Until I was ten years old, I believed a simple truth: We only live once.
It was a reasonable assumption that perfectly supported and promoted the idea that living a good and honorable life was the only worthy goal. This was accomplished by placing the prize in the everlasting bliss that is possible after our terrestrial stint is over.
Simply stated, the quality of the next stop is equal only to the quality of your behavior right here and right now. Karma in a nutshell. A life that is well-lived, one devoted more towards the care and service of others, will reap a greater reward in the afterlife than one lived solely for personal interest and gains.
I was happy with this philosophy and felt it entirely manageable.
I was going to be a good girl, focus on the welfare and happiness of the others in my life, live long and die peacefully. After which my hope was that I would be liberated from this bucket of dung and move up a notch to a place more suited to one whose only real interest is finding peace among other like-minded souls and basking in our unconditional love for one another.
That all changed after my mother discovered a book by Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet, and came to me with the ridiculous concept of reincarnation, telling me that not only would I in all probability have to return again to this earth once my present life was over, but that I had likely also lived several hundred previous lifetimes before reaching this point.
In my ten-year-old brain this meant that in addition to my having to endure being a knock-kneed, blundering wunderkind in the here and now, I could also look forward to suffering that same fate for at least another six-hundred lifetimes before winning my wings and a respectable place in the Good Human Hall of Fame in the sky.
Suddenly being alive seemed far less reasonable.
But my mother had spoken and I trusted her, so I listened. I also spent the next five decades attempting to reconcile myself with that daunting possibility even to the point of having several times met with various psychics and seers to obtain a 'life reading' and get a handle on just who I was in the past and how that knowledge might benefit me in the present.
I tried to remain open and gave it my best shot.
But I'm not buying it.
For one thing, the idea of reincarnation is self-defeating. It would be like spending the summer helping your child overcome his fear of the water by teaching him to swim and then plying him with a potion during the winter to make him forget all that he had learned but yet expecting him to swim competitively the following year.
For another, I have known far too many duplicates. To date, I know of three living women who were told they were formerly Marie Antoinette, two Cleopatras, at least a half-dozen Guineveres and four biblical Rebbecas. My own mother was told she had previously been Queen Esther (A lifetime she evidently must have split with Cher who was also told the same thing) and that my father was once Blackbeard.
Seriously? Blackbeard? My father? Pillaging and plundering on the high seas seem at clear odds with his conservative, land-lubber, Republican conventionality; and the idea of him wearing a beard divided into braids and laced with colored ribbons is, well....seriously?
And then there is the "ick factor." According to those in the reincarnation know, among other troubling configurations, I have been my grandfather's husband, my husband's sister, my brother's wife and my mother's father. Ick.
Supposedly, I have lived the majority of my lifetimes as a high priestess and prophetess; a metaphysician, healer and a medicine woman. These reputed facts alone blow the lid off the reincarnation theory, which posits that as we move through each lifetime, we progress towards enlightenment and perfection; that our wisdom expands as our experience grows and our successive lives evidence the accumulated accomplishments and refinements of the ones that came before.
If this is true, then would someone mind explaining to me how an adherent to the High and Holy, an elective celibate and servant of the Divine, and a sacred feminine vessel of untold wisdom who was revered and honored by kings and commoners alike lifetime after lifetime has wound up a disconsolate, middle-aged hausfrau, scrubbing toilets in a Kansas City suburb while living in total anonymity and abject normalcy?
The only time I come close to being regarded with reverential deference is on the one day a year I spend in the sacred bowels of the kitchen manifesting a Thanksgiving turkey.
Where is the logic? And for that matter, where is my torch bearer?
Thankfully, the theoretical physicists have postulated the idea of the multiverse, which lends itself to a belief I can more readily assimilate.
Briefly, the theory proposes that there are as many worlds or universes as there are possibilities and choices and that we exist (or not) in all of them in accordance with the choices available to us from moment to moment. So, in some parallel universe you married the other guy and drive a BMW or finished college and wrote that book.
But the point is that if the theory of the multiverse is true and you add to it Einstein's theory of relativity, which states that the past, present and future are occurring simultaneously; then everything that you ever were, are or will become in every single variation are all happening right NOW.
My thoughts are that at some point outside of time all these variations of ourselves will converge and that our glory will rest on the cumulative results. This lends additional credence to the premise of being true to "thine own self" and gives a nod to the idea that "God helps those who help themselves."
We need to do our very best in life. The rest of ourselves are depending upon us.
It also explains how all these wires can become crossed and entangle themselves around seven Marc Anthony's and twelve King Arthurs. As these worlds exist in parallel dimensions, so does all that energy making it fairly easy to access psychic impressions that are not our own.
I know this is a simplistic explanation and that there are arguments and areas I have not touched upon, but this is neither the time nor the place.
I don't want to write a thesis. I just want to vent.
The important thing to consider no matter which side of the reincarnation debate we are on is that the only thing wholly worth investing with your time, the best of your heart and your energy is: This Moment.
We can do nothing about what has already been done and have yet to encounter what is to come.
What we do have is NOW.
Invest in it wisely. Your past, present and future depend on it.
And if you happen to know the version of me that eats only whole grains and vegetables, give her a thumbs up. I'm the one deeply attached to french fries and processed sugar.
But just knowing there might be a better version of me out there somewhere gives me hope.
And the impetus to get back on that damned elliptical.