Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Taste of the Past

A Taste of the Past

There is something I have experienced many times similar to deja vu but not deja vu. Deja vu for me, is like a more specific positioning, like a carbon copy vision, a narrower but more accurate sense of being in that point before, if articulated, “I remember/sense being in this place and moment before.” However, there is something a taste of the past, caused by sensory triggers or a combination of the wind on the skin, perhaps the lighting, the weather, an aroma....I am not talking of a resemblance, not speaking about a similarity and recalling of attributes. It is more potent, like your experience is sensing a feeling, a taste of twenty years ago or can not touch it but its scent is being left on your soul, your mind, your emotions, psychology...its the atmosphere and experience, like a small version of time travel. It can trigger the desire to want to escape backwards, seek refuge in the past from the present. Our bodies are like time machines at the end of the day, we move through time and are mentally projected backwards and forwards.

I wonder if any of you know what I am talking about, it is difficult to put into words. The atmosphere is different in each decade. The culture changes slightly each decade. Societies, communities, nations and even families are not stagnant. If we could transport ourselves back fifteen or twenty years into the mindset that we held back then (if you were old enough or even even existed), how different would our psychology, emotions and thinking be? Would we recognize ourself in our own body? Would we remember who we have been before? Even our beliefs may change over time, major beliefs and lesser details. Our beliefs drive our thinking, which in turn drive our objectives and actions. So twenty years ago we may have been walking left but if we had the benefit of hindsight or the benefit of our time-transformed personalities we would walk to the right, i.e. in the opposite direction. What if we could transport our self of today back twenty years to be surrounded by the past but without changing our current views at all. How alienated would we feel and with who would we associate. I know personally, that the 'me' of today would not have made so many decisions in the past and I would not have made so many associations and relationships. I do have regrets for lost time and opportunities before I had been shaped to make wiser and more knowledgeable decisions. But things have past, the road of time has been built as it is and there is nothing to be gained by wishing for a change that can't happen. And a lesson is usually deeper ingrained by experience rather than theory. However, this does not mean we can not try to project backwards to learn lessons and project forwards in anticipation of the way things work.

I strayed from my opening point in the previous paragraph, my issue was that there are many elements to how we feel at any given moment e.g.:-
  • The weather
  • The lighting
  • Our physical comfort or discomfort
  • Our beliefs
  • Our thoughts
  • Our emotions
  • Our objectives
  • Our relationships
  • Our sense of place
  • Our presence or absence of purpose
  • The progress along a defined path
  • The clarity or cloudiness of perception
  • Our awareness of environment
  • Political circumstances
  • The collective culture in society
  • Our mental stability or instability
  • Happiness or sadness
  • The memory of our past actions
  • The memory of past events
The configuration of these elements and their various intensities may well have a role in the unexplained probable uniqueness of feeling that can almost appear to occur twice, yet their complexity and uniqueness would point to that being impossible. This would lead us to believe the feeling is metaphysical or supernatural. I am reminded of the Quranic words:- 

They ask thee concerning the soul. 
Say: 'The soul (cometh) by command of my Lord: 
of knowledge it is only a little 
that is communicated to you.'" 
(QURA'N al Israa' 17:85) 

We could try to remember and feel the past moments in order to detect the conditions which caused a particular sense or state. This too though, would expectedly be a futile exercise. The specific sensation or taste of experience we feel repeated is very subtle and mysterious. It's elements are probably not detectable or knowable, as these are matters of thought, consciousness and experience all of which are beyond human understanding. Cause and effect is a reality and mechanisms in history repeat themselves but our understanding of ourselves and reality is limited today as it was yesterday.

We want to have a second bite of something but we don't know what we were biting and neither do we know where we were when were biting it. We remember the feeling but we can't describe the feeling. We have felt something before but we don't know what or when.

Some people feel frustrated that they can not share their memories with others but this is similar to how our unique perception can't be shared with others who are present nor with those who are absent in space but not in time. Worse is the mental torture of not being able to reach backwards. Regret can be a painful thing, but if we were wiped of memory we would lose our identity, direction and personality. Our past can tell us where we are going to just as it tells us where we are coming from.

Memory is an amazing thing and a deceptive thing. Sometimes we are so sure of how things were in the past but then the evidence is uncovered to disprove our memory. But have you ever been so sure of your memory or witnessing of details that you feel history and the universe have somehow been changed for you alone, in order to teach that things are not as you think, even when you know? I have been so sure on some occasions that I am almost totally convinced this does happen. Or was I remembering on behalf of my double in a parallel universe? Or was it mixed up with a dream? Well in some cases, definitely not, as their was no history or sleep intervening. But that doesn't leave me free of thought implants does it? Or how about perception implants? That is, intervention in our perception of the current reality so that we see what is not there and don't see what is there? This latter case I know for sure happens.

Why should I, should we, want to recover the feeling of the past? Is that we know things are getting worse and want to turn back the clock? Is it a form of escapism from our current problems, or the current state of the world?   

Abu Hurayra (a companion) reported that the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:- 

 "The Hour (of Judgement Day) will not come until a man passes by the grave of 
another and says, 'If only I were in his place.'
(MALIK Muwatta Kitab al Janaai'z) 

Is it the desire to see the road that we failed to take earlier which caused us to reach our current dead end? Or is it an attempt to slam on the brakes as we rush too fast towards our graves? I feel partly that it is the deluded dream of an unobtainable refuge, because while hiding in space we can be found but its a great deal harder to find that which is hiding in the past.

To Us are known those of you who hasten forward
and those who lag behind.” (QURA'N al Hijr 15:24)

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