Been here before?

February 27 2016

Do you ever get the strange feeling of another life, just out of reach? A vague memory or nostalgia for a place you've never been?

Sometimes, the scene that lies before me does something to me that I don't understand.

It doesn't have to be anything special, maybe just the way a street looks, the path to a front door, a tree next to a wall. Out of the ordinary, something grabs me and I feel a strong sense of a place half-remembered, of deep emotional connections and associations.

But I am quite sure I have never visited these places. The memory tails off, I can't find the source. It is the intensity of visiting a childhood home, but realising you have never actually been there.

Sometimes I can pin down the feeling, follow it down the rabbit hole, finding illustrations, movies and music that hit the same spot, enriching and giving shape to the elusive concept. Not quite memory, thought or feeling, but something in between.

I try to be a rational person. I don't believe in past lives, spirits or the supernatural, which makes this phenomenon all the more interesting.

Is it just cultural association? Long-buried fragments of picture books from childhood or barely-registered movie scenes? A collage of media and memory?

What intrigues me most is the specificity. I can't predict the triggers. There are no reliable rules.

What is it about an ordinary scene that can make me feel like, if only I focused hard enough, I could enter another life, another world. A house on a hill that says, you know this place, all you have to do is walk in, and you walk out of your old life.

What do you think?

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