Many Lives

Once, in a past life reading, a psychic told me in one of my previous lives I was a black man living on a southern plantation shortly after the Civil War.

In this life, I was in my twenties, recently ‘freed’ and hungry for change. Late one night, I packed my few belongings, kissed my mother good-bye and headed north. Little did I know it would be the last time I saw her in that life.

I’d heard many tales of the north. After all, they fought for us, didn’t they? And because they fought for us, they saw us as equals. How naive I was, for the stories were not the truth. My remaining life was one of intense struggle. You can try to run from inequality and injustice, but you can’t run from the color of your skin. No matter where you are, you’re still (insert color here), and there will be those who hate anyone different from them.

white woman today
black man many lives ago
has anything changed?

©2019 Linda Lee Lyberg

Author’s Note: I know this sounds bizarre to some, but it is a true story. I went for a past life reading the year I turned 33 years old. I was on a quest, to know myself better and to try to understand the world and all the injustice around me for it affected me deeply. I was reading a lot about Edgar Cayce, and his psychic abilities. Whether the reading was true or not, it brought about immense change in my life. And while being a white woman today is extremely different from being a black man of yesterday, women are still bound by limitations that society thrusts upon us. We talk about breaking the glass ceiling and all, but that glass is multi-layered and damn thick.

dVerse Poetics On Privilege

31 Comments on “Many Lives

  1. This possibility is incredible but then there are people who believe that we have past lives, all different from where we are today. If this is true, then I hope we experience compassion and kindness for other people, remembering that it could have been us, in their shoes.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I cut my teeth on Cayce too. I agree that our past lives color our present ones. If only the veil of forgetfulness was not so thick. Like a 5 year old who sits down at a piano and plays Mozart–that transferred talent and genius was not garnered off a toilet seat.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i love that you also used the haibun for this prompt, poetry seemed insufficient for such a meaty subject, i am also happy you took the challenge to write this, and talk about a different perspective, I too had someone tell me about my past life, she was clairvoyant and approached me, I was in my early twenties and never gave it much thought, your prose has reminded me of that encounter. people will hate just for any reason just because they chose to, we live by example, our tolerance and love will erase hate one day. lovely haiku Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do like how you described living in another’s skin…it’s helpful even to imagine how another might feel living life in circumstances quite different from our own.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I found your take on the prompt very interesting. You showed that change does not always bring about acceptance. I think this happens within cultures of people of the same race as well. It was quite evident with the immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such an interesting haibun, Linda! It speaks of the dual experiences in a unique manner but still creates an intersectional approach (being black and being a woman) to the idea of privilege. When you join the two experiences, then we begin to understand the subtleties of our privileges.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s hard for me to not be skeptical of these readings… but I have heard stories (not on past lives, but of past events) that touch on “secrets” that should not be known to the reader, yet there they are. I guess we’ll never know.
    I think it’s intriguing (as your author’s note indicates) that your experience with the reader changed your life immensely, clearly in your perspective, and I would imagine in your actions. And having the consideration of a black man in that time period would certainly broaden your perspective on the many layers of discrimination that continue today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I understand your point of view. It was my first such encounter but not my last. I think there are many mysteries in this marvelous universe. Thanks for you thoughts Ken.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Smiles With Grandfather Born
    in Ireland Recently 23 and me
    Tells Me i have Nigerian and
    South Asian
    From the 1700’s
    And 1800’s to Go
    Along with 98.4 Percent
    North Western European
    Oh Lord A Privilege of Tanning too..
    With All
    To Evolutionary/Geographical
    Anthropology as Science too..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What an amazing experience to share.
    I was just reading the other day about the immediate aftermath of slavery. “Freedom” for many meant left in a quandary – no land, no money, no rights. Simply no longer the property of Master X. The reality of the liberation of slaves was quite different from the romanticized reading of those words.

    Liked by 1 person

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