Sunday, January 09, 2011

When I was a teenager, I thought the world was ruled by omens. I saw them everywhere--three rabbits darted across the road in front of my car and I knew they represented myself and my two bandmates, all of us safe because we were still running. Or a heavily pointed buck appeared as my friend was leaving for college and it, likewise, meant she was safe--still running wild. This dates back to an early memory of encountering a wolf (or so I thought at the time) one night on a camping trip while looking for a good place to pee. I took the wolf to be something of a spirit animal. It was probably a dream, but it made life more interesting.

Likewise, I often used to feel deja vu frequently. I'd dream about situations, conversations, and then discover myself in the middle of them weeks later. I felt that this was a good thing--it meant I was on the right track. I explained deja vu like this: perhaps the theory behind so many science fiction stories was true, I thought, and there are multiple realities. This means there are an infinite number of me's doing their things in an infinite number of realities. Deja vu, then, was simply my meta-cognizent ability to sense what all these other me's were doing. If I remembered doing something before, it was because "I" had done it/was doing it an infinite number of times in an infinite number of iterations. So it meant I was doing what I was supposed to do.

Let me clarify a couple things about me as a teenager: 1. I didn't get out much. 2. I smoked a lot of pot. Clearly, there are some holes in this theory, one of them being the issue of time: how could I feel deja vu (meaning I sensed something happening) if these things wouldn't actually happen until weeks later? So time was an issue. The biggest hole in this idea, though, I think, is this bit about 'what I'm supposed to be doing.' I assumed I was on the right track because I was following the herd of other me's. This is really a quite sad idea. It could imply that I was simply searching for approval/justification, whatever. But it certainly implies a lack of free-will. I mean, especially considering the miserable state of my teenage years (refer to points above about the pot and the not getting out much) why would I want to be doing the same thing as all the other me's? How is that comforting?

Regardless, the reason I'm thinking about all this again, is that I've had a couple intense deja vu experiences lately. Both of them came from dreams which I'd shared with other people. One instance had to do with watching a specific movie with a specific person (who I didn't know when I had the dream) and a specific dynamic happening between us. This dream I told to my wife several months ago. The deja vu moment happened about a week ago. The other had to do with writing a specific scene in a book I only just started. This one came from a dream I shared with a friend a few months ago. The deja vu moment only happened today.

So what does it mean? There are a couple psychological conditions I'm boardering on, here, having to do with finding commonplace events more meaningful than they truly are. (Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the main one. Do you think that means something?) Of course, isn't this what it is to be a writer? We see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I should also point out: I don't believe in any of this. Not really. I don't beleive in psychics or astrology or any of that. But it is certainly unsettling to be writing a scene, and realize you've dreamed it before. Or even worse, to be in a totally uncontrolled environment, and realize you've dreamed the reactions and responses of other people. One explanation for deja vu is that it is basically the brain misfiring. So maybe it isn't meaningful. Maybe there is no import, here. But, though reason may win, this is not a victory. Because that world ruled by omens is so much more interesting than the one ruled by death and taxes.


Glenn Buttkus said...

This lovely diatribe scores high
on the Bledsoe meter, for it
massages the root of all creativity,
all writing. We do see the extraordinary
in the ordinary, and we are dreamers,
but at some point our intellect will
lead some of us to a state of mind,
once the undiscovered country, where
we embrace the metaphysical notions
that we have lived several times before,
that we exist in multi-dimensions each
time we reincarnate, that deju vu is
many things, it is recall, much like
genetic memory, instinct, and perhaps'
it is precognition; in that everyone from
Edgar Cayce to Philip K. Dick postulates
that beyond the veil time does not
exist, so the possibilities of explication
are boundless and infinite. I, too, love
the notion of Native American or
Aboriginal totems, have had a UFO
sighting at 100 yards, and activity
search for Sasquatch in the mountains
of the Northwest; but one cannot
overlook thyroid-induced panic
attacks that defy logic, and when
employed by Bigfoot are referred
to as ultravision. Hey, you "believe"
in this crap, the inexplicable, the
synchronicities, the deja vu moments
more than you want to admit.
It permeates your prose, your poetry.

CLBledsoe said...

True. I prefer writing about a meta-reality, or magical realism, or whatever you call it. Good point. My thinking on the matter is that life is much more interesting when the possibility of the extraordinary is retained. Ask my wife about how I couldn't sleep in our bedroom alone when we first moved in and she was away because a man had killed himself in there a few years ago...