I’ve realized something. It came to light after I thought carefully about that map.
At the time I was in England, in the early 2000s, I visited at least five sites from my life as William and none from my life as John, though even if I hadn’t had past lives there I would have kicked myself for missing the gorgeous medieval town of Shrewsbury. The places I went in the West of England came close to him a few times, but it seems that John’s nature wasn’t as dominant as William’s nature at the time.
Then things went downhill. First, I ran out of money and had to come back from England after a failed bid to emigrate there ended with no job and just enough cash to get a mini cab to the airport. I had a brief period in 2007 where I did really well, then had to build back up again in income, but never got my prestige back. That was followed by some really traumatic events after moving to Oregon including almost losing my apartment several times.
It was John and that author who started coming through in me; William was my nature as a tabula rasa who never knew desperation because as nobility, he had plenty of money to gamble on his future and always knew the choices to make. I’m good with money in this life too, but John is my nature as one weakened by the harshness of a life of relative poverty. He also emerged in the scarred work of the author I was in the mid-20th century. Each of these lives is another facet of my true self and it’s starting to come into focus.
I still think my motive for enlisting when I was John was a misguided attempt to revive some scrap of William’s honor; I’m pretty sure I remembered his life while I was in Shrewsbury visiting a ruined abbey. I was bored with being a farm boy and I remember very little about that life except for childhood and the war.
Essentially, I’m one who handles successes with shrewdness, but handles failures poorly and is often let down by severe restlessness. As William, not only did I have plenty of money but plenty of things to do earning more money; I had my hands full, and when I have my hands full I do really well and begin building on my successes; it’s when I get bored that I make bad decisions and begin building on my failures until they mushroom out of control.
That is something no one has told me. They either praised my successes or berated me for my failures, but never helped me to see why I succeeded or failed without becoming judgmental and sanctimonious, or trying to pathologize everything and turn it into an illness I didn’t have, and completely missing the boat. I’m not lazy and I’m not stupid, and my problems can’t be solved with pills that make me listless and flat. I just have a weird personality that doesn’t really give me the best chances of success and I have to learn how to work with that. If someone had put it to me that way instead of treating me like a problem to be solved, maybe I’d have got it together sooner in life.
Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I had to find out the hard way. I just wish I had heard something other than either value judgments or pathologizing psychiatric jargon all my life or I might have made something of myself by now.
Maybe it’s not too late, but I’ve lost a lot of time. The crash has already happened; nearly losing everything made me feel a bit like the Cloth Hall at Ypres. I’m pushing 30 now. I’m going for broke with an MA in art history and my grades are excellent; I made 100 on my last two term papers having never studied the subject before. I’m trying to write and publish as many novels as I can in that time. But I find I’m still digging myself out of the pit blown in my life by the experiences of the last few years.
I know there’s a brave but shrewd person in there. I just wonder if they can be saved; I don’t know if I’ve ever salvaged myself like this before, in any life. I’m afraid because I struck out far from home to make a new life with my fiance on the west coast; if we can’t make that happen, we’d have to live in South Carolina where certain things about us would be frowned upon. I love the Northwest and I love the people here; I’ve never felt a stronger love for a land and its people except when I was in England. I don’t want to lose this land too; My defeats already drove me out of England for good in 2005.