A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me. --- Khalil Gibran
It could be anyone. A movie star, past or present. A guy standing in a crowd on a street in a photo in an article. The pizza delivery guy. Your hairdresser. A gal behind the counter at the department store or in the line at the grocery store. A stranger passing you on the street.
The moment you see them, you know them. You know them. Maybe even intimately. Maybe you knelt with them in the trenches during a war. Maybe you went to school with them back in the 1940's. You might have even passed them on the street---never even meeting them---only it was a hundred years ago, and you thought how handsome they were.
Yes, sugars, I'm talking about...past lives. Reincarnation.
Many believe it, many call it hogwash.
All my life, in spite of being taught in church that it wasn't possible, that it was sacrilegious, I still felt it was possible. It made so much sense to me, this idea of our souls being infinite and existing inside various forms throughout the universe. I love the thought of this.
Oddly, though, the concept never made as much sense to me as it did when I started writing.
And here is why.
When I did start writing, my very first character was this thin, rather pale, dark-haired man. Very broody, very intense. Beautiful like one of those saints in a stained glass window in a cathedral. Hey, don't start laughing just yet. There's reasoning behind this madness. Just wait.
Now, here's something else about this man. Whenever he came to my mind---which was pretty cotton-picking often---I kept seeing the Catholic church. When I'd write him, he either was a priest or had been a priest or was somehow associated with Catholicism. Strongly, he always appeared in my mind this way.
This 'character' began to trouble me. After a while, after I'd had a chance to get to know him better, I began to feel---with overwhelming certainty---that I knew him, really knew him from somewhere. No longer was he this figment of my imagination, a character trying to be fleshed out, but he was somebody real.
There were times I almost saw him, saw exactly who he was and where I knew him from. Kind of like staring at a faint reflection of a face that hid deep, deep in a dreamy pond. Almost, but not quite, I could touch him.
Okay, you'll maybe find this silly. I even checked around to study past-life regression. Yep, he'd gotten that much under my skin.
I was wildly attracted to him, horribly sad about him for some reason. Talk about feeling like you're crazy! I dared tell only a handful of open-minded friends about him. Anybody else, I was pretty damn sure, would say I was off my nut.
And then it happened.
I was watching a film on Telemundo, the Hispanic television station. What was funny was that it was an Italian film with Spanish captions on a Spanish station. It was, if I remember correctly, The Holy Family. The guy who played Joseph on the film! Lordy, I found him so damn attractive. Something so familiar about him. Maybe he looked like an old boyfriend or something. Couldn't quite place why he seemed familiar, he just did.
Of course, the next day, I googled him.
There he was. It was him. Him! The man who'd taken over my mind and had this weird place in my heart. I can't tell you know I knew it was him, I just knew.
He was the Italian actor, Alessandro Gassman.
Holy shitsky. In all his dark, brooding glory. No, I'm not saying I knew the actor intimately, from some other life. But he was the face of the creature who'd invaded my mind.
Well, anybody who knows me knows that I fell in love, head over heels, for this actor. But what most have never known was why. And there it is, darlings. Most of my friends have surely just figured it was part of my fascination---no, call it obsession---with dark haired Mediterranean and Latino men. Sure, I like them. But this man was different.
Wait! No, no, no, no! Before you go and start hollering that ol' Vastine thinks she had an affair with an actor in a past life...that's not what I'm saying.
What I am saying is that his face, his persona, his everything reminded me very much of something---gods only knows what or who---of something, someone from some time that was not in this life. I don't know what this is. I only know how it feels, and how certain it feels. I wish it was explainable. It's not.
And the Catholic element? Here's where it's kind of funny.
So by now, I had a face to my faceless man. Whoever he had been in my life, I felt very surely that he had been Catholic.
One day, after this 'epiphany', a guy from church came up to me when services were letting out. He said My mother said to tell you that she dreamed about you last night. I don't know if the ambrosia she'd eaten was bad, or what made her dream this. But---and he chuckled---she dreamed that you had a son. And she said he was a priest or something. She thought he might have even been the pope.
Of course I laughed, as it was funny. But, deep down inside, I was a mix of elated and scared. This woman had no way to know about this imaginary connection I felt to the Catholic church. And, hey, maybe it was just one of those nifty telepathic wave lengths that folks share sometimes.
Whatever it was, I had to---just had to----put a add a bit of weight to its meaning.
By now, you're chalking Ms. Vastine up to being a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Maybe I am.
Maybe, too, there's something deeper in all of us writers than we give credit to. Maybe sometimes our muses aren't simply imaginary characters conjuring themselves out of nowhere to put themselves into our stories.
Maybe they go deeper than that. I truly believe that, sometimes---who knows, maybe all the time?---our muses are people our hearts really do know. Maybe we write them at times so vividly because they are not strangers to us.
Come on. So many authors claim that they know their characters intimately. Couldn't that just more than just imagination? Maybe there is a logical although ethereal truth to this because they might just really know them? Perhaps not from this life but from another. I mean, how do we get into their souls so easy at times? How do they get into ours?
I love the thought of this. I choose to embrace it. Not only from an artistic standpoint but from a realistic one. A theory that makes very much sense to me, this idea of souls being infinite.
After all this being said, you can only imagine my delight when I stumbled on this photo of my movie star-turned-muse...
Call it just a muse. Call it experiences from a past life. Whatever you do call it, it's still the same inexplicable, exquisite experience.
You see that face. And you smile.
I know you.