Imagine someone gives you a really great gift.
It’s so great, and you know this because they tell you, “This is the greatest gift anyone will ever give you.”
But then they say, “Now don’t open it.”
“What about just a little peek?,” you inquire (sweetly).
“Nope – you can’t look at it.”
“Well when CAN I look at it?,” you ask (slightly less sweetly).
“Oh, you will know when it’s time.”
That would work for me for about, oh, five seconds. If that.
But this is just the way it is with the human soul. We get one – or at least we are told over and over that we do, and that everyone gets one – but we are not allowed to look at it.
We also can’t meet it, greet it, have a casual chat with it. We don’t know what it sounds like, looks like, smells like, or what kind of personality it has.
We have no idea how much it weighs (as in, if a lot, maybe we can have that chocolate cupcake for dessert after all).
I happen to cohabit with a particularly curious and impatient inter-species flock.
My parrot, Pearl, likes to do everything “right away, no waiting.”
My tortoise, Malti, will not give up – ever – when she wants to go somewhere or eat something.
My box turtle, Bruce, pretty much wants to be wherever he is not right now doing whatever he is not currently doing.
So when I began to read Mary Roach’s book, “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife,” it didn’t surprise me at all that the entire book feels like meeting up with a group of curious and impatient humans who, just like me, are literally trying their utmost to corner and tackle the human soul.
“Spook” taught me that history contains a lengthy list of enterprising scientists, many of whom (unlike me) belonged to some of the most prestigious research and medical organizations of their day, who tried in every possible way to see, hear, weigh, measure and otherwise catalogue and cross-reference the soul.
In cases where they were unable to acquire sufficient data to draw definitive replicable conclusions, they didn’t hesitate to, well, devise their own slightly less data-driven theories.
From peering inside cadavers (to try to locate the area where the soul was residing – temporarily, of course) to placing consumptives on cots on top of scales (the better to measure their weight loss when the soul jumped ship at that pivotal moment), there were few lengths to which they apparently would not go to capture a real live human soul for study.
If you’ve been following me here for the last year or two, you probably already know why reading this book instantly made me feel so much better about being me.
After all, having faith doesn’t come easily to me, either. Nor am I willing to “take it on faith” that X, Y or Z will happen right after, well, death, I guess.
In other words, even an authority-expert can tell me all day long that I have a soul and even map out its complete path of transit after I, um….but I still want to see it, hear it, touch it, and ask it questions myself. Preferably in advance.
It doesn’t matter who that authority-expert is, either. Even if they have had a near-death experience themselves. Even if their dead brother told them personally, making a special in-person trip all the way from the afterlife (or wherever he went) to say so.
I’ve never seen my own soul, but that doesn’t mean I think I don’t have one. It also doesn’t mean that I think I do have one.
To know for sure, I’d have to see it. Shake its hand. Hear it introduce itself as, “Hi, I’m your soul, very nice to meet you.”
But at least now that I’ve read “Spook,” I know I am far from the only one who is utterly consumed with making sure this happens – hopefully as soon as possible.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you find faith and belief to be a help when it comes to the matter of your own (alleged) soul? Or have you had an experience that has eased any worries or questions you have on that particular front? If not, what do you think you would need to know – or believe – for sure that the soul exists and that you personally have one? I’d love to hear your insights!