Searching for Answers

We all want to know the purpose and meaning of our lives in the relatively brief amount of time we have here. This mission started early for me; I knew when someone had passed away in our family long before the news became public. I saw people who had died and unsuccessfully attempted to convince family that I was not inventing what I saw. I was called a ‘dreamer’, a ‘weirdo’, a fantasy-prone personality along with other insults; so, I decided that I would prove everybody wrong and be a success in the ‘real’ world. I received top honors from my college, graduated from Yale University with a PhD in Spanish Literature, and I was the first in my class to land a tenure-track position. I was one of the youngest–if not THE youngest–Associate Professor and Chair of an academic department in the history of Lawrence University. I published papers in top journals. In short, I believed that I had proved the naysayers wrong about me.

However, something inside of me was screaming to be acknowledged. I experienced multiple, spiritual ‘crises’ in response to my attempt to be successful in the “real” world. I left my tenured position at Lawrence University (one of the very few to ever do something like that) and returned to California, hoping to restart my life in the place I grew up. I ended up divorced, broke, desperate, and wondering how it was that I had fallen from the heights of my career to the person begging for jobs in costume stores.

I landed on my feet. I found another University position, met the love of my life, became a stepmother, and threw myself into the domestic life. And, once again, I hit rock bottom in the financial crisis of 2008. I lost my home in 2013, there were multiple family crises, and my husband and I ended up moving three times before we finally were able to settle down. I had tenure again, we owned two homes, our family seemed to be doing fine, and then . . . another spiritual explosion detonated for us. This time, trauma surfaced from long ago, and memories of what could only be understood as past lives surfaced, destroying my attempts at normalcy. Every, single, time I believed that I had proved myself in the material world, the shadow side, the immaterial realms, burst to the surface to lay their claim to me.

After a brutal three years of what some called a “spiritual awakening’, I figured that my life would return to whatever ‘normal’ is. Our daughter moved to London, we had spent most of 2019 in Granada, Spain, and we thought the plans we had indicated that all was well, that we were ready for a long period of settling down and settling in to a wonderful life. Then 2020 came along, and suddenly the entire planet was suffering through a spiritual emergency. Our daughter could not, and cannot (as of this writing) return to California to see her family; my teaching job transitioned to fully online; I endured three automobile accidents, one death in the family, and constant fear and paranoia about both Covid and the state of Trump’s America. Insurrections, mass death and illness, fear and more fear. There was to be no peace for anyone.

As of February 2021, there is light at the end of our collective tunnel, but we are far from back to normal. In a sense, that comes as a relief to me, because what used to be ‘normal’ did not seem that way to me. I never felt that ‘normal’ life was in balance or in tune with the greater forces that determine our fate on the planet. If there is a lesson in all of this for me, it’s simply this: our time is limited here, and we need to be ourselves. There is no room for pretending, for inauthenticity, for posing, or for people pleasing. There are too many serious issues in the world for our false selves to run the show.

In order to be myself, I must continue to honor the fact that I am, in fact, neither normal nor mainstream. I have had such extraordinary experiences in my life that to deny or silence them is no longer an option. I am fascinated by the incursions of the unseen into the ordinariness of everyday life: the poltergeist, the haunted house, the work of mediums, Near Death Experiences, telepathy, clairvoyance, all forms of psychic abilities, and what altered states of consciousness reveal about other dimensions of reality. I could make this list quite long, but I do not need to. As long as we, as a culture, are determined to deny the unexplained and mysterious aspects of our humanity and our reality, we are doomed to repeat fatal mistakes of hubris and arrogance. Let us allow that we know little, even after centuries of inquiry, about consciousness and the many layers of our world.

I still desire the trappings of institutional respect, the blessing of academia, and for people to take me seriously. My ego in this respect fights on; however, I am not willing to abandon the search for a larger truth that connects us all. My endless curiosity regarding life’s biggest mysteries cannot be shut down. Whenever I abandon the search for truth in all its forms, disaster ensues. Join me in the search for just one more white crow. The journey in the end will always be worth it, even if what we find is nothing like what we expect.

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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