Today, I’m going to tell you a story about something that happened to me on New Year’s Day, 1803. Or at least I think it happened to me. If reincarnation isn’t real, then it didn’t happen, or at least it didn’t happen to me. Anyway, I was a Post Captain in the Royal Navy — that is, as I say, if there is such a thing as reincarnation and if we can remember anything about prior incarnations.
We must be careful about reincarnation. Our minds are like bathtubs: We live and collect memories of a life and then we die and somebody pulls the plug on the bathtub of memory and it all goes down the drain. That is, as I say, if reincarnation exists, which, of course, it may not.
Anyway, there I was, a Post Captain on one of his majesty’s warships during the wars with Napoleon. By that time in that life, I was the captain of a fifth-rate ship-of-the-line. That’s me up there on the quarterdeck in the picture. I can tell because the artist not only got the color of the sky and ocean right, he got the ship exactly as it was in real life, and that is definitely me standing on the larboard side.
Here’s more evidence. I like the ocean and often get an oceanic feeling watching the surf. True, in this life, I am a land-lubber but why would I love the ocean as I do if, in prior incarnations, I had not followed the life of the sea? Otherwise, I’d be like Shakespeare, another land-lubber who saw the ocean as dark, forbidding and a place for shipwrecks. Plus, I have read — twice — the entire Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O”Brien and am almost certain that some of the fictional exploits of Captain Aubrey of the Royal Navy were based upon things that happened to me or my friends in real life. And I have a friend now who is much like Dr. Maturin in those O’Brien novels. Finally, there is the fact that I recognized the sounds in the movie “Master and Commander” as being close to the real thing. True, the movie did not and could not portray the smells of a ship-of-the-line, but, if it had, no one could have watched it: Our ships smelled awful.
Another reason I am certain I was in the Royal Navy during the time of Napoleon’s depredations is that, after I died, I became a mountain man in the American West. Or maybe I was an Indian, but it was definitely in the American West before it was settled. I know this because of how much I love traipsing around Rocky Mountain wilderness in this lifetime. There is nothing I love more than to sit on a high mountain slope and feel the breeze come blowing up out of a river canyon below me while I watch the wild iris swaying in the breeze in spring or the Indian Paintbrush in the long grasses of summer. And I read almost all the mountain man literature I can find. Why do that unless I was one of them?
And it’s pretty clear that I was General Patton. The timing was perfect. As a mountain man, I could easily have lived into the 1870s and Patton was born in the 1880s. And he died in 1945, plenty of time for me to have rested up and come along in my current incarnation as myself. Moreover, I’ve read widely in military history as did Patton. And my favorite quotation from Frederick the Great was his favorite too, “L’audace, L’audace, toujours, L’audace.” That can’t be a coincidence. Finally there was Eisenhower’s decision in 1944 not to give me all the gas I needed to cross the Rhine and get to Berlin. I’d have beat the Russians to Berlin by six months but no, Ike, the SOB, made me sit around on my ass while he gave the gasoline to Monty who never intended to use it since he never moved unless he had 15 -1 odds, goddamned prima dona. Hell, Ike could have given Devers the gas and Devers could have beat the Russians to Berlin and he wasn’t half the general I was.
See. I even talk like Patton sometimes.
This lifetime, so far anyway, has been less eventful. Of course, that may change as soon as the Pulitzer prize committee starts awarding Pulitzer Prizes for blog writing. There may be better known blogs than this one, but, I’m sure you’ll agree, none better written.
In fact, not all of my past lives were as exciting as that time in the Royal Navy. (Although I may have been with Alexander the Great when he crossed the Khyber Pass and there was that time I was Queen Elizabeth the First and once I was the fourth Dalai Lama.) Interspersed with all these human lives, I was a Ponderosa Pine for several hundred years, a Peregrine Falcon, an albatross, an elk, a dragonfly, a dark ant, a beetle, a mushroom, some algae, a microbe, and who knows what else.
So my story about New Year’s Day, 1803, must be a true story and I know you’d enjoy it but this post is already too long and I have the Pulitzer committee to think of.
Anyway, it’s a good story. You can take my word for it.
The painting at the top is by Geoff Hunt who did all the covers for the paperback O’Brien books that were published in the U.S. He paints marvelous scenes from the Age of Sail, as you can see from the example above. The one with me in it.
The mountain man painting is by Alfred Jacob Miller and may be me.
The photo of me on Sicily conferring with Lt. Col. Lyle Bernard at Brolo in 1943 is from the U.S. Army archives.