There are some aspects of reality that are beyond our comprehension. More than any other phenomenon, this is true of time. Time may not be absolute, but only reflect our state of consciousness.
KEY POINTS: Human awareness of reality is limited, making some phenomena impossible to fully understand — time, in particular. In modern physics, time is conceived as spatial rather than linear, as if the past, present and future co-exist. Altered states of consciousness have been known to produce unusual experiences such as time slowing down drastically, or speeding up.
At the age of 16, Tony Kofi was an apprentice builder, living in Nottingham, UK. One day, he fell from the third story of a building. In falls, it is common for people to experience a radical slowing down of time, and Tony’s experience was no exception. He said, “Everything became very, very slow.”
In falls from a substantial height, it is also not uncommon for people to see a review of the events of their lives — or sometimes just a series of the most significant events — somehow collapsed into a few seconds of normal time. Tony had this experience too, although he seemed to see events from his future, rather than his past. As he described it, “In my mind’s eye I saw many, many things; children that I hadn’t even had yet, friends that I had never seen but are now my friends. The thing that really stuck in my mind was playing an instrument.” Tony also saw images of different places around the world, although at the time he had never been out of the UK.
Tony landed on his head and lost consciousness. When he came to at the hospital, he felt like a different person and didn’t want to return to his previous life. Although he felt attracted to music, he hadn’t had the option to study it at school and had never played a musical instrument. No one in his family played an instrument either. Over the following weeks, the images kept flashing into his mind. As he described it, “Every time I closed my eyes, the images were there. The one that really stuck in my mind was me playing an instrument.” He felt that he was “being shown something,” and that the images represented his future.
A few weeks later, Tony saw a picture of a saxophone and recognised it as the instrument he had seen himself playing. He received some compensation money for the accident and used it to buy a saxophone. He practised for hours a day, teaching himself by playing along with records.
He didn’t tell his family about his vision, and they were confused. His parents tried to discourage him, disappointed that he was giving up his apprenticeship for the pipedream of becoming a musician. He tried to gain a place at a UK music college, but as he had no formal music qualifications, no one would accept him. However, he was so determined to become a musician that he applied to American colleges and was accepted as a self-taught musician by the Berklee College of Music.
Also read Human Consciousness in Five Basic Steps
Now Tony Kofi is one of the UK’s most successful jazz musicians. He has won the BBC Jazz awards twice, in 2005 and 2008. Over the course of his career, he has traveled to all of the places he saw during his fall. He now has three children, who he believes he saw during his fall.
Beyond Linear Time
Is it really possible that Tony Kofi glimpsed his future? Did he see himself playing the saxophone because somehow his future as a musician was already established, or did he become a musician simply as a way of bringing his vision to reality? Is it really possible that the children he saw were his own future children, and that he saw his future friends?