Last night I had several flashes.
The first (and worst) was a brief but upsetting flashback to the day of the Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge. I have so little in the way of clear memories because I blocked it so badly at the time; all I saw this time was a confusing mix of shapes flying at me, loud sounds, all coldly and logically parsed; but now and then a sight or sound would flicker and register as something more than just obstacles or hazards, and the dread- that I had pushed down to some place deep and inaccessible- rose once again. The whole thing- alternating between detached analysis and cold, mortal terror- gives the entire battle the feeling of profound unreality, like remembering a bad hallucination more than an actual event.
I think I’ve described that terror before. You know that feeling you get when you feel like you’re about to fall from a very high place, or about to smash your car into a wall at a fatal speed? Imagine that fear, only extended, stretched over periods of hours, where your only respite is to detach from the reality as completely as possible and see the world like a machine. But the screams and cries of the wounded, the blood, the gore, and the maze of barbed wire and traps will not let you go of the reality that you are marching into hell and will most likely die painfully and obscenely.
I haven’t had a flashback like that in months. It makes me nauseated to talk about it.
On the plus side, I did see more detail from another life as well; I saw myself in that memory from 1830 or so, with the woman in the bonnet walking by on a near-deserted street. I was a man of about 20-30 years old, wearing trousers with a black and white herringbone weave which, upon research, was apparently something available before the advent of the Jacquard loom (which I honestly didn’t know). My shoes looked almost modern, like black Oxfords but with a solid upper, and were clean and new. I also noticed spires in the distance but nothing I could readily identify.
I really hope I don’t have another night like that one since I came out of these memories upset and confused, and my mood was off the rest of the evening after that flashback to Ypres. All day today I’ve been feeling like my life is being wasted and that I should be out living like I’ve never lived before because life is too damned short, but that always seems to come in the wake of these memories.
One day, I might just buy a motorcycle and disappear for a few weeks. I can’t afford a car at the moment or I’d get one of those instead. I just want to get out and feel alive because these memories are always nipping at my heels reminding me of how close death actually is.
Reincarnation does nothing for the fear of death; it is still a tremendous price for being alive and represents the loss of everything. Nor is “The valley of the shadow of death” a specific place or time; it is all of life, and I don’t want to see any more grains of sand slip away before I have to leave my body yet again. I want to know I’m alive, chase the sun from the top of Mt. Hood to Cannon Beach, ride like the wind, and forget for a little while that death is all around me.