Something very strange happened to me this afternoon.
I was at work at the time, and more than a little tired. In between two appointments, I sat back in my chair, and as one will, I began rubbing my face with my hands. And then this happened.
It felt like I wasn’t touching my own face. Oh, I could feel the familiar contours of my skull, the skin and the bone beneath, but it wasn’t as though I’d ever touched them before. It felt as though I was touching a mask – a wax mask belonging to someone else.
And it was the same with my hands. I could see my hands, I could feel them on my face, but it was as though I was using remote-controlled manipulators to touch myself. In other words, I felt as if I wasn’t this composite entity of proteins and calcium, water and bacteria, mites and protozoa that calls itself Bill which was touching its face. It felt as though I was sitting inside some kind of biological robot called Bill, and I was someone else entirely.
And I felt as though, if I wanted to, I could just step out and walk away from the robot.
It wasn’t any kind of out of the body experience – rather the reverse. I didn’t feel like I was out of my body, I felt as though I was myself, but in something that wasn’t my body. I don’t know how to explain it any better than the idea that I was in one of those deep sea diving suits which are more like mini-submarines than anything else.
|[Atmospheric Diving Suit]|
I must repeat that this was not a dream. It didn’t happen in the middle of the night. It was in the mid-afternoon, and I was not only awake, I was at work, and both my assistants were in the room with me.
How long this lasted I can’t say. It couldn’t have been longer than thirty or forty seconds at most, I suppose, but while it was going on I had no sense of time. Then suddenly everything seemed to drop back into place, and I was inside this biological machine which comprises all there is of me. I was me again.
I don’t believe in any such thing as a dissociated spiritual entity, soul or whatever you’d call it, so I am at a loss to explain just what it was that happened to me this afternoon. I think it was some kind of temporary neural short-circuit in my brain’s wiring system. After all, anyone who knows me is aware that my brain’s wiring isn’t all that good and tends to blow a fuse once in a while. But I have never had this kind of short-circuit before, and I’m not aware of anyone else who has.
I’ll just add one more – totally speculative – point.
I said that I felt as though I was sitting inside a robot I was controlling, and I could get out and walk away if I’d wanted, didn’t I?
Well, I wonder what might have happened if I’d tried to do just that.