One thing I’ve noticed is that skills carrying over from previous lives is not unusual in those who report having remembered another life. I know someone, for example, who recalls a life as a pilot in WWII and has taken to the skies again in this life; I know someone else who was a doctor in the same era and is now in medical school.
And of course, I’ve taken to writing and studying religion, history, and philosophy again. I suspect Phil’s life was not the first life I did this and I suspect my current life is not the last. But there are other skills I must have had in previous lives that have, in fact, carried over.
The first time I fired a bolt-action rifle in this life, I found I could hit pretty much what I was aiming at. It was a single-shot .22 that my uncle owned. It didn’t take much time or effort to learn how to use the sights and within minutes I was nailing targets 50 yards away. The best shot I ever took was also with a bolt-action rifle, though this was with a .50 BMG rifle owned by the late Dennis Avner (yes, I knew Stalking Cat and was sad to hear he had taken his own life a couple of years ago). The shot was a 1′ wide target at about 700 yards. My first shot was just below and to the left, so I put another round in, compensated slightly, and hit where I was aiming. This was despite very little practice in the years since I first tried shooting.
The first time I tried anything resembling swordsmanship was using foam LARP weapons, and admittedly the style was a far cry from historic European martial arts tactics, but I found that I had a good sense of space and I knew how to strike where there was an opening. I also found that despite poor fine motor skills, my gross motor skills are surprisingly good when I’m properly focused. I look forward to the day when I can afford to study HEMA on a serious basis.
The first time I tried to ride a horse (aside from kiddie rides at a young age, of course) was once again at my uncle’s property, on a gentle old white mare he owned. I had trouble mounting but once in the saddle with a brief overview of how to control her, I was able to travel quite comfortably on horseback. Unfortunately, she wasn’t shod so I was limited as to how far I could go (I had to avoid rocks and pavement) but I was confident enough that I could have happily taken her down to the convenience store at the other end of the country lane had she been shod.
The first time I drove a car was terrifying, just like it was in my previous life. This is only the second life I’ve ever had a driver’s license, amazingly enough. One wonderful thing about growing up in the Southeast was I had miles and miles of country roads with relatively minimal traffic to learn the art of driving on, rather than the do-or-die world of California traffic. By the time I faced the freeways of Southern California in this life I’d had more than a decade of practice (but it was still terrifying and I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it again).
And of course, I’ve been a stagehand in this life (just as I had in the mid-19th century). It was a job I could and would happily do again if it were available, especially if I could be backstage in a grand old opera house like the one I remember. I did once get to go backstage at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, SC (an old Georgian play house that had been converted to a hotel, then re-fitted into a replica of the old playhouse in the 20th century) and it felt marvelous to be there.
It’s strange how all these things have stayed with me, and how comfortable and confident I feel with all of them. It could be argued, of course, that I confabulated past lives doing these things by virtue of being comfortable with them in my current life and if not for the way these lives line up with so many other facts I might be inclined to agree.
One thing I haven’t tried in this life is sailing. I suppose the opportunity never came up. That isn’t to say that I didn’t feel something profound when they had an open house at the Charleston ports to see a series of tall ships up close. I wanted so badly to take off with them around the world and now I kind of understand why. The ship that stood out for me was a modern tall ship christened in 2000 called the Cisne Branco (White Swan) based in Brazil. She was a beautiful vessel and I hope one day to go sailing on a ship like that, if only up and down the West Coast. How I’d love to sail from Astoria to San Francisco, or Vancouver, while learning the ropes, just once! But I think I’d save going around the Horn (as I suspect I did in the 1860s) for someone else.