Barbara: The other day, a friend and I were chatting about how some people seem more naturally comfortable with life’s trials and tribulations than others. She told me that a friend of hers (who I didn’t know) was very easily overwhelmed with everyday challenges. When my friend was talking her through some coping strategies, the other friend finally looked up and asked, “Do you believe in the whole ‘past lives’ thing?” When my friend asked why, she answered that, while she wasn’t sure what she believed, she definitely felt “new at this”.
Now this idea—that she is “new at this"—just utterly charmed me. First off, there is the vulnerable sweetness of the observation. Then there is the observation part of the observation. Not all of us would be able to a) identify this lack of life-skill, and then b) admit that we felt like we were at the fledgling stage of a larger state of life, like being at the starting square of Monopoly with our unspoiled piles of fake money while all the other players started a long time ago and their banks are in disarray but they surely know all the tricks by now and keep getting farther and farther ahead while we have to—somehow—catch up.
So, obviously, the whole question got me to wondering.
Now, we can if we want put out here what we believe as far as past lives goes, or we can gloss over that part of the question and maybe decide, if we were to believe in it, how experienced we felt ourselves to be. I, for one, have often entertained the idea of past lives, without actually sealing it with my Final Decree stamp of certainty. I do remember once lying in a meditative state on a massage table, hovering at near-sleep and having a very vivid daydream in which I was a Roman statesman. I could see myself as this Roman, my white robes, my short hair, I could accept the fact that underneath that unfamiliar visage, and despite the fact that this was a man, “he” was me. This was a different experience than being in a dream-state (or a nightmare), and, to this day, feels so utterly real that I still believe I was seeing a past life. That’s as close as I’ve ever come to knowing a thing that is, for all intents and purposes, totally unknowable. I also often say someone is “an old soul”, or that they have “gone a few rounds at this life thing”, etc. It’s almost a rote observation now, one I make without actually thinking about the spiritual significance of old souls and new souls, or no souls at all.
So I’m going to go back to today’s question: if you were to enter into the discussion today and had to proclaim yourself “an old hand” or “new at this”, which would it be?
Despite my Roman vision, I have always felt a kind of “old soul” kinship in my blood. As much as I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m proclaiming myself a sage or a final authority in the matter of souls, I would have to say I do feel like an “old soul”.
Deb: Great topic, Barb. It’s funny but in the past few years I have grown weary of all the new parents who proclaim their offspring to be “old souls”. I think it’s a given that all new infants tend to appear like old souls and I do believe in the possibility, but I don’t think we can just start tossing it around, as it tends to lose its lustre. It has become the “I was at Woodstock” of the soul. Having said that, I do feel I was prepared for this life. I do feel I have some sort of old take on things in certain areas. I don’t feel new in that sense. I don’t know what it is and I am not officially claiming to be officially an old soul. But I know I’m not new at the game. I’ve been around the karma block a time or two methinks. I asked Colin what he thought and he said, I don’t feel old but I also don’t feel new. Really interesting concept. I am going to think on this one for a while.