Desert Revelation: Dealing with Life on My Own

People often tell me how sorry they are that I’ve had no signs from my dead life mate/soul mate, but the truth is, even if he does still exist somewhere, there is no reason for him to try to contact me. A sign from him wouldn’t change anything, not his life, not his death, not my missing him. And it wouldn’t change my life.

I am not an Ebenezer Scrooge who needs to be shown the effects of my evil ways, nor am I a George Bailey who needs to be shown the effects of my benevolent ways. I do the best I can each day, trying to be kind to others, trying to be kind to myself.

All my life, I’ve studied religions, philosophies, mythologies. I’ve even had strong beliefs at various times, and have lived accordingly, though those beliefs have shifted through the entire spectrum of theological thought. I haven’t just been living haphazardly with nothing in my head but me me me. Whatever lies beyond this life, whether we retain our individuality or our energy becomes part of the “everything,” it isn’t germane to my life here on Earth since this is the only life I know. Understanding the truth of my existence won’t change anything I do.

I still question, of course, because that’s what my life is all about — quest(ion)ing. As with all quests, it’s the journey that counts, not the elixir of truth you find at the end. Even if you were shown the truth ahead of time, until you become the person who understands that truth, the truth remains obscure.

And so is this blog post — obscure. But I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to put today’s desert revelation into words. I am still prone to strange and mystical thoughts on my daily walks in the desert, though the thoughts could be the result of heat baking my brain instead of true insights. But this one feels true.

As much as I would like to talk to my mate, to find out how he’s doing, to know if he’s glad he’s dead, it wouldn’t change anything. I call him my soul mate because while he was alive, we had an incredibly strong connection, but I don’t think he’s actually sharing my soul. He’s his own person, on his own quest, and the further I get from our shared life, the more I feel the truth of that. Besides, I have my own quest to deal with, and it’s all I can handle right now.

Grief: Haunted by the Hard Questions

One of the more confusing aspects of grief after the loss of a life mate, a child, or someone we were deeply connected to is that we are haunted by the hard questions. Who are we? Why are here? Is this all there is? Where did our loved ones go? Will we see them again? What is the meaning of life, and probably most haunting of all, what is the meaning of death?

Many of my fellow bereft read everything they can find about such matters of the spirit, but I didn’t — I’d spent years on a quest for truth and reality, and I’d come to believe that God is the spirit of creativity that fuels the universe, and we are each a part of that creativity. I was content believing that our spirit/energy returned to the whole . . . until my life mate/soul mate died. Then all of a sudden, I didn’t want that to be the truth. I wanted him to continue existing as him, as the man he was.

I do think there is a deeper reality, I’m just not sure our conscious selves are a part of it. We are a product of our genetics, our hormones, our brains (anyone who has had to cope with an Alzheimer’s sufferer or a loved one who had cancer in their brains, and found a stranger in that familiar body, knows how much the brain controls who we are). So what  survives, if anything? The part of us we never knew — the un-sub-conscious? If so, how would we know who we were after we were dead? Is it just the energy in our bodies that is released? If so, for sure we would not know who we were.

On the other hand, without some sort of afterlife, life simply does not make sense. What’s the point of it all? To survive? For what — more survival until there is no more survival? To help others? Why? So they can survive? For what?

If there is life after death, what do you do with eternity? You have no ears to hear music, no eyes to read or watch a movie, no legs to walk, no hands to caress another, no mouth to talk, no brain to think. Sounds like a horror movie to me. And what will we do if we meet again? Bask in each other’s light? That would get boring after a minute or two.

When we met — my soul mate and I — I still believed in a cosmic plan, and I had the feeling that he was a higher being come to help me on my quest to the truth. But now? I no longer believe there is a universal truth, and I don’t think he’s waiting for me, though I act as if he is. It’s better than believing that he is gone forever.

And perhaps he does still exist in some form. What do I know? One thing I have learned from my grief is that a human life is a spectrum. You don’t notice it so much when you are both alive, because you are both in the moment, both always the people you have become and not yet the people you are becoming. But when one of you dies, his becoming ceases, and you see his life as a whole. The person he was when you met is every bit as alive in memory as the person he was the minute before he died. The youthful man, the middle-aged one, the healthy one, the sick one are all merely spaces on the spectrum of his life.

It’s possible the spectrum of a human life is the same sort of spectrum as light — beginning long before the visible part appears and ending long after the visible part disappears. Of course, the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aren’t light but sound and radiation and other invisible waves, so whatever exists outside of the visible human spectrum might be something completely different from we can ever imagine.

It’s also possible that our bodies are like television channels, receptors for certain wavelengths, so that our “souls” actually reside outside our bodies, but still, the selves that we know are defined by life in our bodies. So, again, we come back to the same question, what of us survives?

Grief is an isolating experience, made more so by our spiritual quest. While our family and friends continue on their same daily path, we find ourselves going in a completely different direction. There are no answers to our questions, but still, they haunt us, and we try to figure out a way for it all to make sense.

But life will never make sense because we are still here and our loved ones are gone. Where is the sense in that?

What is Life? What is Death? And What do Such Questions Have to do With Grief?

I always like when people think out loud here on my blog, when something I have said strikes an answering chord, and often when they’re not sure if they are making sense, they make the most sense to me. The only good thing about my grief is that I’ve met some wonderful people who are struggling with the same questions I am, and I’ve had some thought-provoking discussions about the meaning of life, death, grief, and whether any of it matters.

Leesa from Leesis Ponders believes that it does matter. She wrote on her blog:

I have spent my whole life asking if there is a god and if so what does it have to do with me.

And for me, life matters.

The search for self that blends into all matters.

The way we act towards others matters.

The way we raise our kids matters.

The way we treat the less empowered matters.

Leesa has been here with me through almost two years of grief, letting me know that my grief matters, that life matters.

In a previous post, Falling Into Grief, I wrote: Before people fall in love, they haven’t a clue of its true power, and then it washes over them in a life-changing moment. Before you fall into grief, you haven’t a clue of its true power, but it too washes over you in a life-changing moment, and all but drowns you. Even though I’ve experienced so much of what grief does to a person, I still can’t believe its power. The way grief reflects falling in love as in a very dark mirror, there has to be a hormonal component. I know stress releases hormones, as does shock. Adrenaline courses through your body, and there are changes in brain chemistry that produce hormones. Your immune system goes on hold.

Leesa responded: one thing you are absolutely spot on about is that we don’t know the power of falling in love nor the power of grief, nor indeed the power of love when ones baby is born until we actually experience it. The reality of life seems to be that our most intense experiences in life are about our deepest connection to each other. These experiences are life altering and this goes way beyond the DNA imperative.

For me personally then questions upon questions arise. Why is this intimate connection our deepest need, our greatest joy?  What is pain about? What is the sense of being alone about? How does our idea of separating off into couples and nuclear families contribute to our sense of loss when death occurs? Why are we so interdependent on each other, on the planet on everything else. And, what is death about? 

I know that many people feel they have their answers to that last question, some theologically, some via science but personally I don’t. Another bunch of folk seem to think we can’t answer such questions. I don’t agree. I think since many of us have dumped traditional theological answers or scientific reductionist responses as inadequate we’ve kind of given up questioning. I think we need to keep questioning because whilst we are subject to many biochemical reactions to life events there is a deeper reality.

Of course none of this helps a person smack bang in the middle of grief. It still has to be lived through. But I’m convinced that we need to keep asking. I hope this makes sense to what you’ve written…I’m not sure it makes exact sense to me. I guess I just feel that once we truly understand more our experience of these events will be perceived differently…perhaps the pain will be the same but perceived differently. I’m not sure really but I am sure we don’t know enough to interpret meaning yet.

Leesa’s question, “What is death about?” haunts me. She’s right — many people do think they know the answer, but there is no way to know for sure, which is why it’s called a “belief” and not a “surety.” I do think there is a deeper reality, I’m just not sure our conscious selves are a part of it. We are so much a product of our genetics, our hormones, our brains (anyone who has had to cope with an Alzheimer’s sufferer or a loved one who had cancer in their brains, and found a stranger in that familiar body, knows how much the brain controls who we are), that I’m not sure how much of “us” survives.

There is a theory that our bodies are like television channels, receptors for certain wavelengths, so that our “souls” actually reside outside our bodies, but what does that have to do with life in our bodies?.

My friends laugh at me (affectionately) when I ask what we’re supposed to do with eternity. We have no mouths to talk, no hands to write, no arms to hug, no eyes to read or watch movies, no legs to walk.

On the other hand, if human life is a spectrum as I postulated a few days ago, then perhaps the spectrum of a human life is the same sort of spectrum as light — beginning long before the visible part appears and ending long after the visible part disappears. Of course, the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aren’t light but sound and radiation and other invisible waves, so whatever exists outside of the visible human spectrum might be something completely different from we can ever imagine.

When I get lost in the questioning, I hold tight to Leesa’s credo that such such questions matter, that life matters.

A Search for Meaninglessness

The death of my life mate — my soul mate — has posed such a conundrum for me that for the past sixteen months I’ve been questioning the meaning of my life. Life didn’t seem meaningless when he and I were together. I never felt as if I were wasting time no matter what we did — even something trivial like playing a game or watching a movie — so why do I feel I’m wasting time if I do those things alone? Don’t I have just as much worth now that I’m alone as I did when I was with him? Of course I do. It’s the things themselves that feel a waste. I feel as if I should be doing something significant. Something that has meaning. The problem is that very little seems meaningful. So much of life consists of basic survival tasks such as eating, sleeping, chores, paying bills, which are essentially meaningless (or meaninglessly essential). Even more meaningless are the things we do to kill time, such as playing computer solitaire, watching television, or writing blog posts.

When I was out walking in the desert recently, I had a revelation of sorts. I decided that if my life mate still exists somewhere, if he still has being, if life doesn’t end with death, then life has an inherent meaning — whatever we do or think or feel, no matter how trivial, has meaning because it adds to the Eternal Everything. If death brings nothing but oblivion, then there is no intrinsic meaning to life. So a search for meaning is meaningless (except on a practical level. We all need to feel we are doing something meaningful so we can get through our days and even thrive). Life either has meaning or it doesn’t. Meaning isn’t something to find but to be. So, I’m going to search for meaninglessness, or at least accept it.

Such thoughts seem as meaningless and as trivial as the rest of life. They get me knowhere. (I’m leaving that typo, because . . . wow! So perfect!) But I need to find the bedrock of life, a foundation on which to rebuild my life, and meaninglessness seems as good a place to start as any.

Multi-Asking

Ever since my life mate died, my mind has churned with unaswerable questions.

Is he warm? Fed? Does he have plenty of cold liquids to drink? Is he sleeping well? Does he still exist somewhere as himself or has his energy been reabsorbed into the universe? Is he glad he’s dead? He brought so much to my life, but what did I bring to his? Why can’t I see him again? Why can’t I talk with him? Will we meet again, or is death truly the end? Was it fate that we met? Fate that he died? I’ve been finding comfort in the thought that he is at peace, but what if he isn’t? What if he’s feeling as split apart as I am?

Will he recognize me if we ever meet again? Will he be proud of what I become? He helped make me the woman I am today, but what’s it all for? Where am I going? And why? It does seem as if my life is a quest for truth, for understanding, but what’s the point? I suppose the journey is the point, but still, at the end of a quest story, the hero returns with the magic elixir. She has a purpose for what she’s gone through. Do I have a fate, a purpose? But what about him? What was his purpose? I try to make sense of his death, but how do you make sense of something senseless?

How do I find meaning, or at least a reason to continue living? Do I need a mate in order for my life to have meaning?

Can a person drown in tears? Yesterday someone told me that life on earth was an illusion and so my mate still exists. But if life is an illusion, why couldn’t it be a happy figment? A joyful one? What’s the point of pain? Of loss? Of suffering? Why did he have to suffer? Why do I? Do I have the courage to grow old alone? The courage to be old alone when the time comes?

Why do we cling so much to life? In the eternal scheme of things, does it matter how long or short a life is? Does it matter that he only had sixty-three years? Does it matter that he was alive? What is the truth of life and death? If he’s in a better place, why aren’t I there? If life is a gift, why was it taken from him?

Is there anything universally important? Love, perhaps, but not everyone loves or is loved. Creativity? But not everyone is creative. Truth? But what is truth? Is the human mind, with its finiteness, capable of understanding the truth? If nothing is universally important, does anything matter? Maybe it’s better to let life flow, to try to accept what comes, but isn’t the point of being human to try to make a difference? To try to change what is?

Supposedly, you can have a relationship with someone after they are dead, but it’s all in the mind, in memory. What’s the difference between that and fantasy? And how much of life is lived in the mind? All of it? All except the present? But even the present is lived in the mind since the mind (or rather the brain) takes the waves of nothingness and transform them into somethingness. So what is reality? The intersection of all minds?

I know there are no answers, I am simply . . . multi-asking.

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