Sorry for my absence the last few days.
Long story short, I’m examining what may be memories from another life… or perhaps yet another dead end. Either way, it’s a life I do not wish to publicly discuss and although there are hints that it may be related to my life as John, it’s a piece of the puzzle I’d rather keep to myself.
The people around me keep thinking I’ve finally lost my mind, until I actually sit down and talk to them. I think only my therapist (the only professional among them) has not wavered in the thought that I’m not insane; at least, she has never described me as delusional.
I certainly don’t hold onto beliefs that are patently, demonstrably false. If anything I go to great lengths to weigh them for veracity. But I am fully and even painfully aware that the bizarre nature of these thoughts I’ve had is well outside the realm of any sort of psychosocial norm, and the energy I devote to investigating them borders on the obsessive. I have considered the possibility that I might be schizotypal as I have weird ideas that never develop into full-blown delusions, but the fact that I still have something of a social life seems out of line with that diagnosis.
Of course, the one reasonable alternative is that this isn’t all in my head, and if I really was who I thought I was between this life and my life as John… Hoo boy… it makes me sweat thinking about that.
But maybe there’s a third option? Is it any crazier to say that maybe these ideas are external to me than to say that in a past life I was a Tommy at Second Ypres? I suppose the problem with that idea is not only the “how” but the “how would I know?” With the prospect of reincarnation, the “how?” isn’t solved but the “how would I know?” is intuitive: the simplest, most elegant explanation for having verifiable memories from a different period of history that do not fit the pattern of psychotic thinking is that they are, in fact, my own memories. *
Still, the idea of memories falsely implanted into the minds of others isn’t a new one, and it certainly isn’t one I created whole-cloth. If anything, thought insertion is a common trope in psychotic delusions, usually with the implication that an enemy or sinister secret organization was behind the insertion. By extension it’s also a cornerstone of contemporary conspiracy theories. But of course, the idea of thought insertion by a shadowy government organization is so universally creepy and unpleasant that it has also become a cornerstone of 20th and 21st century speculative fiction.
This does not mean that thought insertion is real; no more than it means that cloning dinosaurs, revenge by Voodoo or time travel is real. It simply stands as an idea that human beings find simultaneously fascinating and revolting but has no basis in reality.
Still, that part of me that nags to ask every possible question when cross-examining apparent past life memories begs to know: what if the joke really is on me?
Perhaps I’ll never know if these memories are external, inasmuch as nobody can ever be entirely and inerrantly sure that their memories are entirely true and entirely their own. Philosophers have long since proved that we can never be truly sure of this, after all.
But if the joke really is on me, they did a damned good job of it, and I think I’d be more curious than angry if I found out.
*Were there nothing verifiable about the memories, the simplest explanation would be a very childlike imagination.