Peace, Love & Reincarnation

I’ve been watching a documentary series on CNN called The SixtiesIt’s a ten-part look at the influence the 1960s had on American culture and society, with episodes devoted to topics such as the Cold War, JFK’s assassination, the Space Race, and Vietnam. It covers the gamut from television and politics to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.

And I find it completely fascinating.

I was alive in the 60s, albeit barely. A whopping eight months of my life existed in that decade. Yet, I find its influence touches so many different aspects of my life, I’m amazed.

I identify with the 70s and 80s more. I suppose that’s natural. My parents tell me I witnessed the moon landing, but for some strange reason I can’t remember a single moment. I suppose that might have something to do with the fact that I wasn’t quite three months old when it happened. While Neil Armstrong was making one giant leap for mankind, I was spitting up on my mom’s shoulder. I was a real underachiever in comparison that summer.

gap0030-01-01-fpDespite my limited engagement with the turbulent decade, I am inexplicably drawn toward it. I have been fascinated with the Vietnam War for as long as I can remember. And Woodstock. Peace signs, hippies, tie-dye. My dream vehicle is a VW Bus (and a very specific one, at that; I want the split-windshield version, which was only manufactured until 1967). I love psychedelic music. Janis, Jimi, The Doors, all are  faves. Harvest gold and avocado green appliances. Beaded curtains. Retro furnishings. Tang. All of these scream me.

We were all watching the season finale the other night. It focused on the counterculture movement: hippies, LSD, psychedelic rock, Haight-Ashbury, the Summer of Love, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Woodstock and free love. While Tara and I verbally embraced the ideals of the hippie movement and appreciated the causes they were championing, all Audrey saw was a bunch of long-haired, dirty drug addicts. Which led to a big discussion on idealism, individualism, and the extreme divides that sometimes split generations.hippie-history-bus

I tried to explain as best I could, from the perspective of an outsider looking in (my birth year notwithstanding), how the countercultural revolution was an honest attempt to shake up the status quo. That it wasn’t just an excuse to get stoned and make love to everybody you met. Those were just perks! (I kid, I kid). Hippie ideals espoused cultural diversity, spirituality, sexual freedom, environmentalism, heightened consciousness, and self-sufficiency. They rejected materialism, opposed war, and believed mainstream society was ultimately flawed and corrupt. Their goal was to develop a Utopian society free from constraint.

Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s hard not to appreciate that type of thinking.

Here’s where this post gets fun…

A while back, my blogging friend Ron wrote a post about reincarnation. OK, it was 2008. A long while back. He had an experience while visiting Japan in which he felt such an overpowering sense of deja vu, he began to question whether he had once lived there and taken part in the rituals he was observing. I can relate, because I sometimes think I have lived a past life, too. I have long had this unshakeable idea, crazy as it sounds, that I was a soldier who died in the Vietnam War sometime in the 60s.

I will be the first to admit this sounds far out (and not in the “groovy” sense of the phrase). I am one of the least spiritual people in the world, and don’t have a religious bone in my body. But maybe that very ambivalence is what allows me to be so open to the idea of reincarnation. Because I do believe in an afterlife, just not a Pearly Gates version. And if there can be an afterlife, why not a beforelife, too? If the body is merely a vessel for the soul, couldn’t that soul travel to different bodies?

About ten years ago, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall came to my hometown. On a dark and dreary autumn evening plagued by a persistent light rain and bitter chill, I made a pilgrimage to the wall. I just felt drawn to it. My then-wife was not interested in going, but in truth, I did not want her there anyway. When I got there, I ran my fingers over many of the names chiseled in stone. It felt like I was searching for something, though I had no idea what. My sense of deja vu was very powerful that night.

I just…I don’t know. It’s a weird thing, and I feel funny writing about it. Almost like it’s too personal to share. Many reading this will find the idea ludicrous. I guess at this point, I really don’t care. All I’m saying is, if this nagging idea is somehow true, it would explain a lot about my life. Who I am and what I believe in.

If you’ve ever read stories about individuals who have reported past life experiences, they are pretty fascinating. A lot of times, children have knowledge of people, places, and events they otherwise should have no way of knowing about. Here is one such story I find particularly compelling.



Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

22 thoughts on “Peace, Love & Reincarnation

  1. I don’t find your belief or suspected belief in reincarnation at all ‘odd’, Mark. And yes, it does sometimes feel like a very personal and private part of oneself to expose. You risk being ridiculed. Nobody likes that, unless they are some sort of masochist and you don’t strike me as that sort of person. I keep my spiritual beliefs to myself for the most part. At the very least I will say my relationship with Divinity is between me and Divinity, that’s it. I 100% believe in the Afterlife and as you put it, the Beforelife. Some feelings just can’t be explained. Not everything needs to be explained. It’s called Faith, be that in yourself or a higher being.


  2. Mark, thank you so much for not only openly sharing your thoughts about reincarnation, but also your experience while at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. And of course, I totally believe your feelings of having lived back then because I, like you, believe in past lives and reincarnation. As you and I have shared before in our discussions through comments, reincarnation seems like a totally natural process. To me it’s like being recycled. And each time we come back, we bring with us all the lessons we learned in our previous lives. So there is great purpose in reincarnation – to evolve. I don’t believe that I only get one chance (life) on this planet.

    Can you and I prove reincarnation? Of course not. But neither can anyone’s spiritual beliefs because beliefs come from faith and a strong “knowing.”

    Oh, and btw, I read the story and watched the video clip on that 4-year old boy. WOW! Thanks for sharing that, buddy!


    1. “It’s like being recycled.”

      Ron, that’s a great analogy! And it ties in with all the hippie stuff beautifully. You’re right. And I have done a lot of reading on the topic, so I know that evolving and learning lessons is a big part of that philosophy. Based on some of the past relationship decisions I have made…I still have a lot of learning to do!


  3. I grew up in the 60’s, with older cousins and friends I came of age during that time and completely still am rooted there and in the early 70’s. I don’t find your possible belief in reincarnation at all odd, many people believe.


    1. I’m a little bit jealous you got to experience all that firsthand. I asked my parents what it was like living through the year 1968, and they did not remember. Not because they were fried back then – hardly! – but because “that was a long time ago.”

      My parents were most definitely NOT hippies.


  4. Isn’t déjà vv the weirdest thing? Mine are never during anything profound, cultural or historical, but they are rather disturbing, nonetheless.

    The people I babysat for in the 70’s were sort of hippies, I guess. Their kids were terrible! And their idea of snacks were sunflower seeds. Can’t say I’m a fan of that generation! Ha!


  5. I believe in past lives! I can’t recall feeling like I’ve known what mine may have been. But I am fascinated when I read about cell memory. Like Ron’s story where he felt he lived out the rituals he was watching, or you feeling drawn to that particular memorial. Other instances of past life have crept up for people in the form of unexplainable pains. For example a person will experience chest pain in their 40’s, but be leading a perfectly healthy life and have no symptoms or causes when visiting the doctor. But under hypnosis, the person might be able to explain that in a past life they died of a heart attack at 40. Muscle memory/cell memory. Birth marks can also be an indicator of past incidences or wounds. I think it’s so interesting. Thanks for sharing your story!


  6. Hi Mark just like you i have a fascination with the Vietnam war and also feel that in a past life i died there,as i was growing up i was always more into the conflict in se asia then ww1 or ww2 so much so that i bored other kids to death with my rambling on about it .strange thing is i have no connection to the war in Vietnam as i was born in 1973 in Ireland and still live here, but the feeling that i was there is stronger now than ever. Relieved to know that at least i’m not the only one who is feeling this way

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Likewise, it’s gratifying to hear of at least one other person who is experiencing a similar form of “deja vu” – or at least entertains the possibility of a past life. America’s involvement in the conflict did not end until 1973, so who’s to say that you weren’t a soldier there once upon a time?


  7. You are not alone Mark. I have had several past lives. I think Vietnam was my last life. I worked perhaps worked intelligence but that’s just a part of the things I see and could be wrong. Curiously, I returned to the service in 85 and survived this time but was born with an image sense of Déjà Vu for a while and is going slowly away. If you want to know more that is my Face Book account below. Add me as a friend and send a message after,


  8. I thought it was only me! Born in August of 68′, my sixties ” experience” was leftover music and news clips of the decade, but for some unexplained reason, I feel I lived it, and like you, a forgotten casualty of the war that needs explanation . Occasionally, I have extremely somber moments full of tears and memories of Vietnam that ” I” never experienced , I’m a sad soul)-:


    1. That’s fascinating, Shawn. Thank you for sharing. I really believe there might be something to all of this…if nothing else, I can assure you that you are certainly not the only one with these feelings.


  9. I was born in ’73 and have been very drawn to the decade before my birth my entire life. I was raised to believe in reincarnation, but never made the connection between possibly living in that era during a past life and my love of the counter-cultural movement and classic and folk rock until very recently. I always assumed my feelings of nostalgia couldn’t be from a past life because there wouldn’t be enough time between death and re-birth. As I have gotten older, though, the nostalgic feelings have deepened, and expanded beyond “soul recognition” of the music. If I see photographs of simple things, like classrooms, TV sets, and pantries from the ’60s, it is deeply familiar. I believe I may have died very young in the Vietnam War. I don’t think I was in Vietnam, I think I was on a surrounding island, or even Korea. That would put the time frame in the late ’60s. What’s most interesting is that I don’t think I really am drawn to hippies today because I was drawn to them in that life. If I were a soldier, then I wouldn’t have been. Instead, I think I am drawn to energy (the peace movement) in this life that balances actions and beliefs from the past life. In this life, I am female.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fascinating! You bring up some intriguing points. Makes sense that you would be drawn to the peace movement today after theoretically being killed in a war in a past life. That could also explain my fascination with hippies. There’s a lot to be said about balances…

    Definite food for thought.


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