This One Time, 78

This one time I was with my hypnotherapist, doing past-life regressions. I only do this once a year, and it’s not particularly because I believe in past lives. But it feels … like a way of delivering myself messages I need to hear from my subconscious. It’s the way I think Tarot cards work, or any of a number of intuition-driven assessments and therapies. Like maybe those inkblot things. The pictures I see in random shapes and the words I hear in noise tell me what’s in my head, at the bottom layer, trying to bubble its way up through the murk. I guess. When I give it any thought at all. Basically it’s something I do from time to time and I get something out of it. I don’t believe I should torpedo that out from under me simply because I’m not smart enough to understand it.

For all I know there is a recycling program for souls and maybe we can learn a bit more about how to deal with the world if we can recall lessons we might have already learned. Or learn from previous terminal mistakes — something we ordinarily wouldn’t get the chance to do in one go-round. It’s hard to imagine that this one shot is all we get. It seems … wasteful. And I’ve met scientists. They all act like they know everything, or at least they think they know better than you, but every six months they announce to the world that the last thing they told you was wrong and something else is the absolute truth. And somehow they act like that doesn’t keep happening and we should trust what they say is gospel.

Every time I hear an announcement I think eggs. Eggs are good for you. Eggs are bad for you. No, wait. There’s good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. We’re pretty sure about that. And get some sun, it’s healthy for you. Oh, wait, too much vitamin D can poison you and then there’s skin cancer. The Milky Way is all there is. Oh, wait, there are zillions of galaxies. The universe is 20 billion light years across. No, wait, only 10. No, we’re pretty sure it’s about 13.4 billion. And now that we think of it, it’s probably 96% stuff we can’t see and know nothing about. Unless it isn’t. No, we’re pretty sure it is. And we still have no idea what gravity is. Or mass, for that matter. Or that inertia thing. But time and space? That’s … you know what? Never mind. We’ll get back to you. And when we do, we’ll have the definitive answers and you can throw away all your hokum.

Yeah, I know. The sum of all human knowledge is a work in progress. I don’t resent that science doesn’t have all the answers. I just resent the attitude. See, I’m not an expert at anything. Not at raising my kids, not at pleasing my wife, not at installing tile and flooring and cabinets, certainly not at filling out my paperwork when I’m done, not at playing my video games or figuring out what my nutso dog is trying to tell me, not at figuring out who to vote for, not at trying to keep my weight down or knowing what to do about these chest pains. I’m not afraid to admit any of that. I just do whatever seems like the right thing to do at the time. What else can you do?

So once a year I visit this freaky hypnotherapist, this third generation Californian who helped me quit smoking, and — maybe it’s mostly out of gratitude about the smoking thing that I keep coming back and giving him money — and we play the Past Lives game. Only this time I started him off by asking him why he thinks the past lives things work. He believes it all to the core. He thinks it’s because minds resonate across the whole spectrum of time, and since they’re basically the same minds that think the same way, they can tune into one another like radios. And this one time I asked him what keeps us from tuning into our future lives, because wouldn’t it be more likely that our future versions would have worked out more stuff and have more to teach us?

Then he looked at me through his tiny Santa Claus glasses, over his enormous walrus mustache, with that look that says I either just said something deeply profound or maybe the stupidest thing he ever heard and he was trying to figure out which.

“Shit,” he says. “I dunno. Let’s try it.” That’s one of the reasons I like him. When he’s stumped, he says so. And he doesn’t let that stop him for even fifteen seconds. I’ve never met anyone like him.

So he sets up his video camera — every year it’s a new one, tinier, less clunky and fiddly — and drags a chair over in front of me. And the way it usually goes is he puts me under, talks to me — or whoever I am — for fifty minutes, and then sends me a CD or DVD or whatever with the video on it. I watch it, and then I call him up and we talk for half an hour.

Only this time when I come out of it, I’m covered with some of slimy stuff, soaked clear through to the skin. His sofa thing is soaked as well, and what I can only describe as half melted into a puddle on one end, slumped onto the floor. There’s a huge damp wavy triangleish damp spot on his wall, like someone slapped it with an oily towel. Over on his desk, the video camera is still running, blinking its little red light. He’s on his knees in front of me, pulling me upright, and he’s pale and shaking and his eyes are locked open, huge, and not blinking. And he asks, “Are you alright, man? That was a hell of a … ten minutes.” His voice is rock steady, but I’ve never known it to be otherwise.

I survey the carnage — the ruined leather sofa — can wood even melt? — and the wall, and the carpet, and his messed up hair and dark splatter spots all over his suede jacket and smudged glasses — and I say, “I guess so. What the heck happened?”

He looks over at the camera, notes that it’s still running, and says, “I dunno. But, uh, all things considered, I don’t think I’m charging you for a full session.”

I’m still looking around at the mess. “What about the….” He waves me quiet, cleaning his glasses.

“What happened?” I ask again.

He stands up, stretches, shrugs. “Seriously. I got nothing.” He helps me to my feet. “Tell you what. Hit the restroom in the hall and see what you can do to get cleaned up. I’ll burn you a copy of the video to send home with you. You watch it, if you feel like it, and then you give me a call. I gotta….” He trailed off. “Order a new sofa thing. A carpet cleaning. Maybe file an insurance claim. That kind of thing.”

I did what he said. I would have taken a shower if he’d had one in his suite, but I didn’t have anything else to wear, so I prepared to just squish my home on the subway, hoping it wouldn’t be too cold when the wind hit me. When I went back into his office to get the disk, he had it ready for me. Most of the puddles had dried to crusty stains, but the sofa was … never coming back. But he put the disk in my hand in a little plastic case with the date of the session written on it with a marker, clapped me on the shoulder like nothing at all unusual had happened, and reminded me to give him a call when I’d seen the recording so we could talk it over.

It’s been three weeks and I still haven’t popped the disk in the machine.


March 19, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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