“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ~ Khalil Gibran.
I was not gifted with much athletic talent. I had heart, I had determination, I had team spirit, but I did not shine or excel in a way that made me a star in sports. My primary (elementary) schoolmates would laugh at my efforts, at my poor hand-eye coordination (ok, so I couldn’t catch a ball that flew straight to me!). They teased that I was ‘wutliss lak a cutliss’ (as worthless as a cutlass, but that doesn’t rhyme in English!). But I never stopped trying.
I have always been better at free style than organized anything. I have never voluntarily joined the dance floor when ‘electric slide’ is playing. I will do my own thing in the corner, but the discipline of step step step, dip, turn around, is lost on me. And yet I Zumba. There are some moves that come naturally, they may mimic dance moves learned dancing to the rocksteady or soca, and I follow the instructor religiously to make sure I mimic every move. The times I do the best is when ‘muscle memory’ kicks in, and I am not thinking about what I am doing. The minute I start paying attention again, I am liable to lose step. And when I am learning a new move I resort to math, counting until I get the moves without thinking.
For some reason the other day, after sweating up a storm in my Zumba class, I was thinking about muscle memory, and about the way some things can happen automatically, without us paying attention. It can be like that with people. There are some people who become familiar and comfortable even after you have only known them a short time, as if you have a memory of them, a soul memory. In Jamaica, on the other hand, when you don’t like someone you may say: ‘mi spirit no tek dem’ – my spirit does not take to them. There are some people who just rub you the wrong way.
What is this explanation for an almost instant recognition, a spark of kindred spirits? Many years ago, I was introduced to a book by Miami Psychiatrist Brian Weiss, called ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’. For those who have not heard of him, or read any of his books, in his first book he described how he stumbled upon past lives. As a scientist, he had no interest in what could not be proven, in the mystical metaphysical world. He used hypnosis to help patients with hard-to-treat phobias, taking them back to their childhood to try to track down the source of the fears. In one case he realized his patient was describing past lives, and before long he was getting way more than he bargained for. It led to a completely different direction for his life’s work.
His books are deeply comforting for anyone who has suffered loss, for he describes how souls can separate and meet up again. Another author, Carolyn Myss, suggests that our souls make contracts with each other, to help each other grow and evolve over time. This is why some people seem so familiar, we may have already known them in another life. There are many who are skeptical, but if we believe (as scientists do) that matter (energy) is neither created nor destroyed, then where does it go when the life force leaves a human body?
I won’t describe my personal experience with past life regression hypnosis here, except to say the question I was asked which I still ponder on. Why do you think you were born into your particular family, what was your purpose? It makes me laugh, because I used to tease my husband that I was his last chance – I had come to teach him the lessons he needed to learn in this lifetime, and if he didn’t learn them, he would come back next time as a slug – forced to start all over again! But then there’s the other question: what did I need to learn from him?
I recently reread the ramblings of a brilliant woman as she was close to death. Her daughter had transcribed as much as she could, her mother had instructed her to. One of the messages she gave her daughter was that we should learn to trust our own truth, to listen to our own inner voice. It was as if she was moving between two worlds, and was being given messages that helped her make sense of what the human experience was all about, that what was coming was so beautiful there was nothing to fear.
If we see our life as an opportunity to learn and to grow, to evolve spiritually (which is hard when we are so focused on the material, the concrete, the things), then every encounter, every relationship may have a lesson for us (as we may be a lesson for that other person). It is hard to go through loss, to have to wake up and try to figure out how to get through a day while missing a loved one, but if you can see the gift they brought or the lesson they taught you, that can help you to keep moving forward.
In my Zumba classes, there are some Sunday mornings when I absolutely feel the spirits of those gone before me dancing through me. The music is such a wonderful mix of Afro-Caribbean-Latin influences (with a little rock and roll and a whole lot of soul), that I feel the ancestors dancing in the fields; I see bodies gracefully swaying and holding up their hands receiving gifts from their gods; I send up prayers of gratitude and joy and appreciation that I have a healthy body to be able to move and ‘wine my waist-line’; I sweat out the toxins of a too pressured life and give thanks.
This Friday morning, I am sending love to all those who grieve. I can hear my father’s voice at every funeral he ever led as he would recite: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope…” And I encourage you to get lost in a Zumba class, or any form of dance that allows you to celebrate this crazy life while we still can.
Have a wonderful weekend, Family!