Friday, June 8, 2012

Are We Traveling Through Time and Space...or is it Mind-Travel?

Okay, so here you are at a Civil War reenactment dressed in your period finest. This event just happens to take place at an open-air museum, so - lucky for you - you are surrounded by historic structures. It's a slow moment during this particular event and you happen to enter one of these old houses, looking around at the Victorian furniture and eying the way the pieces are arranged, imagining this home being your house.
And then it hits - - - -
This strange, other-worldly feeling...a feeling that is nearly indescribable:
Your senses, only for a split-moment - or maybe for a few seconds - gives you an impression that you are there, in the past...that you crossed over the realm of time...

Was I really there...or not...?

And just as fast - snap! - you return.
You think for a moment..."What just happened here? Was I really there? Did I just experience a journey through time?"
You then shake your head as if to say "This is crazy!" and carry on per normal.
But the queer feeling of this experience remains with you.
Has that ever happened to you?
I ask this question because it has happened to me.
More than once.
In fact, over the past dozen years or so I would say it has happened - really happened -3 or 4 times.
Now, I've had friends who have told me this happens to them "all the time."
I'm sorry but I don't believe 'em.
I don't believe this very ethereal feeling I experienced "happens all the time."
Not this particular feeling.
And for those who have experienced it, well, you know what I mean.
The folks I have spoken to about it and have admitted to experiencing it for themselves do not respond so casually or nonchalantly. They get this understanding look in their eye and their body language tells me that this is not an occurrence that is taken lightly.
Maybe those who think they experience this "all the time" have more of a 'Hollywood memory moment,' where their surroundings may remind them of a particular scene from a Hollywood historical movie or television show, and the memory is so strong that it mentally replays in their head and gives them a similar feeling, almost as if they are in the scene. This has happened to me as well and I have found it's easy to initially get the two confused. The following is something I wrote three years ago and may be one of those 'Hollywood memory moments':
(It) happened on this particular weekend while inside of Wolcott Mill where the church service was being held. The preacher waited patiently while the congregation was being seated in the old gristmill. It was a very cold morning and the temperature got down to 29, frosting the ground and tents up. Just before the service was about to begin I turned to look behind me and saw a young woman with her two children walk in to hopefully find a couple open seats. She was dressed as warmly as she could and, although I do not believe the intent was there, she did come off as a rather poor farm woman. Just at the moment she found seats for herself and her children, my peripheral vision faded and all that I could see was what I might have seen were it truly 1862. It was a 'moment.' No, not time-travel per se' - - just a moment. The neat thing is that my wife, for her first time, felt it as well.

The reason I feel this might have been more of a 'Hollywood moment' rather than an actual you-are-there experience is because of my wife experiencing the same time/same scene as I.
Then again, maybe I did actually experience it and she had the Hollywood moment.
Or...hmmm...wouldn't it be cool if we both truly did experience it at the same time and were really there together? One never knows...

I remember the first experience I ever had of this sort of thing. It was up in the very Victorian Village of Holly, Michigan while I was taking part in the Dickens Festival. Please understand, the Dickens Festival is a fun, very non-historically accurate festival, where costumes and make-shift "Victorian" clothing reigns supreme. But at this time I didn't know very much about period clothing (this took place in 2000 - before my venture into living history) and I thought I was the epitome of an English Victorian gentleman in my long wool coat, silk vest & tie, and top hat.
So here I was, on a break from the festivities enjoying my time roaming in a very large, dark, antique store with multiple rooms throughout. Since this particular store was a bit off the beaten path there were only one or two other customers in the shop. As I moved freely throughout I suddenly got this dizzying feeling where, as described above, my peripheral vision faded and all that I could see was what was directly in front of old desk with candles in holders setting upon it. That aberrant feeling of "am I really here? " swept over me.
And I couldn't control it.
Even sounds became fuzzy.
Then, as suddenly as the sensation came upon me, it disappeared. I freaked a bit, for I had never experienced anything like that previously and I was a bit discombobulated and even a little frightened.
I had to get out.
Just as I turned to head out of that room  a woman - a customer - nearly jumped out of her skin at the sight of me and said, "Oh my! You scared me! You looked like you just came out of the walls!"
This is a verbatim quote (I keep a daily journal and this is what I wrote on that day back in 2000).
Pretty wild, huh?
Since that time I have experienced this strange sensation two or three more times. I have never had it happen while wearing modern clothing or in a modern setting while in period clothing.
It's only happened while in period clothing and in a period setting of some sort.
I am not quite sure what to make of it. I do know that I have come to look forward to experiencing that feeling again, though it's been since 2009 since it's happened.
I know that the majority of my readers are reenactors/living historians. I wonder, have you ever experienced this before?
What do you think?



cometkatt said...

its almost a feeling of deja vu. a moment when you stop and try to orient yourself, wondering what it is thats calling for your attention. knowing you've seen/heard/been there before but unable to pinpoint it. then its like something shifts & you are back in synch. i never realized others encountered this as well... ;)

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

It IS a very distinct and almost freakish feeling. I have had this happen probably 5 times in my entire life. Years apart and always something I remember. Also makes me a little sick and dizzy. Glad it doesn't happen often due to the unpleasant sensation I get. But when it's happening, I know exactly what's about to happen, who's going to say what, etc.

I agree it doesn't likely 'happen all the time'.

Mama Linda said...

I have had it happen to me also. I remember it happening while I was sitting alone writing a letter to my son by lamp light at an event. I became so engrossed in the process at hand. It was as if I had slipped into the skin of a woman of the 1860's writing to her son and not knowing if he would ever read it or even be able to return a letter. It was a truly overwhelming experience. Perhaps it was because I was in the little bubble of light and the outside world faded away in the surrounding darkness. It was a little spooky to tell the truth.