Pardon that this post about the Fourth of July is not perfectly timed to the holiday.
But I discovered only last night that Shirley MacLaine was there at the birth of America.
As MacLaine explains in her 2001 book, I’m Over All That: And Other Confessions, two authors writing on past lives “claimed through channeled sources” (whatever that means) that Ms. MacLaine is the reincarnation of Robert Morris, the patriot who personally financed a big chunk of the American Revolution.
(I myself learned of Robert Morris’s identity when I started teaching at Robert Morris College — now Robert Morris University — many years ago. To add to your bucket of Revolutionary trivia, there is a statue of Morris on Wacker Drive in Chicago.)
But back to the book: I picked up this MacLaine book a few weeks ago in the laundry room in my building. We have an informal book exchange on a shelf above the washers. How could I not pass up this book by Shirley? I never read one before.
Of course I had heard of MacLaine’s belief in reincarnation, synchronicities, and all of the related woo-woo. Note that I am not making fun of her spiritualism and convictions. The older I get, the more I am drawn to these ideas myself.
This odd little gem of a book is organized into chapters of things that Shirley is “over,” and things she is “not over” as well. For example, she is over going to funerals and having sex, but she is not over being frustrated by packaging that she can’t open. I can relate.
In addition to her mundane issues, she also writes about not-so-everyday ruminations, like how she committed “cosmic suicide by cutting the silver cord attaching my soul to my body” during the destruction of Atlantis. She is regretful of this act and calls it “cowardly,” wishing that she would have gone through the devastating experience with everyone else. Someone should make a movie about that whole scenario.
And on this Fourth of July weekend, I discovered that Shirley is “not over the Founding Fathers.”
Citing a passage from another book she wrote, Shirley says: “The men who signed the Bill of Rights and drew up the Constitution said they wanted to form a new republic based on spiritual values. And those values they believed in went all the way back to the beliefs of Hindu scriptures and Egyptian mysticism. That’s why they put the pyramid on the dollar bill — in fact the dollar bill and the Great Seal are full of spiritual symbols that link way back to long before the revolution…” She goes on to say, “They (the Founding Fathers) believed that cosmic truths could be applied to creating harmony in a new society. They believed that people could be self-governing and self-correcting. They warned us against being ignorant of ignorance. They cautioned us against losing the foundations of our spiritual identity.”
She continues with a commentary about the Founding Fathers feeling a “chromatic link between music and the rainbow and the scales of sound and color,” and the connection between the Iroquois Nation and the signs of the Zodiac. That’s where I got confused.
But her connection to the American Revolution doesn’t stop with her having actually been there in a past life. According to the book, Shirley was once allowed the privilege of sleeping overnight in Jefferson’s bedroom in Monticello. There, she felt his presence, “quiet, but commanding.” And she heard him whistle, just as the guards do every night. One of the curators gave her a lock of Jefferson’s hair. She is so connected to those guys!
I can understand why Shirley worries about our country wandering “far off our transcendentalist track.” Nonetheless, we are lucky here.
Right now, right this morning, I look out my window and see people strolling toward the beach, relaxed, calm, free (except for the big coolers they’re dragging behind them), and looking forward to a lovely day in the sun to do what they want to do with whomever they want with a relative sense of security (unless some teen throws an M-80 at them). And right now, somewhere else, people are at war, dying, fighting for their own existence, struggling passionately for their unalienable rights, for their own ability to pursue happiness, their freedoms.
Our Founding Fathers were really something. It’s good to be reminded by Shirley MacLaine that their spirits are still alive and with us. We sure do need them.