In a past life I was beheaded on the battlefield, and I’m unable to release my hatred towards the man who killed me. That’s the only professional explanation that I’ve received for my chronic upper back pain, and I’m not convinced of its validity. Thus far, my supernatural queries have failed to explain my life, yet I continue to consult the paranormal for answers.
The allure of the occult stems from my interest in explaining the vagaries of the world. My astrologist, Deb, who thankfully is also the chef at my fraternity house, attributes my fascination to the fact that I’m a Scorpio. She also tells me I should date a Pisces. Why a fish and a scorpion make a good combo is beyond me, but she’s my go-to gal for these matters.
Whereas most people searching for an explanation for a phenomenon would draw the line of possible solutions at three standard deviations from the norm, mine extends to about six. No matter how absurd, I’ll give five minutes of credence to anyone who has a theory on the timing of the next clearwater revival.
Last year I really wanted to learn Portuguese, but when reading the course catalog for the local tech school a one night seminar on “DejaYou: Discovering Your Past Lives” distracted me. Obviously, I signed up. At best I’d find out that in a past life I was Portuguese, in which case I wouldn’t need to take a language course. I could’ve been fuckin’ Vasco de Gama. Or I could’ve been fucking Vasco de Gama. Either way it’s a bizarre thought.
Once in the classroom, the facilitator turned on some mystical music, and we began.
“Breathe in through your nose in three parts, allowing your entire chest to fill up with air,” he implored. “Feel the tension release from your pinky, feel the cosmic light from above enter through your head.”
Ten minutes passed as we transcended. “Okay, is everyone feeling more relaxed? Does anyone feel any tension in their body?” I raised my hand. Big mistake.
“Yeah I feel some tension around my upper back.” He planted himself in front of me and stuck his arm out towards my face. His eyes closed, he breathed deeply, the cosmic wind blowing over his swaying body.
“Oh, okay,” he said after five seconds. “You were a warrior. It’s okay, we all were. And you were beheaded on the battlefield. You need to release the anger you hold for the man who killed you with his axe.” I always thought it was my posture.
“Put your hands in the air and repeat after me.” Crap. “I FORGIVE YOU FOR TAKING MY HEAD! Release me from this tension! Now yell with me to release the tension. AHHHHHH!!!!!”
“Do you feel better?” he asked.
After this initial relaxation exercise, the real exploration began. We each imagined ourselves as children, being carried from the ground up to a cloud from which we could watch time move backwards. I grew up in Massachusetts, so as time moved backwards I end up in colonial Boston.
“Imagine your house.” I’m in some brick house in the north end.
“Imagine your spouse.” I’m envisioning my girlfriend at the time (Aquarius, Deb says no good) in colonial garb in the kitchen.
“Imagine your best friend walking down the street with you. What are you talking about?” I’m walking down some cobblestone street with my buddy Abhi, dressed in breeches and an overcoat. Only instead of talking about taxation and Paul Revere, Abhi is saying, “Benny man, I was talking with this British chick at the pub last night, and I convinced her my dad was the silversmith that made the mugs. It was epic.”
Sadly, this was not my past life, but rather my current life in colonial clothes. I might as well have gone as Ben Franklin for Halloween and flipped the lights on and off.
Unlike me, many of the seminar’s attendees discovered past lives that were revealing. One woman was an aristocrat in Paris. “Don’t ask me how I know, but the year was 1813,” she said. The guy running the session chimes in, “Oh 1813? I was also in Paris then, maybe we were friends. Go on.”
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who had difficulty getting in touch with my former self. Someone raised her hand and said, “The last time I came here you told me that I was a monk and I had problems.”
The facilitator responded, “Was that at my past lives seminar or my personal aura seminar?”
“Both!” It’s good to know that the results are replicable.
To find out why I couldn’t get in touch with my 747 former selves, he did the whole arm shtick again and declared that I had spent too many lives as a warrior, at least 15-18. As a result, I’ve built a thick wall of tension around me to block out the guilt for all the people I killed. Perhaps my transgressions explain why I was reincarnated as a scorpion rather than something more exciting, like Sagittarius the social centaur.
“You can come into my practice, in a few sessions we can work through some of those issues.”
Yes, I paid $39 to be told that I was a warrior and needed more therapy. It was still better than the $40 I spent to see Creed when I was 15. If only that had been in a past life.
The seminar clearly did not boost my belief in the influence of past lives on my current one. There were just too many logical fallacies. Nonetheless, I still devote a scintilla of my cerebrum to the infinitesimally small possibility that the occult might provide some perspective on my life that my empirically focused mind wouldn’t uncover on its own. Thankfully, in Ithaca, Deb’s services are free.
Ben Koffel is a first-year grad student in the College of Architecture, Art & Planning. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come Again? appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.
Original Author: Ben K.