When I went to less-frequent blogging I warned that you’ll never know what you’re going to get; it’s whatever the week brings.
The following falls well into the “whatever” category.
I was dead.
It didn’t much matter, even to me, how, when, or why I died. I was simply done with that phase of my life and ready to move on.
But move … how? Where?
The afterlife I’d landed in was from no religion known to mankind. There were no harp-slinging angels. On the other hand, there were also no politicians being dangled by pitchfork-wielding demons over vats of their own boiling verbal excreta. No ferrymen, three-headed dogs, or Elysian fields. And if I’d reached some Buddhist waystation and was about to be reincarnated as a cockroach, there were no signs, literal or figurative.
I stood in a vast, vague gray. I couldn’t tell you where it began or ended. Judging by the acoustics, I’d say it was a vast, gray room, not a vast gray universal void. I’d be tempted to call it featureless. Except that it did have one notable feature.
It had zombies.
Every once in a while, a zombie would lurch out of the smooth, cottony nothingness. They were the same sort of undead that populates movies and TV shows. Mindless shamblers, dripping blood and bits of themselves. But they arrived only one by one, not by the traditional horde.
And though they were eager to consume flesh — in particular, my flesh, me being the only meal around — they didn’t manage to be scary.
That’s because, shortly after I turned up, another figure stepped out of the opaque gloom. It was a tall, almost spectrally thin, red-headed man clad all in white. He stopped the zombies by … scowling at them. Really sternly.
Yes, it’s an anti-climax, even an embarrassment. But in the afterlife (at least this singular afterlife), there was no point in shooting them or cutting their heads off because they were already the dead undead. They merely needed to be intimidated into better behavior.
With his perfect, piercing scowl, the Guardian kept zombie after zombie from rending my flesh.
I immediately understood that this thin, white figure was my spiritual guide. That was good, because I was ready to figure out how to move on toward a productive afterlife.
He said nothing I can recall. I perceived that his role was to watch over me while I figured out next steps for myself.
Even without dark or light, this place had days.
By the second day, I had learned to do my own anti-zombie glare. Noting that, the Guardian beamed at me as if I were a precocious child, which I thought was silly. How hard is it to scowl, after all? But he seemed to think I’d learned something impressive, and learned it impressively fast.
On the third day, I extracted my soul from my body (don’t ask me how; I dimly recall it required a wand), held it in the air for a moment, then lowered it into a big book I held.
My soul was a slowly whirling disk of lavender and blue light with glittering sparks, a miniature galaxy about 18 inches tall. Another, smaller circle merged into it at the bottom. As I lowered it toward the book, it became still, flat, and clear, like an image printed on flexible transparent sheeting.
I took it to the Guardian and asked him, “Is this what a soul looks like?”
The Guardian, as if he was beholding an astoundingly sublime creation and awestruck by my ability to produce it after a mere three days, replied, “This is what YOUR soul looks like.”
I knew then that whoever ran this afterlife was expecting great things of me. Though I’m not normally one who expects great things or goes after them, I felt a new surge of desire and determination to go on — to whatever still unknown mission it would be my job to fulfill. Not because the unknown chief of the afterlife wanted it, though it was nice to have the moral support, but because it was my mission and my destiny.
I felt inadaquate and absurdly over-praised, but I had a job to do and I was going to rise to the unknown task.
At that moment, I began slowly to rise out of the dream. I felt remarkably at peace, floating into consciousness with no break between sleep and reality.
But even as I lingered there between dream and morning tea, I saw clearly that if I actually do have a soul (which I doubt, but who can say?), it wouldn’t be some filmy pristine object of beauty.
After a lifetime of human compromise, striving, selfishness, indignation, imagination, fear, heartbreak, doubt, rage, error, folly, ego, lust, laughter, and general use and misuse my soul would surely look like a ragged old shop cloth — bleached of its natural color by endless washings, but forever marred with black grease and probably a spatter or two of rusty blood.
See? Very whatever. This was the dream I had last night.
Does it make any sense to you?
After several years of having few dreams that I could remember, and remember only in snatches when at all, I’ve been dreaming vividly. These are long, complex dreams, sometimes raising trivia or images from my ancient past. (Two nights earlier a dream ended when I found my way “home” after being lost and discovered that four of my roommates were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I know those turtles only from one cute but forgettable movie decades ago. I woke from that dream with all their charmingly ridiculous Renaissance names — Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello — on the tip of my tongue, even though I haven’t thought of them since leaving that movie theater ca. 1996.)
I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something, but my conscious self isn’t smart enough to get it.
I was planning this week to blog on the question of trust. As in trust, but verify. As in when to give or withhold trust and that terrible moment when you recognize you’ve given trust undeserved to someone who’s used it to commit harm.
But this is what came, instead.
Maybe later for that. We’ll see how the currents of life run.