I am delighted to welcome Faye Bird to Bookbabblers today. Faye is the author of My Second Life, a fantastic book that we will be reviewing on Bookbabblers in the next week. Here is Faye’s guest post…
Identity and Second Lives
The central notion underpinning Ana’s story in My Second Life is that it is possible to have lived before, and as I am unable to explain Ana’s reincarnation, this notion absolutely presents the reader with a challenge: can we believe that Ana has lived a life before this one as Emma, and if we do, who is Ana?
Dr Ian Stevenson, a respected psychiatrist and scientist certainly believed the stories of the children he interviewed who spoke of having lived past lives, and so much so he set out to prove that reincarnation existed. His work in this field is documented and discussed in Tom Shroder’s book Old Souls, and within that book Dr Stevenson supplies some compelling evidence in the shape of common features that those children he interviewed shared.
Most of the children who spoke of past lives remembered excruciatingly ordinary details of their first life, made statements about their first life as soon as they started to speak and were able to recognise and name people from their previous life.
One child said, “I want to go home. This is not my house. You are not my mother. I don’t have a father. My father died.” He would not call his ‘second life father’ Daddy. He called him by name. And this was a detail I used when I wrote Ana’s story; Ana calls her second life mother Rachel, not Mum, because Rachel simply does not feel like her Mum.
Many of the children Stevenson interviewed displayed phobias that were related to traumatic experiences in their first life, and were able to speak matter-of-factly about their death. Some remembered how they died, but for some it was just the feeling or the action of their death that they remembered. One child described her death as ‘falling from above.’
And it is these sorts of sparse details, expressed so simply, that all of the children interviewed by Dr Stevenson shared in the telling of their stories, which brought home to me the feeling of displacement that they all so clearly felt.
These children did not feel like themselves. They were sure they knew things that the people around them did not seem to know or even recognise. They were conflicted, and they were alone, because when they spoke of their previous life and what they knew, they were mostly ignored.
One man Stevenson interviewed explained how his sister had asked him why he had never spoken of his previous life to her or their parents until now, when he was an adult. I did speak about it, he said, when I was 4, but our parents never listened to me.
And of course all of these feelings – the sense of loneliness, of being ignored, of being displaced – are not a world away from how I know I felt as a teenager.
No – I didn’t believe that I had lived before, and I didn’t experience a trauma during my teenage years that contributed to my feeling this way. I think I simply felt this way because of the emotional transitions my teenage years demanded.
Certainly, like most teenagers, I aspired to adulthood, but the reality of that aspiration – the reality of trying to work out who I was and where I fitted in the world – was a challenge. And that challenge, I realised in the writing, was no different to that of a child, whether we believe her or not, who tells us that she has lived before, and who is battling both with herself and those around her to be the person she wants to be. By the end of the book Ana knows herself better, and I hope that the reader too, whether he or she believes in past lives or not, will understand the precious value in this.
My Second Life by Faye Bird is out now. Read the first chapter online now at www.usborne.com/readmysecondlife. Follow Faye on Twitter @faye_bird. You can also search for #mysecondlife on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.