I used to watch the Matrix films a fair bit and I’m going to borrow one of their concepts for this post. The films follow a hero through a dystopian reality check, where, among other things, he learns to pay attention to the moments of déjà vu, the ‘glitches’ in the world around him. In the film, these glitches might be seeing something subtly not quite right within its own frame of reference, such as seeing the same person cross the same road twice within a few moments. These glitches are clues to a world behind the facade, a world he must learn to navigate (and conquer and triumph over, etc… )
I see glitches too. My moments of déjà vu find me looking at a scene, or participating in an event, and being suddenly thrown beyond it. And I know I’m not the only Third Culture Kid to experience this. My gaze can soften and pass through time and space to my other life, where something like this – and at the same time, very unlike this – has happened before.
The last moment of déjà vu I had was on a visit to a bit of countryside nearby. The trail ran up a hill, and the surrounding 360 degree view was stunning. Others were doing the same climb and little clusters of people congregated there, just for the view. A moment of peace, and beauty and shared appreciation of England’s green glory.
And the wave of nostalgia hit me hard. I was suddenly sad, close to tears and filled with an unexpected and long forgotten longing. An old familiar feeling to many Third Culture Kids.
I was suddenly longing for dunes. I was thrown back to the the times when our community abroad would climb the dunes in the early morning together, reaching the top and standing, in awe, at the view. The longing for a landscape I can no longer reach fills my eyes with tears even now.
One one level the glitching feels intrusive, insane, and so inconvenient! I am here, in England, with people I love, NOW. I want to be here. I am enjoying the day. I love the view.
But I loved another view first.
And so I glitch. And it’s lonely, because how can I share this? How can I share the double vision I am experiencing without wrenching those in my company from the present joy? How can I share my inexplicable sadness without communicating discontent?
Gently. Oh so gently I can hold the wave within me. I can give it boundaries, explore it and validate it. This wave cannot consume me for I am the wave and it is me. I am nostalgia personified. I am two worlds in one. I can flow between them and hold them both.
Then, secure in my compassion and care for both of my landscapes, I can share my glitching – gently, without discontent. And trusting that those I am with care more for me than the view. They can hold my experience as different from theirs. That is allowed. I am allowed to be here and there. I can ask this of them.
I am safe in these moments of déjà vu, when I trust my vision as true. I CAN see both worlds and they both exist – real in their own ways and with their own power.
In the Matrix films, the hero has a terrible choice. He must chose which world to commit to, which reality to invest in.
Reality can be less dystopian than this. As otherworldly as my dune visions seem, they were real – they ARE real. I can affirm both worlds. I can commit to myself in both.
I’m not glitching. I’m remembering all of me.