“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Some longtime readers may remember a bit of my background:
I was born in 1968, Phoenix, Arizona. My ethnicity? Thai. Beyond that, I have no knowledge of my birth heritage and biological parents, as I was given up for adoption.
I’ve always had a pretty strong memory. I have a number of early childhood memories, both vivid and faded.
Something that I have rarely shared with people, and which is deeply personal for me, but which I am willing to share with you readers and the NSA, is my earliest memory:
The moment of my birth.
For as long as I can remember (literally), this memory fragment has been with me:
Awash in a strange sensation of sound and emotion that I just can’t really capture into words, no matter how hard I’ve tried. What I remember is opening my eyes and staring at my birth mother. From between her legs. I looking at her, and she at me. The image is brief and hazy. There’s not much in the way of color; just very dark colors, mixed with light. The memory fragment lasts for the length of a heartbeat. And it’s been with me always, although I didn’t obsess over it, growing up. It was a part of me and I can’t say that, growing up, I gave it a great deal of deep thought. I don’t think it was up until the 8th grade when I started to truly grasp where babies actually come from. Even as I questioned how soon it was possible for a newborn to open its eyes and see anything, how could I doubt that this bit of memory was real, given the perspective of staring from between the legs of my birth mom? That I dreamt it up? That my brain mixed up a dream for a reality?
Sometimes I’ve gone back and tried to relive/replay the fragment in my head; I want to recapture and try to write down and translate the feeling. At the same time, I’ve been apprehensive of replaying the memory so many times that rather than preserve it in its purity, my current mind begins to reshape and pollute it, by infusing analytical thoughts coming from who I am today. I fear contaminating and warping an actual memory into a false memory.
I am 100% confident that this memory is real. But there’s something else that I either remember- or falsely remember. And it has long troubled me. Because I cannot tell which it is. My logical mind tells me I had to have dreamt it as a child or made it up; yet I can’t shake the possibility that it might have happened.
I’ve never been to church (aside from a wedding here and there). My family did not raise me to be religious. My mom was Buddhist and would go through phases of chanting and even took me to some of her NSA meetings (Nichiren Shoshu of America- God how it tested my patience as a kid!); my dad grew up Catholic but is a staunch atheist (yet was never so hostile to religion that my family didn’t deny me the secular joys of celebrating Christmas and Easter holidays as American traditions). Aside from my mom’s weak attempts, neither of my parents ever pushed religious beliefs upon me.
Which brings me back to the other part of my memory fragment…
I really am not as confident on this next part- which actually precedes the part that I am 100% sure about.
Right before I opened my eyes and felt the slow rush of what I felt, I feel as if I had some sort of consciousness or self-awareness inside the womb. I understand how crazy that sounds, because it sounds crazy to me. And I really can’t describe it in more convincing terms. I just can’t. I’m almost as skeptical as those of you who are reading this probably are. But to make my story even more unbelievable, I feel as if right before I was born, someone was speaking to me. Telling me something. I do not know what; and I don’t even know if this is real or imagined. But it’s been with me forever, as well.
I can’t help but wonder if I was being told a purpose. I wonder if I’m living what I was meant to do; or if I have strayed…
I wonder if I’m trying to make sense and give meaning to something that never actually happened, other than a dream I had as a small child.
The problem is, when I try to look straight at it and focus upon it- to “enhance” a total recall, it becomes even more elusive to me. When I don’t focus so hard…I can almost taste these two experiences again. It’s almost like trying to focus on something that can only be seen in your peripheral vision; and so, can’t truly be focused upon.
What motivated me to write this, is the release yesterday of a new book by Stephen C. Meyer: Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design
Meyer begins with what Darwin himself regarded as a troubling enigma, a subject of doubt and even some scientific distress. It is a mystery from which subsequent generations of Darwinists have sought to distract the public’s attention. Some 530 million years ago, in the event called the Cambrian explosion, there sprang suddenly into existence the majority of animal body plans (phyla) that have existed on Earth. The shallow seas of the Cambrian period abruptly teemed with diverse, exotic animals.
Evolutionary biologists and paleontologists have struggled to explain this epic event. Dr. Meyer takes his readers on a journey through scientific history, starting with the discovery of the Burgess Shale by Charles Walcott in 1909. He shows how failed attempts to give a satisfying Darwinian explanation of the Cambrian explosion have opened the door to increasingly profound questions, posed by evolutionary biologists themselves, leading to a far greater mystery: the origin of the biological information necessary to build the animals of the Cambrian and all the living creatures that have existed on Earth.
Meyer explains how post-Darwinian alternatives and adaptions of Darwin’s theory — including self-organizational models, evo-devo, neutral or nonadaptive evolution, natural genetic engineering, and others — fall short as well. He demonstrates that the weaknesses of orthodox evolutionary theory, when flipped over head-to-foot, are precisely the positive indications that point most persuasively to intelligent design.
Evolutionary biologists studying gene regulatory networks and fossil discontinuity, among other fields, have come tantalizingly close to reaching this conclusion themselves.
The Cambrian event, fundamentally, represents an information explosion, the first but not the last in the history of life. As no book has done before, Darwin’s Doubt spells out the implications of this fact.
Where we come from and what the meaning of life is, are questions that have long haunted many of us, captured our imaginations, and helped define who we have chosen to become.
I don’t know a great deal about the related topics of evolution, Darwinism, creationism, intelligent design, and religious studies. As fascinating as these are, I just have not taken the time to research the beliefs and debates going on, that passionate people have on the matter.
I’m not sure that I would even find any answers there that could address my own personal…memory/experience, if that’s in fact what it is.
My adult mind has been conditioned to reject my memory- to be a strong skeptic of its veracity; yet, I can’t deny memory that feels like a part of the very fabric of my existence, sewn from the beginning. It’s the one thing that has really given my non-religious upbringing pause to consider that there is a very real possibility of a God; meaning; a rhyme….a reason; a higher purpose to all this madness we live in. That we’re not all here by accident. That consciousness means something. that there is a design to the universe and to life.
All I can do is try and keep an open mind to possibilities; and to recall the words of Shakespeare:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come…
–Hamlet, Act 1. Scene V
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.