If I CAN'T know, then I go with what I would rather believe. This isn't about wishful thinking, although I believe in that, too, it's about a really, really deep reality check.
I can't know what happens after we die. There's plenty of possibilities. All I know for sure is, maybe something I've heard of, maybe not.
I think, most likely, nothing happens- we get that mongo shot of dmz. have, literally, the time of our lives in what is microseconds by our usual measures, and then just, stop. We have the apparatus to be creative in our minds, really, really creative- but it is, perhaps, just a function of evolution, not spirit.
Maybe we got this highly complex and hyper-analytical brain and analyzed our way right into extinction, but for developing, along with a cerebral cortex, these things to keep us entertained, amused- busy, and hopeful; our personalities are defense mechanisms to keep us going in what for many feels far too painful to do for no reason.
But I can't know.
What I believe on some level, feels darkly pessimistic to me. I am also unsure who it really belongs to. My dad didn't seem to believe in a soul: he described death as fading into the grey nothing, as nothing, to nothing. No consciousness remaining, just, gone. My mom said that she believed in Jesus, but she didn't believe in a literal heaven, most of the time. She believed in re-incarnation, lifetimes.
Some of this belief, she got from me. When I was a small child, maybe 2 or 3, I would beg her to remember the time when we were minstrels, traveling around together, playing music and telling stories around fires. She said I used this word, minstrels. I was apparently so intense and compelling, earnestly trying to get her to remember, and even becoming upset that I was forgetting myself, heartbroken because I knew- I just knew- that I was supposed to remember. Not long later, I remember the terror I would feel, and the sheer, painful sorrow, at the unlikeliness that I would make it to twenty alive. It seemed sooo far off, so vast.
But make it I did. There have been some pretty obvious events in my own life that have created my feelings about death, and especially life, and the nature of each, our parts in it, but remembering these early emotions make me really question whether I have always lived somewhat debilitated by a pure and simple fear of death. The oldest fear there is.
My mom had a miscarriage when I was four or so. All I really remember was there was an owl hooting out of our window, the only time I remember hearing one as a young child. The owl calls out to death, my mom said. They can see it, they recognize it. She said that she screwed up and had a baby so young because she so desperately just wanted someone to love her, to not leave her, but, according to her, she screwed the pooch on that one- not only do children NOT love you, but they need you, and they need you constantly. They only love themselves, she said, and they leave you, too.
There are a couple things that I suppose when it comes to Tarot. First, I look at the cards with the same premise that I view dreams- each and every character is the same- you, aspects of you in each role that we all play. The Tarot points one direction only. I also assume that they do not tell the future in any way at all- but rather, they reveal what you already know. I'm sold on the concept of information as the fifth form of matter- there is sometimes no difference between one moment and the next except for the additional information conveyed to the situation.
In one moment, you're thinking about dinner, or your baby, or the crocus blooming by the beach, and in the next moment, without anything happening at all, knowing about something that happened years ago can change your whole life. Or months ago, or weeks ago. It doesn't matter when the betrayal happened, you experience it when you encounter the information.
So would a Tarot card predict a divorce? No, of course not- only the two people in the relationship can decide if that happens. But, a card may summon the information of what is- revealing outwardly what you already know to be true.
You knew something wasn't right. The card just gave you a way to say it out loud so that you can hear it and act (or not).
But when you were suffering from it all- when your cloak was pulled tightly around you, when you were grieving a future you felt entitled to- so attached that you couldn't even see the bridges around you, or the flowing river in which to refill your cups, what did you forget?
Are you so hurt by the accidents that caused the pain that you don't see the strengths that are still there?
My mom was always scared of people leaving her. In the big ways, and also in small and terrible ways. I still get ridiculously awkward and stiff at the end of a conversation. I say stupid things, I babble. It's awful. It took me a while to realize this was probably because of the way my mom made goodbyes. She hated to be left- this meant, long, drawn out embarassing scenes. In the street, begging her brother, or sister, or me not to leave- to just stay one more day. you definitley have ONE more day- and she'd pay the ticket change, and she'd cook your favorite thing, just please don't leave. Just not quite yet.
It was a game on the phone, too. Directly following the "I love you more's" came the "you hang up firsts", a good five or ten minutes of which, usually long distance, the emotional burden of being the one to do it- to sever the connection, to cut off the other person, to hurt them by sending them away- would be passed back and forth like the squares of chocolate we'd share, taking smaller and smaller nibbles, not being the one to take the last tiny bite.
It's ironic, then, how that backfired. But not on her- on me. For a long time, I thought I was the one always leaving. First my dad, then me. Leaving, first, for my dad, and then, for me. I had to leave to survive, just like she said I would: proof that I didn't love her, didn't really love her, didn't love her as much as I loved someone else.
It felt like I was leaving, but it was always her. Into her room, into alcohol and pills, and finally into death. She was unsavable because she would have had to do it, and she didn't.
Remember how each character is yourself?
The bridge, the house beyond, all of that is where my mother is. She's absorbed into the story, the symbols, the clues. I am the one left standing. I am living, I have the choices in this card. I have reserves behind me, stores of emotional energy and power, and I have the ability to fill my cups. It's still my river to dip into. It's still my choice- and none of the cups are on the other side. Not one.
Life is for the living. Life is where all the stuff humans need is- it's the only cup I can know about for sure.
Beyond? I don't know. I can't know. And I won't be fooled by anyone using the unknowable to control me, even myself with fear and anxiety. I will take my moment to be still with the reality of the spilled cups. It hurts. There's layers. It keeps happening. It could happen to the cups I still have, and given enough time and one thoughtless step backwards, it probably will. But that's all the more reason to lean into the truth of things unknowable: all I can do is choose the story that resonates, and go with what I would rather.
If across the river is a nano-second of dmt heaven, I'll take it. How can I fill my brain with the richest, most nuances and juicy fodder for that infinite review?
These cups don't hold water, they hold all different kinds of liquid. The potions of knowledge? Shame? Truth?