I've taken pains to keep my actual identity private, as my many frustrated admirers frequently complain via email. Oh Jack H, please tell us more about yourself, like your full name and where you live. But I have good reason -- very good reason indeed -- to attempt to preserve my anonymity. As far as I've been able to find, my name appears on the internet only once, and just recently, in its complete and true form. It was rather distressing to me to find even this single slip. I am, you see, a hunted man.
It's a long story. Once, back in the 1930s, I was lynched by a mob of racists. I was a Negro woman in those days, and I spilled boiling water on a white baby farmed out to me. It was an accident, but no matter. They hanged me naked from an old elm tree. There's no record of it. It was a backwoods affair. I've hardly ever been important. Anyhow it's behind me. I miss my own little babies, though. They're all dead now too.
Then the next time, as a teenager in the fifties, I was abducted by sexual sadists -- my body was buried off an interstate highway. It's never been found. What was I, boy or girl? It hardly matters. Sometime I make the trip out into that desert and weep for myself over my bones.
This time, in these current decades, I've had a longer life than in the past several hundred years. Nearly everyone has died young, though, if you average it all together. This time I've passed the half-century mark. Maybe I'll make it to a subsequent decade. Odd, how we cling. We'd clutch even at razors, lest we fall. I usually die violently. I've never killed myself. It seems some instinct instructs us that life is better than death -- even if life waits on the other side. I do not trouble myself with paradoxes, anymore.
I don't know what dharmic violation I committed, but it's been this way for millennia. I don't go in for this past-life regression nonsense -- just a bunch of flakes as far as I can see -- but I personally really do remember it all, and not as some mere intuition, however powerful. My memory precedes the pyramids. Why? Why? I have not been told. No higher being, if there be such things, has ever revealed a truth to me. If the gods have voices, they do not speak to me. I believe in a higher order only through inductive reasoning.
I do know I was involved in the destruction of Atlantis, but there was no court of condemnation to make it clear that this was a crime and I was condemned. I simply started remembering. I never did it on purpose, that unloosing of such primal forces -- but the Wheel of Incarnation rolls inexorably along, and those caught up in its treads must suffer the indignity of continuing if intermittent existence. So inductive reasoning informs me.
It isn't my own deaths that bother me so, as much as those of the ones I love. Sometimes I've tried to love no one, to have no family. But we're born into families. And even when I did not start my own, I couldn't help but love, even strangers. How many lifetimes I have spent in the wilderness -- not lost, simply dreading the bonds that attach to us when we touch each other.
Being old is hardest, and I watch them all drop away -- my parents, my wives and husbands, even my children. I've had so many, by now. I've never counted. It must be thousands, many thousands. What a massacre, and no less terrifying because it stretches across the eons. I've seen towers built of skulls. I've seen rivers of blood. No place you can put your foot, that isn't an unmarked grave.
I don't recognize them again, my lost loved ones. Sometimes a smile or a tilt of the head in one generation reminds me of some soul I knew in a century past. The baby in Troy is like that maiden in Rome, who is like a boy in Gaul. But it blurs together, and it's as if the resemblances are only family traits. I never know if this one now is the same as that one from ancient days. I just know that these days too will someday be ancient. And those I love now will return into the earth, and emerge, if they do, unrecognized. That's the cruelest punishment of all, that the Lords of Karma have pronounced on me. I remember, and everyone else forgets.
Maybe I’m unique, though. Maybe I’m like beloved John was thought to be, to live until the Lord’s return – or like the Wandering Jew, cursed Ahasuerus, likewise bound to life, cursed for cursing the Lord in His Passion. Perhaps like the shade of Samuel, released from Sheol to pronounce one final judgment, upon Saul, I too eternally slip the chains of Hades and rise somnambular to take on other chains, of flesh. And all humanity slumbers on one or the other side of a great abyss, biding time until a harsher disposition, or one of mercy. While I alone tread some middle way, dividing the difference by partaking both of life and of death. Perhaps. I do not know. I speak sometimes of faith, but I think in terms of theory. Some traditions seem less suited to my case than others.
How weary my soul has grown. Hardly anything remains of that haughty prince who delved too deeply into the secret underpinnings of reality. How long before I am forgiven? What fire might I find, to match those that burned my world down, and now might burn away the last of my pride, my crime? I don't know. I trudge on toward an ever-receding goal, every myth of damnation woven into my shadow, weighing as much as eternity and its substance. I've seen the ice roll in and I've seen the sun grow hot, forests supplant plains and cities return to clay. The ages mount up on me like a sexual sadist, and I am buried and I return to the grave time and again only to mourn.
What is my true name? Well, I've had so many. H is for Happy, and H is for Hell. It is for Hunter and for Hatred, for Hubris and for Humility. H is for Holiday and Horror, for sacred and profane. It is for compassion and rage and desperation and forgiveness. H is for a man who wants to love and to be loved. He wants to love himself, but an unremembered crime, some unwitting sin has made him Eternity's vagabond and what invocation can turn aside the pursuing Furies? It must be this way for everyone. Not everyone is aware of it though. Forgetting is how forgiveness shows itself.
What is my name? I suppose it's the same as yours. H is for Human.