This morning, on the Fourth, my walk took me around my neigborhood, "Woodford's Corner," here in Portland, Maine. My street intersects with two that run parallel--and both run into a main artery called Brighton Avenue. Looking up away from the city, one can see that the road runs up a steep hill.
The first time I drove on Brighton Avenue, it felt comfortably familiar. I dismissed the feeling, even though I am now living in Portland, where I lived in the 19th century from 1839 until 1861. It's residential; then one starts to see small businesses; then it becomes corporate, near the expressway. I assumed it was a modern invention.
But that hill--I started feeling something about that hill, and then, I started remembering something. I could feel it. Abby and I were riding together in a carriage, on a holiday, and we were going to the country. But this hill was something of a challenge. We joked and laughed about it--we might have to jump out, to lighten the load for the horse--we made it into a bigger deal than it really was (perhaps, she was afraid of it, and I teased her, and it became a tradition to exaggerate it)...
That's as far as my memory ever goes. But this morning, my walk took me to the foot of that hill, and the memory was even stronger. I am certain we laughed together, there. I teased her, or we made a laughing melodrama of it.
Now, having a past-life memory, and having one which is tailor-made to be proven, are two different things. Because in order to prove a memory, it has to be specific; there has to be no way of having known about it before one records it; and then, one has to be able to find some mention of it.
This memory fails on two counts: it's generic, and, I'm very unlikely to ever find a mention of it.
Mathew would include such things in the plots of his quasi-fictional humorous sketches. I was able to cross-corrolate a whole bunch of these, in my book. I have memories not used by Mathew in his writing; I have memories which were used by him, in disguised form; and I have anecdotes that Mathew referred to, but for which I had had no memory-glimpses. Occasionally, they matched up closely enough, and were specific enough, to count as validation. But most-often, they weren't useful that way.
Still, one develops the ability to recognize the genuine glimpses, by comparing them to the ones that have been verified. For example, suppose you are fishing. It's hard to tell a bump of the sinker on the bottom, or an encounter with a submerged log, from a fish biting. But now suppose that you have caught dozens of fish. You have learned, from the caught ones, which bumps are fish biting, and which are logs and sinkers--even when you don't actually land the fish.
In the same way, I have learned what the subjective experience of a past-life memory glimpse is like, from dozens of them that have been verified. I can thus distinguish them, subjectively, from mere imagination, or forgotten bits from movies I'd seen years ago. Genuine past-life glimpses, it turns out, have certain key features--and one can learn to recognize them.
You will see medium John Edward explain that real visitation dreams have certain characteristics. They are vivid, and extremely realistic. It is as though you are really talking with the person, in your dream.*
Just so, genuine past-life glimpses have certain characteristics. For me, the feeling comes first. It is an encapsulated feeling-burst. With the feeling, is a brief vignette, like five seconds of film. It never changes. It is always precisely the same scene, with precisely the same feelings attendant.
Perhaps you would be interested to see how I, as Mathew, described this experience in 1850, in an unsigned essay entitled "Pre-Existence":
Through what brain, in which a thought e'er found ledgment, has not sometimes floated a dim consciousness of a past existence? A flash of light, a momentary glance, a struggling reminiscence, and all was blank again? Sometimes it came to us in the strain of sweetest music; sometimes it was awakened by a look, a word, a thought. Mostly in the dim hour of twilight, when the inward eye sees more clearly than amid the bustle of the world, such glimpses of the past, such haunting, tantalizing visions have startled us. Visions quickly fading; and yet leaving a firm though unsatisifed impression.
Could I have imagined, then, that I would be having this kind of experience of my 19th-century lifetime, in the 21st century?
We are riding, we are on a holiday, leaving the city for the country, anticipating the treat of being together, free, all day long. And we see that steep hill coming up. Oh, no! Will we make it? Will we have to get out and push? The poor horse! But all of this is a little exaggerated, for fun--we are taking all of it as an adventure, even though we are sincerely mindful of the horse, since we both love horses.
That's it. Gone. Vanished. I can play it again, the same five seconds.
It's very, very poignant. I miss Abby so terribly...but then, I remind myself that she hasn't gone anywhere. Some 180 years has passed by, on earth--but it is as nothing, for her. She is still with me; and if I can only adjust to our new "configuration," we can still laugh and joke about things. (Perhaps I might like to do that when nobody's looking...)
Love, in particular soul-mate love, doesn't die in five years. It doesn't die in 10 years; and it doesn't die in 180 years.
Oh, and Brighton Avenue? It goes way back, apparently, to 1839 when Mathew and Abby moved to Portland.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*I had one with Abby, early in our relationship, which I was able to objectively verify for the simple and fortuitous reason that at that time I had not yet seen her portrait. It's discussed in my first book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words."
Music opening this page: "A Leaf Has Veins," by the Free Design
from the album, "You Could Be Born Again"