Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tales of the Unexplained

Robin commented on the previous thread that he dreamed of his wife prior to meeting her, which is an extraordinary thing.  I have never had any experience quite like that, but it reminded me of something that happened a long time ago that has always been inexplicable to me.

Déjà vu and related phenomena can usually be explained as a glitch in memory.  Our brain seems to store something we see before we initially process it.  Perhaps the conscious part of our mind is occupied or temporarily distracted which the subconscious mind is taking everything in.  When we, seconds or microseconds later, do attend consciously, it seems familiar.  Almost all of us have had déjà vu experiences, and, speculate as we might from a rational, causal perspective it’s hard to shake the uncanny feeling. 

During my college days, I transferred from one university in the system to another.  The first couple of years I was closer to home and in a smaller town.  It was easier for a hillbilly kid to adjust.  I had just arrived on the new campus as a junior in the fall.  Somehow I got invited to somebody’s place for a party on Friday or Saturday night.   I walked in with another guy or two, spotted an open place on the floor, out of the way, and headed for it.  I sat down on the floor, hoping to go basically unnoticed.  Instead, when I looked up, a girl was staring at me.  The odd thing was that she looked extremely familiar.  She was a cute little girl, which normally would have gotten my attention at some point anyway. 

I could not figure out where I had seen her before.  It did not seem odd that she would be staring at me as we obviously knew one another.  She was a freshman.  She was from a city I had not set foot in except briefly for a ball game when I was nine.  She had never been to my hometown, would not have been able to find it on a map if I told her where to look.  Yet the only thing we seemed not to know about one another were our names.  While this might be a set up for a YA romance of the paranormal, and Christina would not have made a bad Scully, I was in no way ever going to be a Mulder.

In that I am remarkably average, it is not that unusual for people to mistake me for someone they know.  I have been mistaken for a couple’s nephew and said to resemble anyone from the Hulk to Jay Leno to the mayor of the town where we lived in Texas.  It’s quite possible that Christina thought I looked like someone she knew or had seen.  I suppose it’s also possible that she looked like some other pretty girl that I knew – except she didn’t.  It was not that I was confusing her with someone I knew.  I knew her, and she knew me. 

We did not become friends, lovers, confidantes or anything else.  I talked to her briefly a couple of other times, asked her to go to a movie once then backed out, and saw her walking around the campus another time or perhaps two.  I have no idea what happened to her.  And yet forty years on, I remember her.  I remember that experience of knowing someone I had never met and of her knowing me.  In fact I think it might have been the sense that we already knew the other person which kept us from developing any relationship – as strange as that sounds. 

Now, if I believed in reincarnation, I would have a straightforward explanation.  Perhaps she and I had been related in a previous life.  If I believed in a pre-incarnate existence of the soul, I might think she and I had been pals on a playground in heaven.  If I were forced to try and explain in depth how it felt to meet her, that last scenario would be a good starting point.  I did not know Christina the girl.  I knew her angel.  She did not know the funny-looking, backward country boy but the soul that wore and wears that ungainly exterior. 

Someone will say, out of the billions roaming the planet’s surface, with the multiplied billions of contacts between those individuals, something like what Christina and I felt is bound to happen now and then.  Maybe that’s so, just a statistical anomaly, randomness at work. 

I tend to think there was something else to it.  Something I’ll understand some day. 


robinstarfish said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Those kind of events do tend to stick in one's black book regardless of the passage of time. Mine is pretty dogeared by now. And like John said yesterday, it's difficult to find the zone of sanity to talk about them anymore (paraphrased).

We do become slightly unstuck in time on occasion; I do anyway. I suspect it's universal, maybe even an absolute, but some connect the dots differently than others.

How is it that sometimes we find ourselves in an Oz balloon, allowing us to peek over the edge just enough to catch a glimpse of whatever is not today? Is it like Bob's sphere intersecting Flatland analogy? Something like that, I imagine.

Whatever it is, I'm convinced it's not random. I'm no mathematician, but the odds against have to be beyond astronomical.

We're in for a Great Surprise one day, don't you think? :-)

Rick said...

Love this post.
I thought I was going to have to use the angel-word there for a second.
Given that there are two worlds (occupying the same space, sorta says Father Stephen) I think these worlds get awfully bored rubbing up against each other every eternity and some-presents they just slip or forgets which one they're supposed to be in today or they overlap from present to present. Wouldn't you?
My wife and I dreamed of our son a few years before he was born. He was about 8 in the dream. We have witnesses. Then the night she went in labor we (we didn't know it would be that night at the time) we were driving home through the darkly woods on the windy road in the rain and cutting in front of us was this black gel sparkling shape making its way semi-slowly floating over the hood of the car. We both watched it. Oddest thing we ever saw. The boy will neither confirm nor deny.

Rick said...

Btw, seems predicting what will happen next gets less strange the older we gets. We should be experts at this on our last day.

mushroom said...

About surprises, somewhere, maybe in Lewis, there's this idea of coming to the end and recognizing your escorts as being "people" you had run into at various points.

And the more contact points and points of commonality -- like saints, that we are around, the more likely there is to be "lapses".

That's a great story about your son, too.

John Lien said...

Great stories Mush and Rick. So there were no actual shared memories, you both just knew you knew each other?

My life has been pretty uneventful in these matters.

Slightly off topic, ever notice when the evolutionary or probability explanation (horizontal) is given for a higher human experience, that the explanation falls flat? You hear it and say, "Yeah, I guess so." but it is never, "Oh, sure, of course, that has to be it!" like you do when the truth resonates in you.

mushroom said...

Right, we just knew each other. It would be like being on vacation and running into someone you normally see at the office at the Grand Canyon.

To the second point, yes, like how religion develops or how society develops moral rules and law. Wolf or baboon packs don't need a Decalogue, yet seem to work fine. Any explanation of how humans "evolved" social structure is pretty contrived by comparison.

Rick said...

Thanks guys. You know, I can't tell that labor-night story to that many people, although more than I expect seem to accept it as just plain adorable. Frankly, it is what it is. But a helluva night of all nights to see a UFO (technically, that's what it remains by definition) wouldntyousay? I mean also, my wife, as many mom's with their first child, didn't give birth the night she was expected too. She was quite a bit late -- couple weeks off if I recall correctly... So one may look at it as, the only ones to get the night right were my boy and that sparkly thing.