One day, hopefully some far off day from this day, the bodies that carried us through this strange life, this bizarre blip on the timeline of all things, will fail. Frailty will come, forgetfulness too, and all we call simple now will not seem to be so. We will wither, wilt like flowers drying long after the water in the vase has dried up, chalky line around the pennies in the bottom, copper to keep the stems straight. This day is coming, it began its slow march towards us the instant of our birth, the shadow behind our shoulders connected to the soles of our sauntering feet, the whisper you swore you heard, the fingertip hovering over the center of your spine, weightless but heavier than gravity.
We know this, acutely aware in an often anxiety ridden existence, we spend thousands of hours and billions of dollars trying to exercise it away, diet it into submission, distract it with entertainment or recreation. We fear it, my goodness we fear this pause at the end of life more than all things, don’t we? Petrified to the point of stillness, and often. We hide from it in those we love, we ignore it in our own symptoms, putting off the visits to those that will show it with x-ray clarity or ct scan efficiency, trusting that the bliss we find in the ignorance this gives is worth it, it’s insulating and soft and comforting against the cold wind of understanding. Still, we fail, still, we go, and we’re left floundering when it’s not us, but them, that go before us.
And in this, we ask questions, one more than the rest, over and again into the ether, into the hymnals, into the faces of robed men in cathedrals grand or therapists sitting with notebook and pen:
What is beyond this, where do we go from here?
What IS beyond this, what will be when the final mist lifts from our days and we see with great clarity all that was obscured? Will I see you, all of you I have loved or held, met or chanced upon, again?
We are taught by those that teach many a dozen things on what comes after the end of this time, some say Heaven, some say a great and dreamless sleep, some say we begin again. Some tell us of a nothing that should not terrify, but calm, some tell us it’s this same cycle, this same loop, over and again for all eternity, atom-sized changes almost imperceptible each time around. Some find comfort in scripture, some find solace in science, some push these questions back into the deepest caverns of their own mind until they are forced to ask them, procrastination as a survival mechanism, the ignorant bliss that keeps them warm when nights get cold and dark fingers nudge closer to the necks of us.
Some assign more weight to the end than they do to the journey to it, live in such fear that they forget the days still left before the days cease arriving. Some spend all energy on all that could go wrong before they are ready, though they know in the guts of them, they never will be. Some repent and hope all they're told of washing evil hands of evil deeds will stay true, some know of the lies they were sold, and so tremble.
I do not know what is beyond this, I’ve no certainty to offer, nor does anyone who claims to do so. We are infants fumbling for our own feet, the lot of us, and those who claim otherwise are either fools, or the liars mentioned above. We are what we believe will come, we are the architects of our own afterlives, and I believe this. I believe as Buddhists believe, that the light we see in the stunning and starlit instants before these eyes work no more, is the light we’ll see when we begin again. I believe in transition, seamless as silk, between this time and the next, these bodies and those that will carry these souls on another go-round. I believe we are the after ashes of exploded stars, the matter that refuses to be destroyed, and that we move on and on and on until perhaps, just perhaps, it’s not skin we need at all to see all that was, all that will be.
I believe because it warms me to believe. I believe because the deeds I do while in this suit of flesh must be tallied, not excused away by hands clasped and desperate words plead into forgiving ears, because I believe the way we live dictates the way we’ll return, the tribulations that will try us when we do. We are the walking ramifications of consequences unforeseen but called upon, we are the balance karma imposes, forgetful that we control it by what we do, by how we love, by the empathy we’re built to hand out, alms to the offering bowls of the universe.
I do not know what comes when the final mist lifts, my eyes are as clouded as any others, I’ve not the gift of sight through the fog, I’ve not a single skill save the redamancy for all that love me, perhaps even those that do not, though this comes harder. I do not know what comes, I just know there is nothing there to fear. All things are in balance, though it may not seem so, all things own an equal, a backwards doppelgänger wandering this place as it wanders, and for life this is death. While behind us that shadow hand reaches, in front one of light pulls us forth. We have life while we have life, and we are lucky to do so.
Do not fear the ends of us, do not dwell in the damp cellar of despair for the day these bodies fall and faint and fail to rise again, no. Fear instead the life spent worrying of this day, this beautiful day promised to us the moment we opened our eyes to the light of this time, this lap, this experience. Fear the life of stagnation that turns these waters to swamps, and steals the magic from our souls.
I do not know what is beyond this, and I do not need know, for I know what is here, I know what is now. I will hold it tight to chest and wrap it around me and pull in others like tendrils with its strength. I will see you there, beyond these shores, when the mist finally lifts, but until then, I will see you here, I will love you here, I will find you, Here.
What is beyond this,
what when the final mist lifts?
Will I see you there?