I remember often the golden childhoods of this life and the last. The commonest feature is the sun, how it cast beams of light through my calmest moments, making these recollections radiant. I remember swings I sat on and watched the light change as I went up and down, the sunny day outside the car where I was playing with my new Barbie, an Easter gift, I think. And oh, the light of warm Austrian summer, when my siblings and I played in the fountain at Schonbrunn, splashing and shrieking and behaving not at all like princes and princesses. The sun god is my patron in this life, and he was with me then too, tolerant of my Catholicism, breaking through the branches as I walked the palace grounds with my children and friends. Even then, I felt power and strength when it shone on me, and I sought it without realizing what it was.
I have moments in this life of absolute despair, and what lifts me out of them is just knowing that the things I love and loved existed. I think of the elaborate birthday parties my mom created for her daughters, the stories that absorbed me, playing with my sisters. It was idyllic before too, before my father died and the world darkened forever, being a well-loved princess blessed with a tolerant mother, a doting father, and many brothers and sisters to play with. When I try to think of that day young Mozart visited us (Mozart who I’ve reconnected with in this life), I don’t get much, just a feeling of absolute happiness and security, a feeling that I recognized him as an old friend whether I believed in reincarnation or not, and that the day was one I’d forever be nostalgic for. It was the golden afternoon of that life, when I was too young to understand I’d have to leave my home and marry, fulfill my responsibility to my family.
It’s tiring, darting between complete hopelessness and…not euphoria, but such…not optimism either. It’s memory. When I want to sink through the floor, I can be lifted by merely recalling a cartoon I used to watch or hearing a song from a long-loved movie. It’s a feeling that because there was a time when I was less unhappy, that time has always existed and always will, however far away it may seem. Time is a long road we travel, and the stretch of it behind us doesn’t stop existing when it’s out of our sight. I am that child I was in this life still, and I am still riding ponies with my brothers before, still starting kindergarten (I remember climbing big steps the first day), still stepping out of a carriage to meet my new royal family.
Barbara Kingsolver said, “Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.” I know my memories are exaggerated for the good, and the bad, and it makes no sense to keep living another day because I see a clip of a movie I haven’t seen since childhood. But my last therapist told me that instead of evaluating everything for its truthfulness, consider instead whether things are helpful. We live our days, don’t we, in the details. Isn’t that where God is thought to be?