Who Are We Anyway
I once went camping in the Sierras with some friends. We were fishing late in the day. We were drinking and I was drinking the most. As the sun began to set my two friends headed back to the campsite. As I thought the campsite to be very close by, I decided to stay and continue to fish (and drink).
After dark I headed back towards the campgrounds. It was a pretty good size campground and I began to walk through the it looking for our campsite. I must have walked for a couple of hours. I was finding myself walking in circles as I came upon the same campsites a number of times. At one point I found myself out in the thicket, away from the lights of the campgrounds. It was very dark and I felt very lost at this point. I found my way back to the campgrounds and just by chance, found my campsite.
Everyone had already retired for the night. My party, of three different campsites (in a triangular pattern), consisted of one camping trailer and two large tents. My tent was a large six-man tent and when I entered it my daughter was already asleep in her sleeping bag. She was about 7 years old at the time. I crawled into my sleeping bag and went to sleep.
I don't know what time it was when I awoke but it was still dark outside and everyone was still asleep. The first thing I felt when I awoke was disorientation. I didn't know where I was. It soon occurred to me that I didn't know who I was either. Naturally, at first, I sat there waiting to collect myself, but nothing came to mind. It was pitch black and I searched in the darkness for something, anything to give me assistance and I found a flashlight and hurriedly turned it on.
Now here is where it gets weird. When I turned on the light I could see I was in a tent. So I knew the what a tent was. I saw my daughter lying in the sleeping bag across from me, but did not recognize her. I knew it was a little girl, but who? I shook her awake and asked, "little girl, little girl, do you know who I am? Still half asleep she said, "Yeah, your Daddy", and then she turned her back on me and start to go back to sleep. I wanted to stop her from going back to sleep and get more details from her but I had the presence of mind not to do so because by now I was entering a panicked state of mind and if the little girl was my daughter then seeing me panicked might frighten her.
I decided the better course of action was to move outside the tent and get a look at my surrounding as it might trigger something the would help me remember who I am and where I am. I unzipped the tent entrance and went outside. I immediately recognized that I was in a forest and there were campsites all around, but I still had no recognition of why I was there and who I was. This brought on a much deeper feeling of panic and I began to experience cold sweats.
I was deeply frightened and disturbed. Something in me knew that there was something missing. Something was suppose to click in, something was suppose to have started, come about, I wasn't sure what. But something was suppose to happen and it didn't. And now, every nerve in my body was on edge and I felt like hell.
I sat on a tree stump and lowered my head in agony. Then something popped into my mind. Just two words. Pam Am! I raised my head quickly at the recognition of the words. I knew those words, they meant something. YES! PAM AM WORLD SERVICES! THAT'S WHERE I WORK!
Then the flood gates opened and all the memories came flooding back in. Everything I knew about myself came back to me and I jumped for joy at their return. I went from being a lost soul to a made man in seconds.
In retrospect I realized that I had temporarily lost my identity. The whole experience probably lasted only 10 to 15 minutes. But it felt like forever. I hadn't lost all my memory, because I knew I was in a tent, in a forest, and more importantly, I deduced that if I was in a tent, in a forest, I must be camping. So who is it that was camping? That is what I asked myself, that is what was missing, and that was what caused the panic and fear. I had no identity, and I now realized that my identity is a memory from the past and that all things are memories of the past. Once the memories are gone, who are you and what is everything else? We definitely live in the past.