Last word of Citizen Kane
Long, long ago, in eternally sunny Southern California, (remember when sunny California sounded like heaven instead of a dry and gasping desert?), I was sitting around with some friends with nothing better to do than play with a Ouija board. For some reason, we didn’t surf, we didn’t sunbathe and nobody had a hot tub. It’s possible however, that drugs were involved. It was the 70’s after all.
Being in 1970’s California naturally brought up the question of reincarnation. Peace, love, weed and karma were the touchstones in an era when the most popular pick up line was “What’s your sign?” not “So what do you do?” So we asked the Ouija board if I’d ever lived before. “YES.” The board pointer zoomed as if propelled by etheric rocket fuel. We giggled.
“Really? What was my name?”
“Oh brother, what a creative choice,” one friend muttered. The board began madly spelling, telling all of us the amazing saga of a Roman woman named Lavinia who was born in 2 C. E. She was the daughter of a successful weaver, whose mother had died in childbirth. Her father kept her in his shop, where she learned the craft. He never re-married, and slowly she took over the business, becoming one of the new breed of independent Roman businesswomen in the new era.
While none of us really believed this, I found myself researching and discovering that yes, there was somewhat ancient Roman female business class, although the biggest female business was still of course, the “oldest profession.” As always happens when a civilization collapses however, all feminism disappeared into the Dark Ages. And our Ouija board adventure faded into the California sunset.
Many years later, I joined a craft guild and was introduced to weaving. Shawls, blankets, baskets; it seemed no matter what I touched, my fingers quickly knew what to do. Like jumping back on a bicycle, my body deftly adapted to shuttle, sley, reed, warp and weft. For a brief moment in time, I considered abandoning show business and becoming a weaver. Never once did I remember my “previous life.” I did however remember that while weaving is meditative, fun and rewarding, it would not pay the bills.
There is a Chinese belief called the Red Thread, or the Red String. The gods tie a red string that connects a person to a destiny, usually in the form of a soulmate. No matter what happens, the string can be pulled, tangled, knotted, but it never breaks. All of us are connected via a complex tapestry of these threads.
Relation, according to Webster, is “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected; a thing’s effect on or relevance to another.” We may each have our own thread, but how it weaves through time and space connects us to a multitude of destinies. I like to call this String Theory. I should have trademarked it.
It does make one wonder, what exactly is the fabric of reality? Are we weaving a fantastic tapestry complete with princesses and unicorns, a fine silken sari fabric, or a bad Christmas sweater? Or perhaps, since now it seems everyone agrees we live in a multi-verse, even Hollywood, is it possible that each moment we connect, or disconnect, our threads weave not just through space and time, but through probabilities that include Mexican blankets and Icelandic jackets?
And what about those loose threads? You know the one you absentmindedly pull on, suddenly unraveling an entire towel, or your favorite blouse? Is that a destiny destroyed? The other day, I ignored an acquaintance of mine in a store. He was imperiously haranguing a beleaguered store clerk about their high priced office chairs. My thread quivered. Should I interrupt the tense exchange with a hearty, “Hey there, John, imagine seeing you here! How’s your wife?” and perhaps relieving the clerk’s misery? Or should I say what I was feeling in this moment, “Yo, John, you want cheap chairs? Go to Walmart and leave the poor guy alone.” Instead, I hastily threaded my way down the aisle and out the door, unraveling a destiny, or simply averting a a tangle with an unappealing outcome.
As our threads crisscross through multiple lifetimes, multiple dimensions, and multiple realities, we can often find ourselves re-connecting with old themes, or connecting with the past in a way that affects our present. Recently at a party, a musician friend said, “My teacher studied in France with a teacher whose teacher’s teacher was Beethoven. That doesn’t make me a great musician, but I like to think we’re connected somehow.”
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane’s sled Rosebud the red thread of the character’s destiny, in the end, burning it on a pile of belongings. “This field of inanimate theatrical properties I wished to represent the very dust heap of a man’s life,” Welles said of the pile. Our possessions, our stories, our encounters are all threads connecting us, or tearing us apart. Each choice takes our thread in another direction. But the thread doesn’t break. We are connected to each other’s destiny.
I think I still have that Ouija board in a drawer someplace.