Birth, Death, and the Afterlife/lives

Birth– I was born with a twin sister and soul mate. I got this idea from Plato’s Symposium–Aristophanes’ speech. In it, he says that the reason we have sex and stuff is because originally, the people were all like one blob with four arms and legs and two faces. But they didn’t do what they were supposed to, so the gods cut them in half, and then they spent all their time looking for their other half. So my sister and I are identical twins, who used to be one blob that got split up by the gods and now we’re two people. I love her dearly.

Many people start out as twins, and one absorbs the other. Most pregnancies fail before the woman even knows she was pregnant. For these reasons and many others, I have no problem with abortion. A fetus isn’t a baby and killing one doesn’t make you a murderer. Let me repeat that: Fetuses are not babies. They are fetuses. They have not yet experienced the painful separation of birth, that initiation into the life of the living. Pregnancy is a magical thing, and it’s so wonderful for people who want babies. But on the other hand, when we have so very many people who are unloved and the Earth is feeling encumbered by our overuse of her resources, why would we want anyone to enter the world who is not wanted here?

I have a form of birth control that will probably kill my fetus if I get pregnant anyway, thus negating the need for an abortion (an IUD). I’m not childfree. I’ll probably have kids someday, though the idea terrifies me because I don’t want to subject my children to the crappy world that’s coming.

Also, kids come from sex. That’s why they have mommy’s smile and daddy’s eyes. They are the physical coming-to-fruition of their parent’s love, two people literally becoming one to create a third, their own personal mix-and-match game of genetics. So I don’t understand why sex is so very hidden from them. Kids are inextricably related to sex due to their not being able to exist without it. It really creeps me out how everyone is always trying to hide it from them. Wouldn’t it be more healthy just to acknowledge that sex exists and that’s where babies come from and that’s why you should do it responsibly? Why should we tell kids who accidentally walk in on their parents that they were “just wrestling” or whatever. Why do we make up the stork? Why do people tell their children that sex is bad (as my parents did on at least a weekly basis)? Clearly, sex has some repercussions, which are often bad. But sex itself is life and joy and communion with the universe. It creates the children who we hide it from. No wonder we’re all so messed up about it. It’s not shameful. But neither should we have sex willy-nilly with whoever. It is sacred.

Death and Rebirth– People die. People eat dead things every day, even though they are grossed out by dead things. My personal feelings about death are best described by the movie The Fountain. I want to become a tree.

Same as with sex, I think death shouldn’t be hidden the way it is. Nobody wants to talk about it unless they’re telling you that you’re going to go to hell if you aren’t good. People don’t want to think about the fact that the meat they eat is a dead animal. They don’t want to think about the fact that their pets died (No, Fluffy went to a better place). Death is the end. Without destruction, there can be no creation. Death is the price you pay for life. That’s just how it is. It is how we make room for our children and grandchildren.

We pretend that death is always bad, and should always be avoided. That phrase “she wouldn’t hurt a fly” applies here. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to kill a fly. They’re annoying and gross and carry diseases. But why is it a virtue to refuse to hurt a fly? Why is it a virtue to pretend that death does not exist? I know a woman who wanted to set free trapped flies, and who cannot look at a dead bird on the sidewalk, preferring to pretend that it is not there. This woman, by the way, is not a vegetarian. We’ve forgotten where our food comes from and that we live off death. Sure it’s another symptom of our believing we live on top of the Earth rather than within Her, and another of our ideas that we’re “better” than the animals.

But perhaps if we really understood that we live off of the death of other things, we would have a different attitude about death altogether. It wouldn’t be so very foreign to all of us because we encounter it every day.
One of my most important spiritual experiences was my junior year of college when I spent forty five minutes watching a dead squirrel. I watched the flies eating out its eyes. I just stood there watching in the field. I saw birds flying by, too. And then I knew about the cycles of life and how it’s so important that things be allowed to decompose. Several days later I saw the squirrel covered in maggots. That squirrel gave life to a whole generation of flies, who will be eaten by the birds and then the squirrel will fly. I help my food dance. Someday, what my dead body feeds will allow me to fly.

I don’t know what I believe about the spiritual afterlife. I don’t even know if I believe in souls. But I do kind of believe in the afterlife. I think it’s irrelevant to life, though. I think some people become ghosts, I think that some people unite with the gods, I think that some people reincarnate. What I don’t believe is that the afterlife works on any kind of punishment/reward system. Nothing in the universe outside of human interaction actually works on a punishment/reward system.

But it doesn’t matter to me. It is enough to me to know that someday (assuming I’m not too pumped full of formadehyde) that some worms will eat me, and then a robin will eat the worm, and I will fly. I won’t have any awareness of my flight, but I think it’s so beautiful to know that my body parts will allow the universe to continue its joyful turning.

Oh–I also find it necessary to note here that my feelings about death are entirely theoretical. The closest person to me who has died in my 23 years was a college professor who had major influences on my spirituality. But I have never experienced true grief or the loss of a loved one, so perhaps that has to do with why I can just accept death as a fact of life.

Images from Wikipedia Commons

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One thought on “Birth, Death, and the Afterlife/lives

  1. You know what, I have seen many great losses. I lost an Aunt in childbirth, when she died from complications after a C-Section as well as three grandparents, one who died tragically in a car accident. I actually despite the pain and sadness of loss, understand that death is just part of life, it is a transitional thing, and i agree with the it would be nice to know that i am part of something bigger than me, my death equals life, and i dont view it as so upsetting that it consumes me…and yes i kill flies 🙂 and the occassional wasp that comes into my home, because i have a toddler, and would not want her to get stung.

    i also agree with abortion, being one that had a baby by luck and gods alone, i think often that i am blessed to have her, that she chose me….for her mom, but i think it takes a great strength to raise a kid now, and yes difficult, it is my hope though that future generations can create a change that no one else has accomplished.

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