Woke up with a jolt — and finally knew what to call it.
It's happened now four or five times over the past couple decades. I don't remember it happening before then. I think it started after I got hit by the 18-wheeler. I know the visions started right then, 'cause that was the first time I started hearing voices.
My sensei, Jack Wada's voice, to be specific. His was the first to come through. I was covered with broken glass from the driver's side window where the 18-wheeler had slid itself into me, spraying me with shattered shatterproof glass. I looked like the ice queen covered in square little shards — some of which were imbedded into the left side of my face. They were kind enough to not hit my eye or the optic nerve as they shot into a crescent from above the eye across the zygomatic. Lucky me. I mean that. Lucky me. My Volvo — yes, my Volvo gave it's life for me — my Volvo crumpled itself completely around me like a metal cocoon. Everything was in slow motion. And then I heard his voice:
"When you are attacked," he said, "remember to get your breathing together."
Reasonable, I thought, as I shifted into circular breathing.
I was trapped in my cocoon. The truck driver was trying to get the right side of my car open. Cops were there. Fire truck. Safe little cocoon... quiet and peaceful and safe. Somebody used a crowbar, I think.
"And don't forget your keys," my ever-practical Sensei reminded me, "you're gonna need them."
That was the first time I heard voices.
After that it was voice and visions together. After that it was a lot more frequent. After that — time-slipping.
We were at Pasand's in Berkeley, when it was still okay to go to Pasand's. It was during the 1995 conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness at the UCB Faculty Club. We were taking a break. I was with four of my former students who were helping out at the conference. I hope I bought them lunch, but who remembers, given what happened...
Group visions! What could be more validating than that? External verification of such a non-ordinary event.
Howard left the table, so he wasn't there.
Sean says he could hear laughter from far away. He couldn't hear us speaking, couldn't tell what we were saying. Had no idea where we — the three women at the table — were. I always attributed the event to the Indian food. It was hotter than usual that day. Probably Howard's doing. When suddenly — we weren't at Pasand's at all.
The wind was blowing hard. The Acropolis was vibrant and whole. It was pretty crowded — but not with tourists. There were politicians in togas. We were in simple long white togas as well — like the maidens of Caryatids— but alive. Not supporting buildings, but standing around just chatting at the Erechtheion. Flesh and blood. Having a laugh.
"Are you really here?" I remember saying. "Are we really here?" Moron. Questioning a vision. But I was questioning. Anthropologist, remember? But I wasn't taking notes.
So, okay. That was 16 years ago.
This weekend we went to Tribal Arts and Textiles at Fort Mason, and I asked her.
"Remember that time in Pasand's?"
"Yes," she answered, hesitantly.
"What did you see?"
We'd been through this before. But it'd been years.
And, yah. External verification. Again. We were all at the Erechtheion together. We were all having a laugh over it. And the guys weren't there. So it couldn't have been the food, right?
And it can happen anywhere. Anytime. Office hours! Now that one was embarrassing. Well, I was embarrassed, anyway. This student used to come in every single day, and complain about his lot in life, student loans, working as a cashier, not graduating. Bla bla bla. Every single day I had office hours. And then—
He was Etruscan. And it's ancient Tuscany outside. Mostly orchards, where we were. During Office Hours.
And I said it. Out loud. By accident. Which made it worse.
"Well, yah," he answered. "So you can finally see me?"
He told me that he had also studied with Bruno. But that was later. Giordano Bruno, the astronomer. That's what he studied — astronomy — and his complaint was that he couldn't find a program in ancient astronomy. He was very very pleased, and not depressed that day.
Since then, I've gone all the way back, as far as you can go. To the birth of all things. And I've spent time with Samurai on the battlefield, and you know, this and that. Held long conversations with Vlad, and done his bidding. I've sat on the desert and watched the desert flowers bloom and fade and bloom again. Again, with friends surrounding me. We've been the gods... We've watched the gods... I guess that's what they're called.
"Do you talk to God?" A student once asked me in class. It was a team-taught class.
"I didn't put him up to it," my colleague chuckled, when I turned to him.
What do you say to that? Do you tell him the truth? Do you teach this stuff at school? Time-slipping. Time-slipping through paradise.
"We have a class on that," I said. "It's not this one."
Chicken shit. What a terrible teacher I am. I just left it at that.