When I was a little girl, around the ages of three to six, I felt like I was much older than my age or body. Internally, I knew that I existed way before my current circumstances. And as I met people, I would classify them as if I had already known them or not even though it was our first-time meeting. Sometimes, I could see things going on in other rooms, or when I entered a room, I would know what the people were talking about. Let me tell you; this got me into trouble because I often blurt out my mom’s interactions with her friends, which sometimes included gossip. Needless to say, my mom wasn’t happy with me and thought I was eavesdropping. Eventually, I learned not to talk about what I was sensing; I wanted to keep on mom’s good side. The ethereal world I lived in, where I could sense more than the concrete world in front of me, evaporated as time passed. I began to live in the here and now.
I didn’t think much about my early childhood perspective until I reached high school. I became an avid reader and read some books that expanded my thoughts on spirituality. My eleventh-grade honors English teacher had a varied and exciting reading list for us, including the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. The prose was beautifully written, but the spiritual aspect of the story made a mark on my spiritual pursuit. The summer before my senior year, I found the book Illusions by Richard Bach, which opened me up to the fact that there may be more layers to spirituality than I’ve been taught.
It wasn’t until college that another possibility was opened to me. Our school had Matador Day, and the celebration was a Medieval theme. One of my classmates set up a table and did tarot card readings. He was reading many of my friends, and they were impressed by what he read. Then he read me. I wanted to be impressed, but I wasn’t. At the time, I had been writing to a man that I knew three years prior. He lived in Alaska, and I was living in Florida. I was sure he and I would eventually be together as a couple. So, when my classmate did the reading and said I was going to meet a man with dark hair very soon, I would marry him and have a son, I chalked this incident up to utter bull. The man I was corresponding with had red hair, and getting married and having children was the last thing on my mind. (Fast forward, I was barely 20 at the time of the reading, but by the time I was 23, I was married to a man with dark hair and had given birth to my son.)
This classmate and I had become friends, and he told me about the bookstore he worked at after classes. It was a spiritual bookstore filled with books on many religions, new age, and metaphysical books. One day after classes, we went to the store together. It was my first time there; he showed me around. I was intrigued; I never knew a place like this existed. I surveyed many books, pulled them off the shelves, and read their covers. Eventually, I found a book titled You Were Born Again to Be Together by Dick Sutphen. Though the novel of Siddhartha mentioned reincarnation, I still wasn’t completely sold on the idea of past lives. But Dick Sutphen’s book was mesmerizing, and I began to think about when I was a younger child- was I knowledgeable about past lives? Is that why I felt disconnected from my body and surroundings? Of course, I had to read many more books on the subject.
I moved out of my parent’s house that summer and into my apartment to be closer to college and my friends. Since school wasn’t happening, I was restless in my new place. I spent my time cleaning and recleaning because I didn’t know what else to do. Most of my friends were on vacation or busy with other things. I decided to take out the small bag of trash to the dumpster. As I walked across the parking lot, I passed a group of young men who appeared to be about my age. One commented something about me; I don’t remember exactly what. I went back to my place and called one of my friends to see if she wanted to hang out, but her mother was having a crisis and could not come. My spontaneity was burning in me; I went out to my balcony and called down the group of young men. I asked if they wanted to come to my place and hang out. Moments later, they knocked on my door. I opened the door, and they came in, and when the last guy passed me, each cell in my body became electric. The four men plopped on my furniture, and the one that caused my physical reaction maneuvered the situation to sit closest to me. He had dark hair and was quiet as the other three young guys carried out the conversation, introducing themselves. I learned that two of them were roommates, including the one with dark hair, lived in the same building, just two apartments down from me. Over the next couple of weeks, the dark-haired man would knock on my door to borrow random things, like a can opener or a hammer. Eventually, he and I became friends and were inseparable, and a few months later, we were an engaged couple.
I would love to tell you that this marriage lasted but did not. Six months after the wedding, I became pregnant with my son. There was a lot of electricity when my husband and I met; it felt like I must have been connected to him in a past life. As a teen, I had a recurring dream of a man who looked just like him. But we rushed everything as if we were running out of time, and our maturity was not at the level to handle our connection. By the time my son was three, we were separated, and I felt guilty for letting my son down. I wanted him to have both parents in the same home, and I could not deliver that.
As a single parent, my son lived with me and would see his father on the occasional weekend. I created a world for us that was loving and kind. Though stressful at times, I enjoyed being a mom, and I could not have asked for a better son. When we would go to the mall, he would talk to other shoppers, recommending products to them, wanting to be helpful. He would share his snacks with his friends in daycare. My son was conscientious about others when most children are absorbed with themselves.
Kindergarten started, and I would drive my son to school before I went to work. Passing by a wooded and overgrown field, my son turns to me and says, “That’s the place I lived when I was old.”
I looked at him, stunned, and asked him to repeat his words. “That’s where I lived, mom; I was an old man before I was with you.” I think I said something like that is what I thought you said and asked him if he could tell me more. He didn’t, and I left it alone.
A few weeks later, as we passed the same overgrown lot, he said, “There’s the place I used to live.” I said we never lived there. Then he said, “I was an old man. I had a wooden car. I lived in the woods alone.” I raised an eyebrow and let him know there were no such things as wooden cars. He replied, “I pushed it. The things I owned were on it. I was poor; I lived in the woods alone. I was very old.”
He went to that school for three and a half years. He mentioned the place a few more times, I would ask for more information, but he just repeated the same things. By the time he was in second grade, he no longer mentioned it, and when I brought it up, he did not remember saying any of it. I always wondered, was he remembering a past life? Could he have been an older man, living in the woods alone, pushing a wooden car (which I think he meant cart)?
My son is now a grown man, married with two sons. I broached the subject with him a couple of years ago, asking if he remembers telling me about being an older man before he lived with me. He does not remember the conversation. He doesn’t think about or believes in things like past lives. I completely understand. It is something unprovable. It is not scientific. But I still wonder. The more I wonder and reflect, I think that having a past life is possible. With all said, I believe in past lives, do you?
About the author: Theresa Touhey owns Nature Reflections, an online jewelry store specializing in handcrafted Angel Callers and Harmony Ball Jewelry. She is also an artist, a writer, a grandmother, a caregiver to a rescued Havanese dog, and a nature lover. She has practiced various forms of meditation and yoga for over 30 years.