For as long as I can remember the events of WWII have always seemed especially vivid to me. Even as I child, I would dream about WWII. An especially vivid dream found me swimming in the English Channel. The sound of explosions is deafening. Atop the water, the oil from downed planes fuels flames of fire that cut into a dark, hellish sky. I swim because my life depends upon it. Giving in, giving up is not an option. As I swim, my tears trace jagged lines through the soot on my cheeks. All innocence is dead.
Part of me has always felt at home in that era. Maybe the stories told by my parents and relatives of those years carved out this special affinity. Maybe it’s something more.
Today, as my daughter and I watch the movie Pearl Harbor released in 2001, it all feels a little too real. The bullets, the explosions, the fire, all stir a faint physical memory. I can taste the blood in my mouth and smell the scorched terror of war. Part of me perished during WWII. I am sure.
Does this give testament to a vivid imagination or hint at the possibility of past lives? Most likely the first and not the latter but it is fun to imagine where past lives may have taken me.
This notion has karmic appeal. What we don’t learn in this life we live again to begin to learn the lessons anew. The beauty of a do-over, another chance honors the idea that life, our lives have a purposes, that we have things to learn, that we can improve and become better than we once were.
This idea offers a life line to save us from the obscurity and mediocrity of our current lives. We can envision past excitement, maybe past heroism. It takes some of the pressure off this life. We relax. We compromise. We acquiesce.
Remove the possibilities of other chances, other lives, other lessons and we are faced with one life, a life in which each of us will meet our own Waterloo, the defining battle of our defeat. In this final battle all vestiges of invincibility of divine appointment, of hubris, of our immortality will be extinguished. We will face the sum total of our lives, the value of each of our days, minutes and hours and we alone will be held accountable. This life will be all that we have to show for our earthly existence. Will it be a life that is worthy of an eternity of heavenly rest?
While I dream of past lives, of Pearl Harbors and English Channels, a few more minutes of this life slip away. War gives way to peace. Defeat opens the door to victory. This is how life, my life, all lives were meant to unfold. We live to live again. Tomorrow is another day. Imagine the possibilities.