There are a number of phrases used by the voices in my head to respond to questions or statements I make when I am looking for answers. The strongest voice is that of Anastasia, who always answers my questions about the validity of prophesy with the same answer.
"You are remembering the future in a different way than you remember the past."
As usual, when talking to someone who speaks only in what appear to be riddles, it isn't easy to procure a simple, logical, black and white meaning from the answer. This is even more confusing when you are someone who does not believe in prophesy and yet seems to experience it first hand.
Many people see prophesy on the large scale. They see it as relating to major world events and pivotal moments in human history. I see it merely as a foreshadowing of events yet to come.
When you write a novel or a story you often make use of foreshadowing as a tool to whet the appetite of your readers and to give them that moment of "oh, yeah, that explains it now." It is one of my favorite tools in writing. In my novel, Beauty Atrophies, there is a conversation early on between Miles, the main character, and his father. His father talks of wanting to be cremated and have his ashes scattered over the mountain. This bit of conversation is understated and seems very unimportant at the time, framed by Miles' father rambling about many random topics, but it sets up the entire finale of the book.
Life, like a novel, has plenty of foreshadowing. The essential components of what is yet to come can often be seen in how things are unfolding from the past into the present. Some people can logically put the pieces together to see what will happen next. This is a form of prophesy, and it is not always accurate because as variables change when the future becomes the present, results can change.
I spent several years attempting to cast off certain dreams and visions I experienced, beginning soon after my suicide on June 6, 1994. Some of them were easily explained as obvious given the foreshadowing. For example, knowing I would be abandoned by my friends and betrayed by those closest to me, was highly obvious given the history. Once I added in the impact of my death experience on my personality and the nature of the past behaviors of certain individuals, it was easy to see how that would turn out. It was easy to explain how I knew I would find new and truer friends in the months to come. After all, I had a new level of confidence and people seemed to be drawn to me. For a while, these explanations held water and were the answer to my turmoil over what had happened to me and why I had this strange sort of "vision" into the future.
Then came the prophetic dreams and visions that could not be explained by this method. These were the ones I tried to disregard and cast off as froth from my lunatic mind. The night of my death experience I had a dream of a woman in a cabin who told me I needed to find her and to do so I would have to go where there is no snow. This dream continued in many forms, as she informed me I had to leave home and seek her, and she even began appearing to me in waking visions. She haunted me to the point where I began using large amounts of liquor and drugs to silence the dreams and visions, but she would not be driven away.
This was coupled with another dream in which I was told of a path I needed to follow. When I asked how I would know the path, I was simply told, "They will all have the same name." This was connected to the dream of the woman in the cabin, who told me, "We will all have the same name."
Nothing unusual seemed to happen to me, but the dreams and visions continued, driving me to seek professional psychological help. "Look, I'm hearing voices in my head, can you make them stop?" After four sessions the psychologist was convinced that I needed to hear the voices. My cross examination convinced her that she needed to quit being a shrink and move back to Houston where her family was and go back to being a bartender.
Following my dance with therapy, I began a quest to date as many women as I could. It had nothing to do with sex or putting notches in my belt. All I did was take them out to dinner, drinks, or somewhere else people go on dates and take them home afterwards. In the midst of all this I met Chris.
There was something about Chris that made her stand out from the other women I met during that period. She was one of few that I saw more than once, although after the first it became two friends hanging out rather than two people dating. It was during an evening at a concert that I hit the wall and everything I was holding back came shooting out of me. Angie, the psychologist, knew about these things, but with her it was more of a "professional appraisal" kind of thing. With Chris it was an avalanche, brought on as we sat close to the stage during an emotionally charged concert.
Chris was a twenty-eight year old woman who knew what I was talking about and could understand. She had deep scars on her wrists and ankles from her own suicide. She felt herself to be on a journey seeking something she did not know or understand. "That is the pain," she told me. "The pain of not knowing."
It was the last time we would see each other, as she disappeared, even abandoning her apartment and leaving it empty. In the end she told me to go on my journey and that my greatest desire, to be with the great love of my life, who I call The Muse, would come to be if I was willing to dedicate myself over years of time and not lose faith. And she was right about that. Ten years later we are together and next year I'll be getting around to marrying The Muse.
Then there would be Christine, who came from Orlando, Florida. She was the sister of my roommate's girlfriend. Her sister's report on me was that I was a womanizing creep, and so on our first meeting she dressed me down, telling me how little she thought of me and "my kind" and how she would never sleep with me. I just said, "Okay," and got myself a beer. Several weeks later she convinced me to visit her in Orlando and consider moving there because she was in love with me.
It doesn't snow in Orlando, and she was a wonderful woman, so I accepted her offer. My whole feeling on prophesy changed my first night there. It changed because the waitress who served us on my first night there was the woman from the dream. Her name was Tina.
We will all have the same name.
There were a lot of names, especially considering the insanely rapid rate at which I had been dating, but what was strange about everyone with a name that was some variation of Christina was that they were the ones who pushed me to move south and follow the dreams and visions. The others wanted me to stay in New England.
And so, I started packing up my things and making myself ready for the biggest change of my life. I would move to Florida and start a new life. At the very least I would enjoy warmer weather and a fresh environment where no one knew me. If these dreams meant anything, then maybe there would be something more. After I moved, Christine decided she was just supposed to get me to Florida and that we could never work as a couple and we never saw each other again.
The problem with prophesy is the tendency to assign meaning to it based on how you interpret it. My interpretation drove me to a singular answer, which was that I was in Orlando to make a connection with this waitress named Tina. I romanticized it and imagined what it would be like if we were together as a couple. In the meantime I developed tunnel vision and lost my way. The closest friend I had in Orlando at that time, a woman named Chris whose given name was actually Tina, kept telling me I was wasting my time putting all my effort into the idea that Tina would one day stop holding me at arm's length.
There was another "prophesy" I called the Riddle of the Three Queens. This began with dreams the night after my death experience and continuing in various forms to this day. The dreams involved a gaunt old man sitting behind a card table. As I sat across from him, he would slowly deal three cards. The first was the Queen of Diamonds. When I tried to pick it up, it always seemed to stay just of out my reach no matter what I did. When I gave up on trying to grab it, the old man dealt me the Queen of Clubs. This card I could pick up easily enough, but soon after it would burst into flames and burn my hand. He then dealt me the Queen of Hearts, which when I picked it up it healed my burns and restored me before disappearing.
I never saw this as being any kind of prophesy until after meeting Tina. I saw it as a reflection on the way I had lived my life and what had driven me to the depression that culminated in my suicide. I tended to give up on what I really wanted because it was too hard to reach. I then looked for an easier way, which would end up hurting me in the end. Then I would find a way to heal myself, but by then I would realize I had taken the wrong path and needed to start over. The dreams were telling me I needed to do things differently and this was symbolic of the wrong path.
Nearly two years after I first met Tina, and after more than a year of knowing her and sitting at her bar and talking to her, I met Christina. She had always been there, but somehow I had never seen her before even though every person on staff at the restaurant I call my church knew me. As she watched my growing frustration with Tina, she walked over to me and asked me if I wanted to go out for drinks with her sometime. We were together for a month after that until my life started to fall apart and it became too much for her to handle. She had her own problems, not the least of which was her feeling that she would never live to be thirty and had to enjoy every moment of her life while she could. At twenty-four she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died at twenty-five.
She had prophesized her own death, with no reason to believe she would die other than having had cancer as a child. That cancer had left her pronounced dead, only to have her recover and the cancer vanish from her body. Her regular examinations showed no sign of cancer in her body, and yet she knew. She knew and that knowledge haunted her every day of her life. Her death became the last sign I needed to know that I had to follow the right path or I would never understand.
I sometimes write about a place called Rancho Nuevo. It is a town resembling a set from some old Western, but it is located along a river somewhere beyond the desert I saw during my death experience. Some of the stories I write are extrapolations while others are dreams I have had. It is here that I am told I will find myself after death if I do not follow the path before me. It has been in my dreams since my experience with death.
After Christina became unable to stay with me due to the burdens of my collapsing life, I found myself letting go of tunnel vision. It was necessary in order to survive, and after two years of following the same interpretation of the dreams and visions, I had to open the gates for other interpretations. It was then that it came together, with the help of a young waitress who had always talked to me and always taken an interest in everything I had to say. Tammy was an orphan from the town of Rio Rancho, New Mexico who had come to Orlando simply because she believed she would find what she was looking for there. When she became the one to stand beside me and guide me through troubled times, reminding me of how she had nothing and struggled to survive and did okay, I felt sorry for having all but ignored her over the years.
Tammy always called me "the dead guy," the result of her having read all the writing I had given Tina about my experiences and what brought me to Orlando. She quoted my own writing to me when she saw me looking as if I might surrender and stop fighting. She healed me, and then as I sought to repay her after my life came back together, she became pregnant and moved away with her boyfriend, who worked at the bar I call my church and resented me for "monopolizing all the damned waitresses."
Almost five years later, on my last night in Orlando, my friends took me out to a bar we sometimes drank at. For no apparent reason, the staff had decided to dress up like they worked at a Wild West saloon and all the waitresses were named Christine, Kristina or Tina. I figured it was someone's way of telling me it was okay to go.
What is prophesy? Is it a way to exactly predict the future or is it a vision into what could be if we follow the path that takes us there? My life is riddled with them, and as I travel, they seem to come into bloom. Believe as you will and others will believe as they do. There is no other path more true.
Incidently, Tina became a nurse. She had been going through nursing school while bartending and waitressing, and my efforts to help her balance all this and make it through seemed to be futile. In the end, she told me that it had meant something. The problem she had with becoming a nurse was her fear of death, which somehow she credited me with helping her overcome. Not only did she become a nurse, but she asked to work with terminally ill patients and was the nurse on the floor where another friend of mine was staying after being diagnosed with terminal leukemia. It all means something somehow.
I've always thought "prophecy" looked like it was spelled wrong.