An Epilogue?

I’m turning 35 in a few days. It won’t be many long seasons until I’m 38, which was all the time Jack Harris had on earth. I’m starting to think about my future more, trying to focus more on projects that will advance me in the world. My I Ching readings have been auspicious and so far the oracle has been trustworthy.

A short story based in small part on what I thought to be Jack’s memories of the Armentieres sector in the summer of 1915 (a few weeks prior to his death) has been published.

I earned no money from this, and I have made no claims promoting the work as anything but a work of fiction. But a fraction of those memories will live on in print now, even if few copies of the anthology it’s in are likely to be sold.

It’s also a spinoff of a very ambitious novel I’m still waiting to hear about months later. I confirmed with the publisher that it’s still in the slush pile awaiting review. That novel has elements of Count William’s story in it as well, and of my experiences in 2012-2013. Again, it’s being treated as a work of fiction with no outrageous claims made about its origins.

I’ve been doing well on some medication I was given initially for pain. It’s called gabapentin, a naturally-occurring brain chemical that I seem to have lacked. It’s made me much calmer and more stable without ruining my ability to write, so I’ve been going back through a backlog of old short stories and rewriting them. I may try to publish a single author anthology next year, we’ll see. Most of these stories have never actually seen a print edition and I feel my work will be incomplete without a polished, published edition of these stories to form the definitive version.

I still have some trauma to deal with, but it’s all stuff from the last 35 years thankfully. I’m going to begin intensive outpatient therapy for that soon to hopefully get back into the workforce. I have a good lead on a security job and two good references with the company I’m applying to. I’ve had to quit weed and may quit for good but that’s not a bad thing. If I can get and keep a good job there is a chance my father might co-sign for me to get a trailer. It’s a far cry from the charming Georgian cottage of my dreams but at least it will be mine, and I won’t have to worry about landlords any more.

I’m starting to feel a bit of tender feeling creeping back in as I get less scared and more prepared to handle life. Maybe I’ll go back into the church. We’ll see. Right now I’m still dealing with awkward feelings about Christianity and religion in general. When I see people I care about complaining about how Christians treat them it’s not really helpful to butt in with a “not all Christians” take even if I find the theology that hurt them abhorrent and contrary to the spirit of the law. It’s really impossible to defend something so dominated by hateful, hurtful people and I feel apologetics fall flat in light of what people’s lived experiences have been.

I’m also tangling with Marxist dialectics now, trying the idea, testing it, and it seems diametrically opposed to the metaphysics of things I once believed yet at the same time, the logic of dialectical materialism is hard to dismiss. Most of the critiques I’ve seen have been superficial at best. Admittedly I’m grappling with some rather extreme views of my own and I wonder if I’m not a Marxist-Leninist deep down. I do wonder if I would feel different about Marxism-Leninism if I lived in a liberal social democracy rather than a laissez-faire dystopia but it’s impossible to say. What I can say is I will not call myself a Christian if I embrace Marxism-Leninism as they are mutually exclusive. It’s a bit stressful, grappling over my personal beliefs like this, but no matter which way I look it’s clear that the world as it stands can’t be sustained. Something has to give.

Maybe this is simply a turn of seasons. The Word does say that there’s a time to every purpose under Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Perhaps I’m focused on the material because it’s the season to tend to material needs. I hope I will find some shred of prosperity, from whatever’s left for working class stiffs like me. If I can do even half as well as my parents did at my age I will be satisfied. If I survive to age 40, even moreso.

Lost

The trouble with experiencing something that is beyond the power of language to describe is once you lose the emotional impression of that experience, it’s gone. You can’t record it in any way that you can relive it.

Once I thought I had seen the traces of something ineffable. You can call it God if you want. It doesn’t matter though. It slipped away and I am left only with the memory of the most superficial aspects of my epiphany, recorded in my fiction, this blog, and my private notes.

I feel the absence of something bigger than just religion. I always saw religion as an imperfect but moderately effective way to reconnect with that wholeness in a symbolic language. But without that intuitive connection to Pleroma it means nothing to me.

I have felt so lost and desolate for months and I can’t for the life of me tell you what I miss.

And I am buried in life’s troubles now without that light. The worldly pain is stronger. The worldly loneliness gnawing. The worldly needs more consuming. The world I took for illusions now tightens its grasp on me and I can’t weep for paradise because I don’t remember it.

אלהי אלהי למא שבקתני.

Aftermath

I think as for getting through surgery itself, I’m mostly just proud.

When it comes to the slow process of healing, add in frustration.

When it comes to the future beyond healing, add a touch of dread.

When it comes to the seismic shift in beliefs and priorities, I feel lost.

Strange as it sounds I feel like I’ve become agnostic again and I don’t understand why. It wasn’t just disabusing myself of some of my weirder beliefs, it’s more than that and I can’t put a finger on what exactly it is.

Maybe I just want to break with the last 7 or 8 years completely. Or maybe the mystical side of me was driven by dysphoria that just isn’t there any more. I really wish I could go somewhere and meditate on this.

It seems like if I think about anything these days, it’s getting a good job and securing a material existence. But it’s weird because it feels like I’ve entered a world of beige after living in a world of endless color.

Maybe beige was all there ever was.

Book

I may be interested in publishing a book about my experiences on the understanding that I would no longer make any claim that my so-called memories of past lives were anything more than a maladaptive fantasy.

Strength

I am growing stronger. In 14 or 15 hours I expect to be home or well on my way.

Feeling just a little heroic. I’ve taken a big risk and a punishing body hit but my dysphoria has been completely gone for the last several days. That’s a specter I won’t miss and I’m glad I took the chance.

This whole month will be a victory lap for me. I’m alive and I made it through a process that nearly destroyed my soul, shattered my identity, and gave me a stark wake-up call about how toxic some of my habits, attitudes, and alleged friends were. I went slightly mad, saw the world turned upside down, and learned to use my writing as therapy.

I don’t know if I will ever fully account for the experiences recounted in this blog. Jack’s life feels less real to me now. I can’t really identify with any aspect of Phil’s life at all. I still feel something of James’ seafaring life and truth be told, his memories were some of the few to filter in via dreams. And of Count William I feel residual affection for the look and feel of his era and astonishment at the weird coincidences between his life and Jack’s, but I can’t say I am fully invested in having been him. I’m still inclined to disbelieve in reincarnation at this time and I think this was probably a dissociative artifact of my dysphoria.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense right now to think of the past as something I can derive much from any more; I have done what everyone who left me to die in 2012 thought I couldn’t and built a new life full of joy, hope, and vast possibility. I took agency after bumbling through the first 27 years of my life and reinvented myself from a college dropout with a drinking problem and a self-destructive outlook into a beloved member of a community and a role model for others.

I’m so happy right now. I want to cherish this feeling and nurture it until it becomes something I can share and spread like seeds on the wind. If I have lived before, I consider my regrets from the last century fully expiated. If I didn’t live before, then I am certainly living now!

Popping In

Just wanted to say I am recovering from surgery and doing well, according to the doctors. I am more in the moment than I have ever been and my concerns for the future only go as far as my recovery right now. I am experiencing a miracle of rebirth that is inspiring, painful, hopeful, stressful, chaotic, and full of grand plans and my summer will be spent discovering what it means to be me, more than I ever have been.

OHSU has plenty of experienced doctors and nurses who are making this last dramatic act of my transition easier. Outside my window tall trees loom in the cool spring mist and every moment of life brings quiet joys.

Onward and upward. This life truly is the best one I’ve lived in many centuries.

The Big Day

In a few hours I will be at OHSU getting a vaginoplasty.

I just want to say that from where I stand, reincarnation is a dangerous delusion and heresy. I wasted most of the time during my transition believing in such things. I renounce them.

I now believe that my experience was a confabulation caused by a need to project the pain at the collapse of the false male personality I had constructed onto historical figures and externalize my mourning for a false ego.

I got a couple of good books and stories out of it, I managed to become an authority on William Longespee, and I discovered things I never knew existed that I now enjoy and cherish; among them the music of John Dowland and Linda Ronstadt, the aesthetic of the Edwardian era and the 12th Century Renaissance, 19th century maritime history, and the Point Reyes National Seashore which I will be returning to every chance I get.

But from where I stand, I no longer feel comfortable claiming any of the past lives I have previously claimed. I’m still in awe about how many things I got right and how many things I knew that I shouldn’t have known, but I’m also in awe about how many things I fudged in regards to confirmations.

I still want to travel to France one day to see Jack’s grave and pay some respects. I think he gave me some perspective that I was sadly lacking. But it’s too painful to think of myself having been him and I would rather go forward in my post-op life believing that we only die once.