I was reading a book recently that I’m not going to name because it would ruin the ending (it’s sort of the spoiler to end all spoilers) but it contained this crazy idea*. The main character is in mourning, and he’s told that this isn’t the first time he has been in mourning. In fact, he (X) has mourned the same loss of the same person many times because another person (Y) kept resetting the clock, rewinding time, reincarnating the players until X got the task performed to Y’s satisfaction.
X doesn’t remember reliving the same moments. He has no clue that his life has been on a loop, reliving the same scene over and over again. Even after he’s told, he can’t remember the times that came before the current one, almost as if his extra timelines all fused into layers, one atop the other. To that end, he has no way of knowing whether or not he is going to be sent back in time and be asked to relive it yet again, or how far back the resetting went. Was he just living the last adventure again? Or the last year again? Or his whole life, over and over again?
I always thought that I’d want to know about my past lives if I discovered emphatically that I was reincarnated, but reading that passage was a little unnerving. What if Past Me did something awful? Is Past Me still Current Me? Am I responsible for everything I did in past lives, or is it a clean slate each time?
I mean, what if you found out that your neighbour — your lovely teenage neighbour who shovels your walk every time it snows and cat sits for you every time you go out of town — is reincarnated Hitler? Is teenage Phil responsible for the atrocities he committed back when he was Hitler, or is he now just teenage Phil, separate from his past lives?
And moreover, what if people I knew shifted around. How could I stay married to Current Josh if I discovered that in one of our past reincarnations, he was my child? Or my father? Better to not know and to enjoy everyone’s current incarnation vs. having to hold the baggage of their past lives.
I don’t know — if someone could definitively tell you your last few lives, would you want to know the details? Or would you rather be in a state of blissful ignorance?