I’ve spent much of the past month moving the last of my belongings out of Kris’s garage, storage shed, and house. It’s amazing how much Stuff I still has there, even after nearly two years of moving, and even after several years of purging before that. Now, though, all I own is here with me in the condo…or in the storage unit that Kim and I have rented across the river.
While much of the work to move my Stuff was tedious (and overwhelming), some of it was fun. For instance, I’ve spent several hours sorting through boxes of papers and notebooks, skimming my old essays and classwork from high school and college. (Why was I keeping these things?)
In the process, I stumbled upon some unexpected gems.
Here, for example, is an epiphany I wrote in my Astronomy class notebook during my junior year of college.
Maybe things don’t need to have a beginning and an end. Maybe such constructs are just our attempts to impose what we can know and comprehend onto what we observe, which may be incomprehensible and unknowable.
Perhaps everything is cyclical — the universe just goes on and on. We do, though our intellect does not. Where did we come from? We came from a sperm and an egg, which grew and flourished as cells were transferred from food to us. We grew from food, which grew from something else.
When we die, we will not pass away. Our remains will be absorbed into the ground to feed the Earth, and our minds will pass away. But our remains will serve to replenish life elsewhere and our cells will become part of other living beings — an endless cycle.
The body belongs to nature and to the endless cycle of life.
So, where do our minds go when we die? What happens to that energy? How and why do we think? Our physical self is part of a never-ending cycle, but what about our mental self? Is our mental energy just a by-product of the physical nature of our beings and doomed to non-existence when we die? Or is it possible that our mental energy is absorbed into some sort of “psychic ground” to be born again in other lives?
Crazy stuff. There I am, at the age of twenty, trying to find an argument for reincarnation and the rebirth of souls. There’s nothing in my past that would have led me to that, and it’s an idea I discarded almost immediately. It’s only recently — since I’ve been dating Kim, who believes strongly in past and future lives — that I’ve begun thinking about these ideas once more.
I like the twist my youthful meditation brings to the subject. Instead of suggesting that our souls might be reborn whole from one life to the next (which seems to be the traditional view of reincarnation), I’m suggesting that our “psychic energy” might break down to become food for other souls, just as our bodies will break down to become food for other bodies.
In a way, this does happen, even leaving aside reincarnation.
Also while sorting my Stuff, I happened upon the eulogy I wrote for my friend Paul a few years ago. Here’s how I ended it:
Paul is gone now — but he’s not. I’m reminded of him every day in countless little ways. First thing in the morning, when I get out of bed and walk downstairs, I have to shuffle sideways like a crab. My bum knee hurts. That’s Paul. When my knee hurts, I think of Paul, every single time. It’s as if a piece of him is in me. When I hear U2, I think of him. When I get on my bike, I think of him. And every time I meet and talk with one of you, I will think of him, too.
So, maybe our mental energy doesn’t return to some sort of “psychic ground” when we die — maybe it’s a process that happens our entire lives. Maybe we’re constantly feeding people with the substance of our souls, so that pieces of who we are will linger long after we’re gone.