Author's note: If you decide to read this series, it needs to be noted that some components may be found to seemingly contradict each other. Other components may seem to be out of place, tangents that make little sense in the context of the whole. Others have become irrelevant, and some now seem incorrect, especially to me. At times I have considered revising, changing and deleting portions of this series. Instead, I have decided, or realized, it is important that all elements stand as they are. This series is about a journey, about the changes I have undergone and the evolution that has happened. For this reason, this series will never be revised or edited as it stands here, which the exception of some entries being rewritten for clarity or to afford additional details originally omitted.

--Keith J. Carlson
May 6, 2004

"Are you the reason I'm here?"

It is difficult for those who do not share in the experience to comprehend our way of life. To those who have not felt death, the near-death experience becomes a kind of mystical field of study on the level of astrology and witchcraft. Yet, for those of us who have travelled beyond "the light" and returned, life takes on new dimensions. As was once said to me by another who shared in the experience, "We see the world in different colors that others cannot comprehend."

The combination of certain factors in the near-death experience has a definitive impact on the course that is followed by the individual in question. There is a dividing line between two very different definitions of "near death." To perceive the light and to pass through the light is the most major line. Those who have seen the light return to their lives with a sort of affirmation and a feeling of knowledge and faith. Those who have passed through and walked upon the landscape of death are forever changed. Life can no longer be lived in the way it was lived before. Most things become small and trivial. The value of distractions is multiplied, as these distractions keep the mind from consuming itself.

"The life you left is no longer yours."

In what I have read and heard first hand, a common part of returning from the death experience is the sense that the life that once was is no more. Relationships with people that existed before the point of death unravel and sometimes disappear completely. As someone whose death was caused by suicide, this sense is increased. I am reminded that I chose to give up on the life I led prior to my experience with death. I am reminded of it constantly. Soon after my return, a horrible series of events drove a permanent wedge between my best friend of sixteen years and myself. Soon after, another series of events completely seperated me from the greatest love of my life. I was reminded that I was willing to surrender these people by taking my life and that I now had to travel another road.

"Everything is just the way it is supposed to be."

One of the biggest problems other people have with those who share in the death experience is our acceptance of elements of life, both good and bad. This is because we don't really see things as good or bad. It is all shades of gray. Many of us have memories of both the past and the future and tend to think many "moves" ahead, like some kind of human chess player. This terrible event that happens today is but a building block for something that will evolve in days to come. The death of a friend, for example, will make it possible for someone close to them to move in a new direction that will bring him somewhere he needed to go. This movement was impossible before the death of the individual in question. Everything is a lesson. Everything is a sign. Everything is but another piece of the road leading towards completion of the puzzle of one's life.

In my travels I have met a number of people who share in the death experience. Sometimes I seek them out and sometimes we come across each other by "chance." Not that I really believe in the concept of chance any longer. One man I met some years ago had been in a car accident and died as a result of head injuries suffered in that accident. Somehow he fought back and regained life in this frame of existence. Soon after he divorced his wife, bought a sports car and began travelling the country in search of something. Much of what he went through was misunderstood and labelled by family and friends as a "mid-life crisis." It confused and befuddled him because he could not escape the need to seek out certain things and gain an understanding of this life. Many who have experienced death become estranged from family and friends. One of the things I have so often tried to teach to those who share in the experience is that this is normal. It is generally the hardest part of the experience to deal with.

"I don't know how you can be so cold."

People have expectations in life, both of elements of their life and of the people they meet. Sometimes these expectations are so engraved in stone that they cannot abandon them under any circumstances. Those who have walked in the valley of death are different in this regard. The grounding that people need, the sense that there must be something to hold onto, no longer becomes essential. Once the person who has experienced death accepts him or herself as different than who they were before, this changes. As life changes, these changes are accepted rather than fought. Changes in fortune, employment, friends, lovers, and current events become merely mile markers on the road they travel. These things are meant to happen and everything has a reason. People talk about it. We live it. Fighting against the tide and crying over spilled milk is a drain on precious resources. The energy and focus must be turned forward and not backward. The collapse of a relationship where one's partner is crying in your arms has a different kind of impact on the individual who has been dead. There is empathy for the other person and yet little sorrow for oneself. The loss is necessary. The change is needed. We know that. It makes us seem very cold.

"You could never give me everything I want from you."

The motivation human beings have to seek out gratification of their personal needs is a strong one. Browse singles ads sometime and read about people and their demands for a partner. Financial security. Goal oriented. Career minded. Long-term relationship. Honesty. Devotion. It is a list of crap. Then turn the page to see those who don't have the good looks, fashionable clothes and new sports cars to bargain with. They want someone who will love them for who they are. They've surrendered to second best because they think it is all they deserve. Page after page of human sell-outs.

So few human beings really admit to what they really want. There is a sensation in a fast food culture to go out and shop for those things we think will bring us the happiness and stability we crave. I've been in love more than once. More than once I've had women profess their love for me. That love didn't put us together. Yet, that love still exists and it is always there. Once there was this woman named Christine. She convinced me to move to Orlando. She told me she was in love with me. When I moved she left me. Because she knew I could never give all my love to one person. Often I wonder if that is something anyone should do.


I am beginning a journey I stepped away from three years ago. I abandoned what I came back to this world in order to do. This is but the beginning.

This node is part of a series intended to provide first hand witness to the near-death experience. I believe this is why I am here on this particular website. As I return to the path I once knew, it will be reflected here. The reflection is important. It was a sign. dis/sid.

Sometimes I am not really aware of how much time has passed. At other times I am all too aware.

There are times when you think you understand what is, what was and what has become of things in the now. At other times you realize you misinterpreted the data, you forced square pegs into round holes, and you tried to make a neat and tidy explanation of things that never quite made sense. Oh, they made sense on some level, but on another level it just didn't add up.

Almost a decade ago I was fairly certain the blueprint put before me during my experience with death had played out. It had been concluded and I was free to go on with living a so-called normal life. I followed dreams to a place where there was no snow, met a series of three women who more or less fit the fable of the three queens I was told would mark my journey. Yet in order to make this explanation fit I ignored key elements of the dreams and visions I'd had. I'd most obviously ignored references to the three queens marking out three eras of my future life. The first queen would give me the gift of faith and a sense of purpose. She would begin a new era where instead of frivolously puttering around and having a life that was a non-stop party I would seek to help and guide others. I would put my gifts to use rather than using them as parlor tricks. Indeed, this would take place after meeting Tina, and she changed my life, setting in motion a new era. It was the era of "The Dead Guy," almost always played out as the intriguing and half-mad stranger that wandered into people's lives for short periods of time and then wandered out after a time. It was always his hope that his passage through those people's lives had meant something. Often he was told that it did.

In those days The Dead Guy came to believe his mission was complete, that this was the purpose and therefore the end game. He ignored another aspect of the dreams, reminders of his lifelong habit of giving up on what he truly sought and settling for second best. That decision always resulted in terrible consequences. Many years before he had decided to change his major in college at the last minute because he believed he would be incapable of achieving the academic goals he original planned to seek out. The result was disenchantment, loss of interest and eventually dropping out of college completely. The pattern was most obvious in my relationships with women, however, and it was this element of the pattern that was to be played out in order to remind me of the importance of not giving in to the temptation that settling for something other than what I aimed for represented. The series of three women that played out in that Chili's restaurant in the late 1990s did not represent the appearance of the three queens dreams told me about. The first woman, Tina, was indeed the first of the three queens, but the second was the temptation that allowed me to escape from the seemingly fruitless pursuit of Tina. The third was the woman who helped me find my way again. They were the ancient pattern, not the predicted future.

This sounds less confusing than it actually is, since the prophesy of the three queens mirrors the same pattern. We all follow patterns in our life. It is part of the nature of human behavior and makes our mythologies all the more predictable. Sometimes patterns nest inside of one another. The dreams told of three queens who would mark three distinct eras of my future life. Three women in rapid succession could not possibly represent different and distinct eras. They all belonged to the same era. The other part of the prophesy told of the nature of the three queens. The first would draw me in and remain just out of reach, keeping me seeking her until I understood, until my faith was restored and my belief in myself gained a deeper sense of meaning, all of which happened during two years of interaction with Tina. The second was then to bring me down to earth after I had become too confident, too cocky, too sure of myself and came to believe I was invincible. It was her purpose to destroy me. The only destruction that happened with Christina the Martyr (as she is known in the mythology) was that my life came apart while I was involved in a relationship with her for reasons completely unrelated to our relationship. She did nothing to destroy me or deflate my pride. If anything she reminded mr to never stop believing in myself and that I didn't need her to justify my existence.

The real identity of the second queen was the woman once known in the mythology as The Muse. Just as my ego became so big I was convinced I could not fail she called me home, where I found a land in chaos and a woman rapt with self-destruction. She would use my own past and my own weaknesses against me in order to break me down and turn me into something she could dominate and direct. She even played at my greatest fear, that someone would come to believe that by killing themselves they could become like me, all as part of a game to destroy me. The destroyer queen killed The Dead Guy, laying waste to all he had been and leaving only the core center of who I am to rebuild itself. She damaged me in many ways, some that were not clear until years later, and no square peg needed to be forced into a round hole. She was the destroyer queen, and she began a new era in my life, the era of The Mad Monk, a man who kept himself away from people because he was too terrified that he would fail them. He lost faith, his lost his sense of purpose, and he clung in feeble ways to hunks of straw and broken memories in order to claw himself through each day. Through all this he tried to fake it, trying to pretend he was still the person he had been before. Eventually he couldn't fake it any longer.

The irony was that through all this the only employment I could get was working with people I needed to counsel, support and give therapy to. And I faked it through all that by relying on academics, on that which I knew and had learned, using not empathy and emotion but my knowledge and experience. It made me less effective, less real, and at times very transparent to those who were paying attention. I gave up hope of ever regaining any of what I had known, any of what I'd been, and began to refer to myself as retired. I'd lost the biggest battle of my life and there was nothing left to do but send the old knight out to pasture and let him come in from time to time to share his knowledge and wisdom with those who might gain something from it.

The old dreams told of three queens. Each would mark a new era. The first marked the era of discovery, of faith and the belief that you can do anything. The second was the destroyer, who would destroy the kingdom and lay waste to the landscape.

The third queen was the healer, she who would heal the wounds I had suffered and give me the strength to rejoin the battle with a new sense of purpose, one that was not guided by pride and a feeling of invincibility. The new sense of purpose was to come from drawing strength from others, of trusting others, of believing in people and in their own purposes. It was not about me being the one who healed the sick and the troubled. It was about me realizing I was mortal and that I needed others just as much as they needed me.

Thus was born the era of The Doctor.

Whoa, not so fast jackass...

I probably am skipping something here. More than likely I kind of jumped over it because it is rather difficult to explain and I am not as good of a writer as I once thought I was.

I cannot, for the life of me, explain the third queen. The healer queen is the most confusing enigma I have ever encountered in my remembered existence. She does not make any sense whatsoever, and yet when I tell her that I don't understand her she just smiles and says, "I'm not that hard to figure out."

My world changed when she entered it, although she had been in my world for several months before she actually entered it. A moment in time happened and the lights went back on. Until that moment she had just been another person who wandered around in my midst while I was just sitting quietly waiting to die. I didn't notice anything special about her. Then, one night, I sat and watched her from a distance. She was crying. And in that moment she became the most beautiful creature in all of time and space. I could not explain it, and I've given up trying to understand. For a moment I sat and told myself, "Well, if only I was still who I used to be I would do something." And then I realized I wasn't who I used to be. Not who I used to be a decade ago or five years ago, but I wasn't who I had been five minutes before.

I got up. A curious smile washed across my face. I began to laugh in the face of destruction and I threw the door open. I walked into my workplace and began to make announcements. I started talking to everyone in my midst, noticing things about them I'd never noticed before and handing out compliments based on these observations. Then I walked over to this beautiful woman with tears in her eyes and completely off the top of my head said to her, "I would like to start writing you love letters. Would you mind if I wrote you one every day?" Her face brightened and she told me, "I'd like that very much."

Someone stopped me and asked me, "What has gotten into you? Who are you?" They were confused, unable to comprehend why I was suddenly so filled with life instead of being so grim and tired.

And my response came without any thought whatsoever. "You can call me The Doctor."

Time passed and many people I worked with pulled me aside, asking me what had happened and how it was that I was suddenly allowed "the real me" to come out after being so guarded and isolated. The change was obvious not just to me but to everyone who encountered me, to everyone who had known me before that moment in time when everything changed.

"I'm inspired," I told them. "For so long I have been without inspiration, without faith, without anything but a sense that I was just playing out the string. I'd given up."

It is hard to tell a story that has an unwritten ending, but I know this era can only continue for as long as the ending remains unwritten. I've come to realize I've never before been in love. I've loved many women, I've loved many people, and often that love has been very deep, meaningful and romantic in nature. In those days I believed that love was a passing moment in time, a song that played for a while, a song you kept playing until you got tired of listening to it. Some songs lasted longer than others, and some haunted me. This was a completely different song. It was a completely new form of music I'd never heard before. Never before had it profoundly affected me in the way my love for the healer queen affects me. It isn't just because of what she represents, as in the fulfillment of a seventeen year old prophesy, it is what happens to me, to my heart, to my soul, and in to very fabric of who I am every time I see her or think about her. She is completely unlike any creature I have encountered in space and time. And she is an enigma, a woman I cannot be with, a woman I cannot hold onto or have by my side, but she is also a woman who will never let me go. She can't be represented by a song, she is the song, she is the music and I can't stop writing words to go along with that music.

When I look into her eyes all I see is reflections of a golden sky. Every time I look into her eyes I have no doubt and the sky turns to gold.

A couple of months ago we were both at a holiday party. She was there was the man she shares her life with, and she came up to me at the bar. I was ordering myself a beer and looked to see her standing beside me, smiling one of those uncertain smiles people have when they aren't sure how the next five minutes is going to play out.

"Can I buy you a drink?" I asked.

"If you want. Or I could buy you one."

"What are you drinking?" I asked.

"I'm drinking whatever you're drinking."

"I'm having a beer."

"Then I'm having a beer."

I was planning to leave town, and she knew this. I had a job offer back in Florida and felt I was in a situation that couldn't possibly end well. I was in love with a woman who was deeply entwined in the life of another man, a man I knew made her cry far more often than he made her smile. I told her, "This is why I need to go." Without any further explanation she knew what I meant.

"I'm sorry," she said, with true meaning behind the words, but without any real indication of which part she was sorry about.

"You have nothing to be sorry about," I told her. "You know that you will always be my inspiration, you'll always be my muse."

"I really am sorry," she said, but this time with the smile of a person who has just received a Christmas gift they always wanted but never expected to find under the tree.

She thanked me for the beer and turned to go. I called out her name and she turned back to me for an instant, and in that moment I felt like I was enraptured in a scene from a movie.

"I love you." It was what I wanted to say, what I needed to say, and although I've said those words many times in the past this time they meant something they'd never meant before.

Since then a strange series of events has transpired. The job offer in Florida took a strange turn. After months of pursuing me they dropped their interest in me quite suddenly and decided to no longer so much as return my calls. My car broke down, an old sign that in the past came when I was trying to leave some place I needed to remain in a little longer. There are other signs as well, but my new friendships with people here and my new outlook on life has made this seem like a place I need to remain in, at least for a while.

As I once wrote to the third queen, "The future is not written until it is published in the present."

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