When I was around two/three and had just started talking with more than two words I mentioned to my mum – whilst we were doing something very menial – that I had another mummy, a mummy before her. From the age of three to six I would randomly and without any encouragement or embellishment, talk about my other mummy, about what we used to do together, about the train journey we took where I was on a train that was all wooden inside and where there were separate rooms on the train and we would sit in one, about how my lunch was kept in a metal box, about how she wore a long black dress and a white thing tied around her waist to keep her dress clean, about how she would take vegetables from the garden and keep them in the basement so they’d stay cool. By the time I was 6 and well into being at school (I didn’t attend a nursery), I simply stopped talking about it and forgot, seemingly entirely about this whole other life I had remembered.
Last Monday evening myself and my boyfriend Jordan finished watching the Netflix Original series, ‘The OA’.If you haven’t already watched it, don’t worry there are no spoilers here, I’ll just be talking about the themes and concepts behind it, also WATCH IT. But, for some context here are five things to know about The OA, without spoiling it that will put this post into perspective and hopefully make you want to watch it:
– The OA begins with the return of a young woman, Prairie Johnson who had been missing for seven years.
– The show explores the idea of NDE’s or Near Death Experiences and the survivors of these.
– One of the main themes running through The OA is spirituality, the idea of the beyond, of what happens when we die, higher beings and what it means to be human: inevitable mortality.
– The spirituality in the show, however, grounds itself in Scientific possibility. The idea of multiple dimensions is something that appears throughout.
– It makes you think. It makes you question and all of this is wrapped up in a beautiful production with characters so real you feel like you know them in your own life.
So, back to me and Jordan…We watched it over two nights and were both instantly engulfed in intrigue and the sense of ‘a breath of fresh air’, it felt like something that was being entirely in of itself, unapologetic and unique. Yet, throughout the first two episodes I felt a strange sense of familiarity with the story it was telling (I’ll talk more about this and Jung’s Collective Unconscious in my post ‘The OA, a new kind of spirituality’ that I will be posting in the coming weeks). I felt overwhelmed by this uncanny feeling and as we came to the end of the second episode, something stood out. For the first time in a long time I thought seriously about what my parents had told me when I must have been around ten (not 100% sure on this). I think there may have been some corny, low budget documentary on tv about special magical kids or something; I asked my mum and dad if I had ever done anything weird and they told me what I just typed out at the beginning of this post.
For a long time, the idea that when I was little, I talked about a past life became an anecdote; something to bring up about myself that I never took seriously or ever truly believed. I have told many friends in the past, pretty much all of whom (especially when I was young) either thought I was making it up to impress, to which I’d say, confidently ‘Oh yeah? Ask my mum!’ or they’d say ‘hmm yeah it’s weird but you will have just picked the information up off the tv, maybe you’d been on a train like that’ (I hadn’t) ‘you won’t believe the amount of information humans take in that we are not aware of’. All of these latter reasonings are totally viable points. I myself am a 70% logical, scientific person. I love physics, just recently I read Brian Greene’s ‘Fabric of The Cosmos’, I always look for the legitimacy of claims, look for evidence, balance out arguments.
But, there’s the 30%.
In Brian Greene’s ‘Fabric of The Cosmos’ he explains spacetime and explains it very well; part of this explanation is showing how spacetime allows for multiple physical dimensions, or parallel universes, lying on top of each other, he talks about how every time we do something, move, make a choice, within the laws of the universe there is the capacity for a separate dimension/universe to manifest with each eventuality or consequence of our actions. So when we choose to cross the road and continue on instead of taking a left, this is just one outcome and one reality out of many, possibly infinite ones. So, what about when we die? In The OA NDE’s are recorded, the soundscape of them is what the character of Hap is determined to capture. So following on from this theory that I just mentioned, is death and the experience of it a physical dimension? I have always wondered about Reincarnation, the final step of the Samsara cycle. Is it so out of touch with real science?
As I have previously said I consider myself to be a pretty consistent 70/30 split between a sensible, logical, fact based scientific thinker and a more spiritual, open, mystical thinker. The question that The OA raised in me and that I am coming closer and closer to the answer for is, why can’t that split, those qualities, those ways of thinking, be fluid? Interchangeable? Through writing and exposing myself to new things and new ideas like those in ‘The OA’, I am getting better at merging the two sides of me, the scientific and the spiritual, through creativity. The idea that at the point of which our death occurs, our soul, our unconscious, our sentience, whatever you wish to think of it as, moves on to another dimension and the cycle of existence begins again with reincarnation, it doesn’t feel too unbelievable anymore. Not when I am truly beginning to learn how this universe works, not when only 5% of the universe is what we see, not when a black hole previously thought to be an empty mass of gravity that won’t let anything through, might have another end, have an inside, not when dark matter might actually be the answer to space travel, to wormholes, to other universes (Pullman was right). The two, once thought, polar opposites of science and spirituality, in my mind at least, are close to reconciliation.
Growing up, knowing that I had once talked about my other mummy, about a past life, along with many other seemingly unexplainable things that have happened in my life, it has at times made me feel different and not in a good way. Call it too much imagination (if you don’t believe me/in this stuff in general), or being connected to something else, being an empath, being psychologically sensitive to your surroundings or as my dad likes to joke and sometimes I think not entirely in jest, being an ‘Indigo Child’ (haha), there have been times in my life where I have felt wholly on the outside of human existence. Now at twenty-three, working for a living, in a happy relationship (Jordan, by the way, did believe me when I told him), being the ‘weird kid’ doesn’t seem so bad anymore. The feeling of nearing an understanding of these things that I have wondered about and questioned for years and years is satisfying, and I feel less alone in it; I think now more than ever, with stories like ‘The OA’ and with the internet and the ability to talk and talk and talk, more people are asking these questions. I think we’re all getting closer to an understanding, and if not in this life, maybe in the next?