A tie between reality and spirituality: How déjà vu keeps me in tune with fate

Deciphering my encounters with déjà vu


Annie Zhang

Graphic by Annie Zhang

My 10-year-old mind races: I’ve seen this before. I remember you, wearing that exact navy v-neck shirt, hands fumbling with two bulky science textbooks, walking in front of me from my left side out of our shared classroom. This is familiar. I’ve already lived this moment already — you, me, this interaction and this moment were safekept in my memory before I even lived it. There’s some kind of unexplainable link between you and I — what is it? 

My mind is fogged with copious occurrences of déjà vu — the jolt of familiarity that sears through my mind has been a lifelong companion. Abstractly, it’s when the puzzle pieces of my present and future interlock, and I feel like I’ve already lived a moment before. Déjà vu is a timetable of sorts meshing the blurred lines of dimensions.

I’m fascinated by this phenomenon, and for the longest time, I’ve been trying to make tangible sense out of it. My déjà vu experiences have been small irrelevant instances — the familiarity of a stranger on a walk home, a friend wearing the exact same outfit I pieced together in my mind or a comment someone made. 

Four days ago, my friend was eating a burger served from the school cafeteria. As she stuck out her tongue for an exaggerated pose, I suddenly felt a jolt of déjà vu, as my mind pieced a link between the real and the abstract. I’ve already lived this moment before — you, sitting here cross-legged on this bench eating this burger, wearing that exact same top. 

It makes me question the profoundness of this notion. I’ve seen on online forums where people describe monumental déjà vu moments, such as re-living the day of their marriage or predicting a car crash. But my déjà vu experiences are ridiculously small tidbits of a random part of my everyday life. If I get déjà vu over such trifling instances — a friend eating a burger of all things — is there really any philosophical meaning to debunk? 

Last week, I was outside to see the sunset at 7:50 p.m. To my left, the row of trees and the silhouette of their countless branches against the blooming pink of the sky churned an indescribable sensation of familiarity. I’ve seen the exact same silhouette of these intricately arranged branches in front of the peaking sunset before, but I can’t remember when. 

As obscure as it sounds, I think there is decipherable meaning behind this intuitive phenomenon. To me, déjà vu is a bridge between concrete reality and spirituality — the woven threads of the present, the future and fate. Every memory and every outcome of a scenario occurs for a reason, as déjà vu allowed me to see a few seconds of a scene in the future and that scene only. Déjà vu could be the messenger between the real world and the world of the future. These recollections we all undergo are not purely accidental, but rather purposeful.

If I had walked at a turtle’s pace, I wouldn’t have met the girl in the v-neck shirt in the hallway. If I went outside at 8:00 instead of 7:50, the sunset would’ve bled away and I wouldn’t have noticed the familiarity of the trees as they faded into the darkness. If my friends woke up an hour earlier to pack a lunch from home, she wouldn’t have eaten that burger in the first place. 

Déjà vu keeps me in tune with what has occurred and what could’ve happened through futuristic visions, a cause and effect chain of sorts that lead me to a specific moment in my lifetime. The pathway I take leading up to these instances unveils the fact that fate is at work. Of all the variations of this exact moment that I could see, fate allowed me to see a replay of this one.  

The fact that I was led to these specific moments, as insignificant as they may be, paints the canvas of a bigger picture — these insignificant moments are the preface to an important facet of my future self. Fate is intertwining the obscurities of future me and my present self through replayed episodes. Déjà vu is a prephase, the crystal ball that grants me a glimpse into the foggy future through a loose memory. Perhaps déjà vu is a telling factor, a momentary peek into what fate has in store for the passageways of life I’ll take.