Slip Slidin’ Away

I know, I stole that from a Paul Simon song.

A funny thing happened on the way to my frozen Alaskan mailbox last week. I slipped on the ice, fell and whacked my head. I got up, got the mail, came back inside, sat down at my desk and began editing the Capricious Shadows. Then I lost consciousness. Fortunately I was sitting at my desk instead of juggling chainsaws.  I found myself dreaming, then woke up with no idea what I was doing, why I was at my desk. I wasn’t sure if I had written the Orville and Bartholomew books sitting next to me, or what they were about. I shut off my computer. I was terrified. I had a sense of self, but everything else was very fuzzy. My wife wasn’t home and I had no idea where she was, or how long she had been gone. (she was on a weekend quilting retreat on the Kenai Peninsula) I wondered if I’d had a stroke, then remembered falling on the ice. So happy to remember that. After about five minutes or so everything started coming back. My daughter and her husband took me to the ER for a CT scan and everything was fine. Big relief. Good to go. Go home, get some rest. I was fine, but couldn’t shake that dreadful feeling of not knowing all the details of my life for those very scary ten minutes. I was on to something. Why had I been so scared?

I’ve often said our sense of identity in this world is a little like the Uncle Remus story of the Tar Baby, rolling along and picking things up that stick to it. We are born into the world with no immediate sense of self. Soon we learn we have parents, that we’re a boy or a girl, what race we are, what color, what country we live in, what language we speak, our religion, and on and on and on. Are we tall or short, athletic, good in school, attractive, outgoing, introverted? The career choices we make, who we vote for, what kind of ice cream we like. You get the idea, these hundreds and thousands of little facts form a very complex mosaic we call us. The other thing I’m very fond of saying is, “If you take away everything that is not really you, what is left?” Take away all those things stuck to the Tar Baby, and what is left? Hmmm…  I could tell you the answer, but that would be cheating.

Just kidding, the answer is in this old post from The Real Stories Behind Bartholomew the Adventurer and Orville Mouse.

“Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got No Body…”
Posted on February 21, 2015
Ahh, the ever popular out-of-body experience (OBE) – the Near Death Experience (NDE) without the pesky near death part. I remember reading Dr. Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life when it first came out. Wow.  This was what I was looking for — people who had actually experienced “the other side” and who talked about it in non-mythical terms. What to believe? I’ve met people who don’t believe anything and I’ve met people who believe everything.  I’m in the middle. I believe my own experiences with the caveat that everything I’m experiencing could be an illusion.  Even though I read Life After Life over and over, part of me still said, ”Mmmm… I dunno… maybe.”
My real metaphysical paranormal journey began when I was in my early 30s, starting with self hypnosis.  I think I may have been trying to quit smoking or something. Another example of chasing the magic deer.  Self hypnosis turned into dream analysis and meditation, psychic phenomena and lucid dreaming and on and on.  When I was first practicing meditation I had two out-of-body experiences.  They were completely spontaneous and not of my own volition.  I tried for a number of years after that to duplicate the experience but could not.  Quite possibly because I didn’t really want to have another one.

I woke up one night in the corner of my room.  Floating next to the ceiling.  OMG, not LOL.  I was as awake as I am now, but floating in my room watching myself and my wife sleeping in our bed. I was brand new to this sort of thing and had no idea what to do, but I was aware of two things.  The first was, this was not the time for me to be doing this.  The second was, I was electric and I was my true self.  There’s a question I used to ask myself – a little exercise of mine.  That question is, “If you take away everything that you’re not, what is left over?”  Answer?  It was the part of me that was floating up near the ceiling. I was a field of awareness.  Okay, how do I make this stop?  I vaguely remembered reading something about NDEs where they traveled around just using their will.  It worked.  I started floating over and down towards my body.  When I got close to it, I just sort of popped back into it.  I was back in my body and my heart was pounding like a bass drum on the 4th of July (!!). This is important – there was absolutely no break in consciousness or awareness from the time I was outside my body to the time I was back in my body.  I was not waking up from a dream.  I was completely awake the whole time.  It was no different than opening the door to your car and climbing in. The instant I was back in my body I could feel my heart pounding. The same thing happened the next night, but by then I was an old hand.  I popped right back into my body and it never happened again.  The experience was frightening, but it taught me something that changed my life forever.  The personal human consciousness can exist outside the physical body. The door had been opened. Unfortunately I have no answer to the question, “Who opened the door?”

It’s taken me 66 years to build the mosaic that I fondly refer to as me. During my five or ten minutes of memory loss, most of that was gone. It gave me great empathy for people suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, people for whom memory loss is not just an intellectual concept. The bad news is it’s very, very scary to lose our closely held earthly identity, to lose that solid ground we are so used to standing on. The good news is, we are far more than that. Something we forgot the day we were born into this world.

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