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Letter Excerpt [jumping tracks]

re: March, 1994

I was taking a shower one Sunday afternoon, frustrated. I wanted to fully understand Seth's concepts about time and probability. Frankly, it just boggled the hell outta my brain. You can say, "Oh sure, you make a decision, and that's another branch of probability," and you follow an idea like a blood vessel into where it might lead. But the more you think about that, the more ridiculously complex it gets: the timing of the chemicals in my brain and body are mere probability, and they could be a split second different, which would make a kazillion branches per microsecond of overall probability, and that's just the body! And just mine, at that. So eventually I had to conclude that everything just "was." That somehow, everything in existence somehow already existed, and it wasn't so much that time/life were things happening to us, as that we are just wending our way through some creative path of something that already exists.

But still, it left me with a problem. Although that conclusion wrapped up a lot of stuff, I was left with this survivalist terror about another earthquake any moment. From the time the first one hit, I had been so massively sensitive, that not only did I know they [the aftershocks] were coming before they hit, but I kept taking the words out of people's mouths. I was just hyper-tuned on some level because I was adrenalized into near hysteria at all times. I seemed tuned into everybody else's emotional trauma which was a real drag.

Every other kind of natural disaster you can get some warning on. I've spent my life in California, been in all the quakes since I was born, and have always been very blase about them, until this one. It wasn't really the quake that was scaring me. It was my almost overwhelming feeling that I had to get out, to leave, immediately, that one equal or larger to the first one was coming any moment. I had felt "someone was telling me to leave California" since late 1993, and had been ignoring it. As for the "another one's coming" feeling, perhaps it's psychology, because many people around me were voicing the same thing, people who don't normally talk about intuition. My constant visions of planetary doom didn't help, as you can imagine.

(Shortly after the quake some psychologist had been on the radio, explaining how everyone's feeling that "the ground was always shaking" was a mere predictable psychological result. We felt relieved to hear this. Then we discovered that we'd actually been having thousands of aftershocks in the weeks following. We weren't imagining the shaking. So much for psychology, eh.)

In my bedroom there was a window, the perfect size and height for just stepping right through, and I'd taken the screen out of it, and packed an "emergency bag" that was right next to it with quick, slip-on clothes lying on top of the bag, and I put my slip-on shoes in front of it. I was trying to prepare so that it was a matter of maybe 4-5 seconds to slide into clothes and grab the bag to get out, because the apartment building I was in scared the hell out of me and I wanted to be outside if another major one hit.

Well thinking about probability in the shower (a nice place to think about things), I thought well okay, even if I do "create my own reality," the fact is, I'm sharing this reality with a lot of other people. What if THEY want a quake on some level and I don't?! And suddenly a voice came very clearly, out of nowhere, and said:

Reality is not a democracy. It is not a matter of being outvoted. Your reality belongs to you and to you only. You will experience what you choose.

So as I'm rinsing my hair I'm thinking wow, "Reality is not a democracy," what a great line! I was actually giggling, and despite the fact that I of course assumed it was my imagination talking unusually loudly and seemingly externally to myself, still, I felt better, and went on with life.

The next morning I woke up early, as always. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. for many months prior to the quake, because that's when I would "abruptly come to" from dreams or experiences, and then after the quake, well you can bet my subconscious had a connection to waking up about then! I was sleeping in my chair in the living room, as I nearly always did. I'd been trying to make it stop, because sleeping upright causes (I discovered) serious swelling of the feet and ankles after awhile. But true to form, the moment I'd sat down in my chair that night after work I was just "gone," so that's where I woke up. I decided to get up for awhile, since I was wide awake as usual, so I got up and hit the bathroom and got something to drink and considered doing something before I had to get ready for work. I decided to go read while half-lying in my bed, to elevate my feet for a bit.

So I went into the bedroom and climbed into bed. I was fussing with all the pillows trying to get them comfortable to be half lying down half sitting to read. Just as I got them comfortable and was reaching to the bedside table for my book, I nearly fell out of bed. To say the ground jolted would be an understatement!

But as usual with aftershocks -- I was trained like a soldier by then -- my reaction was immediate. I rolled out of bed on the rebound, ran the few steps to the window and slid my dress and shoes on, threw open the window and grabbed the bag and put one foot outside, sitting down on the ledge to steady myself -- for a moment it was almost as if the whole earth was at a 25 degree angle -- already the noise generated inside the house was immense, not to start on the noise everywhere else.

I pressed one hand (with the bag) behind me against the window sill, and the other against the frame of the window in front of me, and I tried to hold myself steady, uncertain if I should move while I had a solid perch, and sure I'd fall if I tried to walk or run in any direction, concerned the window could break... My "fight or flight" response was in full swing, adrenalin massive, and the thoughts of course were rushing through my head, even though it had only been maximum 7 seconds since it hit before I was sitting in the window. And as soon as I was somewhat safely seated, my dominant thought was, Goddamn it, I don't agree! I don't agree! I don't want this in my reality! I don't want this probability! Seth I thought you said it was MY choice?!

The shaking was worse than the first quake, tremendous up-down jolts, it was like riding a rodeo just sitting there. I could extrapolate the implications and it wasn't even far into it yet -- this was by far the most serious one to date, this was much worse than the last one, which had been terrible. It was clear everything was a total disaster in the apartment and those around me already, and it just made me so frustrated, like if there was anything to this idea that we have any effect on our "reality," why had I failed so miserably to make it work? And I thought cynically, angrily, but with some humor too, Well this would be a bloody good time to figure it out!

I was angry and scared, and to keep from looking at the things flying around the bedroom (though there was little in there but the bed and some books -- most everything had crashed down and been obliterated in the first shake), I looked across the street, at this bank with trees around it. The windows were that grey-blue reflective mirror stuff, and they were like an anarchy of jello as the whole building shook violently. I was looking at this one part of the building between some trees, and then suddenly --

Reality Inverted. That's the only way I can describe it. It's as if the entire fabric of my physical surroundings shot into the distance, away from me in the direction I was looking, infinitely far away, in a microsecond. It reminds me of those eye tricks, where you're looking at a picture of a line drawing pointing at you, and then when you refocus (unconsciously), it's suddenly pointing away. It was like that, that fast. I almost had a mild sensation of 'whoosh!' (not the sound but the feeling) but it was very soft and rapid

-- and I was reaching for my book.

I froze, arm in mid-air. Eyes wide, looking at my window, all calm and untouched by the event, taking in the fact that I was somewhere different than I had been a split second before. (Not like finding oneself elsewhere in the car having "spaced out": complete linear lucidity here, just an act of almost teleportation.) Although it had just happened and was flash vivid, my adrenalin was completely gone, only my attentiveness to that extreme degree remained. It was like my brain experienced it but not my body. I looked around my room, not understanding what had happened. Did I just have a vivid dream in a tenth of a second? But I was wide awake, how...?!

I sat there in bed with my eyes wide and my jaw locked for probably 10 minutes. I couldn't even think very clearly I was so shocked. When I tried to think, I could come up with no rational explanation for what the hell just happened.

Now the thing is, I can go on at length about "metaphysical experiences" and all that junk, but something 100% physical was a totally different story. I can buy the theories about consciousness and choosing one's own reality (intellectually) but this was something entirely different I felt, this was way outside what I was comfortable classifying as "metaphysical" and got into "real life." Thus far I wasn't sure the "twain had met," so to speak. Metaphysics was a philosophy and my night life, and real life was my job and computer, and they were comfortably separated right up until then.

After a few minutes when my brain calmed down, I could give it a little more thought. My "conceptual impression" was that, somehow, I had literally "jumped tracks." I felt inside as if I had done that, not just in terms of time, but somehow in terms of space, as well. I concluded a few weeks later that since I had been thinking about the subjects of timelines and probabilities and conscious will, that I had simply created an experience to explain it to me. But self willed or not, it was as physical as anything else in my daily life.

A couple of times in the next few weeks, it happened, in a far less spectacular manner. And those occasions were less like I'd gone backward to a branch in time as that I had merely moved sideways onto a different one.

Like for instance: I'm home for lunch, close the sliding glass door because the guy I see mowing the lawn outside is not only throwing grass all over the place, he's making so much noise it's ridiculous, and the guy with the leaf blower behind him wasn't helping. Then suddenly while making lunch there'd be quiet. Very sudden. It wasn't even like the machines were "turned off" simultaneously, it was like they just abruptly ceased to exist. Like even the sound waves were abruptly cut off that would normally echo a fraction of a second in your ears.

It would take a few seconds to figure out what changed -- I wouldn't be sure at first. Then like in that case, I realized my door was open, and I slowly went over to it, and realized that the grass hadn't [obviously] been mowed, and there was no sight or sound of gardeners anywhere near.

Things like this I can't prove or validate. They only added to my thinking I'd completely lost my mind.

[end]

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