Cora and I got into bed last night to watch a video about past lives on YouTube. Some kid was convinced he had a previously existent family on an island off the coast of Scotland. He even knew their names, but we turned off the video before we got a chance to discover if that previous family of this apparently reincarnated child had ever actually existed. It was after 11:00. I sat down on the hardwood floor to set the alarm on my phone so we could wake up in time for work today, and I hesitantly said to Cora, “I know this sounds strange, but do you think I might have been in hell in a previous life?”
“Why would you say that, Gabriel?” Cora asked from where she lay in bed, a concerned lilt in her question’s tone.
“I was just thinking about it. Remember when I told you how during my first ever psychotic break, I believed all the souls in hell had broken free, and it was my job to find them and bring them back to their prisons? Well, it just struck me – What if I’m not supposed to be looking for other souls? What if it was me who broke out of hell this whole time?”
“Gabriel, even if you were in hell, I don’t think you’d be able to get out. I don’t think that’s how it works.”
“I don’t know. I mean… in a lot of reincarnation theories there are higher and lower planes of existence from here. What if I was stuck in some lower plane for a really long time, and that’s why it seems like I’m brand new to this plane? That would explain why my visions of hell are so clear in psychosis…”
“Gabriel, can I ask you a question?”
“I’m more than happy to talk to you about all this like it’s real. Because you know I wonder sometimes whether or not it is. But do you think it’s healthy for you if I help you think even deeper than you already do about these sorts of things?”
I didn’t say anything for a little while. Not because I was angry. I simply had to think about what Cora had just asked me.
Today, I was thinking about it all again as I walked up the block from the Metro to my apartment after work, and the craziest thought infiltrated my mind. For a minute there, I believed maybe I actually was Jesus in a previous life. Not metaphorically speaking, but rather that I was the risen Christ, that I had been beaten and crucified, and the memories still remained latent in my soul. Then, it seemed to me that as Jesus I might have been condemned to hell – either as an avatar of God sent to conquer the nether regions or else as a false prophet who’d sown schismatic seeds. Either way, for that brief second, I believed I had to get this life right. Because I was certain I didn’t want to have to go through any of that ever again.