Inside some of humanity’s greatest myths, you can find a multitude of accounts showcasing humans desperately seeking a means to immortality or everlasting life. We find it in mythology, ancient legends, explorers’ diaries, and religions. Even much of the biological sciences of the modern age have been dedicated to reversing the aging process, or at least, slowing it down. And while testing the limits of science and biology can be a fascinating and insightful thing, the success inside of extending life has left the world in a state of forgetting that death will be the outcome of all things. We’ve learned to live in fear of the only guarantee given to us at the start of this life. In a way, we have simply lost touch with nature. It’s obvious in the way we treat the earth around us. Our egos have inflated just large enough that we believe ourselves to be gods of our own making, and who knows, perhaps we are. But what is a god but what a human decides for it to be? It is our concept. Death is not. We are deaths concept because like all things, our deaths are what create life and our lives are what create death. It is the most reliable cycle in the known universe. Our resistance is our attachment. It is the undying loyalty we have to our stories and our belief that they are important enough to exist forever. And perhaps they are and they do. Throughout space and time, our individual stories live on, but can the soul be transient? Can it pass through the doorway of death and be recycled into the great beyond and then start a new story free of the past, while still understanding the sensations of past lives, like joy and grief and love? Does the soul evolve too, as we do in our human lives? I suppose that’s up for the individual soul to decide. Whether we approach the doorway with fear in our hearts, or with the knowing that the life we lived was worthy of being inhabited by the soul in the first place.
When I was growing up, I was always that kid that would pick the weirdest movie out at Blockbuster and take it home to watch 10 times over the weekend. It was either some very gory horror film, or some bizarre sci fi flick with horrible writing and even worse graphics. Sometimes I’d have friends over to watch with me, sometimes it was my sister. But often times, I was alone, hyper-examining this b to d-list film that most people would never see or even really hear of. I went to Blockbuster quite a bit in the summers when I would stay with my grandparents because they let me rent as many movies as I wanted, as long as I returned them on time. Every summer quickly became a race to watch as many as I could. The summer of 2007, after my 15th birthday, I had made plans to stay with my grandparents all summer, helping my grandfather with his seminar company. My grandparents lived in coastal South Carolina in a beautiful house near the beach. They had done well for themselves and money was no object. Staying with them during the summers was a deep breath and a relief to be away from home. It was just a better quality of life with a lot less fear and worry. It was the one place I actually felt nurtured, where it was ok for me to just be a kid, and my grandparents wanted that too. They wanted to give me a good life, while still respecting the boundary that they weren’t my parents. It’s where I learned what a filet mignon was, tried a lobster tail, drank an airplane sized bottle of Kettle One and choked, learned how to open a nice bottle of wine, make a cheese board. I would spend my days on the beach and the nights watching movies and eating snacks my grandmother would make. I felt safe there and that was a priceless thing. At the beginning of that summer, my grandmother took me to Blockbuster to rent my first selections. I walked through the aisles, stopping at the multi film HellRaiser series, Final Destinations, The Cell starring JLo, all my favorites. I rarely ever rented from the New Release section because they were usually too mainstream, but there was one film in there that caught my eye and pulled me over. It was called The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. It was a film exploring themes around the Fountain of Youth, past lives, interdimensional travel, life/death/love, fate, time, spirituality. The plot was heavy, but I was intrigued. I walked out of the Blockbuster with only that film, which was unusual for me. I went straight home, had dinner with my grandparents, excused myself with a bag of sour gummy bears and went to my room to put on The Fountain. I slipped it into the DVD player and pressed play and within minutes, I found myself totally hypnotized and confused. It was a mountain of a movie, one I hadn’t completely climbed watching it the first time through. I watched the film three times that night and during every viewing I stopped the film at the same spot. In the film, a character is dying and the husband of the character is feeling the immense weight of the impending death. Through a series of events and past life regressions, he hears a piece of information that shifts his entire perspective. “Death is the road to awe.” He hears it over and over again, bringing him to greater peace inside of the grief over his sick wife, and allowing him to ultimately reach enlightenment. I had no clue why I kept replaying that part. It sent shivers down my spine. Yes, I understood that it was a profound idea, but how could anyone just be ok with death? How could anyone make peace with someone they loved dying? I had experienced my own griefs, certainly, but all I had seen were people around me being swallowed by those same griefs. It was always tragic, never peaceful. That was the only film I watched that summer, and admittedly, I would estimate I watched it nearly 100 times. I even lied to my grandparents that I returned it, when in reality, I packed it in my suitcase to make sure I always had a copy of it with me. I tried for years after that summer to get people to watch it with me, but they always hated it or thought it was too hard to follow or that it was strange or scary. And eventually, I stopped watching it myself. I suppose I started to think it was a bit strange too. Why was I so obsessed with it? No one else thought it was good! I went from falling asleep watching it every night to watching it maybe once every 6 months, to watching it once a year. The ideas started to fade too, not that I even really understood them and slowly the film disappeared out of my memory. Even during my initial grief after my mom’s death, really the first 4 years I’d say, it never came up. Around that 4 year mark, I was living in NYC and I had found myself in a group of truly magical people, one in particular who was an incredibly gifted psychic intuitive. He was brilliant, but his gifts were a bit invasive. I knew right off the bat, every time he’d look at me, and you could almost see stars in his pupils, that he knew what I had been through and he knew about my mom. I didn’t speak of it in true detail very often back then. He would never call me out for it, but I knew he knew. He was well connected in the spiritual healing scene of NYC and was good friends with a couple that ran an events space downtown that hosted healer workshops from all over the world. My friend texted me one morning a link to an event happening that evening, and before I even really looked at it, I declined the offer because I had a bartending shift that night. He immediately responded and insisted that I get the shift covered and book a spot at this event. He said it was extremely important I be there and he wouldn’t say why. Confused, I said ok. I got my shift covered and booked my spot after reading the description. It was an “energy healing” workshop with a man named Abdi, all the way from India. He claimed to be so charged with energy that he could touch you and send you into deep, profound meditations that would connect you to a greater consciousness and link us all together. I was curious. Very curious actually. Because I partially didn’t believe it. It seemed like a hoax. Just spiritual fanatics regarding another everyday man as a god and paying a premium to be in his presence. I believed in magic and psychics and visions and all of that, but I was still a skeptic. Especially when it came to people putting me into different states of consciousness, like hypnosis. I came to the workshop open, but closed. I was ready to see a miracle, but I wasn’t sure I would. The 2 hour workshop started, everyone sitting on meditation mats with pillows and blankets and a man who I believed to be Abdi sitting in a chair at the front of the room. He was short, middle aged, wearing all white, with medium length black hair. Light music began to play and he stood up and immediately started approaching individuals on the front row. No introduction, explanation, no anything. He would kneel beside them, place a hand on the front and back of their heads and they would pass out and he would gently lay them on the pillow and mat. I watched him do this to around 30 people ahead of me. Each of them passing out in the same lifeless fashion. My skepticism slowly turned into anxiety. What if I was wrong? Was I even ready for 2 hours worth of deep profound visions?? I was getting scared. He arrived to my spot, looked me in the eyes, knelt in front of me, chuckled and placed his hands on my head. 2 hours later, I opened my eyes, noticing that I was now on my stomach with my arms stretched out in front of me and my fingernails digging into the hardwood floor. I was one of the last people to wake up, while everyone else had made their way back to sitting on their mats. I woke up in a rough fashion, having no visions and mostly completely freaked out that I had lost the past 2 hours and had no idea what had happened. Once everyone was awake, Abdi finally spoke. He said, “You may ask me anything you want, as long as it’s not about what just happened.” There was a collective groan as everyone looked around at each other. No one raised their hands until a very small and quiet woman in the back left corner of the room gently raised her hand and said with a shaking voice, “My partner is dying of breast cancer right now and the doctors are certain she won’t make it. What is the best way I can send healing to her in these final hours?” My eyebrows raised. Yes, this was heavy, but as she spoke, I realized that this was part of the plot of The Fountain. A lover dying of cancer and their partner desperately trying to help while ultimately feeling helpless. I was listening. As the weight of that sunk in, she began to cry silently as Abdi formed his response. And after about 60 seconds of silence, he said very softly, “Sometimes…..death…..is the healing.” And that was it. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks because as he said that, I felt as though he was speaking directly to me. I felt as though in that moment, he knew my story, my mom, my grief, and he was also saying, “Death is the road to awe.” And it suddenly made sense. My whole entire life. My experience and my memories. My story. I began to sob, pretty uncontrollably. It was one of those deep release sobs, a purge of sorts. After years of grieving my mother, this was the first thing I had heard that had offered me any relief, insight, or inkling of peace, and the unbelievable part was that I had known it all along. I had already received that message. And perhaps it was that saying in my deep subconscious mind that kept me alive and helped me grow after my moms death. After the workshop, Abdi approached me and asked if I would like to stay for the next workshop after, free of charge, to try it again. I said yes and again, went under for 2 hours with everything I had just learned in mind. I had visions this time. Of past lives, of the astral plane, of being in the sky and watching souls leave bodies and return back into their original forms, of the afterlife, or rather, lack there of. It was all just space and we were drifting through attaching ourselves to the things we magnetically attracted to. Experiences, other souls, blips of timelines, fragments of lifetimes, identities, planets, light and darkness. Sometimes 42 years, sometimes 97, sometimes 1000, sometimes 2 minutes. Constantly moving, ever changing and always, always, always free. That night changed my life forever. It is singlehandedly the moment I began to claim my grief and decided to not be swallowed by it.
What I found was the brutal truth. I found the meaning of life. That there was none unless we decided for there to be. And that was beautiful and sad to me. Empowering and humbling. We are energy. And right now, we are animating a form. I am writing on a laptop and you are reading it and this means something to us because we decided for it to mean something. Our stories mean something to us because we decide for them to. And often times, the stories that mean something are traumatic. They bend and sometimes break us and the only way out is through the doorway of death where you get to take everything but your form. It’s a bit like Siddhartha choosing to leave everything behind and embrace his destiny as The Buddha. It is merely a transformation. I cannot say if we will meet those that have passed again as we’ve known them. And I also cannot say if that will even matter once we walk through the doorway. But what I do know, that when suffering is too great, when the magnetic attachment of a soul ends, we must leave our biological forms. And to those left behind, the pain can be great, but not necessarily great enough to leave. If you have survived, it is because you are still meant to be here. There is still an opportunity for growth and healing. Never forget, the universe is in perfect working order. Nothing is a mistake. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. Even the most tragic moments are not a mistake and we must know that and understand it, despite how gut-wrenchingly painful it is to accept. Our souls understand. Because our souls know what’s next. It is not separation, it is not heaven and hell, up and down, in and out. It is endless expanse, waiting for the next moment of magnetism and perfect collision. It is a giant glittering ocean where we, as individual drops, form the whole. It is oneness and the knowing of all things. Radical empathy and ultimate peace until we decide to venture out on the next journey. Do not fear death, for death is simply an exploration of life. There is life beyond this as there was life before this. But cherish what is now. Make peace with what is now. Enjoy what is now. And grow, as much as you can in the time you have, with the beings you have it with. And know that when something we love leaves its form as we know it, it is being recycled back into all things. It becomes a part of you, the air you breathe, the space you inhabit. And someday you too will leave and become all things again. Right now, our experience is a water droplet from a crashing wave, detached and on its own from the great ocean. We are our own oceans, and at some point, we will return home, remember our origins and become yet again a part of the ever flowing expanse.