This is a tale of unlikelihood transcended.
First, a preamble: I am not a witch, warlock, demon or angel. If I am anything unusual at all, I am by nature an experimenter who keeps an open mind.
In recent years I have been experimenting with my own mind, in the manner of many who have gone before me.
Oh, it wasn’t my idea, not at first. I didn’t seek this out.
It all started with my synchronicities. I didn’t ask for them. But they started, at about age 35 or so, and they’ve continued apace until this day. (I am 48 at present)
There are far too many to dismiss with random chance and the bell curve. If I were to focus on any one, I might explain it away easily enough, but taken together they force me to at least consider the possibility that there is more to this reality than readily meets the eye.
For more background on this, see my “Big Brain Speculations,” if you haven’t already.
To summarize, I have been forced by what I have seen happen in my life in recent years, to at least consider the possibility that this reality, this universe or what have you that we all find ourselves in, is not based in matter and energy as it so readily appears to be. I have instead found myself seriously considering the possibility that this reality, everything we can perceive, is instead made of thought, or if you prefer, data. We only think that reality is matter and energy and that we are as well, because all of it, ourselves included, is thought or data. Or even ‘spirit’ if that floats your boat. At this most basic level there’s little difference between them. In other words, I have been entertaining the idea that reality is a dream. Similar to our sleeping dreams, yet very different in that we are all dreaming it together.
This is where my thoughts have led me. A lonely place, to be sure.
So naturally I have to test this all the time. It’s too unbelievable for me to just accept, even though my ‘experiments’ are the very thing which led me here.
The nature of these experiments of mine is usually that I attempt to influence reality in some way by merely thinking about it. Oh, not in the “abracadabra alakazam” magical sense, but instead more of attempting to change my subconscious picture of reality, since in the course of my mental experimentation it became apparent that if our thoughts influence reality at all, it is our subconscious thoughts that do so and not our conscious thoughts. The idea is that if I can change my own deep beliefs, change my ‘picture’ of reality, then the dream that is reality will resonate with that and also change. So they’re basically various techniques that taken together amount to controlled self-hypnosis.
>Synchronicity alert! (Intermezzo)
I felt that since I am in the middle of writing about this very thing, it’s only right to report to you a synchronicity that I’ve only just experienced ten minutes ago as I write this. I think if you can imagine having this sort of thing happen to you all the time you might feel more sympathy for my search for alternate explanations of what is going on with reality.
It went like this: Tonight I was sharing some of the music of my youth with my wife, a la YouTube. Fantastic thing, Youtube. For some reason I found myself thinking of Traffic with Steve Winwood, and so I let her listen to the band "Traffic’s" “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys” one of my all-time favorites, and damned near a half-hour long, too. Steve Winwood is amazing. And what better name for a drummer ever existed than “Reebop Kwaaku Baa?”
Then I looked at the other "Traffic" songs listed there on YouTube and I played her another one that I recalled from my early days, named “John Barleycorn Must Die” and then in answer to her confusion explained to my darling wife the legend of John Barleycorn, the death and rebirth of the barley seed being an allegory of *our* death and re-birth… Then about twenty minutes later after she went to bed I picked up the novel that I am currently in the middle of reading, (re-reading actually, from twenty-five years ago) “Time Enough For Love” by Robert Heinlein, and started into it again. Well, four pages after the point where I picked it up again I read that the main character Lazarus Long had lost a couple of mules while on a pioneering excursion, and one of them was named, you guessed it, John Barleycorn.
John Barleycorn? Really?
I hadn’t spoken anything of the legend of John Barleycorn nor the song of the same name to anyone nor even thought of it in many years, perhaps decades, and then when I do, well twenty minutes later there I am reading it again in a random novel. It’s like an echo in reality. Sure, I had read that novel before, but a quarter-century ago, and there is absolutely no way that I would have recalled the name of a mule lost in transit from that long Heinlein story after all these years. I hadn’t even remembered that there were mules in the story, much less their names. I was thinking about the band "Traffic," and not the novel that I'd be getting back to in a while.
I really do get this all the time.
>End of Synchronicity Alert. Back to my son.
Originally when my wife and I decided on having a baby I thought that it could not hurt if I ‘affirmed’ in my mind that such would indeed happen. I constructed what used to be called a “sigil,” a physical symbol representing my son-to-be, even including his name, which we had already picked out. Connor. Lover of hounds, or perhaps lover of wolves. This is how one can influence their own subconscious mind. By constructing real-world representations of their desire in symbolic fashion. Anything that has emotional resonance works. By this I mean that employing ‘props’ makes the self-hypnosis more effective.
So I put a good amount of effort into the construction of a sigil representing my hopefully-soon-to-be-conceived son Connor. A symbolic representation, drawn on paper, carefully folded, with other ancillary actions performed. The more important I made it on my mind, the more likelihood of it affecting my reality, or so the theory goes.
Oh and yes, this is indeed called “Magic” or even “Magick” by some, but it’s really just a controlled form of self-hypnosis through symbolism and emotion. I prefer to think of it as focused meditation with the aid of props. I’m no Merlin. Just a humble experimenter. As one author calls it, I am a psychonaut. Or just a psycho. I'll leave that to you to decide.
So my wife got pregnant, tested pregnant the very next day after my experiment. Then she miscarried a month later. So much for all of my meditation. Or so it would seem.
We then tried various doctors, and the verdict came in. It was highly unlikely that we could ever get pregnant naturally. In fact, they were amazed almost to the point of disbelief that we had managed to get pregnant even the one time.
Our remaining options were artificial insemination, which we tried, and tried, and tried again, and after the many times that that didn’t work, all that remained to us was ICSI in-vitro fertilization, the proverbial “test-tube baby” At about twelve thousand dollars a try. After our insurance, which is fortunately a very good plan, it would still be the better part of four thousand dollars a try. And all that we had to spare in our bank account was about four thousand dollars.
We had run out of options. All that we had left was ICSI, but all we could afford was one try, one attempt, when our doctors all told us that we would likely need between four and six tries to get pregnant.
To gamble with all that remained of our savings on that one attempt which was likely doomed to failure, or not? That was the question facing us.
Now I have to say that while the first mental experiment was a failure in that the baby did not survive, it still produced (so to speak) a pregnancy, and an unlikely one at that, and right on cue, so I wasn’t giving it up yet. After all, this sort of thing costs me nothing to try. There’s no fee attached to meditating. And I still had the sigil that I used as a focus from the first time.
So in what in retrospect seems a truly foolish and even crazy thing to do, I decided that the one ICSI attempt would have to do. Moreover, I decided that it would work. So we scheduled it and went through the process. I had decided that I’d darn well make it work the one time. Looking back at it, it was brash overconfidence.
So I tried my meditating again. This time however I put a lot more effort into it, emotional effort as well as intellectual. I employed mental imagery from Judeo-Christian mythology in my visualization, since that was what I’d grown up with, hoping that it would have the most significance to my subconscious mind, and even employed fire at the end to rather dramatically destroy the sigil, imagining that I was ‘releasing it’ into the world. Drama is the key to this sort of thing, if there’s anything to it at all. There is no ‘magic’ in a sigil or in visualization. It’s all in the mind of the person doing it. In the person’s conviction, in their ability to truly believe something that is essentially unbelievable, just enough for reality to echo it in response, much like what I think happens when I get my odd synchronicities.
It isn’t easy to suspend one’s own disbelief. However, at the end of my little ritual with my sigil and visualizations when I lit the fire and attempted to muster as much conviction as I could, I had the distinct, albeit fleeting impression of *something* happening, almost like a distant sound in my head, gong-like almost, for the lack of a better description. I immediately *seized* on that fleeting echo, ‘pretending’ that it was real and symbolic of a successful completion to the operation, all in order to more effectively convince myself that something happened, causing myself to believe in it all the more so because of it. Even if nothing happened, I did a very good job of convincing myself that it had, is the point.
Did it *work?*
All I can do is list the ‘results,’ if such they were. I still can’t really believe that this stuff can work, but here’s what happened afterwards. Once again my wife tested pregnant, the very next day. Of course that’s when she would have tested pregnant since we’d gone through ICSI, so nothing miraculous in that. The fact that the one attempt worked was a one out of four or five shot however, and the fact that it turned out to be a boy (as I had affirmed) was another fifty-fifty of course. So approximately a one-out-of-ten, or a ten percent shot that it would have worked as it did. Plus a very healthy baby testing off the charts on height and in the 95th percentile in weight. A big, healthy boy named Connor, who looks enough like me at that age that he could easily be my clone. We’d selected the name in advance of it all of course, and I’d employed it in my meditations, so that’s his name.
Here’s the strange part, or one of them at any rate. I knew it would work right after I ‘heard’ that ‘sound’ in my head at the end of it, and I knew that it would be a boy. I just knew it. Now maybe I could have been wrong, but I had definitely defeated my own doubts in this matter, as I had set out to do. Did the fact that I had defeated all of my doubts influence the outcome? Who can say? Most would deny it, as being irrational or even crazy to even think it. Myself, I’m not so sure. It *felt* like something happened, and the results are exactly as hoped for. No evidence that I made it happen, but none that I didn’t, either. Also, I’d done this sort of thing before and always had pretty good results with it, although never with something so important as a baby.
So that’s my story, incredible as it may sound. And incredible it will remain to most of my readers I think. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I wasn’t the one involved.
I like to think of it like the Shakespeare quote. “There are more things in heaven and earth…”
Minor Update, April 13, 2010:
I neglected to mention that I also visualized him looking just like me only with his mother's eyes, bright blue. I even spoke of it often with my wife before the first pregancy and subsequent miscarriage.
My eyes are hazel.
He is the exact image of me as a child, so much so that I've got the rather uncommon experience I think, of looking at the living face of myself as I used to see it in a mirror as a very young child. I cannot tell you how eery that is, and still very, very cool at the same time.
And yes, his eyes are bright blue. We can be sure now because he's over 9 months old. Cue the Rod Serling intro...