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Friday, May 6, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Friday, May 24, 2002

The Carnal World

I had a remarkable dream one night a few years ago where I was standing naked in front of a full-length mirror as a powerful voice announced: "You were So-and-so in a previous life." So-and-so was actually the name of a fairly famous character of the Old West in the late 1800s, but I'll keep that identity to myself for now.

The dream was extremely vivid and I remembered it in great detail after I awoke. Gazing into the mirror in the dream, I looked "almost" like myself and also had a remarkable resemblance to So-and-so at the same time. Years earlier, I had a series of dreams that came true so I've paid a great deal of attention to them ever since. Although I wasn't convinced I really was So-and-so in a previous life, I didn't dismiss it either.

I knew very little about So-and-so but the dream compelled me to research his life. At age 9, he and his family moved from Iowa to Kansas. After a stint in the Army, he spent his adult life roaming the West, bouncing from job to job and even wrote a couple of books. Oddly enough, when I was age 9, my family and I moved from Wisconsin to Kansas. After a stint in the Army, I spent much of my adult life roaming the West, bouncing from job to job and even wrote a couple of books.

This coincidence kept churning in my mind. I had already written three novels and was in the process of writing another one but could no longer concentrate on it after the dream. So I decided to start a brand new novel, THE ELEVENTH SAGE, about a man who has lost his memory, except for being convinced he is the reincarnation of a famous person from the previous century, and is being accused of a crime of which he has no recollection.

Instead of using So-and-so as the famous Old West reincarnation in the novel, I chose to use Wild Bill Hickok. There was plenty of research material available and he had lived a colorful, eventful life.

As a teen-ager in Illinois, Hickok got into a fistfight with another fellow and knocked him into a canal. When the other fellow failed to come back to the surface of the water, Hickok ran home, convinced he had just killed a man. He hurriedly packed, took off horseback and didn't stop until he was in Kansas. Although the other fellow lived, Hickok went through his life thinking he had actually killed a man. I suspect this is what gave him the great courage he purportedly possessed. He probably figured he had nothing to lose.

Not only was he a notorious lawman, he also made a living as a buffalo hunter, a Pony Express rider, a cargo wagon teamster, an Army scout, a gambler, a Yankee spy in the Civil War and a stage performer in New York City. As a gunfighter, he killed many people. Once, he even killed a grizzly bear with a knife.

Since those who believe in reincarnation also believe we re-enter the carnal world along with family, friends and enemies from previous lives, I incorporated some of Hickok's friends and foes in the novel as well. To my surprise, I learned that Hickok and So-and-so had crossed paths several times. Both worked as teamsters for the same company, rode for Pony Express, were scouts under General Custer, and Wild West entertainers.

THE ELEVENTH SAGE is my fourth novel. It was published in 2001. I never did go back and write the novel I had been working on before my dream. I had more pressing things to do, such as earn a living.

Reincarnation is the primary belief system of Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions. At least half the population of the planet believes we pass through this plane of existence, again and again, until we clear our karmic debt to the collective oneness. My debt should be cleared in about 33 more lifetimes.

Whether or not reincarnation exists and I was So-and-so in a previous life still remains a mystery to me. But then again, just about everything in this life is a mystery to me.