What is Deja Vu ?
Deja Vu is one of the many mysteries of life. I don’t want to throw a bunch of technical stuff at you. I want to describe it the way I see it.
Rather that provide you with a technical definition, with language that will only confuse you more, I will define Deja Vu in plain, easy to understand words.
Deja Vu is simply remembering something from your past that you either may have, or have not experienced.
This should make no sense at all. However, this unknown phenomenon happens every day in the lives of people. For this reason, it is definitely real.
Deja Vu is present in all five of the senses. When you see something that is familiar, you know you have seen it, or think you have seen it. The same holds true for hearing and smelling. When you return to a place where you have not been in years, often a certain smell will arouse your memory. There are Deja Vu experiences that people encounter that were actually experienced before. To simplify what I am talking about, let me give an example. When I was about 7 years old, my grandfather had a rustic cabin in Guntersville, Alabama, on the Tennessee River. The cabin was about 100 feet from the water. On the river bank was a narrow pier, about 100 feet, leading to a covered metal boathouse. Many times, I walked through the front entrance of the boathouse, and exited through the rear entrance. Then, I was on a fishing pier in the rear of the boathouse. I went to the river with my grandfather until I was 16. Twenty years later, the property had been sold. One day, I was thinking about the old place, and thought that I would like to go there again and just see it, if it was still there. Well, as fate would have it, I had some business that took me to Guntersville, Alabama. When my business was finished, I visited the old site, and to my satisfaction, it was still there. The new owner had fixed it up a little better, but it was still the old rustic cabin that it always was. The pier and boathouse were exactly as my grandfather left it. The place was owned by a widower who was using it as his retirement home. With his permission, I walked along the narrow pier to the boathouse. As I entered the boathouse, I noticed a very familiar smell. In all of the times I had remembered the place, I never even thought of that smell. All of a sudden, it aroused my memory. I remembered that smell from when I used to go there, but it just remained in the back of my mind. After this experience, I asked myself, “How many other things are stored in my brain that I do not remember?’
Was This Really Deja Vu?
Deja Vu is a strong sensation that an event you are experiencing has been experienced in the past. This means that you feel you have experienced it, but are not exactly sure. In the example of the boathouse, I was sure, beyond any doubt that this was something that I did experience. The only mystery was in remembering something that had totally left my mind. What made this a Deja Vu experience was that this was something that was stored in my brain that was totally forgotten. How many other things are stored in the brain?
Just like life in general, Deja Vu is a mystery. Deja Vu experiences don’t happen that often, but when they do, they are very overwhelming. I remember the first time I went to New Orleans. Some friends took me to the famous Cafe Du Monde, a coffee stand on the banks of the Mississippi River that serves the French Market Coffee and Beignets. When they arrived at our table, I remembered having them before. But I knew, beyond any doubt, that was impossible. This was a specific situation. But there are other Deja Vu situations that are not as specific. At times, we remember things from our past, but we don’t know if they really happened. Sometimes, the events we remember are specific. Other times, they are not. You can remember something from your past, but suddenly, your mind becomes a complete blank. People have been known to remember an event from the past, but not know exactly what the event is, and the circumstances surrounding the event. All they know is, there is something that has aroused their memory, and there is somewhere they have been or something they have done. The mystery is, they can’t pin-point exactly what it is. Sometimes, this comes in dreams, but this makes it even more mysterious. Other times, these feelings are generated by something they see, hear, taste or smell.
Why Do People Remember Things that Never Happened to Them?
The human brain is the most precision instrument in existence today. Jerry Falwell once said that there is not a computer anywhere in the world that can do what the brain can do. Like him or not, he spoke the truth. At the time we are born, the brain already has information stored in it. I know that many people, if not all people, do not remember when they first arrived on this earth. All I remember is, suddenly, I am here, and I am Charlie. I remember wondering how I got here, and where I came from. I don’t even remember how old I was. This was over forty years ago, but I distinctly remember it like it was yesterday. Most likely, it was the same way for many people. Therefore, the ability to know that you are here, even if that’s all you know, is a very strong indication that the brain is already fully functional.
At the moment of birth, the brain is not yet developed, but it is fully functional. It already has data stored in it. Most of that data is memory. But a new born infant has not experienced anything that could be remembered. Therefore, where does the memory come from? The answer to this question is really quite simple. We have inherited this memory from our parents, grandparents and ancestors. Through heredity, a baby has received certain traits, such as, eye color, hair color and most important, brain cells. Many of these brain cells contain memory. This is why people can remember things that really did happen, but did not happen to them. No one knows for sure how far back in time this memory goes. But don’t be surprised if someone tells you that he remembers the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. You make think this is ridiculous, but to the other person, it is very real.
Deja Vu is one of life’s many mysteries. We may not ever know the answers. If you believe in the afterlife, hopefully all of the questions will be answered some day.