I Love the 21st Century…

A remix of “There’s A Long Long Trail A’Winding.”  I guess this’d be called folkcore?  They could have sampled an old recording and it might’ve been a little better, but kudos for using a good bit of Stoddard King’s original lyrics.


What I Know About Love

Throughout learning about these past lives of mine and how I loved- or failed to love- in previous ages, I have a bit of insight.  I’m sure it’s in no way complete or the final word, but it may be useful.

First of all, falling in love is easy because love, in its most basic form, is just a fond attachment to someone.  In that sense, foxes might be said to be “in love” because they do form pair bonds.  I don’t think love on its own is unique to humans at all.

What love between human beings requires to really work is an extra ingredient: namely, mutual respect.  It’s just how we’re wired, socially and emotionally; we want to be respected, but to get respect it has to be an equal exchange.  Mutual respect seems to be the only real tonic for this dialectic in the human essence that pits our need for self-realization against our need for emotional and material interdependence.

some say that love is about sacrifice; but how do you make the right sacrifices to meet each other in the middle unless you both respect each other?

Some say love is about understanding and empathy; but how do you understand and empathize with someone you don’t respect?

Some say love is about communication; but how do you communicate on an equal footing unless you both respect each other?

When I was John, I believe I may have joined the army because I couldn’t deal with my family.  That was a failure of respect.

When I was a fox, we had no need for respect because we had only our most basic urges to guide us, and those basic urges just sort of pushed us together when we needed to be.

During my life in the mid-20th century, I didn’t respect my wife because I rushed into love and didn’t bother to learn, and I lived at a time when divorce had recently become socially acceptable so of course, it ended badly.

I would like to think that love and respect are something I have learned, but I can’t be certain; my fiance and I have been together for about 8 years and we’re doing well.  But I try not to fool myself into thinking that there isn’t some hard lesson about love that I still have yet to learn; I’ve come close to losing him in the long, difficult learning process.

I’m hopeful, but cautious.  Love’s lessons are harsh and regrets can be many.  I hope I’m beyond regrets; I want to live the rest of my life with someone for once, instead of leaving them or making them leave me.  I’m off to a good start but love is never a case of “Mission accomplished.”

But Why?

At this point, I have remembered four past lives in enough detail to place geographically, plus had tentative hints about 3 or 4 more; of these I know the names of two, one had no name, and my memories of having been John are actually the most developed and vivid to date even though that’s the second oldest life I remember in significant detail.

But why?

It isn’t a silly question.  I really would like to know why I’ve remembered enough detail to know names.  Why do I know that on May 24, 1915 I was somewhere between Railway Wood and the Menin Road scared out of my mind?  Why do I remember an inconsequential life in mid-20th century California?  And why would I remember a life where I wasn’t human at all?

If some god wants something special of me, why aren’t they saying so?

If this is some kind of deception by evil, to what end?  It isn’t like I was a solid monotheist to begin with and I’m still kind of agnostic, so if they’re trying to “steal me from God” it’s kind of a pointless effort because I still don’t know what god I could have been stolen from.

If this is an early stage of enlightenment, then how did I manage that while living in such an unenlightened way?

If this is meant to prepare me for the future, why is it sending me further back into a past that I know I can never recover?

If this is insanity, why am I able to confirm details with firsthand sources?

If this is simply Karma, how exactly do I interpret where I am in this life in the context of what I know about my previous lives?  Just when I think I have that one pinned down, something new comes up that kind of shakes up my tentative bid to link Karma of any sort to it decisively.

If I’m some sort of prophet, how does one go about knowing they’re a prophet?  And to which god?  I would think knowing the name of the deity who chose you as a mouthpiece would be a pretty important part of being a prophet, right?

It makes no sense.

I’m asking my readers to weigh in on this.  I know I have readers from many backgrounds and I’m really interested in a variety of opinions.  I hadn’t had much luck finding people who are “safe” to talk to locally.

Please weigh in.  Comments are welcome and appreciated.

Another Circumstance Plausible

It turns out, after just briefly thumbing through “Magnificent but Not War,” that my memories of moving through a wasteland on our way to the front that had no communication trenches were probably correct, as was my memory of a very ominous wooded area.

It turns out us 2nd KSLI were at the north end of the line pushing back the German advance between the railway and the Menin road, along with several other battalions.

This means that for every horrible thing I remembered, there are probably many things I’ve blocked.

A Dream I Had Today

I had a strange dream and woke up with a profound sense of sadness when I recalled it.

Part of the dream involved someone who I knew, but only in the context of us both being characters in the story. This character was someone who was a consternation for my character, but when he died, it cast a shadow over everything. I think he was a police officer from Texas, but he had gone to Palestine (not sure which part) and jumped out of a building.

Also, in another part of the dream that was somehow interwoven with that strange little subplot, we were in a busy city and there was a building that was full of bad energy or ghosts or something, but just outside between the building and the street was some scaffolding that had never been taken down. So I built a nice little patio out there, shielded from the rain by the upper timbers of the scaffolding and some other things I put up; I had potted plants and even tables and beach chairs. It was an urban oasis.

I loved my little makeshift patio or deck or whatever out on that old scaffolding. But the scaffolding shook when you moved, and you could see cars driving nearby on the busy city street below, and I thought what might happen if they crashed into it. I imagined the headlines about the homeless guy and his potted palms (I was male in the dream) falling out of a tower of scaffolding after a city bus hit it. Except I wasn’t homeless; I had a lackluster apartment full of bad energy to go back to.

Men from the construction company came, and I had to go back into the apartment. No sooner had I done so when my urban paradise- my flimsy little slice of heaven that I kept at the possible cost of my life- had been disassembled and I was left with only the cracked stucco of an early 20th century apartment in a busy downtown area.

I don’t know what it means. Currently the apartment I live in is in the suburbs so it wasn’t a building I recognized.

Got Stuff on Amazon

Among the things I got was a past-life related item.

“Magnificent but Not War” by John Dixon came highly recommended by several people as the definitive history text on the Second Battle of Ypres.  I’m hoping the book will answer some long-standing questions of mine and help put some of my memories in context.  The title comes from  French Marshal Pierre Bosquet in regards to the reckless heroism of the 1845 charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean war: “It is magnificent, but not war; it is madness.”  A fitting quote for what we did 70 years later in Belgium, I think.


Another Memory from the War

It’s been a while, but I had another one.  More vague impressions than anything, nothing really clear, but pretty interesting nonetheless.

Specifically, I remember singing Cwm Rhondda with a few of the other Shropshires (we were from the Welsh border regions, after all, and as such honorary Welshmen you might say).  Someone led the singing on an old harmonium, not unlike the one that now sits in my living room in this life.  I think it was before the battle, in a makeshift chapel somewhere on the Ypres Salient.  I have never heard men sing a hymn with such conviction since that night; it was as if we knew it was the eve of the Judgement Day, and we were doing a last penance before standing in judgement and hoping to dodge the lake of fire at the last instant.

But the boys who got blown to bits were lucky; most of them, if they were reincarnated at all, came back as people who forgot.  Most of us who remember, it seems, didn’t die in battle but in a lull in activity, or years later as a civilian.  We remember because we had time to think about what we saw out on the battlefield, the broken bodies and the bullets coming so close they ripple the fabric on your uniform.

Remembering this has been a bit of a somber turn.  I hope there aren’t more troubling memories to come.

Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst is probably best known for his Planets Suite, especially for the movement titled “Mars, Bringer of War” which is effectively a tone poem of the Western Front.

From this suite also came the movement “Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity,” which contained the original form of the melody that became known as Thaxted.  That melody became the setting for the overtly patriotic “I Vow to Thee My Country” after the war.

Back in 1907, he also wrote “A Somerset Rhapsody,” during which time I was either in Somerset or had just moved recently.

Naturally, Holst’s work has been familiar to be because of his association with the Great War.  What I did not know was that in 1915, he had also composed a piece based on Japanese folk themes called the Japanese Suite.  That’s either a synchronicity or one hell of a coincidence.

My lives, it seems, have quite a soundtrack.

Now I’m shocked

The past life I had as a fox is very likely true, though it probably did not take place in Hokkaido as I had thought.

The words “Kinsei” and “han” popped into my head last night.  I thought maybe “Kinseihan” was a name they had given me.

I did some searching and found a book titled “Takasaki-Han Kinsei Shiryoku,” which interestingly enough was published in 1913 and would have been in circulation by the time I would have been there in the late 1910s or early 1920s.  After doing some research, I discovered that under the old Han system, the land now known as Gunma prefecture was known as Takasaki.  Today, only the city of Takasaki itself retains that name.

I looked at the satellite map of Takasaki.  They do have rice fields, and lo and behold, some of them do have very thin old-fashioned layers of pavement on the causeways between them!

Also, they have a Zen temple up in the hills (where I remember a temple being) and it’s near a forest with a fair bit of bamboo… I did recall having a scuffle with a raccoon dog in a bamboo grove but I thought for sure that one was wishful thinking since I’ve always been fascinated by wild canids anyhow.

The temple that matches best with my memories is called Shorinzan Daruma-Ji.  One of the popular items that visitors to the temple buy are Fuku-Daruma dolls, which are a sort of good luck charm.

Interestingly enough, my mother lived in Japan with her family in the 60s, and one of the things I was given when I was old enough was a rather unusual Fuku-Daruma holding what looks like a scroll with five more miniature ones… I’ve yet to find a picture of another one quite like it.  Going to have to ask Mom to send that to me from my old room.

So I have a memory that matches an area very well, a pair of words that led me to that area, and a connection in this life to the icons of a temple in that town.  This is getting very, very interesting.

If I find out that the monks at Shorinzan Daruma-Ji would feed rice balls to the local foxes back in the day (or even better, if they still do it), I think I have a good case for this being a genuine past life.

I did NOT expect to find anything near this level of detail in an animal past life and thought almost for sure it was only wishful thinking.  This is almost as surreal than the other past life I recently turned up.

EDIT: So far, this is the best match I’ve seen for the porch where the monks used to feed us: http://www.daruma.or.jp/eng/00_09-senshin.html  Whether or not they actually fed us seems to be one of the few pieces of the puzzle I’m missing, but time will tell.

Putting It All Together

Not only does a past life I had written off as pure wishful thinking turn out to be potentially real, but if it is real, it pretty much tells the whole story of what happened to me between 1915 and 1984.  The story it tells is amazing.

The memories I’ve had of being a fox may indeed be accurate.  

The first memory I had taken to be 18th century Europe because of the hats could in fact have been men on horseback in straw Sakkats, and not tricorn hads as I had thought.  

I’ve had more memories that suggest it was in rice country (which fits well with my memory of being fed rice balls by monks).  I remember roads through grids of rice patties; so far, I’ve been able to find photos that are pretty much identical to that around some of the farming towns in Hokkaido.  I also remember a mix of Western and traditional clothes, and a lot of bicycles.  I don’t remember a single car or truck on the roads.  There were also bicycle rickshaws, which I’m really unsure about because I thought those were more modern, but these appeared alongside old-fashioned bikes patterned after English roadsters like I might have had as John.   The bicycle rickshaws were of the “driver forward” variety, with two wheels in the back.  They often carried women in very upper-class traditional dress.  The men wore suits and bowler hats, or work clothes similar to a factory worker if they were farmhands, and loose traditional peasant garments if they picked rice.

Some of the roads were paved with a thin layer of asphalt.  I need to research this fact.  The majority were actually packed dirt, though it was packed so tight in places that it never became muddy or kicked up dust.  A bicyclist would have no problem keeping a good pace on roads like these.

People’s reaction to me in broad daylight was very nonchalant.  Some people looked away from me.  Some would throw me pieces of food and fold their hands; others would chase after me to get away from their stalls.  In all I get the impression that I was very much an urban fox and it’s possible that the thirteen years or so between John’s life and the next one were all spent as a very well-fed vulpine.  Why on earth would I give that up?  Unless it wasn’t all that happy.  I have no memory of how I died in that life, after all.

I’m looking for pics of Shinto temples and monasteries in Hokkaido prefecture now.  I want to see if I can nail down a shinto temple very near rice country, with a porch area like the one I remember meeting the monks at for hand-outs now and then, with about a dozen other foxes.  I’m also going to look into the history of Japanese bicycle manufacture, Japanese road paving techniques, and any firsthand sources that can tell me if a fox really could walk right through the market in one of these towns in broad daylight and not be the least bit in danger.  

I know foxes are venerated in Japan, particularly in Rice Country as an attribute of the rice god Inari; still, it seems almost too good to be true.  A wild animal usually isn’t welcome in a human place; and a wild animal said to at times be a potentially dangerous trickster spirit and a food thief might have a rough time in a busy market square, even if they are venerated.

If I can confirm an animal past life, that will really blow me out of the water.  I always had an affinity for urban foxes, but I figured that came from the time I spent around them in London and not from a past life.  I thought for sure this one was wishful thinking.

Also, if I can confirm a past life in Japan, it gives me a clear path that I took between 1915 and 1984.  It seems I went around the long way… I think I may have even done some sightseeing along the way.  I remember manifesting on a tank somewhere later in the war, I had a flash of being on a train through Rice Country in India (which corresponds to Secunderabad, where my battalion would have been stationed just before I joined the KSLI; this fits my theory that I had a fascination with India as John).  

The theory then is that I went From India to Japan, from Japan to the midwest US.  Then the fact that certain details about my parents and the places I’ve lived in this life coincide nicely with events from my previous life, I think I can reconstruct the big picture.

I basically got to America the long way through Asia, had an interesting life, and then came back to try and do it again in much the same way with similar results.  Also, I made it back to France before 65 years had passed, and back to England before 90 years had passed.  I only died three times getting there.  Hell of a way to see the world…

To be reincarnated as a venerated animal shortly after a post-mortem sightseeing jaunt though?  It sounds like crazy talk even to me.  I really will be surprised if I can actually track down and confirm any of these memories.  I have to say this would be a really cool life to remember if it was genuine, but I have to find something that I absolutely could not know otherwise before I can say that’s what I did after the war.