Even when I don’t post much, even when I haven’t had any memories vivid enough to remark on in a while, the experience of seeing the world through the eyes of a soldier in the First World War is something that is always with me, in everything I do.
I think more carefully about the decisions I make in this life. Friedrich Nietszche, in one of his rare moments of brilliance, remarked that we should live in such a way that we would want to repeat eternally. I live by that now. I want to live in a way that, if I remember it in another hundred years, I can be proud of, even if no one would ever believe that I was a novelist in a previous life.
I look at the world with a renewed sense of wonder. It’s one thing to look back at the technology of the past as a quaint relic, but to remember what it was like as a child in the Victorian era watching trains spewing smoke across the English landscape, or as a man in 1914 watching a then state-of-the-art Nieuport fighter doing low passes over the Copthorne Barracks, or seeing the first silent movies, it makes little things like watching traffic in the city, or flying out of town for the weekend, or watching more than a hundred years of cinema history from a personal computer seem miraculous. I left this earth during an age of wonders and I have returned in an age of wonders, and I feel spoiled at times to have seen so many things across my lifetimes.
I take violence seriously and don’t make light of it. I have a burden now, to make the right decisions when it comes to things like who I vote for, what products I buy, and what I do in the way of self-defense, because now I know I have to live down my decisions even if I die from them.
I’m ordinary enough that you might pass me on the streets of Portland, Oregon and never know me. I don’t really stand out, I don’t have a big sign over my head that tells my life story. I might even be your neighbor or the person behind you in line at VooDoo Donuts, or the one sitting quietly in the back corner at one of the clubs with a PBR on karaoke night. But don’t be fooled if you know who I am and spend enough time with me; the life I lived a century ago is still with me, still a part of me, and still shaping how I live this life.
Remembering a past life changes you forever. It is possible for life to go on, but it will never be the same; you can only choose to make the most of it, and I do.