodes. Neurologists might claim I was experiencing a type of seizure. There are many different types of seizures I've come to find out since working in special education.

As a young adult in the late sixties I tended to ascribe these episodes to sudden links with a previous incarnation. Back then, we "radical thinkers" made a point of believing in just about anything our brainwashed, hyper-conforming  parents rejected as utter nonsense.

 I still don't dismiss the idea of reincarnation though I don't believe that being born with cerebral palsy into a family of poverty-stricken alcoholic parents is the result of previous bad karma.

To tell the truth, I miss my deja vu episodes which were kind of like taking a mild dose of a mind-altering drug. Some wise person (Carl Jung? Joseph Campbell?) suggested that humans possess a basic need for metaphysical experiences. In many primal cultures such experiences are highly valued and can even be induced without the aid of a substance such as Jimson Weed, Peyote or Cannabis Sativa.

                                                                   *  *  *

Sometimes you'll meet someone for the first time whom -- you're convinced -- you already know.

This happened to me only once with my friend Sherryl.  I, who am incurably socially awkward, felt no discomfort whatsoever on first meeting her -- none of the initial concerns such as: should I refrain from profanities or obscenities? downplay my irreverent humor? steer clear of controversial subjects?

I knew Sherryl instantly and she knew me. From the onset we conversed as if we'd been friends forever. When Sherryl was dying of cancer, we were both convinced we'd see each other again but not in some celestial afterlife of harps and frilled clouds. Neither of us specified exactly how this future encounter would occur because we didn't know. All we knew is that our connection would somehow be preserved.

 Magical thinking, some would say, a way of coping with a painful separation, with death.

It is important to be able to demonstrate what is so and what is not so. Science is, and ought to be, the basis for making decisions that affect the course of human events. But it's also important, I think, to let oneself be confounded by the sheer majesty and mystery of human existence.

Thus, deja vu can be a neurological glitch, a synaptic collision of short term and long term memory. Or it can simply be... deja vu.

In any case, Sherryl said when we met again she'd have a cup of coffee ready for me.

20 comments:

  1. I am constantly amazed by the "sheer majesty and mystery of human existence". And almost as equally, the sheer stupidity!
    Great write!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. Stupidity, for sure; that's part of the mystery.

      Delete
  2. "Science is, and ought to be, the basis for making decisions that affect the course of human events. But it's also important, I think, to let oneself be confounded by the sheer majesty and mystery of human existence."

    Can a bumper sticker be made from this? No? Too long? It really captures everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tara. I think maybe I've discovered the core of my belief system.

      Delete
  3. I agree with Tara...that thought is inspirational and comforting.
    Great write and I think you will meet Sheryl again, quite possibly in this life and it will be her spirit filling someone who needed her. Coffee in hand, you will pick up where you left off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jo. You're right; Sherryl is with me in this life. Especially she reminds me to keep a sense of humor.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Thank you for saying so. Truthfully, you've made my day.

      Delete
  5. Very interesting and beautifully written.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Coffee covers a multitude of ills.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am still working on the balance of magical thinking with reality, I may work out where the pivot point is one day....loved this...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. You're right; it's a delicate balance.

      Delete
  8. The words Tara quoted spoke to me, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I know your "Sherryl" don't you adore souls as this!!! :0) enjoyed reading your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Sherryl was a special person to many people. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  10. I think rationalists over think the issue and over explain it. Why not simply accept the experience. Yes I know some people, friends and relatives who I am convinced have been with me for centuries - I thank my stars that I have them in my life and let it rest. If I over analyse, it will spoil it all. I am sure you will have that coffee together

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, certain experiences just need to be accepted without analysis. I'm looking forward to my cup of coffee.

      Delete
  11. I sometimes see people that I think I've known or seen before...I'm so tempted to just say, "hey, have we met?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder how many people would answer, "Wow! I was just wondering the same thing?"

      Delete