Yesterday I took a shortcut while walking home and ended up crossing through a small graveyard in the back of a city church. I stopped and I looked at the names and the dates and the veterans and the three-year-olds and loving wives and fathers and sisters and husbands the immortalized bits of what their lives were summed up to be and I thought to myself,
Why would a soul want a body?
What can a body do that a soul can’t? Why would it want an impermanent, gross, heavy, hurting thing?
I was standing in front of a husband and wife that died in the late 1800s. I looked at their final resting places, a few inches away from one another, and realized,
A soul can’t touch.
Assuming the idea that a soul is an energy field, that our spirits do indeed exceed the speck of life our bodies provide in the span of infinity, a soul can’t touch. It can’t see the light; it is the light.
It doesn’t know the need for human skin. It can’t run its fingers over someone else’s hand and neck and back and it can’t feel crippling desire and ecstatic passion. Those are symptoms of a madness we call love, but it’s human love. It’s often shallow and wild and manic and the equivalent of smoking crack cocaine. It melts into an appreciation of something deeper, or it burns brightly and then it goes out.
Souls can’t experience a beginning or an end, nor an array and spectrum of emotions. They can’t be surprised because they were never confused or unknowing. They don’t know physical-emotional warmth, or what it’s like to hold and kiss a new baby on the forehead or the jilt you get in your chest when you smell the person you love.
Your soul can’t feel the cadence of reading your favorite book or the sensation when your mind puts someone else’s story into your life, or how your fingers flip through the broken-binding for the trillionth time and how lovely that book smell is especially when it’s your favorite one.
It doesn’t know that crisp and comforting coolness of fall or the heat of the sun on your back in the summer. It doesn’t know that deep feeling you get when you spread your fingers out and run your hand through water. It can’t wear your favorite t-shirt or eat cookie dough or sweat or breathe or cry or dance. It doesn’t know the lifetime comfort of your mother or your lover wrapping their arm around you matter-of-factly.
A body is responsible for the most amazing part of anything – physically finding or creating. Once we have something, we don’t want it anymore. What we really want is to make and fight and become.
A soul doesn’t have to pay the bills or go food shopping or cook dinner or schedule a checkup or do the dishes or make plans for Friday to keep up with a relationship. It doesn’t have to take hot baths to relax or organize the house or run errands or take walks to think. A body can learn. A body can feel the magic of realization. It can piece the pieces together and understand. It can get lost so it can be ‘found,’ it can suffer so it can heal.
What if the series of rote tasks we want our lives to be better than aren’t better than us at all. What if they’re what we’re scheduled to do. What if there is no greater meaning than just simply doing them. What if what we feel in those little moments we want to escape and place in the context of a greater meaning, is the meaning itself.
If healing is just acknowledging pain, then maybe living is just acknowledging life.
There are so many anxieties and frustrations and terrible things that cease instantly when we just say them out loud. The point of learning to grieve and mourn and be present is only so we can just be aware. Recognition is the remedy. It’s the only thing we’re really supposed to do.
And the real suffering, the inescapable kind, comes from avoiding what’s in front of us. It follows and haunts us until we acknowledge it and are okay with it, even if it doesn’t make us happy. Even if we’re anything but.
A soul wants a body so it can experience things, and that body will fight itself until it makes itself aware. Until it does what it was programmed to do. Until it takes what it needs to take, and feels what it wants to feel, no matter how dark that seems.
We’re not supposed to be better than our humanness. Doing so is overlooking the point of the body in the first place. We can choose happiness, but we choose the full spectrum of experience instead.
Maybe instead of believing things are linear and the road only goes upward and toward happiness, we allow ourselves what we choose. We pay bills and do dishes and cook dinner and wonder why. Maybe there’s no point to feeling other than to feel it. Maybe it just persists because we pretend there is.