What it feels like to die… or my Willy Wonka near death experience.
What It Feels Like To Die: or My Willy Wonka Death Experience
I stepped into my own bedroom and stopped abruptly, there was a man lying casually draped across my bed.
Then suddenly I realized I knew him. An old high-school acquaintance I hadn’t seen in almost fifteen years. I was startled to find him casually reclining on his side, propped up on his elbow looking at me.
“Zack!” now that I recognized him I was happy to see him and genuinely surprised, “what are you doing here?”
“Hey,” he said back, grinning ear to ear with that same infectious smile he’d carried at every party he’d hosted in high school.
I couldn’t believe he was in my room, we had always run in the same social circles and I’d consider him an acquaintance, even a casual if never particularly close friend, but why was he in my room. This thought particularly struck me as I remembered the reason I hadn’t keep in touch with him all these years: Zack had died in a car crash/skateboarding incident a few brief years after high school.
I reconsidered his presence in my room here in Los Angeles and came to the same conclusion; he had in fact passed away over ten years ago.
And I became even more alarmed.
Somehow I was still calm, despite the shock.
“But, you died didn’t you?”
“I did,” he smiled back.
Now at this point you might be imagining all this was sinister, but the exchange was in fact very calm, casual and as real as talking to any number of my living friends. There was no chill up my spine, no spooky ghost tale, just a good guy and a long-lost friend hanging out with me. In a word it was… comforting.
He sensed all my mental processing, trying to work out the details on how this was all possible and interjected, “why don’t you come lay by me for a minute.”
It seemed totally natural to do so… and so I lied down next to my friend, who felt as real and solid as any boyfriend I’ve had, and rested my head in that perfect nook all men have between their shoulder and chest where I fit perfectly.
It was quiet for a moment and I naturally relaxed, matching my breathing to his. I don’t know why he was breathing but he definitely was and my body starting matching count to his.
Until I realized he was breathing faster and faster and my body and breathing were matching pace. I wasn’t winded somehow but that rapid breathing was making me feel light headed.
“Close your eyes,” he said softly.
“I want to show you something.”
As he said it, I felt my breathing speed up so fast that I quite literally start vibrating and shaking. Not my body. My body was still. This was something inside my body, my soul maybe? The spirit that pilots this earthly vessel?
I don’t know.
I just know that as the inside of me vibrated faster and faster, I suddenly became aware that I was shaking free of my body…. And it felt incredible.
I fell in a river once white water rafting. There were a lot of huge rapids and I remember the violence and chaos of being under water, then above, thrust violently back to the air, trying to quickly suck in oxygen before the rapids plunged me back into the darkness of the river. Over and over for what seemed like a long time. Until I finally was so tired and cold and heavy I stopped fighting the water. And at that same moment, a strong hand suddenly pulled me from the chaos, I don’t remember who, I think my father, I just remember feeling this palpable sense of relief that this all merciful hand had plucked my body from the crushing weight of the water and I saw so much sunlight out above the depths of the frigid water it was almost blinding to be in all the bright sun.
This was a little like that same sensation.
Plucked free of the heaviness.
Only infinitely more incredible.
Everything went white simultaneously. I imagine like fainting or being knocked out must feel like, only instead of everything going black, a total immersion of white light closed in on me until it was all I could see. More than see, experience, because I was aware of the light with every sense I possessed.
And so totally enveloped in light, I continued to pulse and vibrate until I had completely shaken free of that body and had the sensation I was a million little particles, no longer one solid thing like a “person.”
As I thought that thought, that I no longer was a body, I jolted into being afraid for the first time since seeing Zack. My first thought was, “my mom is going to be so mad at me if I die!” I don’t know why that thought but I was aware that if I was dead it would deeply hurt my mother, no matter how great this place was… And I immediately felt the lightness and joy stop, and my particle forms start to solidify, I felt instantly heavier and felt myself sink.
“Don’t be afraid,” I heard Zack say, “Just stay here a little longer.”
The moment I heard his voice the fear vanished, I was calm and returned to that incredible vibrating. Joy completely overcame the fear and the only way I can describe it is that I was everything and nothing at the same time. I was still me, but I had no form, and I was also aware of every other living thing, while still being my own unique “thing.”
The fourth principle of Hermetic Law is the Principle of Polarity.
“Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, bur different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.” –The Kybalion
I was that polarity. I experienced it totally and completely naturally.
I was very much alive; even though I seemed to be vibrating so fast I had actually become some kind of light particle or star or some magnificent light source. I wasn’t an effect, I was the source of life, but so were all other living things in that state with me. I couldn’t see Zack anymore, and I didn’t hear his words, it was silent except for an incredible crackling, humming noise similar to the sound of the northern lights I’ve heard so many times in the winter nights of white snow and colored skies in Alaska.
Yet, he was speaking to me, or communicating and I felt every word he said.
As I remained there, not really floating, but just sort of “being,” I thought of Willy Wonka, when the boy wants to be on TV and gets transported from the camera to the television set in a million little pixelated pieces floating overhead… much to his mother’s distress. The thought made me chuckle. That must be what death is like; the departed are the joyous light particles who are still in the room, but much to our loved ones distress “below” us we’ve changed form and they can’t see us.
Zack interrupted my thought.
“Pretty incredible isn’t it?”
The overwhelming joy of it was far beyond the word.
“I want to stay here,” and I really did. More than anything I didn’t want to return to the heaviness of that body and this life. I hadn’t been sad when I left, in fact I really love my life and what I’m doing on this planet, but this was…. On a whole other level than I’ve ever experienced.
“You have to,” he said, but I could tell he totally understood my reluctance, “just remember this is what is real. This is what it all really is.”
And then I opened my eyes at his words and I was alone in my bed on a very early Sunday morning.
That was almost a month ago.
But I can’t shake that dream.
Was it a dream?
I don’t know. Only a few short days later a beloved family member, technically a family friend but someone who I loved like a father, passed away peacefully with his daughter and wife at his side.
When I travelled the many hours by plane and car to his funeral, I found that while I missed him and will always miss seeing him when I’m home and where he should always be because he has always been, I wasn’t sad … because of my dream.
I think I was treated to a guided tour of what death looks, luckily on my part without the trauma of injury to my body, and what that feels like…. my friends, it is magnificent. I imagine this wonderful man, so filled with love not just for his family but the people he served as a doctor for every fifty years, for the friends of his children and beloved family members and I think, he must be in that experience looking on us and want us to know that joy. Just like my old high school friend Zack knows it and was a messenger for me on the dream plane.
I’m in no rush to die, believe me I enjoy life too much to be in hurry, but I hope when it’s my time, I can remember the peace and overwhelming joy of that next experience.
“People they come together, people they fall apart. Nothing can stop us now, ‘cause we are all made of stars.” – Moby