Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Contemplations of the Afterlife

I have always been fascinated by certain supernatural lore...especially as involves ghosts and immortality. Of course Anne Rice is a big favorite of mine, even though I've been sorely disappointed in her more recent output (I think The Tale of the Body Thief was her last good book). The idea of cheating death, or of remaining after death, or of living beyond natural means, anything that allows you to see what happens next, absolutely fascinates me. Like I shared before in this blog, my feeling about death is one of is my feeling about life. I want to know what happens next.

I am also fascinated with the idea of being able to go back and fix the mistakes of our past. The film Peggy Sue Got Married has always fascinated me, presenting the ability to go back to one's youth and do things differently, to get a chance to fix some horrible mistake you made that you've always regretted (and what made the movie even more interesting was that she made so many of the same mistakes anyway). For years I have lain awake nights thinking about my past (not so much nowadays, but I spent a lot of time on this in my twenties), seeking those little places in my life where I took a wrong step, contemplating the moments where my life took one direction instead of another, and thinking about how my life might now be different if I had chosen a different path.

Which all makes this week's Wednesday Whimsy very interesting to me (I was going to use last week's in the Week in Surveys I did last Friday, but I couldn't think of anything to say about that topic).


What do you believe happens after death? I don't have any specific belief of what will happen. I think it's possible that one might be reincarnated, that one might become an earthbound spirit, or one might ascend to join with the souls of those who have gone before. Or some combination of or choice among these. What I hope happens, after I die, is that I am released from the flesh to become pure spirit, that I am reunited with loved ones who have gone before, that I find out what it was all about, that all the mysteries are revealed, and that I am able to watch from beyond what happens here. That is my idea of heaven.

If, when you died, you were instantly transported to the moment in your life from which you would have done things differently, what would that moment be? That's the one I often think about. My first answer would be birth, because I really started making mistakes the moment I was born to the wrong people. But to be serious, I think I would go back to being 13 and start over from there (knowing what I know now). Puberty would be a walk in the park if you actually knew what was coming. I would spend more time with my Grandpa and get him to tell me about his life before he had his strokes. I would do better in school so I would have more choices when I reached adulthood. I would have drunk a lot of water and taken better care of my skin. I would have started having sex a lot earlier. I would not have started smoking. I would have begun exercising when I was young enough for it to make a difference, before my body set. I wouldn't have wasted all that time falling in love with straight boys. I wouldn't have colored my hair.

The really interesting question is this: would I have not become an alcoholic? That's the tricky one. If I weren't an alcoholic, I wouldn't have met most of the friends I now have. So I think I would have allowed myself to become an alcoholic, but I wouldn't have wasted so much time on it and would have gotten sober a lot earlier.

Some say that when you die you remain in the place you were most connected to in life. What would that place be for you?

It would probably be my house, just because I've spent so much time there. But I have never really connected to places...I tend to connect to moments and feelings. If I could choose a moment, it would be a performance, the moment went the crowd applauds and you feel all that love.

Describe a recent dream. This morning I had this dream, a very confused dream, that involved ice cream, Canada, children, falling in love, and moving away from home. In this dream, I had been to Canada and fell in love with someone, and then I came home (not to my own home but to some fictional place that seemed to be a converted watermill on the Colorado River) and had to hide this new love, who was somehow connected to this pint of ice cream, from my family of small children and a father (who was not my father, but rather some TV version of a father, sort of a tall forty-ish Wilford Brimley with red hair and a plaid shirt). He found out about it because I wouldn't leave this pint of ice cream, which was over six feet tall, in the freezer...instead I snuck it into the bathroom with me and talked to it, where this Dad found me. He told me I had to choose between my family and this pint of ice cream, and so I said I'd move out. I didn't have anywhere to go, or any money, but I was going to go anyway (I should point out that I wasn't me in this dream, but someone who might have played me on TV...a young Kyle McLaghlan, perhaps, or a late-teen Matthew Laborteaux)...after making this decision, I pulled a piece of paper out of my pants-pocket (which was down by my ankle...I was in the bathroom, you remember)...I don't remember what the paper said, but I started weeping because I knew I was going to grow up now and become a man, leave my home and begin to relate to my father as an adult, and go to the person in Canada who loved me. Then I woke up.

Hmmm. Weird dream. Oh, well...there's plenty of weirdness in the world. So until next time, may your ice cream give you lots of love in the bathroom.

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