It took me a long time to tell this story to anyone, much less now performing the moment as part of The Actual Dance on stage. I was afraid to tell anyone because I thought I was perhaps mentally unstable. You see, it was “the first time I ever experienced the supernatural.” I do know what we call “them” – people who hear or see things that no one else can. And that prevented me for six full years from mentioning what happened. Yet it continued to haunt me. In 1979 I finally decided to tell someone - - a psychiatrist. Just saying it out loud to someone was enough to enable me to develop and articulate my understanding of what had happened. I say it in the show: “I was privileged to experience that life-force exit my mother at her last breath.” I have come to believe as a result of that moment that “life exists in each of us in a tangible form.” Over time, the experience and that evolved belief have shaped my view of the divine and of life.
I was delighted then to read in today’s (March 5, 2015) New York Times Op-Ed page an essay by Tanya Marie Luhrmann about unexplainable moments in peoples’ lives. It is a form of validation to be reassured that it wasn’t just me and that lots of people have unexplained encounters. She talks about one of her own and has written books about them and their relationship to religious belief.
It seems to me that how we exist in the world and in relation to others is shaped by everything that happens to us and forms or shapes how we understand and experience life. Tanya Luhrmann today helped validate that and reassure me that I am not alone in dealing with “the supernatural.”
What delights me is to have found someone who studies what has happened to me and that apparently many people have had their own unexplained experiences. She has talked to hundreds of such people and written books about it. “Some see them as clear evidence of the supernatural and others do not,” she says. Then she says “And there are those who come to a conclusive view of what these events mean, and those who hold them as evidence of the mystery of the human imagination itself.” It occurs to me though it has to be both, unless she means by “imagination” a “figment of the imagination.” My own humility suggests that “imagination” in the human brain may well be the window or door way to the supernatural.
Perhaps, in fact, my own experience 27 years later in the year 2000 of a different yet parallel universe of The Ballroom was entered through that “way”.
What is your experience? Tell it here. Then tell it to T.M. Luhrmann here.