Why I Believe (Long read)
First off, an introduction. I'm starting college next year at Caltech, and have a decent background in math, science, and the like. I believe myself to be fairly rational, but, of course, I have certain irrational tendencies. I'm currently searching for ideas. I'm Jewish, because I like the teachings, and they mostly agree with my beliefs. As for the stories, I doubt they happened as portrayed, but I find it likely that at least some of them have a basis in reality.
As far as my belief in G_d, that's an interesting story. When I was very young, I was taken to some Christian church (my dad is Jewish, my mom is Christian). My main memory of that was playing under the chairs. After that, I went to Temple, semi-regularly, with Sunday school. At that point, my belief in G_d was something in the back of my mind. It was there, but not very strong. It's not really a concept you're prepared to fully contemplate at that age...
I've had a number of strange experiences throughout my life. They've come in many different varieties, ranging from the mildly interesting to the blatently obvious. I've tried going at it from various angles. I've considered that it might be some sort of mental disorder, but that's insufficient to explain most of it.
Without further ado, I'll share my central story.
Sometime over 3 years ago, I had a very interesting dream. I've had several dreams before that where I dreamed of a future item or event, and everytime, it followed the same format. The dream would be very random, with a single clear and detailed item, which later happened. Examples include my sister's bunk bed(she got it ~6 months after the dream), Pichu, along with Pokemon Gold and Silver(at the time, I didn't really care about Pokemon at all), and the GameCube with GameBoyAdvance controller attatchment (The dream was back when the GameBoy Pocket was new). These precursors let me know that there's something strange about loosing your consciousness for several hours, and hallucinating vividly, only to awaken with perhaps no memory of it. Well, stranger
Back to the dream... I'm going off of memory, so some parts may be distorted. I've written it elsewhere, though, so you can look for any inconsistencies. It started off with incredible levels of detail. It was very realistic, to the point that I felt the warmth of the air around me and such. It started off with an event that occurs daily. I was feeding my dog. The view was 1st person, but my memory of it has that sort of dream-3rd person effect. The scene jumped around a bit, with increasingly rare, though perfectly reasonable things happening. At one point I was looking out the patio into the bushes, something moved in them, and my dog ran back. In another, I was feeding my dog, and the sliding glass door was cracked open with the blinds open by about a foot. My mom was talking on the phone in the kitchen. After a few scenes like that, the detail fell a bit. I walked out onto the mini-unenclosed patio next to the enclosed patio where I fed my dog. I saw what looked like headlights approaching, which would be impossible, since there is a hedge behind my house, and a house behind that hedge. I went back onto the patio to feed my dog. Suddenly, I felt a strong presence behind me, and I turned to see a tall man, dressed in dark clothing with black hair and green eyes. The eyes were a shade that looked almost, but not entirely, like a normal shade of green. There was something about it that was hard to place. It looked somewhere between 20 and 30. The only other distinguishable trait was that the man seemed to radiate evil. After that, logic slowly fell apart. Slight inconsistencies popped up, objects disappeared, reappeared, and were in places they shouldn't be. At one point, an ambulance drove through my side yard, which would be impossible on several layers. The dream drifted into total chaos, and I awoke.
As you can probably imagine, the dream startled me. I'd never quite had a dream like that before, and it was clearly split into 3 stages by theme and feel. I thought about it for a few days, but I figured nothing would come from it.
Some amount of time later, probably in the realm of months, I had a second dream of the same style. This time, there were fewer realistic segments. I can only really recall one of them, but it was very detailed. I was walking along the sidewalk of my neighborhood. There was heat lightning in the clouds above and the sun was in the final stage of setting. I began to jog, looking for someone. It was warm and comfortable, as it generally is in Florida. I looked back and forth at a few houses as I passed them. The detail level dropped, and I continued jogging to the gate of my neighborhood. I saw a bunch of my friends there at the bus stop, many of which would have no reason to be there. I was confused, and was going over to great them. I turned around and saw the same figure standing on a mulch path on the side of the street I had just come from. Upon seeing him, I remembered the last dream, and that this must be a dream, and I gained lucidity. Using the uber powers of lucidity, I decided to try to fight the figure. I gave myself the DragonBall Z-esque ability to fire energy out of my hands. The figure did a cool sort of sidestep that brought him to a hover above the lake. Then logic began to break down again. He somehow made the beam many times more powerful. The lake stretched out, and I attempted to guide the beam from hitting anything, since at it's current energy level, it would cause a lot of damage to the neighborhood. After a few seconds, I regained my senses and simply turned it into foam. Why foam? Because lucidity pwns, and foam is... foamy. The figure had disappeared, and the dream dell into chaos again. I had a false awakening, which robbed me of my lucidity. Since I thought myself to be awake, I started wondering about the second dream. I got dressed, went through my morning routine, and decided to go jog to the gate, just to check it out. Just to let you know, looking back, it wasn't nearly as detailed as the realistic sections of the dream had been. After I reached the gate and saw nothing out of place, I went to visit a rich person on the opposite side of my neighborhood. (It's two neighborhoods, an east and west side, with seperate gates, and fountains, opposite of a lake. The center has rough rotational symmetry) As far as I know, this person doesn't exist. Inside his home, he had many cars, all different models and colors. I felt an urge to count them, so I started to. The dream faded out, and I awoke with a strong image of 41 with a hint of 40.
The thing that bothered me the most about this dream was that it happened twice. I have never had a repeating dream. Of course, the dreams were different, but they had the same format and themes. The only real difference was the epilogue on the second one. After about a month, I started noticing similarities between the realistic sections of the dream, and actual experience. At first, it was a vague deja-vu feeling. As it progressed to the more specific portions over the next month or so, it became more obvious. After the final realistic section from the first dream, nothing happened for a while, which I'm assuming to be a month. My sense of time is pretty poor. Then, the realistic parts from the second dream happened. My sister had some of her friends over. I was bored, so I went to see what they were doing. I couldn't find them, so I asked my mom where they were. She said they had gone on a walk. I decided to go find them. I went outside. The weather was fairly warm, and the sun was just disappearing on the horizon. The sky was cloudy, and there was heat lighting flashing above. I slowly started to jog, occasionally glancing at the passing houses. I then realized that I had just relived the final realistic scene from the set of dreams.
I found my sister and her friends on a coul-de-sac half way through my neighborhood. I was a little startled, and eventually sorta told one of them a very rough one sentence description of what had just happened. When I got back home, I got a sudden urge to mark the day 40 or 41 days ahead. I found that that lined up with a Friday afternoon/Saturday. July 31st, 2004, to be exact.
I was fairly nervous about that day. I was certain something major was going to happen, and, if it followed the theme of the dream, it was likely going to be something bad. As the day approached, I started finding a few interesting coincidences. It was the end of a month, and a full moon. It was also a blue moon, goingby the two full moons in a month definition. I recalled the story about Joseph and dream interpretation from Genesis, and looked it up. I don't know how I could miss it at the time, but the most relevant part of that story is Genesis 41. I discovered that later, when I posted this story elsewhere. In Genesis 41, Pharaoh describes two dreams that have been troubling him. Joseph tells him that the two dreams are the same theme in different forms. He gives an interpretation, and says that the dream occurred twice because it was already determined by G_d, and would soon happen.
Since I had a direct link, I decided to look up that date on the Hebrew calendar. It was the 13th of Av, which on that year was Shabbat Nachamu. (For anyone who doesn't know, Friday aftenoon to Saturday afternoon is Judaism's day of rest, the Sabbath ) I looked that up, and it's a special Shabbat which corresponds to the Haftarah portion Isaiah 40. It's involved with some prophecies about the "end times" and stuff like that. That's not a particularly pleasant set of things to come across considering the circumstances.
I went from thinking there would be some sort of catastrophe, to thinking it might be the end of the world. As the day drew closer, I started to think it might be something more personal, like perhaps my death, or something that would change my world. The 40th day passed without incident. That worried me more than anything. I'd prefer a gradual change to something that just jumps out at you. That night, near midnight, both of my parents came into my room. I was shocked. My parents have never done that before. I assumed the worst and was expecting to hear about some tragic family accident. What I got was entirely different. They told me to pack and that we were leaving for Georgia the next morning. We've always planned vacations months in advance, especially week long ones. This was literally last minute. So now I had a very long car ride to look forward to on the 41st day. I came to the realization that this was stage 2: A beginning of breakdown in logic. We've never done something like that before. Ironically, the place we went to was called Callaway Gardens. I recently found a key to our cabin in my room as a bit of memorabilia, as though I'd forget such an event.
A few months after we got back from that trip, which was actually quite enjoyable, I started seeing a 41 daily. It would show up in random places. For instance, I got into a friend's car, and the last 4 digits in the odometer were 0041. For a few months, I kept a log to see if anything was apparent from it. I gave up on that over time, though. For a while, it was one a day. Then it went to several a day, every day. After a while of that, on top of about 3 or 4 a day, I'd start seenig them in doubles. For example, I played a game of BattleField 2, and followed a teammate with the flag to our base to protect him. The entire way the distance between us was 41 meters, and the score brought us to 41 points. After a while, it started having triples and an occasional quadruple. I left for a chorus competition, and had started a long download. I went back to check on it, and it happened to be 5:41PM, 41% complete downloading at 41kbps, estimated completion in 41 hours. When I signed up for the SAT, the next available date was 4/1. It cost 41.50 and the print job for the ticket was 41kb. This sort of stuff continued at a ridiculous pace. Then it stopped.
The definite structure of this convinced me that it wasn't just some paranoid searching for 41's. I'd have a right to do that, after all. The sudden stop helped me ensure myself it wasn't just a form of craziness. During that time, I started looking for other numbers as well, but nothing was close to the number of 41's.
Around the time of my visit to MIT, the daily 41's started again. I specify because at this point, they fell into several specific cases. There was always a 41 involved with major events I participated in. At All-State for chorus, I was assigned position 4-1 in the stands. After a programming competition, we ate at an AppleBees (when we got out of our cars, we heard a loud boom from a car crash that had shut down the road we were just on. I don't consider that too special, because I'm picky.). After getting our check, I noticed our table was designated #41. At District Festival, I got sight-reading packet #41. etc... 41 also became a sort of marker. I've always experienced a strong amount of "karma". Nowadays, if the connection between the action and consequence, it is marked with a few 41's. Such patterns should not occur randomly without an insane amount of luck. Since 90% of it was entirely out of my control without any reasonable way for me to have set it up, I came to accept it as having definite meaning. What can I say? I don't like to rush to conclusions.
Anyways, whenever my doubt grew to a certain point, I'd receive some sign that it was in fact real. I could list those out, but it would take many pages. One such event can only be explained by insanity on my part, a nearly direct interaction with G_d, or some other 3rd party. I'd go into more detail, but I'm trying to stick to the central line. I wrote a brief description of the encounter 30 minutes afterwards. I was still shaking, and made several typos and was a little disorganized, but that's to be expected when your reality pulls a fast one on you.
Several months ago, I visited 3 colleges to determine where I would go. Carnegie Mellon, Caltech, and Georgia Tech. During each visit, from the time I left home to when I got back, there was a ridiculous amount of 41's. My dad couldn't help but notice. It was truly ridiculous. A very brief extract from one: I arrived in California at gate 4A of a very small airport whose address included 4100. We drove a mapquest estimated 41 minutes to Caltech. We then went to our hotel, arriving at 1:41PM with the odometer reading 14141. It continued like that for all the visits.
Just a few months ago, I got a very startling new clue. In the almost three years since that vacation, I've grown to about 6 feet tall. My hair, like my fathers did, has become darker. My dad's hair went from brown to black. The one thing that made me sure that the figure from my dream wasn't me was the strange green eyes. A few months ago, I looked in the mirror to see a fairly bright green ring on the edge of my iris. My eyes have always been brown. Since then, the green has slowly spread inwards and diluted. Under some conditions, my eyes look more green than brown, providing a sort of odd shade of green. As the dreams progressed, they became increasingly symbolic. Stage 1 was entirely literal. Stage 2 was more of a theme. Stage 3 wasn't very fun. My current favorite interpretation is that stage 3 will begin when my appearance is the same as the figure from my dream. I'd guess that would be somewhere between 3 and 8 years. I don't know what to expect. I don't know what will happen. I only have very strong hints that something will happen, I will somehow be involved, and it will likely be a very significant event. This is frustratingly vague, and almost certainly something will happen that I could claim this predicts. In fact, a sort of mocking of my complaints of how unprovable this whole thing has been has been a common theme in my reminders.
Three weeks ago, I got my first fortune cookie that actually applies. Had one of the lucky numbers been 41, I would've probably just walked out of the restaurant, to the confusion of my parents.
I have had only one repeating dream, and it certainly keeps coming back to me in real life... This was the day after I demanded some clue about what would happen, after pondering over the green eye thing for a while. This all-too convenient timing thing has happened to me countless times.
That's brief compared to all that has happened. If I were to include everything, I'd get no sleep tonight, or tomorrow. Feel free to question anything and everything. I apologize for being new. You have no reason other than my word to believe anything I've said. But I'm looking for the truth. Making up stories would only bring me farther from it. I try my best to maintain as many ideas about it as possible, but teh big G's been working pretty hard on narrowing my options. The recent focus has been on merging my "normal life" with my "abnormal life". As you can imagine, I isolate these experiences as different in my mind to help with my general life. Recently, it's gotten so mixed that I can't help but merge it in.
Any alternate ideas, insights, questions, comments, challenges? Keep in mind that although there are several biblical allusions throughout this, I don't automatically believe it all.
The sentence below is false.
The sentence above is true.
This sentence doesn't care.