(Congressional Cemetery at Dawn -- 12/07/08)
I went back to the Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant last night, and the waiters told me that the man who collapsed on Saturday night had died. The cops stopped by the restaurant later Saturday night to inform the wait staff of this outcome and interview them for details. Apparently no one knows who the guy is yet. Whoever he is, or was, may he rest in peace -- it sounds as if his life was a hard one, and his exit certainly wasn't pretty.
When I was in the restaurant last night, I reflected back on the experience of Saturday night and some interesting things came to mind. The first has to do with the book I am currently reading, Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss. One friend loaned me this book a while ago after a discussion we had at the dog-walking graveyard about reincarnation, and another friend's theory that the Sock Puppet Woman situation has to do with past-life karma inspired me to read it. The book is about an Ivy League psychiatrist (he makes a point of flaunting his "certified smart" credentials to deflect those would tend to dismiss his story as completely crazy) who decided as a last-ditch attempt to hypnotize a patient who had not improved despite 18 months of traditional therapy -- he hoped that during the hypnosis he could regress her back to her childhood and uncover some traumatic event(s) that would shed light on her current problems. Over time, Weiss concluded that when his patient was hypnotized she not only remembered her childhood in this life but also remembered past lives. At first he was very skeptical about the past-life thing (he is a serious Ivy League doctor and scientist, remember!), but after several regressions in which the woman produced very intricate details concerning times and places about which she consciously knew nothing, Dr. Weiss started to give some credence to the past-life idea. Anyway, just before the man collapsed on Saturday night, I was reading the part of Weiss's book in which he described how his patient's hypnotic memories of "passing over" into the spiritual state between her human lifetimes were virtually identical to the typical description of a near-death experience -- floating above the dying body, ceasing to feel the physical pain of death, and approaching a white light, e.g. I thought it was interesting, maybe even a little spooky, that I was reading about that topic literally minutes before seeing someone closely approach his death.
Another thing that I thought was interesting (this will be shorter than the last point, I promise) was that almost immediately after the paramedics carried the man out to the ambulance and the wait staff cleared away all the mess associated with the man's collapse and the efforts to resuscitate him, other customers started to stream steadily through the door, just like any other Saturday night. This I found interesting on two fronts: (1) it was such a clear example of how life, as they say, indeed does go on when souls leave its plane, and (2) it made me think that I was the only non-wait staff (or family-member-of-wait staff) customer during the traumatic episode for a reason, because by the time I left the place was pretty busy.
In conclusion, I would like to say a big "thank you" to all of you who have commented on the last two posts, both of which deal with uncomfortable situations -- your insights and support have been very helpful -- and I also would like to clarify how I feel about the relationship between the Sock Puppet Woman and watching the man die. A couple of you yesterday opined that the tenuousness of life was precisely why the SPW should be viewed as important for all the lessons and insights that she offers, rather than "silly," which was the word that I used when contrasting the two situations. I actually agree with that point and think that "silly" was an unfortunate choice of adjective on my part. What I meant to convey was the sense that the SPW, although of deep importance to me here in this life for the reasons the two commenters identified, is, like everything else in this life, an impermanent phenomenon. Even if reincarnation really is how it works and my situation with Ellie indeed is a karmic thing, that karma either will be resolved in this life or get carried over in some form to the next. But this iteration of it that resides within my current being is just as ephemeral as everything else. So, it would have been more accurate for me to have said yesterday that watching a guy die brought home to me that the SPW situation is, like life itself, not solid. Or something like that.