Funny the World

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Today in My History

2000:  Surrounded by Brasilians
2001:   Hellos and Goodbyes
2002:  (Semi-)Permanent Memorials
2003:  Finding My Inner Curmudgeon
2004:  Deja Vu All Over Again
2005:  Happiness is 2 Warm Puppies

2006: It Couldn't Happen Here
2007: I was the Youngest in the Room...
2008: Catalog Season
2009:  And Then There Were Two
2010:  Oogy
2011:  Sacred Cows
2012: My Hero

Bitter Hack
Updated: 11/11

Books Read in 2013
 Updated: 10/16
"More than Petticoats"

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Airy Persiflage

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mail to Walt

I am replacing my Funny the World logo for the rest of this month with a link to a site where you can donate to help in the disaster relief in the Philippines.  I know there are a zillion organizations which are working to help the people.  You may not want to donate to compassion, but I hope you choose the organization you prefer.  Just donate.  The need is so great...


15 November 2013

I don't mean "born again" in the Religious Right sense of the term, but in its original definition, born again after death,  Reincarnation.

My aunt Betsy was into all that sort of stuff.  She had every book on reincarnation and near death experience and "beyond the beyond" kinds of books.  At her funeral I remember that we joked that if ever there was anybody who was ready for a reincarnation it was Bets.  If such a thing exists, she must be in 7th heaven.  ...uh... literally!

There was a time when I read all that sort of stuff--not nearly to the extent that she did, but heck, I even read Shirley MacLain's early books.  And I thought about it a lot.  It flies in the face of Catholic teaching, but I decided that reincarnation was the only thing that made any sense to me.  You can't kill energy and what is life but when all of your vital organs cease to keep you alive in the sense that we know it...where does that energy go?

I never did figure out if we reincarnated into human beings, or maybe into some other life form, like animals or insects.  In fact, the night Gilbert died, I went to his house in San Francisco to "straighten up" in preparation for his family's arrival from Oklahoma the next day.  "Straighten up" in this case meant ridding the place of any gay stuff that might be embarrassing for his family to find.

I slept in his bed that night and there was a spider crawling on the pillow and I couldn't bring myself to kill it, just in case this was Gilbert instantly reincarnated (yes, I was that silly).

But I have thought about this whole reincarnation thing over the years and, as I said, did some reading about it at one time.  Some have theorized that it would explain why you meet a total stranger and you may be either drawn to that person or have a strong aversion to that person, before you've even gotten to know them.   Perhaps your paths crossed in a former life.

There are reports of young children who talk about their former lives, not realizing that they are no longer in that life any more.  As the child grows older, he gradually forgets the former life.  I have no clue whether this is real or hokum,but it's an interesting thing to think about.

I've never talked to anybody about my thoughts about my own possible former life but I was discussing it with my friend Kathy today, when we met for our monthly lunch, and as I talked with her I had an a-ha moment about the whole thing and so I decided I'd come clean about my possible former life.  Unlike many people who pursue knowledge about past lives, I don't believe I was a princess or any other royalty, or any famous person.  I was just "me," whoever "I" was.

I got to talking with Kathy about it because we were discussing various historical spots around the world.  She wants, for example, to go to the sites made famous during the civil rights movement.  She has felt drawn to that area for many years and has talked many times about wanting to visit.

We talked about how "different" it felt to be standing in an historic place and thinking about what went on there.  I have never been to Dallas, but I imagine I would feel that special feeling in Dealey Plaza, like I felt standing in the courtyard in Yalta, where the famous picture of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill was taken.

I told her how moved I was at Babi Yar and how compelled I was to read a book and find out exactly what happened there.  She talked about how she could not bring herself to visit any site like that because it was too painful to think about. That's when I told her my deep, dark secret.

I don't know when I became interested in learning about the Holocaust.  It was probably reading "The Diary of Anne Frank," but I went through a time when I read anything I could read about it, from historians and survivors.   I watched countless movies and documentaries about the atrocities committed during that time.  I often asked myself why I was so intrigued by something so terrible.   I remember that a book club was discussing Eli Wiesel's famous book "Night," based on his experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz, and some of the people who read it were terribly upset and nauseated by some of the experiences he related.  I had read the book too, but it contained nothing that I had not read from countless authors before, so it didn't hit me with the same "pow" that it did others.

I gradually began to think that perhaps in a former life I had been a part of the Holocaust.  But here's my deep dark secret.  If indeed that was part of my past life experience, I think I was not a prisoner, but a soldier or a politician charged with implementing the "final solution."  I can't really explain why I feel that, but I have felt it for a long time, and been appalled by it.

But as I related my thoughts to Kathy, my a-ha moment came.   If you read enough literature about reincarnation, you find that our job in the next life is to right the wrongs that we did in this one.  And doesn't it say somewhere (it's been decades since I read any of this stuff) that you keep living your life over and over again until you finally get it right and then you get to achieve Nirvana or whatever it is when there is no more work to be done.

And it hit me that all of my adult life...literally all of my adult life...I have been working to make the world a little better for someone else.   I sponsored my first child when I was just out of college and working so that I had money to spend and I found little Hyun Joo in Korea and sponsored her.  There followed a succession of other kids, their names now forgotten, through other organizations and now Compassion and the kids I sponsor there.

Maybe this is what I was sent into this life to make up for my bad deeds during the Holocaust by doing something for others in this life.

This could, of course, all be the ravings of an overactive imagination, but if I was a bad guy and had any part in the atrocities of World War II, I'd like to think that I've done all I can to make up for it, just a little bit at least, in this life.



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This arch, made entirely of shovels, was erected recently at one
end of the Arboretum that runs through campus


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