Think of something you fear deeply…something you’ve always been afraid of, as long as you can remember. For me, it’s fire. I’ve never lit a match in my life. I can’t do it; I just stare, paralyzed, at the strike box on the matchbook and wonder how the fuck people put their fingers so close to it. Every candle I’ve ever lit has been with a cigarette lighter, and even that’s pushing it. That represents years of growth. I used to use those long-stemmed BBQ lighters.
Why do you suppose we fear the things we do? I’ve never been burned, never been in a fire, never watched a house burn down. My parents both lit matches without fear; I saw it done a million times. But what in my brain instinctively said HELL TO THE NO when it came time to do it myself? Where did my juvenile brain get the notion that I would be irreparably harmed if I let myself get that close to fire?
I have a theory. I think these strange, illogical fears are the cosmic leftovers of some traumatic event that happened to us in a past life. (I can hear you now…whoa, this chick stepped off the deep end with that one…what kind of head case believes in past lives?) I do. There’s no proof, of course…most people would say there’s not only a lack of proof but a lack of any evidence whatsoever. That’s fine. All I know is that there must be a reason why I start shaking when I pick up a matchbox. And this is the one that makes sense to me.
If you pay attention to history, you see that it starts repeating…if you think Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess, take a look at the Crusader kingdom Europeans tried to create in the Holy Land in the 12th century. Just put George Bush’s face on the Pope’s body, replace the Knights Templar with Halliburton, and it starts making sense.
History is the product of human nature…what we do, how we act, emotions and deeds that create other emotions and deeds in those around us. Those are all ephemeral things you can’t quantify. And if situations occur over and over again, does that not imply that the same emotions and ephemera can occur over and over again, too? Why shouldn’t some fragment of human thought/spirit/whatever pass from one generation to the next? And why shouldn’t it sometimes give the recipient a taste of what the donor experienced?
As a result, I’ve translated some of my strange fears and behavioral characteristics into possible past life experiences. It’s a fun yet frightening game. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
- Illogical fear of fire: burned at the stake
- Inability to leave food on my plate: starved to death (no, my mother never made me clean my plate as a child, no “starving children in Africa” blackmail)
- Paranoid mistrust of open water/swimming: drowned or was shipwrecked
And not everything has to be about death. I also think the things you like may be influenced by things you liked before:
- Strange obsession with royalty: must have been one at some point
- Strange obsession with Russia: must have been Russian at some point
Once these things started to occur to me, I ran with them. They make more sense to me the more I let the idea rumble around in my subconscious. Some things I fear have an actual logical reason in my childhood. Dentists, for example. I fear and loathe them. But from age 8 to age 15, I was having the roof of my mouth widened, teeth pulled (14 of them, to be exact), spacers, braces, braces again, cavities, tooth resurfacing, etc. There is a very good and very clear reason why I do not ever want to sit in a dentist’s chair again. So this would have nothing to do with a past life. I mention this only to explain that yes, I do know the difference between a logical fear and an illogical one. I’m not trying to pawn off my fear of dentists on some past life where a frontier dentist ripped out my front teeth without anesthetics.
There isn’t a rational conclusion to my rambling here. There’s nothing I can do to prove this idea, and even if I could, there’s nothing I can do to help the past me who was burned at the stake. It’s just making me realize that historical speculation suddenly has a real-life application. It ties you to history. It makes you a part of it. And it makes you think about what makes you you. If you can give your fears some base of understanding, maybe it’s a way to try and fight them. Plus if it works, it’s way cheaper than therapy (which I obviously need lots of).