How many of us remember the youngest years of our lives? I have some vague memories of being a baby sitting on parquet flooring in my parent's home, banging the floor with my hands and then being picked up. Is it a real memory that hasn't been invaded by more recent memories, or is it just a fiction cooked up by my, likely unstable, wetware? Who knows.
Now for another question, for which I can already imagine the response: how many of us remember before our early years? I certainly don't and I daresay the majority of you won't either, but we are all adults, our earlier memories overridden by more recent and relevant memories. But what about the memories of children?
Roughly ten years ago now, I had a bizarre experience with my niece. We were talking about why I got nervous about practically everything and she replied that I never used to be like that before. When I asked what she meant by before, she replied, "Before, when I was your Mummy".
Is it possible she made it up in that moment? Quite possibly, children are incredibly creative, but there was a sincerity in the way she said it that has been nibbling away at my cynicism ever since.
Then today, I had a similar experience.
Popping into the local Post Office to collect some cake boards I had ordered for next weeks wedding, there was one guy at the counter with his young son, roughly aged four. As I walked in, the youngster smiled, waved and said "Hello there!". Always polite, I smiled back and got in line. Then, as they left, the boy again smiled, waved and said "See you later!", following it up with the comment to his Dad, "He used to be my big brother!".
Again, bizarre random memories or just spur of the moment invention? The rational and academic part of me reckons it is the latter, but the emotional, desire-for-life part of me would love it to be the former.
I appreciate, all the above sounds a bit bizarre, but when you take into account the anecdotal stories from around the world and the cultures which embrace re-birth, perhaps it is best to have an open mind about things we don't understand.
I can see another book purchase coming on...