In an earlier post about my melanoma diagnosis I wrote an aside —
There’s a whole lot I’ll write about one day once I understand things. In the days leading up to the biopsy and the immediate days that followed my brain did some really really weird things.
So what was that weird thing?
I don’t know. For us to discuss it, there are some things you should know and I know that the mere discussion of some details is going to be more than enough for some of you to roll your eyes straight to Canada, but whatever, that’s for you to figure out.
Here’s something you should know about me—
I am an above average dreamer. Prolific, in fact. And the dreams I do have aren’t rehashes of Disney sagas with me in the starring role. I do not dream of driving a Ferrari through Hollywood. I do not bed starlets or kung fu my way through REM sleep. What typically happens for me is that I download information. Names. Places. Phrases. The information is often without any obvious context. I have no reference. I write down what comes in, save the document, and then, in most cases, never look at it again. And at this point in my life the collection is so expansive and varied that I’ve given up even trying to connect the dots. I used to scour obituaries, maps, anagram generators, etc. but no more. It’s overwhelming and I’ve never been particularly good at efficiently cataloging details.
It took a long time for me to understand that my brain doesn’t work like most brains and I’ve done extensive research in search of more specific language to articulate what exactly the difference is. But I’m not a scientist so here’s what you get.
Again, I’m not a scientist and you know how to use Google, but to save you some time, here’s a quick science lesson–during the course of our day our brain cycles between five different types of brain waves based on a variety of factors (awake, asleep, alert, relaxed, etc.). The wave frequencies help with things like studying or getting restive sleep. If you would indulge me for one second, click on this link to learn about what’s going on inside your head if you don’t already know. It’s a quick summary of the five different brain waves (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Theta, and Delta).
As a natural byproduct of how my brain functions, I spend a lot of time surfing Theta waves. When I lie down to sleep at night, I don’t recount what happened during the day or worry about tomorrow. I almost immediately go into a gauzy waking dream before falling asleep. I get in this same state through a variety of modalities like floating in a sensory deprivation tank or working with my Reiki healer Sarah. The constant is that there are the Theta waves and the volume on them is turned way the hell up. Here’s a fascinating article that explains what is going on in our brains when our brains are processing Theta waves and we end up in something called the Hypnagogic state between waking and dreams. It does a great job touching on the possibilities of what it means to our learning and creative processes. It also tracks with my lived in experiences.
Theta waves are fascinating to me. As it turns out, they’re fascinating to a lot of people and not everybody is evaluating them the same way. There are real and actual scientists doing complicated and involved neurological research that is WAY over my head. I can skim through what they say to get a layman’s understanding, but I’m not an academic. There are also traditions that date back centuries of indigenous people doing work to reach similar sounding states in an attempt to get at wisdom. But, the internet being the internet, there are also the oh, this guy definitely took the brown acid at Woodstock rabbit holes where you can read a lot of stuff that sometimes sounds plausible and other times sounds like wishful thinking. If you’ll allow me a 21st century cheat — here is a relevant passage regarding Theta waves that has actual scientists cited (Wikipedia) —
Theta-frequency activity arising from the hippocampus is manifested during some short-term memory tasks (Vertes, 2005). Studies suggest that these rhythms reflect the “on-line” state of the hippocampus; one of readiness to process incoming signals (Buzsáki, 2002). Conversely, theta oscillations have been correlated to various voluntary behaviors (exploration, spatial navigation, etc.) and alert states (goose bumps, etc.) in rats (Vanderwolf, 1969), suggesting that it may reflect the integration of sensory information with motor output (for review, see Bland & Oddie, 2001). A large body of evidence indicates that theta rhythm is likely involved in spatial learning and navigation (Buzsáki, 2005).
Now I go back to this idea of downloading that I mentioned above (before reading the Wikipedia entry) and the phrasing “readiness to process incoming signals” from the Wikipedia article along with the explicit mention of “on-line” state. No matter how imprecise and vague it may sound to the casual reader, it resonates with me for, I believe, more than convenience’s sake. How does that take form in my lived in experience? What kinds of things have I experienced?
While in this dreaming state, I’ve ended up in places I’ve never been but seem intimately familiar with. I am not always in the 21st Century. Or on recognizable Earth. Some of the presences that come in contact are not human, but I intuitively recognize them. I frequently jump into other people’s heads, including, on occasion different versions of Ben LeRoy (like I’ve crisscrossed the multiverse). Other times it feels way, way weirder than that and I won’t bother trying to explain it here. I’ve had such profound experiences in this realm that I’m not worried about how crazy it might sound to others and in as much as you can have witnesses for this kind of thing, I’ve had them. But that is another matter for another time should the need ever arise.
(My ego is chiming in right now, insisting that I tell you that I experienced all of this before I did any research. I didn’t read about it and then decide that it sounded cool and that I’d like to have the experience. In fact, I actively didn’t read about it because I didn’t want it to influence my understanding of it. There are plenty of people in my life, many of whom don’t know each other, that can attest to otherwise inexplicable incidents involving my brain perceiving things it had no reasonable way of perceiving.)
In October of 2019 my brain was getting overloaded on a nightly basis. I took notes, sometimes for a half dozen or more pages. Names. Places. But also it was like I was connected to a very large switchboard that had lines running in all directions of time and space. Even for me it was a bit extraordinary. But each night I buckled up and transcribed maybe hoping that I was going to crack some key to the the secrets of the universe.
Then something weird (and I hate using that word here because I know I’m in a loaded environment and some among you are going to say oh, this is where it got weird? but it’s the best language I have right here) happened. The visions started getting darker and whereas I normally felt safe inside them, I started feeling really, really uncomfortable.
Earlier in the fall I’d gotten a download along the lines of “1025-1029” which I took to mean October 25 – 29 and which I further took (without any direct explanation of it) meant that something big and good would come with those dates. It felt, intuitively, like it would be some transition period. If you were following me on Twitter at the time, you, no doubt, saw multiple postings about 1025-1029. It was super imprinted on my brain.
On October 27th I wrote down the following note:
Mt. Calico. You need to go to Mt. Calico and meet mindy or Samantha. You are now a 31 year old dad with two kids and no idea how he’s going to pay for it all. Stay with us here in the light. We’ll come together to make you the light again. I felt like a version of me just died with a thud. It was audible in a sense.It was a fairly dramatic shift. Like my neck went to an angle that utilized a dimension we don’t account for.
It should be pointed out here that I’d never heard of Mt. Calico and the names “mindy” and “Samantha” don’t mean anything to me. Subsequent research lets me know there are Calico Mountains in California but I didn’t see anything specifically called Mt. Calico.
This business about my neck breaking was really terrifying in the moment. I was hyper aware that my neck had just snapped (though I hadn’t moved from my office chair). And that language about dimensions we don’t account for was how my subconscious brain explained it to me. It was not my conscious brain in search of description.
The next section gets back on the tracks for a bit. I see the year 1981. I see what I think is a reference to a couch in my old house (though I’m less clear about that) but then before too long I grew distressed again. A few paragraphs later I wrote —
Felt like I just got punched in the back left of my brain.
And I remember in this moment being genuinely panicked that I was about to suffer a stroke or an aneurysm. There wasn’t anybody else in the room with me but I would have sworn somebody just hit me. I’m reminded of people who tear their Achilles tendon thinking they’ve been kicked even when it’s not the case. Then I willed myself out of a dark spot for a bit, but before long it goes negative again. Here is the last bit of the transmission–
I’m in a suburb of Seattle on a big hill (it feels like A and J’s house but Seattle). There have been rumblings loud enough to drown out conversation. It’s shut down the grid. There’s no electricity or cell towers. When night comes it’s blackness and everybody is frozen in place and then they hear in the distance, the underground rolling noise, again. And they know there’s nothing that can be done. There’s no idea what to prepare for. But folks
But folks…and then nothing. A sentence fragment. A plea. A dead end. I remember there being some distinction between whatever I was sensing and an earthquake. It wasn’t simply an earthquake. There wasn’t any shaking or buildings falling, it was this rolling noise. Thinking about it now, it’d be like if where you are used to jets flying overhead you heard that same noise coming from within the earth.
The rest of October 27th is dark and there’s a heaviness to October 28th. On the 29th I went into a Reiki appointment and kept having the sensation that I was dying. It was so visceral that I grew increasingly worried that I would die on the table and that Sarah would have to call my parents to tell them that I died. I was willing myself to stay alive. The only vision I had that day in Reiki was that I was in a sailboat, in the middle of the ocean at night, and a voice saying –
“You wanted to explore. You wanted an adventure. You wanted to get away from people. Well, here you are. Now what?”
I went home that night and had another round of dark downloads. Then? The feed cut out and I couldn’t connect to anything. At all. This has NEVER happened before and it totally freaked me out. I explained it to a friend – “It’s like if you opened your front door and there wasn’t anything. Not even the promise of far away stars.”
I was also exhausted on a really deep level during those days to the point where I almost fell asleep at a stop light.
On October 28th I got the biopsy done that ultimately ended up with my melanoma diagnosis. Is it possible that my body and brain knew something on a subconscious level and it influenced everything else? I don’t know. How could I?
I do know that when I got the diagnosis on November 1st my brain was pretty scrambled. And I knew then that part of what was driving my fear and anxiety was that I didn’t feel connected to anything. Over the years I’ve felt progressively more connected to a greater universe/power/source/whatever you call it and have taken great comfort in the idea that we are an impermanent state and that there would be something waiting for me on the other side. So in the moment where my mortality was a consideration in ways it had never been, to not feel connected to the larger universe, to not have the sense that I was connected to all time and space, that was existentially terrifying in a way that I will never have the words to describe.
That Sunday morning I woke up to the following message –
Debra Ackerman. Shriner’s Gap, Indiana.
And that, which means nothing to me, meant everything to me. It was like a computer coming back online. There is nothing I can point to in a text book and say This! This is what happened to me! but it doesn’t make the experience less real, nor does it lessen my relief in the slightest.
Since reestablishing the connection, I’ve had regular downloads like I’m accustomed to. I haven’t tried pushing things too hard, letting whatever may come, come. I’m trying to figure out a way to organize and transcribe some of the names, places, etc. and then upload them to see if anybody else can make sense of it. It’s possible there’s nothing to find. Then again, I don’t say that with any certainty. I think it’s important to ask questions and explore because it feels like there is a huge trove of unmined and unrefined knowledge all around us, but we can’t even identify the opening to the shaft.
Perhaps we are the canaries.
Anyway, that’s the weird thing that happened with my brain during the last week of October that I mentioned in passing in my post about the melanoma diagnosis. I’ve been meaning to write this for a month, but haven’t figured out how to say things perfectly. So you get what you get and I get to get it off my chest.
Thank you for reading.
Yr Pal Ben