Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Intimations of immortality, revisited

I have recollected this moment many times since childhood, though exactly when it was - I can't remember. It is most likely that I might have been four, maybe five years old at the time. In any case my brother had not yet been born - this could have been September, October or early November 1962.

My mother and I are on our way to the shops on the Uxbridge Road in West Ealing, the two of us - no brother in pram or pushchair. We are walking along Grosvenor Road, I'd say some 50 yards further back from where I took this picture. [I took it in 2015, and used a bit of Photoshop to get a 1962 vibe]. This is the corner of Grosvenor Road and Hatfield Road, home until recently, of legendary motorbike shop, Reg. Allen, that sold only British bikes - Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons, Ariels, Royal Enfields.

Suddenly I ask my mother (this dialogue is taking place in Polish, you will understand): 

"Do you know what I want to be?" 

My mother replies: "Happily married, living in a nice house, with a good job?" 

"No," I say. "I want to be dead."

She is shocked by my answer. I can hear her thinking - "My son wants to die! Where did we go wrong?" 

But it certainly wasn't my intention to shock or hurt her. I was merely remembering the state of being dead. I remember lying face down, entirely still; a state of bliss - peaceful rest; fulfilment

My mother's strongly negative reaction stopped me from ever discussing or probing further this anomalous memory with her ever again. But until that moment, the memory had been strong enough to prompt me to want to initiate a discussion about it with my mother.

What had provoked it? I recall seeing earlier a photo in my parents' copy of the Daily Telegraph of man lying dead, in front of a Greyhound bus in America. The image arrested me - I asked my mother what was had happened, and she said that in America - a 'wild country' (dziki kraj), people have guns and often shoot each other. This was the first time I'd seen an image of a dead person - was it my first contact with the concept of death?

And did the motorcycle shop trigger a memory? America, 1950s; riding my motorbike home after a few beers, late October, early frost, ice on the road, a misjudged corner, going too fast, bike slides away from under me, head slams on the asphalt, no helmet - a hospital building, four am, a nurse standing over me, a clipboard - she's thinking: "Mr Martin - you'll not make it through to the morning" and I'm thinking "how insensitive of her to be thinking this" as I hover over my body... I have written about this dream before, here.

A lifetime of anomalous qualia-flashbacks, exomnesia, dreams - authentic dreaming (which is rare in any case, but here where the unities of time, place and action all fit - such as this one) all suggest to me life before life... and life after death. 

This time last year:
Things will never be the same Pt II

This time two years ago:
Up to my waist

This time three years ago:
Luton Airport's never-ending modernisation works

This time six years ago:
Another office move

This time seven years ago:
Workhorse of the Free World's Air Forces over Jeziorki

This time eight years ago:
Looking for The Zone, in and around Jeziorki

This time ten years ago:
I awake to snow, on 4 May

This time 14 years ago:
This is not America. No?

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