Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

Do You Believe in Reincarnation?

Do You Believe in Reincarnation? How About in Your Last Life?

Are you woo-woo?

Actually, it doesn't much matter whether you classify certain phenomena as synchronicity, the return of the repressed, evidence of reincarnation, evidence of string theory, or just stuff that nuts believe. I know: woo-woo irritates those who maintain that there is a universe governed exclusively by physical laws, a cosmos both uninterested and disinterested. Where life is life, and death is death, and never the twain shall meet, etc.. You know--that whole Age-of-Reason routine.

But the older I get, the less I buy it. Even if I can't believe that a picky, mean-spirited, narcissistic Director of The Universe is standing by with our dramatis personae in his hands, neither can I accept that the whole shebang is accidental or governed only by math.

Does life seems reasonable to you? Mine doesn't. That's where the woo-woo comes in. Woo-woo is whatever falls under the heading of the "uncanny" or "intuitive" or "spiritual" (although I have lots of trouble with that last word, overused as its been for the last couple of hundred years).

I'm not talking about being inappropriately touched by angels or about heading towards the light --or even towards the bar-but instead about listening to what people think even when woo-woo is involved.

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I was just told this story by a young woman in California who was doing my nails. The manicure was great.

The manicurist, in her early twenties, had a neighbor who used to babysit her, a crone with gray hair in an bun dressed in black down to her orthopedic shoes. The babysitter, Mrs. Marie, was the most devote of all Roman Catholics. Mass every morning, confession twice a week, a picture of the pope on her kitchen wall. Yet Mrs. Marie's theological theories were, apparently, not wholly in line with the church. She believed there was a crown in heaven awaiting everyone.

Everyone.

It wasn't what they taught in CCE. "What about murderers and thieves?" asked the little girl. "How about Hilter and pirates?" "Sure, they have to pay," Mrs. Marie would answer. "Because everybody's got to put the jewels in the crown before they can get into heaven. Every life you live, you get maybe one jewel. You're bad, you make no progress. And you got to keep coming back until you fill the crown. Then do you get into heaven." "People live more than one time?" "Maybe a saint fills the crown up all at once but nobody else."

Mrs. Marie said it was like Green Stamps.

"Don't they want to come back?" asked the little girl.

"Who would do all this again if they didn't have to?" replied Mrs. Marie.

So along with her novenas, and rosaries, and celebration of saints' days, this little old lady also believed in reincarnation, right there next to dozens of the world's other religions, none of which she would have acknowledged.

Maybe we aren’t allotted only one life and one death but instead get an assortment pack. It's like buying Time-Life collections (they could even keep the name).

You can always refuse the selections you don’t like-- although very few people do because the return policy is crazy and, besides, there are always some good cuts along the way.  

 Who knows? Your favorite song might be one you haven't heard yet.

Or let's think of it in terms of food. You can do destiny a la carte and make the selections yourself or you can let the chef pick for you.

For example, you could be offered the following pre-fixe-fate: life as orphan in Mesopotania with an early death from sunstroke, then a brief stint in in China where you die in battle, followed by a turn as a farmer in the Baltics where you die in bed surrounded by family, and the finale as a carpet-weaver in Istanbul who makes beautiful objects which, although you must sell them to others, bring you joy while alive and fame after death. Crown complete. Advance to Go when you, well, go.

Or perhaps you can go through time as part of a group, ordering a range of dishes and sharing? Maybe you choose Sicily during the Inquisition, then Botany Bay when it's a penal colony, followed by fin-de-siecle Paris, with life in 21st-century New England finishing the whole thing? Maybe you get a group rate, thereby helping one another get it right?

There are more things on heaven and earth, after all, than are dreamt of in philosophy or even in the kitchen of Mrs. Marie.

 

 

 

Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.

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