What you believe is not as important as how you live. It matters what you do.
Annabel was a healthy young woman who was happy when she discovered she was with child. Twins were a bit of a surprise but did not distract from her happiness or confidence in her future. This pregnancy would not change her, she told herself. She would continue to run every morning and eat her favorite foods. She decided she would stop drinking wine, but otherwise, Annabel would continue to live just as she’d lived before, adding only a few necessary changes, prenatal office visits, the wine — stuff like that. But this story is not about Annabel, but rather it is about Ari and Ani, her unborn children.
For Ari and Ani, almost everything they knew, they learned from the warm liquid that formed their entire world. There was the sea they swam in, each other, and the ever-present rhythm of Annabel’s heart, which they called bumdum. They were very adept at communicating with each other by different movements, some with their mouth, others with their hands, or how they positioned their bodies. They were aware of the cycles that occurred around them.
While they knew nothing of Annabel’s morning runs, they knew about the rocking that occurred right after the round wall that marked the boundary of their world started to glow. A rich burst of energy and a faster bumdum accompanied this. They liked this time and called it burr. Burr always came after ned, the quiet time when there was little movement, and the round wall was dark.
They knew a lot of other things, too. When Annabel ate spaghetti, they felt a glow in their center. Unlike Ani, Ari liked this glow. They called it red. They knew music, and other sounds, the hum of television and talking. Of course, this was neither television nor talking to them. They called it mur. They knew the sound of their mother’s voice. They called maymur because it comforted them. They named all the things they experienced. They thought they understood everything about their world.
They knew they were getting bigger and that soon they’d be leaving the warm, comfortable sea that was their life. Ari worried. He thought this would be the end. But not Ani. He thought they were going to a better place. Both of them were a little afraid.
Life’s first big question: is there life after birth?
Adapted from the writings of Pablo J.Luis Molinero
Catholic was the religion of my youth. My first belief about life after death was heaven, the good place you went if you were good, and hell, the bad place if you were not. I was young when I started to question this belief, maybe in the third grade. I have not been a heaven/hell guy for a long time.
It is easy to think that our entire being is our body, feelings, and thoughts. When our body dies, so do our thoughts and feelings. What’s left, no thoughts, no feelings, nothing is left. But I’m not a fan of nothing. Nothing does not feel right to me. A soul? But no matter what I come up with, I am confident that life after death will be something different than that. Plainly said, I do not know, one of the great mysteries of life.
Still, I have some beliefs about life after death. The first is I believe that it cannot be bad. There is not a vengeful God who will cast me into eternal suffering. At worse, after death is neutral. Nothing after death is neutral. Reincarnation is neutral. I choose to believe it is not neutral, either.
There is a purpose for living. It is like many other things I see in the world. There are reasons for things, reasons for the cycles of life. Even in randomness, patterns exist. Good things come out of them. Termites and hurricanes have a purpose. Dying is graduating from life.
Maybe it is heaven, being with God. Maybe all our loved ones will be there to welcome us. Maybe it is the release from identity and separation, a great joining from what was Greg alone and separate becomes a part of a greater something else. Of course, maybe it is nothing.
Does it matter what you believe? Other than intellectual curiosity or sleeping easier at night, it does not matter at all. Even Catholics believe that non-believers do not go to hell. Maybe they don’t go to heaven, but they go someplace good. That is, if they lived good lives. What you believe is not as important as how you live. If you live life doing good, you’ll be glad you did after you die. It matters what you do.