Start Again


To you all my blessings, and your blessings on me
We are unto each other all things that we see
Mother and father, brother and sister, son and daughter
Teacher and student, enemy and friend
Embrace what is given and find it again

Convergence II: Chapter 21, Lines 16-20

I cannot define Anastasia Christina. I have known her since I was a child and I continue to know her to this day. When I was young she helped me through difficult times. I was extremely introverted, shy and lived in almost constant fear of failure. At times I had severe panic attacks over simple things like going to school, taking swimming lessons or going to someone's birthday party. Crowds or groups of people did not frighten me, but when I needed to speak or do something in front of other people I had panic attacks. Because of Anastasia, I was able to conceal the extreme level of my fears and insecurities from my parents. She helped me to relax and she said things to me that brought me peace.

As a youth I was afraid of most things, from the fear of rejection and humiliation I believed would come from speaking out loud amongst people to neighborhood dogs and getting beaten up by bullies. I was afraid of heights and so afraid of drowning that I pretended to be sick to avoid swimming lessons as a boy. For all intents and purposes I lived pretty much in constant fear as a child and the most powerful of those fears was the fear of failure. It was this fear that led me to conceal most of my other fears from people. When I was alone and safe in my room I would hear Anastasia. Sometimes her voice would be in my mind, but sometimes it would come from elsewhere in the room. For a while she seemed to live in my bedroom closet. At other times she spoke to me from the mirror on the wall in my room. She encouraged my to write down my thoughts and my dreams, which eventually led me to becoming a writer. During the time she spoke to me from the closet, I moved my desk into the closet and wrote in there. It was like entering a secret world where I was safe and everything was okay. I started writing as a way to communicate with people. Writing my thoughts and ideas down and letting people read them was easier than vocalizing, and even though I feared a negative reaction, it was not immediate and I could put my thoughts together and edit them until they were what I wanted to say.

As time went on and I became a teenager, I rejected Anastasia as some kind of imaginary playmate or figment of my imagination. Even when I heard her voice, I pushed it away and refused to listen. At the same time I was rejecting religion, breaking with the church I was baptized into and becoming involved with writing articles and essays condemning the ridiculous and illogical nature of these kinds of faith-based beliefs. To me, unless you could give me concrete evidence that something existed, it did not exist. My rejection of Anastasia, who had helped me so much in childhood, was part of that. Sometimes I think it was the main reason. I would not believe in a voice that spoke to me when I was alone and frightened. I would not accept the image of Anastasia as it appeared to me in dreams, a beautiful child with blonde hair and blue eyes who always smiled at me and called me "father." When it became too difficult to completely disregard her, I decided she was an image of my unborn and unconceived child. I believe she knew this and this is the reason she began calling me father. She would give me an alternative interpretation of what she represented so that I would not close her out completely.

For years I was able to maintain this image of Anastasia. She was a perception of my future daughter and it was as simple as that. Even though I could not really explain this, somehow I felt it was more acceptable to see her this way instead of as some kind of teacher from another place. At the same time I felt an urgent need to no longer keep her a secret. I would tell people I knew that I wanted to one day have a daughter and that her name would be Anastasia. My reasoning was somewhat strange in those days, but the presence of Anastasia in my life has always been a puzzle to me. Struggling to come up with a rational explanation, I settled on the daughter interpretation because it was the only interpretation I was able to accept. The other one I had for a while, which ended up inspiring me to study Russian history in college, was that she was somehow the spirit of Anastasia Romanov, which is probably the most absurd interpretation I've ever had of her.

In the early 1990s I went through a severe depression. Much of it was rooted in my perceived failures in life, from dropping out of college to not being able to get a job that did not turn into a nightmare to the bitter endings of the few relationships I had with women. I felt my life was meaningless, like walking on a treadmill that never took me anywhere and always left me empty. Life was without any meaning to me, and so on June 6, 1994 I decided to take my own life. After I had managed to get down all the pills and liquor I determined were enough to ensure I would not wake up the next morning, Anastasia returned. Whatever she is or may be, she answered my call. She heard my pleas for help and my demand to know what meaning my life could possibly have.

The night of my suicide I fought with Anastasia.
I battled with her and cursed her.
No matter what I said or how cruel my words were she never stopped smiling.
And as I write these words now she speaks to me.
She says, as she always does, something simple.
A statement or phrase she wants me to understand.

On that night, which I have come to regard as my death experience, I went through a metamorphosis. It is difficult to explain the depth of the changes that took place within me. Where I had been afraid, insecure, shy and socially inept, I was now confident, secure and no longer feared so many things. I was unable to explain all that happened to me through my usual rationalist approach, beginning with the fact that the combination of pills and liquor I ingested that night was enough to kill a water buffalo*. I could explain what I saw and experienced that night as part of a dream, but I could not get past the fact that this was unlike any other dream. When I stomped my foot on the ground, it was real, lacking that ethereal dream quality things normally have in dreams.

In the weeks that followed, I came to accept Anastasia as a real entity, whether she existed only in my perception or if she existed beyond that was not important. Within my perception and my reality, she was very real. I could no longer reject her or ignore her. I embraced her, and eventually I began to listen to her, although at times I find it difficult to trust in my faith in her. Often she would give me answers that seemed dangerous or unrealistic and doubt is very strong within me. She tells me that my doubt is the reason I was chosen. At first this made little sense to me, but over time I began to understand what she meant. She now helps me to interpret and understand what I experienced on the night of my suicide and without her help I would never have come to understand personal mythology and the differences between personal and collective realities.

The image of Anastasia as she presented herself changed over time. From what I remember of my childhood, she appeared either as a little child or as a young woman. The night of my suicide, when I fought with her, she was an adult. Later, after I accepted her, she took one of three forms, which seemed to be tied to the message she was giving me. In dreams she often appears as a child, no more than two or three years old. In some visions she is an adult wearing a long white gown and sometimes having visible wings. At other times she presents herself as formless and invisible. Although it is hard to explain how you can see something or someone when they are invisible, I can sense she is there because of her invisibility and not in spite of it. It is another of her puzzles.

It was not a simple thing for someone who had strongly rooted himself in a disdain for things that cannot be proven true by science and reason to accept on anything but a conceptual level that he has regular conversations with an angel. Essays I wrote in the 1980s for a variety of small, amateur publications condemned religion and faith and made fun of those who clung to "fantasies of someone else's creation as if they were truth instead of complete and total bullshit," to quote myself from an article I wrote in 1984. This was the reason, Anastasia told me, why I was chosen to be "her messenger." She came to me because I needed her, not because I believed in her.

The glorification of those who stand at your side
Is glorification of self, the most pointless of acts
What praise do they deserve for their agreement in kind?
A banquet with friends is praise of the self
An embracing of ideas and beliefs that are shared
A banquet with enemies is love’s mighty path
Come together with those you have something to give
For what is given is stronger if not returned in kind

--Convergence II: Chapter 8, Lines 3-10

The documents I have been translating are based on the "blueprint" I encountered during my death experience, but they are translated through meditation and communication with Anastasia. When I began the translations, they came out in a singsong fashion, with one line followed by another in a sort of rhythm that made the translations easier as I continued. For years I worked on the translations of what I now call The Book of Wisdom and kept it to myself. After I shared it with others, Anastasia told me it was time to continue the translations.

My own journey, starting with my move to Florida in 1997, was not taken alone. When I took a leap of faith and moved to Orlando, I was able to find enough rational and logical reasons for the move. I hated winter and always wanted to live in a warmer climate. There was too much history in New England and people still knew me as the shy and awkward whipping boy. Logic dictated its own reasons for the move, it was a case of starting over fresh in a place where I had no reputation and where there was no snow. There were other reasons, which were harder to swallow, and I was only willing to embrace those reasons if I had a "reasonable" purpose for moving. I was giving up a reliable, full time position as a mail carrier and leaving behind friends and family. This was hard to rationalize as being done because a woman appeared to me in dreams and demanded I find her.

During my death experience, or my intense dream, depending on how you prefer to interpret it, I only encountered one entity, which I later realized was an older version of myself. In the dreams that followed over the next three years leading up to my move, there were three other entities. One was an image of Tina, the woman who asked me to find her by going where there was no snow. The second was a little old man who radiated powerful energy and was usually found behind a little table demonstrating things to me with the use of playing cards. The third was Anastasia. And some people wonder why I prefer to consider myself to be completely insane. Each of these entities was trying to give me direction and meaning, in a sense rising to my challenge to prove that my life had meaning, contradicting the reasonings behind my suicide. They were relentless and when I made the decision to move, the rational reasons were an excuse. The real reason was that I intended to put it all to rest. Even at this point I had such high levels of doubt and borderline contempt for the invasion of my peace of mind. I would prove it was all just a fantasy concocted in my overactive imagination.

Because "go where there is no snow" is more than a little vague as far as an instruction on how to find someone, I asked Anastasia for more information. She told me, "Let yourself be guided there. You will know the guides, as they will each have my name." At this point I had only known Anastasia by a single name, and so I began watching for people named "Anastasia." It was not until years later, when I began interpreting the Books of Convergence that she began calling me by my first and middle names, Keith John and referring to herself in kind as Anastasia Christina. Sometimes I consider the alarming number of Christinas, Christines, and the like that became involved in my life in Orlando to be a running joke. At other times I see it as further evidence that Anastasia has some idea about what she goes on about.

After I had been in Orlando for several months, I found that when I disregarded Anastasia's counsel, things went wrong and when I listened to her advice I would find strange and miraculous things happening. Even before I moved, I had difficult experiences with two roommates before finding a great roommate in a co-worker named Kevin. It was Christine, the sister of Kevin's girlfriend, who lived in Orlando and guided me here, and then it was Tina, the waitress and woman from the dreams who became central when Christine departed. After that it was Christina who taught me and guided me up until and beyond her death in 2002. It was the night of Christina's funeral that Anastasia began referring to herself as Anastasia Christina after promising me to watch over her soul as it passed forward from this place.

The day I snapped and told Anastasia that I was refusing to do it any longer, that I was going to stop following this path she navigated me through and try to live a "normal life," my car was slammed into and suffered almost $10,000 worth of damage with me behind the wheel. I walked out of the accident that twisted my Miata into a pretzel without any kind of injury, but during the accident, Anastasia appeared in the car and part of me believes that the inexplicable break in the passenger side of the windshield that lead police, firefighters and my mechanic to ask what happened to my passenger was caused by Anastasia's head. After being intensely questioned by the police as to the identity and location of my passenger, I certainly wasn't going to tell them it was an angel who did not need medical attention. They seemed to be convinced that I had a passenger and the passenger had run away after the accident, perhaps because they wanted to avoid contact with the police.

Much of the story of Anastasia has been kept secret over the years. For years I was convinced that publicly "confessing" my belief in her would have me sent to a psychiatric hospital. Over time I stopped caring about it, because as I worked to tell my story I realized I could not disregard her part in it. She still comes to me when I am frustrated or down, reminding me of things and making statements that require faith to accept. Five years ago when I was at a critical crossroads in my life after losing my car and my job, she told me to wait. All she said was to wait, because I had been trying to get a job without a car but this was proving to be almost impossible. When I borrowed money from my father to buy a car, I was almost immediately after called about a job by a woman working for a temporary agency I was registered with. The job was just down the street from me, almost within walking distance, and the woman who called me was named Kristy.

Anastasia often explains this life to me as a maze, a series of riddles or a puzzle. Somehow all the pieces come together if you put them in their right context and then everything makes sense. My inability to find meaning in life throughout the early part of my life was based in my feeling that things needed to be permanent to have meaning. If someone left or something was lost, then it lost meaning to me. I mourned when people left my life, when I lost things or when they tore down buildings I was fond of. Why did I put so much energy into these things if they weren't going to last? The magic is in the moment, in the present tense and not in the future. Enjoy what is now and put the puzzle together, this was her advice. Before I understood that, I couldn't understand why things did not last. I did not appreciate the power of the present moment because I was too busy trying to make sure nothing changed and everything I cared about lasted forever. Some things have more meaning when they do not last and lose their meaning when we hold onto them for too long. This was one of the hardest lessons to learn.

The role of Anastasia in my journey has been a very important one, but one I often shy away from. In part this is because I believe for some people, all I speak of may be invalidated by a perceived requirement they must also accept her as real. There is no such requirement and both doubt and "blasphemy" are welcomed in "my church." My story is one you can read as fiction, as the product of my imagination or as a real experience. This choice is yours, for you are as correct as I am and I will gladly say I am wrong if it will help you to be right. It is the way.

The symbolic representation of Anastasia within the series of dreams I have within the frame of Rancho Nuevo is that of an angel hanging from a cross on a hill outside the town. At times I thought this was some kind of comparison to the story of Jesus of Nazareth, but then I realized it was more than a simple comparison. The crucifixion made use of something I was familiar with in order to convey something using very serious imagery with very heavy connotations. Within Rancho Nuevo were those who struggled, those who took advantage of others and allowed themselves to be abused and victimized by enabling their oppressors. Anastasia wept for the town, but the town is and always has been symbolic of this place we live in. She is not waiting to die on the cross. She is waiting to be born. She is waiting until the time comes. She is waiting for Convergence.

The living parable I give to my messenger,
My father, my brother, my son, my teacher and my student,
Is so that he may understand and learn the essence of the message
For one is not easily educated unless the lesson comes alive
Words alone are not enough to teach
The reason for this life you lead is the living lesson
To learn from action and deed
To give and to receive; to teach and to learn
Each within his own patterns
To follow or be broken
In the traveling of the road

--Book of Christina: Chapter 21


Dedicated to Christina H. on the second anniversary of her death.
And to Megan who recently told me she believes in me.

Curious that when I went to post this I was going to designate it as "Person" until Anastasia told me "Idea" would be a better choice. Weird, wacky stuff, baby.

* I've been asked by a number of people why I always use "water buffalo" in this context. This comes from a call I made to a poison control center while planning my suicide. I told them I was a novelist working on a novel where one of the characters kills himself with a combination of pills and liquor. When I gave them the list of what the "character" took in the story, the woman at the poison control center told me it was overkill and that what I was describing was "enough to kill a water buffalo." As such, the reference has stayed with me.

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