This afternoon in rehearsal, I experienced déja vu for the first time in quite a long while. I was playing the snare drum, and the five of us were sitting in a particular way, working on a particular song, stumbling over a particular section, and then working out that particular section. It lasted almost a full ten seconds.
This reminded me that I have a drummer friend (as of four years ago, anyway) claimed to have never experienced déja vu, and to the best of my knowledge, he still hasn’t. He revealed that fact while we were on a long road trip, the kind where you talk about everything and nothing for hours on end; it’s one of the best things about being on tour. One of us in the group – there were six of us riding together in a motor home – had a déja vu and described to the others, and that’s how the subject was started. The drummer claimed not to have had one, and we all fell about with shock. “Really? How is that possible? How can you have made it into your thirties without having one?”
At that point, he asked us what the feeling is like, and we had a very funny time trying to describe it. Each of us said miniscule variations on the same theme. “It’s like you’ve experienced the situation you’re in. . .before.”
“Somehow you just know that you’ve done this thing, whatever it is, before.”
“You feel it while it’s happening; that it’s happened before.”
It was like trying to describe an orgasm, or what it feels like to be drunk or high. Each is very difficult to explain to someone who’s never experienced it. For the record, I’ve had plenty of orgasms, and been drunk plenty of times, but still never been high, which is probably a whole separate story in itself.
Monty Python has a classic Flying Circus episode called “It’s the Mind” that explores this phenomenon in a very funny way.
Oh, and if you’re my drummer friend and you’re reading this (assuming that you still haven’t experienced déja vu), it isn’t really like that. It’s more like. . .you’ve experienced the situation you’re in. . .before. Somehow you just know that you’ve done this thing, whatever it is, before. You feel it while it’s happening; that it’s happened before.
Tune in next time when I describe what an orgasm feels like.