by Barbara Longley
The sad news of Stephen Hawking’s recent passing made me think of my father, who was also a scientist. Dad had a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, and he was also a philosopher and a weaver of stories. I was close to my father, and we often sat at the dinner table long after my brothers and sisters left. When I was fairly young, most of our conversations consisted of my endless questions, and his patient answers. As I matured, our conversations morphed into discourse and debate about everything from the existence of God to the composition of matter and how the universe came into being, and whether or not it would end. One of my favorite topics, which I brought up frequently, was reincarnation.
The issue of reincarnation arose about the time I discovered Edgar Cayce’s books. I’d like to believe we are truly reborn, and not just as a metaphor. There are times when I’ve had dreams so vivid they seemed more memory than just “subconscious dumping,” and there have been times when I’ve visited a place and had the overwhelming sense that I’d been there before. On a few occasions, knowledge has popped into my head that I shouldn’t have had access to, having no previous exposure. Where did that knowledge come from? It’s possible I heard or read it somewhere I suppose. I don’t really have an answer, but I do like to imagine the possibilities.
Déjà vu, that feeling you’ve been there before, or that the situation currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past—powerful and a little bit spooky. Could Déjà vu be a DNA thing? Is it possible memories can be imbedded within our DNA and passed down from our antecedents? I argued with Dad on the side of reincarnation as fact, while he argued on the side of bio-chemical memories or impressions imbedded within our genes. To my way of thinking, life is far too complex for only one go. My father is long gone, and I miss him. I have no doubt his influence started me down the path of storytelling, and it was he who lit the spark of curiosity within.
Back to Stephen Hawking, a scientist who has challenged our concepts of time, space and the universe. He will be greatly missed. Scientists constantly push the boundaries of our understanding, and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful to have had the father I did. I like to imagine how our conversation would go and what we would discuss if he were still alive today. I wonder what Dad would make of my Celtic fantasies and time travel romances. I hope he’d be as proud of me as I always was of him.