Friday, July 20, 2012

When Deja Vu Means Something Deeper...

When I was younger, I had a strong sense of fate and destiny. Well, maybe it wasn't such a sense as a "force yourself to treat it as fact and it will be-- and oh, yeah, it will mean everything will work out not only well for you but also exactly how you want it to." Needless to say, it waned over the years. I stopped thinking about it as much when my hormones leveled themselves out. I became busy and distracted by actively trying to get my life together. But every once in awhile something happens that makes me remember-- or at least reminds me of those seemingly simple ideas I once clung to.

It all started a few days ago. I was sitting by the pool on my lunch break, reading a review copy of a television tie-in novel. It is a book not yet released, and one that I had in my inbox only for a few days. There is no way I could have read it before. And yet, as I was sitting there, legs swung over the side of the lounge chair, a lone breeze skimming a leaf across the top of the water, I came to a particular page whose words I found myself eyeballing from somewhere in my memory. 

You could argue that because the novel is based on a television show, and I've seen the whole first season of that show, that is where my sense of deja vu was coming from*, but I can attest that is not the case. The passage (which I won't print for fear of spoilers since the book won't be released until the end of August) was one of the rare few ones in the story that was not pulled from anything that already aired. And the words on the page was not the only thing I felt like I had experienced before, but instead, the entire moment. Because that's what deja vu is. 

This certainly wasn't the first time I'd experienced such a feeling, but it was the first time (at least in a long time) I took such careful note of it. It was as if I hadn't actually lived the moment before, in some kind of parallel universe or bizarre past life, but it was as if this moment had been sitting there, preset, and ready for me to step into it for quite some time.

Fate. Destiny. Being given a nudge from the universe that you're on the right path at a time when things may seem ridiculously uncertain. That's what I think deja vu is, and that's why I think we should all hope for a lot of those moments, even if they're a bit eerie when they happen.

I write about this now, today, because last night I had a dream about a "walk-by" shooting in a complex. It could have been a strip mall or an apartment building, the background was not clear to me. It was simple at first, I was standing on the street, having a conversation with a celebrity I will not name. All of a sudden, he grasped his chest like he was having a heart attack, but I saw little white pins sticking out of him. I knew immediately they were tranquilizer darts. I spun out of the way (apparently I'm just as selfish in dreams as I am in life, but at least I know I have a desire to live?) before the actual bullets could fly, but since I was a witness, I was hit with tranquilizers, too, and we were both dragged inside the building.

I woke up to learn of the Aurora movie theater shooting.

The rest of my dream is inconsequential and presumably very different from what actually went on in Colorado. I'm sharing it not to make myself seem "cool" or "psychic" or "more in tune with the universe than the rest of you" but to further exemplify my point that there is something bigger out there than all of us. I haven't "gone granola," I'm just observing my recent experiences through an equally analytical, but much less cynical lens.

One of the Aurora victims was an aspiring journalist and news anchor who had an active blogging and Twitter presence. But perhaps more amazingly, she had just survived another mass shooting last month. Her name was Jessica, and her final words on her blog will now be immortalized on countless other blogs, this one just being the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure, because of how poignant they are for her own final minutes. 

Jessica wrote of the shooting she survived by noting that she was originally planning to get sushi in the mall food court, and had she continued on with her original plan, she would have been in the area where the gunman opened fire. She ended up getting a burger instead and a "funny feeling" made her leave the mall for some momentary fresh air, just before the first shot rang out. You can say a lot of things about Jessica's experience. Some will say it obviously wasn't "her time" that day, while others will say that she cheated what was "supposed to happen" and it caught up with her, Final Destination style. Both are kind of narrow ways to look at the situation, though. While as terrible and tragic as it sounds, I do believe all of these things have happened/are happening for a reason. I'm not pompous enough to pretend I know what that reason is, though. I'm just inclined to think it has something to do with the lessons we all (those involved and those watching from afar) will take away, not only from the situations, but also the reflections that come out of it.

Reading Jessica's final musings on that feeling she got in the mall ("I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life") certainly make me wonder about the feelings she may have gotten in the movie theater. Was it deja vu? Was it understanding? Was it just confusion-- at the chaos of the situation but also of how it could possibly be happening again so close to her? Was it a sense of fear, that something had caught up with her, or a sense of peace, that this was her time?

These are the kinds of questions I think fate has a duty to answer. We just won't get to hear those answers until it is our time, too.

And I feel I have to say it, because this is usually an entertainment blog, and I have taken a major detour here today, that a lot is going to be said (a lot is already being said but I refuse to link to it to validate their arguments with extra clicks) about the violence in the movie the shooter and victims were going to see and the violence that erupted in real life. I don't doubt that tired argument of "violent movies inspire violent acts" will be dragged around again-- and to a degree, it already has, not with this movie itself, but with a trailer that played before it (but let's be honest, that was just inopportune timing; no one at Warner Brothers knew this was going to happen! They're not psychics either). 

But let's look at this one logically, if we can muster that: even if there was no violence in movies ever, there would still be a lot of angry, messed up people in this world. "Movies don't create psychos," remember? There would still be a lot of mentally ill people who don't get the help they need (should we stop making movies about them so we don't learn to recognize the signs, by the way?). There would also still be a lot of generally well-meaning people who just snap due to bad circumstances or traumas in their own lives. We'd just have nothing to blame their actions on and would actually have to start treating the individuals and all looking inward at how our own actions and behaviors affect others. And for many, that is much scarier than accepting placement among fate.

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