A Life Full of Possibilities

Connections make life worth living, but more than that, connections make life itself.

At the most quantum level, possibilities connect and become waves. Waves connect and become particles. Particles connect and become atoms. Atoms connect and become molecules. Molecules connect and become cells. Cells connect and become gametes. Gametes connect and become us. We connect and become communities. Communities connect and become countries.

A matrix of connections in our brains makes thinking possible. An entire matrix of connections holds us to the earth and makes living possible.

Despite these long strings of connections, I’m beginning to see that disconnections are almost as important as connections. When my life mate/soul mate died a little more than three years ago, the connective tissue of my life disintegrated, and my world lay in a heap of rubble at my feet.

Since then, more connections have disintegrated, adding to that heap of rubble. Some of those disconnections were interpersonal ones — friends and family. Other disconnections were intrapersonal ones — thoughts, hopes, even my very identity.

Often during these past years, I have despaired at the thought that only bleakness lay ahead of me. But bleakness is but one possibility. Within that pile of rubbish lie many new possibilities. Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones, getting to start all over with a new set of possibilities. As people have been telling me for the past three years, life is such a big place with endless possibilities I have never dreamed of. They have told me the universe is unfolding as it should, and that it is not yet finished working in my life. They have told me that wonderful things lie ahead of me.

What of that is true, I don’t know, but what I do know is that no matter what fate has in store for me, I am not yet finished working in my life. Just as I am gradually sorting through the detritus of my shared life, getting rid of things for which I no longer have any practical or emotional need, I am sorting through the rubble of my shattered world. Maybe I will find enough shards to rebuild my life into something workable, or maybe I will have to go out and look for pieces I can use to rebuild my life into something special.

Since my current responsibilities keep me from actually going out in the world and physically searching for new connections, I am starting with me, rethinking old beliefs, trying on new thoughts, discarding old hopes, and dreaming new possibilities into reality.

Because, at its most basic level, life is nothing but possibilities.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Believing Impossible Things

In an effort to see life in a new light, I’m going try to believe impossible things. I’ve always wanted to know the truth, but grief has thrown so many of my perceptions out of whack that I don’t know the truth of anything any more, so I’ve decided to believe things that are untrue. For example, I’m going to believe I am at the perfect weight. And maybe that’s the truth. Who’s to say? Only me, and I’m not talking.

And hey. Why stop at weight? Maybe I’ll believe that I myself am perfect. Now that I think about it, that is the truth. Since I am the only me in the world, whatever I am is perfectly me.

I’ve always been very self-aware — knowing both my good points and my bad points, my successes and failures — but if the universe is unfolding as it should be and I am where I am supposed to be, then there can be no good points and bad points. There can be no successes and failures. There is just me, a creature born of stardust, the culmination of billions of years of creativity and change. Odd to think that I (well, all of us) are a part of this process.

Maybe we are the process.

This thing called grief has given me an interesting perspective on life. A day or two after my life mate died, I couldn’t visualize him, so I looked at the only photo I have of us, and I wept because I did not recognize him. When that photo was taken, it was an exact likeness of him, but during the subsequent years of illness, he lost the fullness in his face, first becoming distinguished looking, then gaunt. When he died, I an idea/image of him in my mind, perhaps a composite of him through the years, perhaps what he actually looked like near the end, and that single photo I have of him does not resemble the person I knew. Now, however, the photo is how I remember him since it’s the only image of him I have. (Occasionally I can remember his smile or the way he looked when he died, but mostly he has faded from memory.) The way he looked in the photo and the way he looked at the end are both parts of his process, so I’m content remembering him when he was still relatively young and healthy.

It’s not just our internal images of a person that changes to accommodate the vagaries of age; our internal image of the relationship itself changes to accommodate the vagaries of life. Most of the transformation of a relationship from youthful and passionate to aged and (perhaps) wise and companionable goes unnoticed. We are always who we are. We are always in the present.

In other words, we are a process. Do we have an existence beyond the process? Someone told me recently that we can’t prove we exist. Maybe this is why we can’t prove it — whatever we try to pin down is already gone, lost in the past.

I never had much use for photographs of myself, but after my mother died, I inherited a bunch of photos taken of me when I was young. I put them in an album and I leaf through it occasionally, seeing the progression of myself from a baby to a young woman, trying to figure out what those girls have to do with the me of today. I’ve always felt like just me, and yet, (for example) I cannot remember this little girl in the photo, cannot remember being her. She has receded far into my past. Or perhaps she’s become subsumed into my current persona. Either way, she no longer exists even in memory.

But she is part of the process of me.

(Hmmm. Maybe there is something to this idea of believing impossible things. I’ve already found one new way of looking at life.)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

Pat is Prologue

Yesterday I mentioned a revelation I had in the desert — a question, really. What is the point of being me?

It had suddenly struck me that I am truly part of the unfolding universe. There I stood baking under the sun, my sweat evaporating into the space around me, my feet solidly on the ground, air flowing in and out of my lungs, connected in dozens of ways to the world and, ultimately, to the universe.

When the universe came into being, creating itself in the big bang, everything that ever would be came into being at the same time. The matter of the universe — stardust, to be romantic — has been connecting and disconnecting, rearranging itself in an infinity of shapes and forms, for billions of years. At one moment of such creativity, I was born. I am of the universe, perpetually a part of it. Although my body seems to be a thing in and of itself, it continues to exchange matter with its surroundings. In a quantum sense, my few electrons are indistinguishable from the whole.

Here I am, a creature born of stardust, at once eternal and ephemeral, physical and psychical, emotional and logical, alive yet forever dying.

Everything that ever happened on earth and in the universe since the beginning has culminated in a single person — me. Everything that happened in my life up till now has created the person I am today. So, what is the point of being me?

This is not a religious question. Nor am I looking for simplistic answers or rehashed dogmas. Instead, it’s more of a credo or a different way of looking at the world and my future. What do I want to do while in this body made of stardust? What do I want to feel? What do I want to think? How do I want to live? How do I keep from wasting the miracle that is me? How do I celebrate this connection to the unfolding universe? What is the life that only I can live? In other words, what is the point of being me?

(You, of course, are the culmination of life up to the point of your birth, but it’s up to you to ask your own questions.)

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