A Journey Explained

In 2006 my sister asked me to go to Greece with her. I initially said no, then yes, then was overcome by fear and almost bailed the closer the date got. I was afraid of flying that far, our schedule alarmed me (I would be in the Chicago airport for eight hours before Pam arrived), and the prospect of being in a foreign country for three weeks and not knowing the language paralyzed me.

A few months before our departure date I began to have irrational fears about dying while on the trip. I dreamt I died there, daytime thoughts were overwhelming and I had a recurring flash of impending doom on an island in the Mediterranean.

On a separate venture about two months before leaving, I participated in a past life regression with friend Tom Cloud, who has been doing them for many years. Up to this point and even after I returned from Greece, alive I might add, I had not told anyone of my fears.

In the journey with Tom I went down a stone stairway and onto a dark beach. It was dotted with leafless trees that looked dead per my interpretation of what I was visualizing. Continuing to walk along a path over the sand I came closer to the edge of a beach. The water was smooth as glass with dark oily looking wavelets gently lapping at the shore. Skeletal birds hung in the dark sky as though suspended from strings and were bobbing about. Looking across the waters a city appeared before me on the other side of the bay. It was a glittering sea of towering lights reaching high into the sky reminding me of Emerald City. There were explosions of dark light in the sky like fireworks.

I was apprehensive and sorrowful throughout the entire journey with Tom. He continually reassured me and asked if I wanted to end the journey. I insisted on moving forward. Finally I had seen enough, no new impressions were appearing to me and retracing my steps back to the doorway that had led me down the stairs I returned from the journey.

My fears intensified from that point. I kept them to myself because I imagined my Mother and other loved ones trying to keep me from going and by this time I had succumbed to the possibility that maybe I was supposed to die in Greece.

Finally I shook off my fears about going to Greece. The day spent in the Chicago airport was uneventful but boring. The almost 24 hours in flight was uneventful but tedious. And so many people spoke enough English I could bask in being American and have them speak my language – selfish I know but that is the way it worked.

Our first full day in Athens we went to the Acropolis. We climbed and climbed the thousands of steps to the top. We rested along the way. We people watched every step of the way and marveled at the intensity of the trip up. We ogled the restoration in process and carefully navigated the polished marble – eons of wear by leather sandals and shoes created a greased glass effect. Every step treacherous.

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We made it to the top, rounded a corner, realized there were no more steps to climb, and looked about. There it was. The Parthenon. Rising right up out of the earth with its’ pillars and statues and immensity taking our breath away. I gasped and stood still in awe while a mass of people clambered around me.

Finally my mind was able to grasp what it was seeing and I moved forward toward the massive bank of steps all the while trying to watch my step and keep my eyes on the spectacle before me.

I came to a spot that held my feet in place. I was riveted to this holding spot. I couldn’t seem to move from it. Then suddenly a feeling I had felt once before at Dauphin Island on the back mounds crept up through the bottoms of my feet and engulfed me with emotion. Sadness, overwhelming emotional pain, searing through me and spearing into my mind. Tears flowed down my cheeks and I sobbed uncontrollably right there in the middle of thousands of people and realized I had died here, in the exact spot I was standing. I was not embarrassed, I just was. I realized all my fears had been of the eventual memory that I was now experiencing and some of my tears turned to joy.

I was convinced for the second time in my life that I have been reincarnated, more than once.

My sister noticed my state and silently stood by while I gained some semblance of control. After several minutes my feet were able to move me to a low stone wall where I sat for a long while taking in the surroundings and absorbing my emotions. The death and emotion felt so real, as if I had experienced it only yesterday.

On day six or seven (the page wasn’t dated as most were and in between six and seven) of our trip I aimlessly scribbled a picture – offhand doodles in the small notebook I was making daily notes in.

 art sarah

In the front is a stone wall. At the top left explosions of light and bird wings. On the left above the wall are gentle waves, and the woman peering at the scene is intent and seeing this unworldly image with other eyes. The city is missing. Perhaps I ran out of room or was sidetracked before completion.

About a week later we were finishing up our seven days and nights cruise and the little wooden sailing vessel we had most recently bedded down in was docked in the Athens harbor for our last night aboard. We were left to our own devices for the evening meal and Pam and I decided to take off, go for a long walk and find something interesting to eat.

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We sprinted down the gangplank and across a concrete parking lot, over to a high wall and climbed the slightly inclining walkway. It was almost dusk. All of a sudden I could see over the wall and the sea was right there across a small patch of sandy beach dotted with sparsely leafed olive trees. The protected cove allowed only the tiniest of waves to lap upon the sand and the water was inky. Seagulls hung overhead, silent in the light breeze. I stood very still taking it all in and as it became more dark across the bay city lights in towering buildings began to twinkle and pulse in the humid air. In the very far distance there was a spray of fireworks. My journey was complete and accurate.

What purpose any of this has I don’t know. It was certainly an interesting experience. Today is the first time I saw the drawing for what it really is. All the other times I’ve passed it by on perusal of my notes on Greece I just wondered at my silly attempts to draw. It all came together and I am compelled to write all this down.

We have so many walls between us and otherness, between us and others, between us and what has been or could be; set firmly in mortar only to crumble with the eonic passage of time.

For more of my photos of this trip to Greece click here. I took just under one thousand pics in the three weeks I was there and have never finished editing and posting them. I also started posting my journal pages but they too are incomplete.

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signature, Sarah

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2 Responses to A Journey Explained

  1. Lois Reborne says:

    Wow Sarah, I never heard your story about the Parthenon. I went to Athens in 1974, and climbed Acropolis alone in the crowd on a warm spring Sunday. And when I got there, as you describe – to where I could see the building I started sobbing. Not just a little, so much I was creating a spectacle I felt. I turned and spotted a low wall half covered with bushes. I sat down and cried. A Greek couple and their daughter – who spoke some English – were concerned for me, came back to bring me lemonade and a pastry. I went back to Acropolis for 3 more days, once hiding out to stay through sunset into dusk – really dumb as Athens was under martial law but no guards ever spoke to me.
    I just felt sure I had been there, that I somehow belonged there, that my people had stood in that light.
    Thanks again for sharing.

    • S says:

      Thank you Lois for reading and commenting. I had only shared this story with a couple people before today. It was years before I shared it with Tom Cloud who did the regression with me. It was just plain weird and the experience at the Parthenon felt exactly like an experience I had in the back mounds on Dauphin. I’m not sure I can write about it – it’s been so many years.

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