I am a very old soul. I am also a very old woman. I was born in Macau on August 12, 1937. It took me a lifetime to see that there is a pattern to my life that extends beyond the boundaries of events. I will not go so far as to say that this pattern is the meaning of my life. Like everyone else, I lived each day as I found it, with dreams, joys, disasters, struggles, sorrow and loss. That was meaning enough.
I did not dabble in the occult. I did not seek out gurus or psychics for guidance or foreknowledge. I liked my future to come to me gradually, each moment unfolding into the next. That is not to say that I did not have transcending experiences, or dreams that seemed truer than life, or even weird moments such as the one when an x-ray of my head shuffled my thoughts like a deck of cards. But I always returned to my familiar and trusted linear reality. One thing happened after another, and I would know about it soon enough.
It took me until this year, when my life is near the point of flashing before my eyes, to realize that I could not see the whole pattern without including the coincidences, miracles, and off-the-wall happenings in my long life. It also took some serious nudging from what I will call Out of the Blue forces.
There is no reason that you should be interested in my life unless you have wondered about unexplained things in your own life.
In the following letter to my old friend, I use the term “reincarnation” because it is the nearest communicable word to what I mean. It is also the word used by the psychic who did a reading for me. My friend sent me that reading as a surprise birthday gift. I wish I didn’t have to use the word reincarnation because that word carries a lot of baggage. I see this phenomenon in my own way:
I am only myself, historically and eternally. I am as unique as my DNA, my fingerprints, iris scans, and most likely in ways we have not yet discovered. I value my uniqueness.
On the other hand, there have been some key (and keenly remembered) events in my life, as well as in my attitudes, that do not fit my narrative of myself. These things sometimes exasperated me. I saw them at the time as self-destructive, what-possessed-me, how could I, and what-am-I thinking events. But from the vantage point of two other specific “past lives” that were made known to me, through the intervention of other people, these key events have become not only clear, but clearly necessary to my journey.
How do we influence one another across historical lives? I don’t know. But we do. Perhaps we should look at the interstices of our being, the fractal edges of our science.
Or maybe, when we pull out the thorn in our side we could examine it, closely, before we throw it away.
To help you make sense of my memoir, I am reproducing here a letter. Recently, I wrote to the friend who gave me the first step towards this project. When I was in my early thirties, she sent me a cassette as a birthday present. On it was a reading by her friend, Ellen, whom I did not know. Besides having psychic gifts, Ellen is a numerologist. She was given my full birth name and date of birth. That was all.
February 15, 2013
It is time to tell you what has been going on, since you are very much involved. You will see, as you read on.
As you know, I was busy once again, writing a novel, which was straightforward enough. But something didn’t feel right. One morning, I woke and found my left arm lying stiff at my side all the way to the shoulder. I couldn’t move it without feeling excruciating pain. Even dulled with painkillers I could move it only a little. I thought that my arthritis was flaring up in a new place. As the day wore on, and my arm hung by my side, my hand seemed to swell up a little. I forced my arm into a homemade sling to relieve my hand. I looked at my arm in a sling, and in a flash I knew! The unfinished business I needed to do was not write a novel, but the thing Ellen had said I was to do—write a book “on reincarnation.” When I heard Ellen say that in the reading you had sent me so many years ago as a birthday gift, I thought it was the one thing she didn’t get right. What did I know about reincarnation? It wasn’t even something to which I had given any serious thought.
In the meditation Ellen did on me, she said that I was “a very old soul,” which I had always felt (in a metaphorical sense). But she saw only one previous life. She saw a young servant girl in an ancient Greek courtyard. The girl was dressed in a long, simple gown. Her left arm was paralyzed at an angle, as though it were in a sling. A dish of grapes and olives rested on the crook of that arm, from which she served the guests. She was also “speaking” with her right hand, because she was deaf and mute.
Ellen went on to say the servant girl was very beautiful, a blonde in a part of the world where most people were dark-haired. A rich and powerful man saw her, fell in love with her, and took her for himself. With him she lived a pampered life of luxury. But she blew it because she did not “give back to the universe.”
Ellen said that in this life I wanted to learn two things, wealth and service. I belong to that class of souls who are teachers and creators. I had brought into this lifetime everything I needed for the task.
The Greek part immediately rang true. My mother died when I was eight. I went to live with my grandmother. She was a widow and lived in the same house in which she had raised eleven children.
It was a very large house, with sections added on that had a different style, with staircases and verandahs and nooks and crannies for children to play in. There was a garden on several levels, rabbit hutches and many kinds of tropical fruit trees. Both my grandparents were from the high society of Macau. My grandfather died in a fire when my mother was a child. All except two of her siblings married and went to live in their own homes. Some came and went. If you were family, you could always go to my grandmother’s home and stay as long as you wanted. There was always room. At one end, there were even two stacked apartments with their own verandahs and a separate staircase and outside door, far enough from the center for a bit of privacy. However, in the whole house there was only one kitchen. It was separated from the house. It was built on a higher level than the dining room and had a wide flight of sheltered steps leading down to the dining room. This ensured that heat and smoke from the kitchen would not affect the house. Everyone in my grandmother’s house (except very young grandchildren) ate at the long table in the dining room.
It was never a question of extra work or bother for my grandmother. She didn’t do any housework. She had a core of four domestic servants. They had their own house on the property and managed their own work schedules. Besides them there were gardeners and drivers and others who came during the day. If any family members showed up with very young grandchildren they brought along their own “baby amahs.”
A cousin, Pat, had always lived there with her father, who permanently occupied one of the apartments by himself. Pat did not stay in his apartment but had her own room across the hall. Her parents were divorced. While she was visiting her mother in nearby Hong Kong, her father, or someone, acquired a set of about twenty slim volumes that had its own small bookcase. It was probably some sort of World Books for young people. The books sat in the hallway. I began reading them. Each book was about a different country. Almost immediately, I opened the book on Greece and saw a full-page picture of a public place. I was transfixed. An overwhelming feeling that I knew this place intimately, came over me. I had a nostalgic feeling of “home.” The feeling haunted me so that I returned to that picture every day. The feeling faded, and in a few days it was gone. The books too, disappeared. Perhaps my uncle had decided not to keep them. I didn’t miss them. But I never forgot the strong feeling for the Greek picture.
Another incident sprang to mind. When I was three or four years old, a young man who was my parents’ friend, became my “favorite” friend among the grown-ups. Whenever he came by there were whoops of joy and laughter as he greeted his “favorite” little girl, and everyone played along with this game. I called this man “Uncle Adelino.” One day, Uncle Adelino was going to take me for an outing.
I arrived at his house with my nanny, who went everywhere with me. His servant went upstairs to announce us, and we waited in the foyer for him to come down. I was delighted to see Uncle bounce down the stairs, smiling and greeting me in his usual playful way. Then I saw his arm in a sling. I started to scream and cry, hiding behind my nanny. Everyone was flustered, none more so than Adelino. He tried to explain that it didn’t hurt, that he got it from playing tennis and that it was there only for a short time. I kept screaming. I shrank away from him.
I couldn’t explain myself or stop crying. My nanny took me home. No one spoke to me about my behavior that day. They seemed to have shrugged it off as a weird childish fear. Strangely, I remember that incident as though it happened yesterday.
The first overseas trip Herb and I took together was a month-long tour of England, France, Switzerland and Italy. We took four-year-old Neil with us. We asked a dear old friend of the family, an older woman who was a nurse, to come with us as Neil’s nanny. We sailed both ways on the SS. France. It was a glorious trip, but Greece had not been on the itinerary. After Ellen got me thinking about Greece I began to wonder when I would ever get to go there, since Herb was a reluctant traveler at best.
But then, out of the blue, my brother-in-law called me and said that he was giving his daughter, Lisa, a trip abroad as a high school graduation present. He and his wife were divorced. Lisa asked me to go with her. I asked Lisa what country she wanted to visit, and she let me choose. We went to Greece.
Lisa’s father made all the arrangements for the two-week tour. His travel agent came up with a comprehensive schedule that included all the usual historical sites, a white-knuckled bus trip on narrow dirt roads through the mountains, and an Aegean cruise.
I can’t say that anything as memorable as that childhood recognition of a Greek landmark ever happened again. And yet, something special happened to me at the palace of Knossos. I discovered that my favorite colors, those in my bedroom, the shades of sand and turquoise and little orange accents, were exactly like those in the royal chambers. The heavy round pillars were my favorite shape too. I felt I could live there.
Santorini blew me away. The way part of the island just sheared off and fell into the sea haunted me. I was reminded of a recent dream. I was outside my grandmother’s house. All through the years when I was at the Grail and in college, and even when I was single in New York, I thought of that house as “home.” In my dream, that house, which actually was surrounded by other homes and gardens, sits by itself on the top of a low hill. Suddenly I notice that water is rising around it. The water reaches the house, and it explodes and disappears.
The scene shifts. I am standing on slightly higher ground to the side of the house. The water keeps rising. I am a young woman in a long, simple gown. I see the water rising on all sides. I take a step down into what looks like a subway station, but after seeing the tombs in Egypt I realize that it is a tomb. I turn, and a woman stoops and places a baby boy on the crook of my arm. I take another step down into the tomb. The dream ends. In times of crisis and transition I’ve had dreams of rising water, an entire floor suddenly tipping into water, floods and other water disasters. There were also real-life incidents, but for now I want to keep this as brief as possible.
In April, 1983, Neil brought me a novel that had been assigned at school. I won’t mention the writer’s name here, as I don’t want it slipped out until the right time. I found some old letters from you and Ellen that jogged my memory on what happened. At the time, I received dream messages and other strange hunches, so much so that I asked Ellen to see what she could do with them. She and you and others had a meditation on this writer. Ellen saw a vision and sent an “urgent” message back that it was “yes”. So I started reading up on the writer’s biography – first thing that jumped out was the date of her death. Factoring in the difference in time zones, It was the exact day I was born! I got goose bumps. From there on, there were just endless correlations. Still, I sort of was writing a novel, but really was reading piles of books. Herb became increasingly ill with early stages of Alzheimer, and he was always my priority.
A few years ago, I considered joining a retirement community. I have a very good friend who still loves it there. I changed my mind. But during an interview in the process, I was asked, “What was the single thing that you are proudest of in your life?” I hadn’t even thought of that, but I immediately answered that it was taking care of my husband at home until he died, because I had promised him I would.
Only recently I finally realized that I wasn’t here to write a novel (this writer had been unbelievably productive). However, she had abandoned her mentally ill husband. I had done what was intended.
Ellen had said I was to learn two things in this lifetime: wealth and service. How right she was!
Love and hugs,
P.S. To jog your memory, I’m including partial scans of a letter from Ellen to you that you sent me. [Scroll down for scans]