“Have you ever experienced Déjà vu, Natalie?”
That was the first question she asked her.
Most evenings, after I finished my homework, I would make my way across the street to visit Violet. I had been to her house long before she moved in, and actually helped my father and uncle build it for her. She wasn’t safe living on her own anymore, so far away. So, we built her her own house that was close enough for family to help out when she needed it.
My parents mentioned it would be a big help if I offered to help her around the house and keep her company after she moved in. They explained she was my uncle’s mother-in-law, making us related by marriage. Then added, "but she's not really related to you."
I decided then I wanted no part in meeting her. Whoever she was!
The day the moving van pulled up, I watched the movers unload boxes into the little house I helped get ready for her. Sometime later my aunt and uncle drove up, and I watched them open the back door and help her out. She was wearing a bright purple dress and seemed no taller than I was. When I saw she couldn’t stand up straight because of a big hump on her back, I gasped.
It seemed like she heard me in my house, from all the way across the street, because her big sunglasses spun immediately in my direction. I rolled off the bay window seat I was perched on and army crawled out of the living room as fast as I could!
A couple days later, Aunt Millie came over. Since she liked her coffee black, I had it ready to hand her when she got comfortable on the sofa. “Thank you, sweetie," she said. "You are so helpful! Would you like to come over and meet my mother?”
I remembered the creepy, little, hunchback woman and started mumbling something about homework.
“Well, just come over afterward,“ she said, then started chatting up my mom.
“Crap,” I thought. I had only postponed my fate.
After I was done with homework, I went to my room, closed the door, and hoped everyone would forget about me going over to meet her. As I settled into my Nancy Drew book, I hear a knock at the door.
Mom bellowed, “Aunt Millie just called, wondering if you’re coming over soon?”
When I yelled out, “But mom, I’m busy!” She walked in and sat down.
“Do you not want to go?”
“No mom. She’s weird. She has a big hump on her back!”
“Stop right this minute, Carol! People cannot help the way they look! Earth eyes only see ugly, but you do not have earth eyes. You have kind eyes - and kind eyes see others as perfectly as God sees them."
“But mom! She’s scary!”
“The hump is caused by osteoporosis. Learn from what you see and bless all those around you who teach by example. Wonder why I always stress, ‘Calcium! Calcium! Calcium! And make you drink a green smoothie every morning?' That hump right there’s why! Now get dressed.”
That was the longest, dreadful walk across a street I ever made. I just kept telling myself, “Don’t look at the hump.”
After what seemed like an hour, I finally made it to her front door. I was amazed when I looked down. Flanking her door were these two large rocks. Normal looking except they had purple amethysts growing all over them. Purple was my favorite color, and I had never seen something so beautiful!
I finally understood what my mother was always talking about. We are just like those rocks. Now, you can choose to see one side of them - plain rocks, or you can choose to see the other side that grows gorgeous gems from inside them. This is how I explain kind eyes to my little girls. For those rocks now flank my front door!
Just as I had this epiphany, she opened her door. “I’m actually a bit taller,” I thought, as I stood looking slightly down into her very wrinkled face. She had a set of eyeglasses perched on the tip of her nose, a cane in one hand, and a book in the other. “Hi. Sorry to keep you waiting. These old, aching bones used to dance the night away once upon a time. You must be the girl in the window from across the street.”
“Um. Yes,” is all could get out. Officially confirming she saw me spying on her. Off to a good start!
“I heard you helped build this house.”
Another, “Um. Yes.”
“Well, I love it. Thank you very much! Would you like to come in and see what I’ve done with the place?”
I didn’t even bother muttering another, “Um. Yes,” and just walked in.
“Would you like some tea? Or water, or...”
“No, I’m fine,” I blurted out. I changed courses and decided to get to the point and get out of there as fast as I could. “Is there anything you need help with?”
“Well,” she said, as she looked around. “Since I’m all moved in and settled, I guess all I really need now is some company. Can you stay for at bit and chat?”
“Oh no,” I thought. “How was I going to get out of this?”
As I looked around, a large jewelry box caught my eye. The reason I knew it was a jewelry box is my mom had a similar, smaller one she kept her jewelry in, except this one was almost as tall as I was!
“Does that thing have jewelry in it?”
“Oh yes. Filled to the brim. Would you like to take a look?”
It was just as she described. Every drawer I pulled out was jam packed with rings, bracelets, necklaces, broaches, pins. You name it. I wanted to try it all on. As I sorted through the colorful pieces, I suddenly got an idea.
“Do you want to play a game?” I asked. “Go in the living room and I’ll come out in a few minutes.”
She didn’t even question it, and hobbled off, chirping, “Oh, I love games! I can’t wait!”
I found out last summer at theater camp that I didn’t get so nervous talking to people if I pretended to be someone else. So, I proceeded to look around her room. I found a robe on her bedpost and put it on. I started pulling out drawers and saw some pantyhose. I walked over to the mirror, put the waistband of the hose on my head and twirled the legs together to form a tight bun on the top of my head. Then I went to the jewelry box and put on as much as the jewelry as I could. I had on more necklaces than Mr. T, and more bracelets than Madonna. I had two rings on each finger, and so many pins stuck in the robe it was too heavy to stay closed!
I finished my perfect look off with the pair of magnifying glasses on her nightstand. I was ready. The glasses made me stumble and have to grab the furniture for support. I must have looked like a complete drunk to boot! I called out, “Hello darling, are you home?”
“Yes. Yes. I am. Please come in.” I heard from around the corner.
I staggered in, and in my best Julia Child impression, called out, “Hello my dear. May I sit down?”
She looked at me for a long moment; speechless, then burst out laughing. After quickly composing herself, she said in a Southern drawl, “Well, my dear. Who might you be?”
“I am...um...Natalie.” I said, once I thought of a name I liked. "I am a fancy lady from England, and I just moved in next door. Would you like to be friends?”
“Absolutely! I am Violet, and I would love to be friends with you!"
From that day on, I couldn’t wait to finish my homework and go over and put on my jewels and pantyhose wig, and bring Natalie to life. Those were the best two years of my life! Little did I know I was bringing joy to a dying friend, nor that she was preparing me for my role as Queen Beatriz. She’s the reason there's a gold statue on the shelf in my office.
“How did the podcast go?” Asked my assistant as I walked in.
“I’m not sure. I think it went OK until I started talking about the bizarre daydream I had this morning. I was real and raw, but in the completely crazy sort of way!”
“It can’t be that bad. Did you record it?”
“Well, let’s listen!”
“I’m just going to fast forward it to the cringy part. Hold on.”
The host asked, “How would you define beauty for our listeners?”
“Well, I’m so blessed to have seen so much of the world as an actress. So many breathtaking things. But quite honestly, all the images of nature, music, and art I’ve seen over the years pales to the beauty of the waking dream I had just this morning. I was actually in the shower if you can believe it! I was rinsing my hair, and wondering to myself what all the beauty and wisdom in the world would look like?
Just then, in the time it took to blink, I was in a room facing a corner with a pillow on the floor. Then, in another blink, the pillow was outdoors under a tree. And in the next blink, a creature in lotus position was sitting on it!
As I stood looking at the Goddess - as that's the word that comes to mind to describe her, she, in the most melodic, calming voice I've ever heard, invited me to hold audience with her. Her soothing voice was motherly and contrasted starkly with her appearance which was immense and imposing. She was as big as a giant and looked like she could beat me to a pulp at any second if she wanted to!
I would have been scared, but her voice seemed so familiar. Her features did not seem human, but I couldn’t really tell because the details were blurred out by the glow of a golden light that emanated from her. I walked up to her half bent over with my hands held together in prayer. It was impossible to approach her without showing reverence however you could. As I gazed up at her, squinting, trying to make out what exactly her face looked like, I soon realized we could communicate telepathically.
I found this out rather abruptly when I thought a question and she answered it aloud. She talked about Earth and her inhabitants as if they were her children - and seemed to be knowledge incarnate. I was mesmerized and dumbstruck by the awe of what I was hearing and experiencing.
“I have brought you to the realm where I dwell called Theonia – a planet where I am worshiped as the deity you refer to as Mother Nature. I brought you here, so you will start using your dreams to travel here when you sleep. I want you to return, night after night, and learn how to use your wakeful state to ascend here when you are done on Earth. I have brought you here to plant the seeds of your future in your mind. For the mind cannot manifest what it cannot conceive.”
When it was my turn to address her, I could only think, "I want to be like you. How do I attain your wisdom?"
She heard my thought, and responded, "What I am is also in you. It is not like God is over there, and you are over here. All that is God is also you - and not in some lesser potency. God's same, limitless, creative potential resides in all living things. Humans may appear quite different, but I assure you, much like dreams can feel very real, but they’re not. Appearances are deceiving. All that is comes from the same singular source."
She then asked me to picture myself in a movie theater, sitting in a special chair that plugged me into the movie so I felt, tasted, and smelled everything about the movie too.
“Now that you are comfortable in that chair,” she growled, "know you are in the most dangerous place in the universe! This is where you fell and became lost. You are still there, asleep. What I call the state of consciousness one finds themselves in having sat so long, watching movie after movie, until what they were before they sat down is completely forgotten. They have become sucked into the movie!"
She let that sink in, then continued, “The one thing humans have in common is they were all once wide awake, omnipotent souls who one day sat down in that fateful chair - who now wrongly believe themselves to be one of many actors playing out one of the ever-changing comedies or dramas they watch year after year, lifetime after lifetime."
Her voice was booming now, with such an intensity my rib cage drummed and the ground rocked me side to side like I was at sea, "Humans were all once awake. This is the Holy Grail - not some chalice to be sat on some museum shelf! It is a transformational symbol of you each attaining this divine state while in a human vessel. It manifests when a soul does three things: remembers who they really are, then musters the strength and tenacity to get up out of that chair, and finally, discovers the self-realization they are not on the screen at all, and never have been!"
Her tone became gentle again, “You have to trust there’s a memory deep inside of you right before you sat down, and if you are encouraged to begin the search within, you will remember. Only then can you pull out the plugs connecting you to that chair, and notice you exist completely outside of the movies - able to turn around and notice the 'life' projected on the screen was never real. Just a holographic reality being cast there by a stream of light from the projector’s booth...
I was too shocked to respond, but nodded so she would go on with the story.
“Awakening begins as a seed, when a soul decides to turn their back on the screen and wonders, 'Where is the stream of light coming from?'’ It blooms when you are no longer entertained by the infinite array of distracting movies going by and instead want to know, 'Who is in the projection booth?’ And it ascends to heaven when one asks, “How do I get in that booth?”
"This questioning, through a regular meditative practice, is key to training the senses to perceive what lies on the other side of a holographic reality that feels so real. Wakefulness is having the consciousness to detect the underlying, imperceptible, reflective ether that once enshrouded you in a dream. An altered state that hid from you our true interconnected reality, and the truth that all things that can be seen are but mirrors of our self."
"Cruelty," she lamented, "exists because of ignorance. God is light and love, so hate and war do not come from Him. Cruelty is 100% the bi-product of human imbalance, resulting from of a collective lack of love and understanding of oneself. If souls genuinely loved themselves, and invested ample time cultivating their sincerity and discipline, and doing the interior work, meditation, contemplation, and introspection required for such a task, their eyes would be trained to see Earth for the mirror world it is."
"War is merely the reflection of a million hateful hearts. In fact, all of earth reflects our thoughts. Only an awakened soul can clearly see themselves in the eyes of others, and be rendered incapable of abusing their God-given power. A power that is pure and humble and longs only to serve and uplift others."
Then she somehow sent a picture to my mind that showed five people arguing with each other. Each one seemingly competing to say more hurtful and hateful things than the other. Then she began narrating over the scene, "This is how humans behave when they have succumbed to the illusion of separation."
"They do not see they are all one. They simply do not know - they do not know. What they call 'living' is mostly just experiences of alternating moods of passion and ignorance. Ignorant mainly of the fact God created each human from Himself, so that He could experience Himself subjectively. Humans He bestowed with free will to see if they would love Him supremely if they had the choice not to. A divine experiment, if you will, to see if humans would love their Creator more than His creations."
The image then panned out, and the five people became a hand with five bickering fingers. As it panned out further, the hand sprouted billions of bickering fingers.
She said, "Humans despise one another because they see themselves as separate from all that exists. They have utterly forgotten they are each merely fingers on the same hand of God!"
As I stood there, frozen by the gravity of what I had just witnessed, she held out her enormous hand as if she wanted me to shake it.
Right before I touched her, she asked, “Have you ever experienced Déjà vu, Natalie?”
Then there was a flash of light.
I sat straight up, “Wait. What?”
“You know,” said Violet. “That feeling you have met someone or been somewhere before, but you know you haven’t.”
Everything was still so foggy. I looked down. I was still ten years old, covered in costume jewelry with a pair of pantyhose on my head. “Yes, I think I have.”