My brother is in town, staying with me because he has the time and because I asked him to watch the pets while I visit Zack in Minnesota. I cannot wait for this ten-week summer associateship to end; not that it’s been as difficult as I’d expected, but the constant travel is exhausting. We’ve beaten quite a path between Chicago and Minneapolis these last eight weeks (and three days, but who’s counting?). I am happy to have this time with my brother, though, where we can relax and enjoy each other.
My brother and I are very different people. He devours conspiracy theories and fantasy novels, thinks humans are here as nothing more than a happy accident, an exchange of energy that maintains our life cycles. He’s funny and smart but we do not agree on most things beyond beer and True Blood being the best show on TV (oh, and that health care should be universal). He’s here for ten days, sleeping on my couch.
I listen to my brother speak and I am impressed because his logic is, well, logical. Mostly. And yet… I just can’t agree with him. Not because I can’t accept logic, but because I can’t accept a life without some basis on faith. I don’t really consider myself religious, more of a lapsed Catholic who doesn’t have a good grasp on what I believe. But there probably is a god and I like to think I’m here for a reason. I’m still working out the details, but I believe there is a purpose to life.
Last night we got on the topic of death, and what we think happens after we die. His belief is that our “us-ness” ceases to exist when we die and our bodies break down to feed live creatures, such as worms, who take in our energy (and he means ‘energy’ in this instances in a literal, fuel-for-the-body sense, not the New Age-y, aura way), and are then consumed by other creatures, such as birds, etc., basically carrying on the food chain and the Circle of Life (cue Elton John). I mean, I think that literally yes, that is what’s sort of happening. But what about ME, the thing that makes me who I am? My body is made up of the same stuff as everyone else’s, I’m 70% water and all that. But no two people are alike and I believe there is some sort of soul in there, some type of consciousness, me-ness, whatever, that will carry on after my body dies. Otherwise, what is the fucking point?
I cannot believe that our lives have no purpose. I have seen wonderful moments of kindness, of tenderness. I have also witnessed cruelty and sadness. It’s hard to think that those moments are meaningless; what inspires generosity then? What prompts hate? What drives us out of bed each morning and keeps us from doing nothing but eat, sleep, have sex and go to the bathroom? The thought that there is no purpose just seems so ludicrous to me.
And that brings us to where I am now, which is sad. I’m sad that my brother believes that when we die, our existence is over. I can’t imagine losing someone I love and believing that I won’t see them again in some form, someday. I would absolutely panic. I accept death as a part of life because I believe that death is a step toward something else, an unknown but hopefully something peaceful, or someplace that will take me to the next step in whatever journey I’m on.