I am growing stronger. In 14 or 15 hours I expect to be home or well on my way.

Feeling just a little heroic. I’ve taken a big risk and a punishing body hit but my dysphoria has been completely gone for the last several days. That’s a specter I won’t miss and I’m glad I took the chance.

This whole month will be a victory lap for me. I’m alive and I made it through a process that nearly destroyed my soul, shattered my identity, and gave me a stark wake-up call about how toxic some of my habits, attitudes, and alleged friends were. I went slightly mad, saw the world turned upside down, and learned to use my writing as therapy.

I don’t know if I will ever fully account for the experiences recounted in this blog. Jack’s life feels less real to me now. I can’t really identify with any aspect of Phil’s life at all. I still feel something of James’ seafaring life and truth be told, his memories were some of the few to filter in via dreams. And of Count William I feel residual affection for the look and feel of his era and astonishment at the weird coincidences between his life and Jack’s, but I can’t say I am fully invested in having been him. I’m still inclined to disbelieve in reincarnation at this time and I think this was probably a dissociative artifact of my dysphoria.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense right now to think of the past as something I can derive much from any more; I have done what everyone who left me to die in 2012 thought I couldn’t and built a new life full of joy, hope, and vast possibility. I took agency after bumbling through the first 27 years of my life and reinvented myself from a college dropout with a drinking problem and a self-destructive outlook into a beloved member of a community and a role model for others.

I’m so happy right now. I want to cherish this feeling and nurture it until it becomes something I can share and spread like seeds on the wind. If I have lived before, I consider my regrets from the last century fully expiated. If I didn’t live before, then I am certainly living now!

Popping In

Just wanted to say I am recovering from surgery and doing well, according to the doctors. I am more in the moment than I have ever been and my concerns for the future only go as far as my recovery right now. I am experiencing a miracle of rebirth that is inspiring, painful, hopeful, stressful, chaotic, and full of grand plans and my summer will be spent discovering what it means to be me, more than I ever have been.

OHSU has plenty of experienced doctors and nurses who are making this last dramatic act of my transition easier. Outside my window tall trees loom in the cool spring mist and every moment of life brings quiet joys.

Onward and upward. This life truly is the best one I’ve lived in many centuries.

The Big Day

In a few hours I will be at OHSU getting a vaginoplasty.

I just want to say that from where I stand, reincarnation is a dangerous delusion and heresy. I wasted most of the time during my transition believing in such things. I renounce them.

I now believe that my experience was a confabulation caused by a need to project the pain at the collapse of the false male personality I had constructed onto historical figures and externalize my mourning for a false ego.

I got a couple of good books and stories out of it, I managed to become an authority on William Longespee, and I discovered things I never knew existed that I now enjoy and cherish; among them the music of John Dowland and Linda Ronstadt, the aesthetic of the Edwardian era and the 12th Century Renaissance, 19th century maritime history, and the Point Reyes National Seashore which I will be returning to every chance I get.

But from where I stand, I no longer feel comfortable claiming any of the past lives I have previously claimed. I’m still in awe about how many things I got right and how many things I knew that I shouldn’t have known, but I’m also in awe about how many things I fudged in regards to confirmations.

I still want to travel to France one day to see Jack’s grave and pay some respects. I think he gave me some perspective that I was sadly lacking. But it’s too painful to think of myself having been him and I would rather go forward in my post-op life believing that we only die once.

Where I Am Now

I think I need to be clear where I stand.

In 9 days I will be undergoing genital surgery at OHSU. A new phase of my life is beginning.

I feel like the specter of reincarnation first raised itself when my dysphoria hit a critical point. I have been trying in vain to hash out some explanation of how this is related, to no avail. The doctors are stumped.

But the recent discovery casting one of the most important memories into doubt has given me hope that maybe this whole episode is almost over and I will finally convince myself on an emotional level that none of this was real.

I already feel some distance now between my alleged memories and my emotional state. Sometimes it’s the most natural thing to see history as only history; other times I swear if I could carve every tender feeling for idyllic English villages out of my heart with a bayonet, I would. I feel as if there is some dissociation from the raw feelings of loss and pure dread I once knew but if it is dissociation, why hasn’t it broken down yet?

I expected, for example, to feel a lot more emotional at “They Shall Not Grow Old” but apart from some brief moments when I felt my pulse race at times that made sense (jump cuts of night raids), I didn’t leave the theater with my knees shaking. I just felt kind of numb.

My most difficult feelings are about the British Isles in general. I crave the pastoral mildness of the West Country and the look and feel of the Edwardian era to such a degree I often have to look away from things that invoke it too strongly for me. Even my photographs of England from when I was there in 2003-05 are bothering me lately. I want to take them down and put up bright tapestries instead.

I want to forget I ever set foot in England in this life and completely dissuade myself from the notion of ever having been there in other lives.

I want to cut my last ties with Private John William Harris of the KSLI. How often have I said this?

Was I Wrong?

I just found out that the war memorial in Hereford was built in 1922 and not, as I believed, in memory of the Boer War.

You may recall, among my memories was a gothic style war memorial which figured into a scene with the famous Lord Kitchener poster going up and Jack reenlisting.

This is troubling in that it was among my first apparent confirmations. But It gives me hope that I might find more things I’ve been dead wrong about. If I can convince myself this was all just an overactive imagination I’ll be so much happier.

Nailed It

Check this out:

Some years ago, in this entry, I made a wild speculation:

In order to be adaptive to a transhuman world, a heaven or an enlightenment merely for humans will not do; when the line between human and machine is blurred, those who seek transcendence will only find conflict and cognitive dissonance with faiths that preclude sentient machines, because the presence of sentient machines will be unavoidable.

It would seem creating a robot to teach the Dharma would be an important step in this direction. We are now in a unique time when Japanese Buddhists have entrusted Dharma- one of the great pearls of Buddhism- to a machine and while this machine is not sentient, it seems a logical progression from here that Buddhism might be the first religion to welcome the first true AI as part of its practice.

Not So Sure

I tried to walk away from believing anything I have said previuosly about reincarnation. I had been nearly ready to convince myself that there was nothing to gnosticism either, that it was an aberration, a wild antique heresy.

But the first thing to go was the sense of normalcy, to be honest. There are certain topics I still avoid in conversation, certain music or videos I avoid watching with my partners. There are still moments I have to stave off a freakout over bad memories by hugging my cat and I play it all normal for my partners but I’m actually terrified.

I tried to brush it away with theology but that raised far more questions. The Judeo-Christian theology on the afterlife is much more complex than I could have ever imagined (in some Jewish texts, for example, souls still get their Shabbat even in Gehenna). The verse in Luke about the great divide fixed in place between the righteous and wicked is interesting, and supports the orthodox notion that Jesus spoke of an immovable obstacle that had been placed between the damned and the redeemed. But wasn’t that the point, in orthodox theology, of the crucifixion, to bridge that divide and redeem everyone? And what was the default belief at the time of Christ, versus the belief at the dawn of Rabbinical Judaism or the days when the First Temple was just a tent in the Judean desert? Whither the change? I can’t ignore the notion, shared with certain Eastern religions, that reincarnating in this realm is some form of lesser punishment. But did I not declare the name of Christ? Maybe that’s what Matthew 7:21 is all about. I had not known Christ before. My last life’s “baroque” theology was a dead end. My theology of late has been turning in a Rabbinical direction though I am not yet planning to convert to Judaism. Time will tell.

I guess what I’m getting at with my semi-organized ramblings here is that my experiences have shaped me in ways I can’t fathom. I don’t talk about the war much any more these days (starting to understand why the lads who made it home never did) but it’s still background radiation in my life and it’s changed the landscape.