Grandma and the merchant

One evening, while visiting my grandma at the age of three or four, I ended up on her lap (as I often did!). I began to feel a little drowsy, and as she rocked me and stroked my hair, my eyelids began to droop. I wasn’t sleeping, but somewhere in that in-between place. My grandma, being open-minded and curious, chose that moment to gently ask me if I remembered who I was…before.

“Do you remember who you used to be?” she asked.

I sleepily replied, “Yes…”

“And who were you?” she prompted.

A pause. “I was a merchant.”

A merchant? she thought. What kid his age knows that word? She decided to press for more details. “What did you look like?”

My recollection is a little fuzzy on whether or not I described my clothing, but apparently my answer included that I used to wear “spectacles” (another word of note) and a pocket watch.

“Where did you live?” she asked.

My reply was a murmur now: “I lived in a log cabin. I traded with the Indians.”

Note: this was nearly 50 years ago, and “Indians” was the word she used when recounting this to me a couple of times over the years.

My grandma, a believer in reincarnation, knew that children sometimes recall memories of past lives. She also knew that they typically forget everything when they’re older, so she saw an opportunity and took it. I’m glad she did, because this has stuck with me all my life, even during my “That’s all bullshit” phase.

Assuming I had said those things, where did it come from? Was it something I picked up from watching T.V.? I can’t imagine retaining those details from any show I saw at that age. Did I even have a clue what a merchant is? She also wasn’t the type to spin tall tales, it wasn’t her style. (Besides, who tells a kid he was that instead instead of something more exciting, like a seafaring pirate??)

Side note: doesn’t it seem like most people who seek details of their past lives end up being told by paid “experts” that they were super important people? Kings and queens, powerful/famous historical figures… You know, something to make it worth the money you’re paying them to tell you things. But I digress…

She had a vision of her own past self once, and it was similarly unglamorous. It came to her when she was younger and used to meditate regularly; out of nowhere, she had an extremely vivid memory of being an Egyptian woman working in a field under the hot sun. It was so real, it was almost like seeing it with her eyes open. This was one of several strange experiences she had during her lifetime that I’d like to write about sometime.

Assuming her experience really was a memory from before, then her past self was just a regular person — perhaps (like most of us) nobody special in the grand scheme of things. To me, that’s far more believable than if she’d told me she had been Jane Austen or Harriet Tubman.

So… maybe I was a merchant, and maybe she was a farmer. Or maybe not…? There’s enough documented evidence out there (once you weed out the charlatans) to keep my mind open to the possibility.

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