There has to be some kind of whittling mechanism in your brain when you turn 65. There’s so much that fogs up, clouds everything indecipherable, mushes everything into one giant mound of goo. I have always been a spiritual person, but along with this belief of the supernatural and of eternity and an afterlife I have a worrying thought about if the whole thing is truly a farce.
When I looked at my grandfather and the severe stage of dementia he’s in and the short special on BBC World yesterday, my misgivings and doubts resurfaced. I had had a long hard pondering session on what would happen to the mortal mind before it jumps into eternity in 2006; the answers were never concrete, but I merely had some kind of possible hypotheses. And eventually these thoughts about my grandfather and others who have Alzheimer’s become blatantly visible in my head: what happens to these people when they die? What happens to their souls? How does eternity treat them?
As a child, I pictured the moment I would die: a quite intriguing moment when I’d float upwards in the same linear time frame as when I was alive and enter the heavenly realm in the same state as I was when I was alive. Physically. Mentally.
Now, of course, I don’t believe in the physical similarity; according to the Christian religion, we will have new bodies, indescribable, glorious, vivid. But what about our souls, our minds. How similar will they be? If your mind deteriorates while alive, how is it represented in the afterlife? Does it cease to exist? Our souls are the only thing? No thinking? Nothing at all like that? It seems like that would be the case because if my grandfather died today (GOD FORBID), he would alight with the same mind as he had now? Or would it be 35 years ago? Or when he was in his prime, or youth, or as a 3-year-old? I wonder how it will be? I won’t allow the first question to be the correct ‘yes’ response: he’s not to the point of not talking (at least not that I know of), but he’s at the point where he can hardly do anything. And if we’re swept into eternity as how we were when we left earth, well, that just doesn’t seem right to me. At least in the case of my grandfather and his condition.
And then I get frustrated and think, well, I guess it won’t happen like that at all. We’ll just fall into a pit and be worm food – and we won’t know because we’ll cease to exist. But I don’t want to simply cease to exist.
It can’t be that simple. But I want it to be simple.
So what happens really? I can’t just think, okay, when we die, we sleep (or whatever before Judgement Day) and then we go and live with God in heaven. Because our minds are so complex, so mortal, so unstable. If my grandfather’s cognizance has evaporated horrendously, it won’t come back million-fold in wherever we go when we die. It’s just impossible.
But maybe that’s just it.
We can’t comprehend it perhaps — just like with the whole complexity of ourselves switching from mortal to immortal, temporal to eternal. We’re unable to find a true answer. I don’t think I like that.