Who Was I Before I Was Me?

The headline is a question my oldest son asked me when he was about 3 or 4 . We were in the parking lot of a convenience store where I had just purchased a soda and a copy of U.S. News & World Report. The magazine was purchased at my son’s request and the soda was my idea.  As we walked to the car Nick looked up at me and said, “Mom? Who was I before I was me?”

When he asked I was still digesting the odd nature of his magazine request so the ensuing question was more than  unsettling,  it was sort of creepy. I replied to his question with a questions like, “why do you think you were someone before?” I wanted to draw Nick out on the subject in the event his question was based on something he saw on television or a conversation he overheard. Nick was quiet  for a minute and said, “just because I do.” I pressed for the origin of his question but ascertained nothing. I don’t remember my exact reply to him on that day but I’m pretty sure that I would have given him a short list that included a variety of different beliefs and I would have started my sentence with, “some people believe…”

That was over 20 year ago beyond that I’ve honestly never given too much thought to past lives.  Certainly, I’ve met complete strangers that I felt I’ve known them forever and like Nick, I’ve met children who seem to embody the twinkle of a very old soul.  I bring this up because I recently had a strange experience that has caused me to look into the subject and poke around for information online. Before I decide whether or not to share details I wanted to open the topic up and gather views from those willing to comment subject.

Do you think people have past lives,  if so do you think they “cluster” in current lives as psychic medium John Edwards suggests?  Do you think past lives draw us to specific interests  in our current lives?

Has anyone ever come into contact with an object or a location that triggered images from a different era?  This has happened to me twice, once when I was 18 and once more recently. As I am typing this it occurs to me that this happens to Alexa often.  Over the years its been something she’s been unwilling to discuss  up until recently. It has seemed that the more she opens up to it the less it  frightens her.

Growing up she was the most frightened child in the universe and literally grew up attached to my leg. As she got older it became increasingly apparent that she seemed to draw information that others didn’t. For instance, she knew  something was terribly wrong the night her father died, she correctly named her great grandfathers mother and she knew the nickname of her long deceased great uncle. I kept telling her his name was Denny until one day she looked at me and said, “I keep getting Dave.” Of course it wasn’t until she said Dave that I remembered that my grandmother was the only person who called him Denny or Dennis, everyone else indeed knew him as Dave.

Last week  we visited an area convent, Alexa  looked up at all the windows and across the grounds and said “I feel like children are peeking out from everywhere.”  A few days later I researched the history of the convent  and discovered that the nuns once ran an orphanage that housed about 120 children per year and the period of dress Alexa described was consistent with the time period identified in the historical documents.

When I take walks I typically use the cemeteries as my turn around points, its a very small town so its almost unavoidable. One of the cemeteries has a spot in back along the riverbank that makes me uneasy, so uneasy that I avoid going anywhere near it.  The other day Alexa and I passed the cemetery in the car, she turned to look then put her finger on the passenger side window  and said, “there’s a place right there that I don’t like.”  She pointed to the very spot that I avoid like the plague.

I will leave you on that note, I am looking forward to your thoughts and comments on this subject.

**While typing this blog post the hinges on my bedroom door kept squeaking like it was moving back and forth…If I were comfortable with being irrational, I think I’d scream.

****On a final note,  Nick just came into my room and said, “thoughts are weird, I can’t tell what format their in.”  Of course my eyebrows raised as to say, “what’s that supposed to mean?”  Naturally, he elaborated…”well I put thoughts into words and pictures but what do they start out as before I translated them into something I can communicate because they’re not words or pictures.”   Yeah…when they start out with current events in preschool there’s just no predicting where they’ll end up. I just hope he wasn’t expecting me to answer.

Update:  I wanted to add a link to the theory of psychometry.

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15 Comments

Filed under Life, Paranormal, Psychic, Reincarnation

15 responses to “Who Was I Before I Was Me?

  1. aimeewrites

    Oh yeah.

    I believe 100% that we have all had former lives. (My journey to that belief is here: http://aimeewrites.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/life-after-death/) My younger son also had a few odd questions and episodes when he was two or three…breaking into tears because he “couldn’t remember what came before anymore.” (My heart broke for him on that day.)

    A great book: Journey of Souls by Michael Newton. It explained so many things I’ve experienced.

  2. Hey Aimeewrites,
    There is much to consider on this subject. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and reading suggestions, great blog by the way.

  3. uberbabyboomer

    Oh my gosh, Jody, one of my favorite subjects; I have some stories that for me and others with me at the time served as concrete evidence that there are past lives and some of us are simply more in touch with them than others. Not sure you really want me to tell my stories here, but they are much like you have described. One happened when a psychic in a small mountain town I once lived in regressed some students of mine and they did some automatic writing and the things they produced left all of us who knew them firm believers – for ever!
    I need to check the exact titles, but it seems to me that some stories/books that have Seth in the title are about a young boy who was close to his past lives. I will work on finding them again.
    My dad grew up in Niles, MI and was friends with Edgar Cayce’s family, especially Hugh, so I grew up thinking that past lives, etc. were just a normal thing.
    You definitely should pursue your experiences with your kids as it must be kind of frightening to be a young person and have these experiences in a world that is pretty cynical about this kind of thing. Glad you are feeling better – great writing you do. More later,
    uberbb

  4. Hello Uber,
    Glad you commented. Nick just made the odd comment when he was little and it hasn’t been a topic since. I’m primarily interested in finding some context for what happened. It was just strange. I’ve never talked in detail about the incident when I was 18 and I’m not sure I feel any more comfortable 20 years later, it is unsettling and a bit like announcing that you’ve just stepped off the Mothership following an alien abduction. In the larger context what happened doesn’t matter and isn’t relevent but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

    Lexx is a different subject altogether and she’s figuring out where her comfort zone lies.

    Send me your story! Have you read Saving Fish from Drowning?

  5. Great post!

    I don’t believe in past lives, nor do I believe in the paranormal. Three of the reasons why are 1) Occam’s razor, 2) the susceptibility of human cognition, and 3) the fact that in over 100 years of research, science not found any valid supporting evidence for it.

    Nevertheless, both of your son’s questions are deeply fascinating:

    – “Who was I before I was me” can also be interpreted as “What makes me who I am”? Consciousness? Self-awareness? Past memories? Social identity?

    – “What is the format of thoughts” is a fundamental question neuroscience is trying to solve. But observing our own thoughts will never give us insights into what format they’re in, because we have no frame of reference – just as a computer’s operating system can’t tell from self-observation what language it’s written in.

  6. There is much to consider on this subject

  7. woowooteacup

    I can’t say that I’ve ever had a solid experience that would lead me to say that I believe I’ve lived a past life. I’ve joked before that I must’ve been a weaver in a past life, though, because I picked this skill up in college with such ease and had such a feel for it that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it before. In contrast, the other fiber arts I’ve learned I’ve struggled with. Not so with weaving and I’m not sure why.

    While I don’t have any direct experience with past lives, nor do I think there is definitive proof for them (how can we really know?), I love to think about this question. What if? Who would I have been? (Hubby thinks it’s curious that so many people who talk of past lives believe they were kings, rather than goat herders.) Did I know the people I know now back then?

    I’m open to people’s experiences around the topic because it’s fascinating. And it makes a great plot device in a story.

  8. I appreciate your comment and am very glad to see so many points of view represented. Does your thoughts on Occam’s razor also effect your belief in God and afterlife or do those topic fall within a different category for you?

    Nick and I had a lengthy discussion when he first asked the question, I felt certain his question stemmed from something other than an internal sense but his replies indicated otherwise. This of course isn’t proof but I would have felt less unsettled had he been able to attribute the nature of his question to something he heard. Science is no where near a completed discipline, it seems the more we know the more we realize how much we have yet to learn.

    I also wanted to say that I was intrigued by your comment on “emotional resonance” I’m trying to place that within the context of your earlier statement on scientific research. In my mind what you refer to as “emotional resonance” I see as a less refined extension of what Alexa did at the convent. It would be interesting to take her into other closed buildings to see how accurately she can glean its history. She mentioned the children at the convent very reluctantly because she knew it was a convent, hospital and nursing home which made the children seem very misplaced.

    As for Nick wondering the format of his thoughts, he had just woke up from a strange dream and realized that his thoughts weren’t in an identifiable format. He didn’t assume to be able to solve the puzzle, nor did he realize neuroscience was trying to answer that very question. I noted it on the blog because I think every day but I never once noticed that my thoughts were in an identifiable format, I was startled by his observation….he later told me they were PDF

  9. I’m like you I never really thought about it until recently…its shrieks of…I’ve been abducted by aliens and just stepped off the mother ship! But it was strange and unsettling the detail was striking. Interestingly enough I seemed dressed in vintage clothing that I find myself attracted to today, which is a bit like which came first the chicken or the egg. Also, the past-self considered things I’ve never thought about. It was an ah! moment. Psychology would say, subconscious yadda yadda, certainly could be but its strangely interesting and curious.

  10. Yes, although I wouldn’t formulate my atheism not only in terms of Occam’s razor.

    My comment on the “emotional resonance” certain abandoned places have was not meant spiritualistically. I would rather compare it to the emotions artworks can evoke. Seeing paintings by Munch, Bosch, or Helnwein can be as unsettling as walking through an abandoned psychiatric hospital.

    A final thought for the format of thoughts: Wittgenstein said that “what we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence”. This applies to the many strange dreams we have and aren’t able to explain to someone else.

  11. I anticipated your replies but thought I would ask you in the event my assumptions were wrong. I was also very curious about your answers specifically since I knew you photographed abandoned buildings, I wondered if your experience as a photographer had any influence on your opinions.

    One of the experiences that raised my initial question involved an closed asylum when I was 18, I had vivid images that were terrifying, it was like watching a different period in time but also knowing what people thought and believed. What I wondered was whether there are serial killers who kill as an act of possession because that seemed to be one person belief…if he killed her she somehow belonged to him. That’s so contrary to what I would think because if you kill someone they’re gone… I couldn’t figure out how it made sense. I have since wondered if certain criminals act on that kind of a belief or if I was suddenly writing fiction.

  12. Great post! I found your blog looking for blogs about reincarnation (It’s a bit of my passion in this life). Some brief comments in no particular order:

    I have vivid memories and issues from childhood in regard to past lives: I was suicidal for most of my childhood because I wanted to ‘go home’ so badly. (It did not help I had a very unhappy home life — whose to say that it was merely that, or that I chose that home in order to awaken a life-long yearning to understand human nature and our evolution?)

    The first complete sentence I ever uttered was to my mother, who was conversing with other mothers one day about reincarnation (circa 1970):
    “Mommy, everyone knows that you choose your parents.”

    I’m actually writing a novel about reincarnation, based on events in my life with people I’ve met that I was clear we had baggage to learn from. I’ve had far too many encounters in regard to this, to not believe. I don’t wonder, I simply know it in my very bones. But I’m not beyond admitting that the belief in Past Lives gave my life meaning, and therefore I am biased. hey, whatever works! ;D

    Regards,
    Kimberely
    http://www.unbearablewriteness.blogspot.com

  13. Hello Kimberely,
    Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. I’m curious and considering all sorts of ideas and beliefs, fascinating topic I think. Good luck with your book, I’ll be sure to check out your blog.

  14. elmdea

    Jody,

    I’m not surprised you are uncomfortable openly talking about your experiences! I’m a certified past life therapist and, over the past few years, have had more and more people speak to me about past life recalls that have been triggered by locations, an item, or sometimes nothing at all.

    The experiences are all very real — there’s no confusing them for a day-dream, deja vu, or fantasy/imagination. After having this sort of experience, people often wonder if they are going crazy. Those I have spoken to are definitely quite sane, although sometimes shaken.

    An aside to woowooteacup re: everybody remembering past lives as royalty — not so. I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the past 10 years and only 1 was an historical figure. Most of us have lived “ordinary” lives which have all contributed to the human we are now.

    If you want to connect off-line, non-publicly about this, you can reach me @elmdea on twitter or check my website: http://www.lifesymmetry.com.

  15. Thanks for the reassuring comment both incidents were bizarre and scary. I’ve moved past thinking I must me crazy. Thanks for the website link and email, I’ll be in touch.

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